10 Questions with ... Timothy Shelton "Tim Steele"
June 28, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- Present - WAMO, Urban, PD/mornings, Pittsburgh, PA
- 2010 - 2011 - WBBK, Urban, PD/afternoons, Dothan, AL
- 2008 - 2010 - WMGI, Top 40, APD/morning show, Terre Haute, IN
- 2007 - 2008 - Oasis Radio Group, on-air/MD/Prod., Fort Wayne/Indianapolis, IN
- 2005 - 2006 - WUHT, UAC, Morning show host, Birmingham, AL
1) Where and what was your first job in radio? Early influences?
I have fond memories of my radio "debut;" it was on KTTX/KTEX 106, spinning "12 in a row Country" in the home of the Texas A&M Aggies and Blue Bell Ice Cream. Talk about a dream gig ... All the football and ice cream that I could stomach, but the dream turned into a nightmare when I was visited by the newsman who has dead in studio years before one night. Not cool. Lots of great talent to look up to in the Beaumont/Houston area from: Gary Lee Love/KAYC to The Snowman/KMJQ to John Lander/KKBQ, I'm sort of like their "love stepchild."
2) If you were just starting out in radio, knowing now what you didn't then, would you still do it?
My wallet screams no, but my heart says yes. When I first started the one that everyone told me is that "I wouldn't get rich" and now 20 years later, I'm my bank account isn't bigger but I am "richer in spirit." At least, that's what mama always told me to say.
3) How do you feel about PPM and does anything surprise you along the lines of new media platforms in terms of effectiveness with the audience?
I think PPM is a Godsend! Mainly because of the unpredictable nature of "where diaries may fall, who will wait till the last day to fill one out, etc." It's impossible to get a realistic view of your audience. I am a huge fan of new media and how it can be used to "connect with listeners on their level."
4) How you prefer to be promoted on new records? And how do you feel about playing local artists' records or would you still prefer to wait until the research validates it?
One-to-one contact from record promoters always scores major "cool points" with me, but how they "sell" what they're pushing really makes the difference. I've had promoters pitch me records they have never heard; that's serving me gumbo that you haven't tasted ... not cool. I believe in embracing local music, but like everything else, common sense has to be used while considering who to get behind. That's where social media comes to the rescue; use the station's wesite to showcase talent without having to decide which Rihanna or Lil Wayne record to drop for the local artist; I think we know who wins that one.
5) With the current trend toward talent importation and voicetracking, it feels like we're at the end of an era of fundamentals and the dawn of a new paradigm. How do future personalities continue to maintain relevance? Who's going to train them?
This has to be the biggest letdown for the industry moving forward, because the talent pool is drying up and waiting in the wings are a lot of people who have no business on the air. There are hungry young talents out there, but with today's PD wearing multiple hats, time to truly "grow" these talents is fleeting and all too often stations will settle on a "flavor of the week" to make a quick buck. I was fortunate to come up the ranks during a time when the "old schoolers" made sure that you paid your dues.
6) Because of callout research are today's Urban and Urban AC programmers going to be slower in adding and playing new music? And what is the maximum number of spins a record in power rotation could be expected to receive in a given week on your stations?
One of the cool things about being new is that your playlist can evolve to fit your format/listeners/managements needs.
7) What has been the initial reaction from the Pittsburgh audience toward the station? Were you able to secure the old call-letters WAMO, or is that still pending?
To say it's been overwhelming would be an understatement. Pittsburgh is a "radio town" and everyone (no matter the race, class or age) knew those calls ...WAMO. I can say that I have never experienced the outpouring of love that we've gotten in a short amount of time and this includes over 6,000 "likes" on the station's Facebook fan page in less than a week. It is official; we have secured the WAMO calls.
8) What's your read on the format, music-wise, nowadays?
We are trending back to the "strike while the iron is hot" mentality when it comes to artists guesting on each other's tracks. From a programmer's viewpoint, you have to accept that artist separation in the traditional sense is not possible. But, I've discovered this format is like Texas weather: If you don't like it, wait 15 minutes ... you know the rest.
9) As you assess the financial shape of the industry today, are traditional budgetary expectations still taking precedent too often over the investment on the product and human resources channeled into it?
I'd say yes. During deregulation the Big Players were convinced that they could get more with less, but that thought process has come back to bite them. As old school as it sounds, you get what you pay for and if you don't have a plan B, C or D, no amount of cost-cutting measures will help.
10) As you look back over your career ... any regrets? Missed opportunities?
No regrets, but two glaring missed opportunities: 1.) Letting my ex talk me out of an opportunity to work as a producer for Rick Dees. 2.) Not taking an overnight gig at KONO in San Antonio, because I would've taken a $500 paycheck from my overnight gig in market nowhere.
What would people who think they know Tim Shelton be surprised to know about you?
That I like pina coladas and getting caught ... oops, flashback: That I'm not really afraid of clowns and little people. Busted!
What the best piece of advice that someone has ever given you that you still use on a daily basis?
Mickey Ashworth (former PD of KYKR in Beaumont) once told me "before you open the mic, make sure you have something to say." Figuring out the difference between "something" and "anything," took a few years, but I'm 90% good on that.
Describe your favorite meal?
Being a little Cajun, nothing sets it off like a giant bowl of my Uncle Kenny's Special "trashcan" gumbo (with Chicken, Sausage, Steak, Crab, Crawfish, etc) over rice on a cold day. Toss in some liquid refreshment of your choice and man ... is anyone else hungry?
Most annoying thing people ask you.
To say something in my radio voice? Really? This is my radio voice.