10 Questions with ... Armando Rivera
September 27, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Most recently, I was sitting on the beach fighting off sand fleas and playing Angry Birds while I was waiting for an opportunity. I am now programming two great radio stations WCHB and WDMK in Detroit.
1) Where and what was your first job in radio? Who were some of your early influencers?
My first job at a commercial radio station was at KELP/El Paso, TX when I was a teenager. Some of my early influencers were Lee Michaels, Elroy Smith and Earl Boston.
2) If you were just starting out in radio, knowing now what you didn't then, would you still do it?
Yes, I would still pursue radio as a career. I initially entered into the broadcasting arena because I wanted to be a TV news anchor. But, I realized I had a face for radio. LOL
3) Prior to this move, you were APD at Clear Channel's WVAZ/Chicago, where you were exposed to a lot of new media initiatives. Does anything surprise you along the lines of new media platforms in terms of effectiveness with the audience that's now being measured by PPM ... and how are you going to implement them in Detroit?
I was using new media before it was popular and I've always been on the cutting edge of technology. I used it in Chicago; I am using it now in Detroit and I am very eager to adapt the next new technology into radio programming.
4) How you prefer to be promoted on new records? And how do you feel about playing local Detroit artists' records or would you still prefer to wait until the research validates it?
I like to meet with record reps face to face because many times good promotional ideas come up which help my radio station. I like for them to be prepared to inform me of the artists and any other background information pertaining to the song. I am programming an Urban AC that tends not to be first on music. I play the hits ... and the songs have to fit the sound and the texture of the radio station. Regardless of where the song comes from, the key is it has to be a great song. If it happens to be from Detroit, that's awesome.
5) With the current trend toward syndication, talent importation and voicetracking, it feels like we're at the end of an era of live, local air personalities and the dawn of a new paradigm. How do you feel about that? What are some of the changes and specialty programming you have implemented since you took over? Have you expanded the live jock segments, including weekends?
I think there is a place for syndicated programming in certain circumstances. I do not allow voicetracking on the station as I prefer to have my air personalities live on the radio. I have added several specialty programs on 105-9 Kiss, such as our Free Lunch Mix on middays, Friday Night Old School Mix Show, Saturday Night Ballroom & Steppers Set and Sunday Morning Praise with Vickie Winans. I do have some exciting things in plan for WCHB which I can't reveal at this time.
6) Today's Urban AC programmers seem to be slower much slower in adding and playing new music. Do you feel there is some risk in failing to expose your audience to new music early and forcing them to go to your competition to hear it? And what is the maximum number of spins a record in power rotation could be expected to receive in a given week on WDMK?
The bottom line is to play the hits. My competitors play new music, but are they playing songs that will become hits ... or stiffs that make their station weaker?
7) Of all the skills you have gained through the years, is there an area you'd like to improve?
There's always room for improvement in all areas.
8) What's your read on the Urban AC format, music-wise, nowadays?
There are some very good songs available to play on Urban AC radio right now. The format has evolved from a '60s, '70s Oldies-based music format to something that is a little more current.
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?
Yes, we are in tough economic times in this country and it has impacted broadcasting as well.
10) As you look back over your career ... any regrets? Missed opportunities?
I have come to the conclusion that it's not what you know or who you know; but it's about who knows you. If I had one thing to do over it would be to focus on the "who knows you."
What would people who think they know Armando Rivera be surprised to know about you?
I am in love with Wendy's. Can I have a #1 with a chocolate frosty, please?
Name the one gadget you can't live without.
I can't name one. My computer, my iPhone, my iPad, my Slingbox, etc. I'm a tech geek.
What's been your biggest disappointment in radio today?
My biggest disappointment is that so many talented and qualified broadcasters are still sitting on the beach or have been forced to change careers.
How do you feel about Arbitron's PPM replacing the diary?
I like the PPM; but, I wish the sample size was larger.