10 Questions with ... Tyler Laporte
April 11, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started as an intern at WTMD as a junior in college at Towson University. Spent most of my time reconciling logs, putting music into the system, driving bands around and since we're a noncomm, I stuffed and glued tons of envelopes with pledge reminders. I was also hosting a radio show at the college station that two of my supervisors heard me doing and that landed me some night hosting gigs at WTMD. I'm coming up on my fifth year at the station and in that time I've become MD and I host mid-mornings Monday-Friday and I host a weekend Indie/Alternative show.
1. How did you become interested in radio?
As long as I can remember, I always paid attention to the radio. I was the one who was in control of the radio in the car with my parents, I always had a radio in my room growing up that was constantly on, whether it was mornings before school, doing my homework or going to sleep. I loved everything about it -- the music, the DJs and even commercials. I used to wake up in the morning and everyday there was a segment on a morning show that told you what school lunch was going to be; I thought that was so cool. I also used to call into stations all the time to make requests.
2. Who are your mentors?
My biggest mentor has been Mike Vasilikos, who was at WTMD and is now at WXPN. I was lucky to have him as my first PD. He showed me the ropes on-air and behind the scenes and really proved to me that if you work hard you get some great rewards. To be honest, Mike scared the shit out me at first but now he's like a big brother to me. Dave Einstein has been really great to me as well and since he's local I've had the chance to spend some time with him and get some awesome advice over the past couple years.
3. Since Scott Mullins has been there as PD, how has the music changed on the station?
We've cut the playlist back quite a bit so we don't get to add everything that I want to ... and I think the same goes for Scott. He's also known for "The Dirty Soul Party" that he started in Louisville and we have added a lot of R&B and soul to the playlist. But that was a natural progression anyway because even before Scott came to WTMD, we were playing Sharon Jones, Karl Denson and a few others, so his choices have fit in well.
4. What are music meetings like at your station?
Scott and I get together with a big list of tracks and a small amount of space and really go through each of the new tracks and talk about why each of us thinks we should be playing it. We don't always see eye-to-eye on every track, but most of the time we're on the same page and I think that's pretty healthy. If I like something and we don't add it right away I continue to lobby for the track if it's something I really believe in.
5. How do you feel about the current climate of music?
From the standpoint of being a fan, I think things are going great. There are great blogs like Pitchfork, Stereogum and Hype Machine that I turn to every day to keep up with new tunes ... and Twitter is also doing great things for music. I follow a lot of bands, labels, radio stations, program directors and other fans who keep you hip to what's going on in their world. So even if you're not in the industry you can feel very connected and in the loop. I will say it's a bummer that there aren't more independent record shops that are drawing kids in like they did when I was growing up
From a format point of view, we could be focusing on taking more risks on newer bands that are creating a lot of buzz. Maybe that's because of the alt show I host where I expose the audience to bands like Yuck, Smith Westerns and Telekinesis, just to name a few. That show has served as a kind of proving ground for music that we end up adding to our current rotation and listeners tend to respond positively. We do a good job of playing these artists, but we could always do more.
A lot of playlist space is being given to "heritage" artists with new projects. I respect the history and for the most part these artists are releasing great music, but where do we draw the line? Maybe it's because I'm young and haven't been in the game long, but I think we should be focusing more on the launching of artists and bands, taking more chances before we become the classic rock retirement home.
6. What new bands are you most excited about?
Smith Westerns are great and I love the new record. Scars on 45 is another band that I'm so excited to see grow. Steve Nice played me a demo of theirs over a year ago now and I was stunned at how good it was and, after seeing them at Sunset Sessions, I can't wait to see their star rise. I'm sure people are already familiar with Wye Oak, but that's another band that I love and just released their second album "Civilian." They are a band that I have seen since their early stages because they're from Baltimore and were on our show "Baltimore Unsigned" ... and now they've been touring with these other great bands like The Decemberists and Cold War Kids.
7. What stations do you like to keep track of?
The big one for me is KCMP; I really love that station. I listen to WXPN a lot since they are simulcast on a local high school station. And I have iPhone apps for KEXP and WFUV.
8. What do you like best about your job?
Man, there is so much since this was my dream job and I'm doing what I majored in college. I really love going to conferences. I've met some people who've become great friends to me even if we only see each other a few times a year. There's something to be said about going somewhere and not having to explain what your job is and when you are bitching about doing logs or ingesting music, most of the people there can agree with you.
And the whole thing of having music sent to me, going to shows and festivals for free ... and wearing jeans to work ain't so bad either.
9. Where do you see yourself in five years?
I think about that every day and I can't seem to figure it out. I hope I'm still in music, whether it's here in radio or on the industry side which I would really like to be involved with at some point.
10. If you wanted to completely change careers today, what would you do?
If I had the cash, I'd start a pizza/sandwich place where I could have bands performing. I really think that music and food work well together. Both seem to make people happy and social. It's like when I go home to see my parents; there are always tunes on and everybody's in the kitchen.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
Well question 10 kind of gives that one away. I really love to cook. I've been experimenting with baking my own bread recently, too. It's really fun for me to make things that would be really expensive at the store or out a restaurant, especially if I can make it better. So I make my own popcorn, chicken broth, tortillas and things like that. It may sound lame but that stuff really helps me relax and forget about work when I need to. I've got big plans for my garden as well and have been working on that a bunch.
Last non-industry job:
Summer intern at the Delaware Department of Transportation -- Public Relations Division
First record ever purchased:
It could have been Hootie & The Blowfish "Cracked Rear View" or Boyz II Men "II." I think I got them on the same trip to Sam Goody.
This is embarrassing, but it was Creedence Clearwater Revisited/Beach Boys. It was so bad I claim that my second show ever was my first -- and that was Dave Matthews Band with Ben Harper and Ozomatli.
Favorite band of all-time:
I would say The Beatles since I go back to their records all the time, but as far as bands that are touring and making new music, Phish is my go to band.