10 Questions with ... Karen Vaughn
July 5, 2011
1) What was your first job in radio? Early influences, present mentors?
My first experience in radio was assisting a friend (Robb Blocker) who happened to be the R&B PD for WNHU (University of New Haven) in 1988. I loved the energy of the music and the enthusiasm of the listeners. From that point I was hooked.
My first paid gig was at WUSL (Power 99) during my tenure at Temple University. My experiences from Power gave me the foundation of my career and enabled me to be the air personality/programmer I am today. Dave Allan and Jacqui Allen gave me my first shot in the biz and they continue to be huge influences in my career. Joe Davis has been a strong mentor professionally and personally. Not only has he given me advice about the business, but he has encouraged me to continue my education..
Other individuals who have given me encouragement and have helped shape my career are: Brian Wallace, Tom Calococci, Jay Stevens, Reggie Rouse, Michelle Campbell, Chuck Atkins, JK Holiday, Steve Crumbley, DC Todd, Carter & Sanborn, Colby Colb, Jay Stevens and LaDonna Monet'.
2) What led you to a career in radio? Was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it"?
In 1989 I was in an all-girl singing group called Marjani. One Saturday we were booked for an interview on WYBC (Yale University's radio station). During the interview, something came over me behind the mic. Honestly, they couldn't shut me up. I've must of done something right because the host (her name fails me at this time) asked if I could come back and that I should be in radio ... she was RIGHT!
3) If you were just starting out in radio, knowing now what you didn't then, would you still do it the same way?
Good question. During my career I've stayed true to what I've wanted to achieve. Yet instead of working three jobs outside of broadcasting, I should have taken the time to groom my career before transferring to Temple in 1990. Sometimes I feel as if I wasted time, when I could have been developing my true calling. I guess that's what gives me my edge; I'm always hustling to get the job done at all costs.
4) What career path would you be following had it not been for this industry?
I would have pursued a career in television as a producer. I would definitely be in entertainment; it's in my blood.
5) What's your take on current music? Is it as good as six months ago, better, or about the same?
I believe it's getting better. At one time I felt that the music was watered down and rushed. With artists like Alicia Keys, John Legend and icons with new projects by Patti Labelle, Ruben Studdard and Lionel Richie, we have a better pool of music to choose from.
6) What was the biggest gaffe you've made on-air ... or what was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you at a remote?
In 2003, during an interview with Gerald LeVert, who just passed last month, we were discussing questions jocks ask artists. He was upset about a current situation that I won't mention. But he flipped it on me as he asked me a crazy question (too embarrassing to bring up again). It was embarrassing, but we kept the listeners entertained! I do know his favorite color is orange.
7) What do you view as the most important issues facing radio today?
Voicetracking. I think it gets a bad rap because many jocks in the industry don't know how to use it as a tool.
8) What is the biggest change that you'd like to see happen in the business?
CREATIVITY ... it's lost
NEW JOCKS ... grooming and how to properly entertain your audience
9) What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
HONESTY! In this industry, at the end of the day your word is what defines you.
10) Where do you see the station and yourself five years from now?
I hope we can regain creativity on both sides of the industry (radio and records). I know it's a tall order, but the creativity, fun and energy are declining. Five years from now, as long as I'm happy living life ... I'm GOOD!
Of all the skills you have gained through the years, is there an area you'd like to improve?
I would love to enhance my production and voiceover skills. I'm currently building a home studio so I take the time to practice and expand my production talents.
As you look back over your career ... any regrets? Missed opportunities?
YES, a talent scout approached me from MTV. She heard a recent show I did about the R. Kelly situation. I should have been more adamant with her. Dang ... I'm still kicking myself
What do you do in your spare time?
I love to read. I have a book club on the air. Since I'm a new mom, my spare time is spent with my son Cameron. He is trying to talk at four months. He will be behind the mic in no time.
What's the best piece of advice anyone's ever given you? The worst?
The best advice wasn't given to me directly. I am a huge fan of "Good Morning America." I watched Joan Lunden as a child and wanted to be a talented broadcaster just like her. During her last broadcast, Barbara Walters reminded Joan of the advice she given her early in her career. Which was ... Men will always dominant this business, so whenever you are given a chance to shine, SHINE AS BRIGHT AS YOU CAN AND GIVE ALWAYS 100 %. From those words I bring my A game to the studio every day.