10 Questions with ... Tom Yates
February 21, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- KMPX/San Francisco
- KLOS/Los Angeles
- Nova Broadcast Consultants
- Goodphone Weekly- Editor
- KSAN/San Francisco
- Hiatus Productions San Francisco
- KKCY (The City) /San Francisco
- KLSX/Los Angeles
- KOZT/(The Coast)
1. How did you become interested in radio?
College ... looked like fun
2. After being in large-market radio for many years, what prompted you to become an owner in a smaller market?
Bottom line: My vision of where radio needed to be heading and the vision of the groups were too far apart to bridge. I wanted to try my ideas, which meant ownership ... and ownership of a major-market facility was financially waaaaay out of reach. The Coast was by far the most affordable station in the best lifestyle circumstance that my wife Vicky Watts and I could envision.
3. Congratulation on celebrating 20 years! Tell us how the station has evolved over the years!
Wow ... Well, the station was on satellite with one-and-a-half employees and billing about ten grand a month -- no, really! We immediately went to local programming and now have a staff of 12. The signal has grown from a Class A to B, new transmitter, translators, state-of-the-art studios and production gear with great backups and redundant systems. Streaming audio of course with podcasts, iPhone app (thanks, JacApps) and RDS. We have made amazing changes and they continue.
4. Much of your staff has been with the station a long time, too; tell us about them.
Major-market refugees, again looking for that local touch and the lifestyle of Mendocino County. Of course, Vicky was here at the start, going from Wells Fargo VP to CFO/Sales Manager/Broadcast professional very rapidly. Joe Regelski was first on board, coming out of KMEL and The Quake in San Francisco and has been our News Director ever since. Kate Hayes just passed her 15th anniversary, again coming out of years of major California markets. Marie Thompson came out of Seattle and Reno and on and on. The talent level is above what most expect from a small market.
5. How would you describe the music on the station?
Adult Rock -- my personal favorite is Triple AOR. We have deep, deep roots in classic artists and roots artists and contemporary artists that fit into the mix.
6. What has been your biggest career highlight at KOZT?
Winning the Marconi Award as Rock Station of the Year
7. How has Mendocino County changed over the past two decades?
The economic change has been the greatest, with the departure of the old traditional logging companies and the decimation of the fishing industry. Green tourism, our excellent wineries and food, visitor services are the growth areas -- at least in the legitimate arena!
8. What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
For me, it's two-fold: We need to develop and nurture talent - on and off-air - that connect with the people and make us a more vital part of their lives. This needs to be on multiple platforms, not just over-the-air traditional broadcast. Second, more attention needs to be given to the audio quality and overall station sound, including commercial quality and quantity.
9. What is the best advice you would give to young programmers/promotion people?
A serious grounding in liberal arts and an understanding of basic human psychology, coupled with a serious study of where radio came from, where it's been and where it can go -- intern, job shadow, whatever. Just do it.
10. If you wanted to completely change careers today, what would you do?
We talk about that a lot, especially after a tough week. If I wasn't doing broadcast, I'd enjoy being a writer.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
Running a small-market station, Vicky and I don't have a whole lot of spare time, but reading, cooking and travel are all up there, while bicycling and archery are the general sports choices. And, yes, a really nice glass of one of our fine Mendocino County wines and a great meal in one of our world-class restaurants always goes down well.
Last non-industry job:
In the '60s I ran a coffee house/folk club
First record ever purchased:
Miles Davis "Round About Midnight"
Coffee House/Jazz Club rat ... didn't go to the big concerts until the Fillmore opened. Cream and The Grateful Dead were certainly two of the first
Favorite band of all-time:
Depends on the day -- today I'd say The Beatles, but so many more are right up there