10 Questions with ... Myron Fears
November 8, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- College: KCMW, Central Missouri State University, 1988-1990
- Professional: KPRS, 1990-present
1) What was your first job in radio? Early influences?
My first professional job in radio was and is at KPRS/Kansas City. My earliest influence in radio was KC legendary disc jockey Freddie Bell, our long-time announcer at KPRS. Before I started my internship with KPRS, I never saw or met Freddie Bell, but I always had this mental picture of him. I thought he would be tall, dark and laid with a Jeri curl, but I found out he was the exact opposite. We laugh about my description of him to this date. Freddie was the DJ who was always at the clubs, concerts and events, plus he had this smooth, deep, captivating voice. To this date, he is very active with listeners and has a gift of great, one-on-one communication.
The station that had the biggest impact with me was the old KMJM (Magic 108)/St. Louis. I thought Magic 108 was the best station in the Midwest in the late '80s to mid-'90s. At one period or another, they had a consistent lineup of on-air talent that included Tony Scott, Doc Wynter, Mel DeVaughn, Chaz Saunders, Eric Michaels, Mark Clark, Troy Johnson and the late "Captain G" Greg Beasley; and great programming from Mike Stradford and Chuck Atkins.
In terms of programming, Sam Weaver and Andre Carson. Both are totally the opposite in terms of management style and personality. Sam Weaver allowed me to develop as a programmer, while Andre Carson refined me to become a better programmer and manager.
2) What led you to a career in radio?
In college I was a Business Administration major ... and it wasn't me. I was always interested in music because I disc-jockeyed college parties and weddings. I called my friend Magic, who at the time was working evenings at KPRS, and asked him about any volunteer or internship possibilities at the station. Soon afterwards, I met with the late Prim Carter and was awarded an internship at KPRS.
3) Was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it"?
Probably a month into my internship at KPRS. My internship experience led me to change majors and schools.
4) If you were just starting out in radio, knowing now what you didn't then, would you still do it?
Even though the industry has changed, I would still pursue radio.
5) Where do you see yourself and the industry five years from now?
Hopefully and prayerfully, I'll still be in this industry. I'm about to get controversial now. In regards to the industry, I think that the Urban radio stations and music divisions are in trouble. In terms of radio, consolidation in the '90s killed the radio industry as a whole. It took the fire and competition out of our industry. I think the major radio and music companies will eliminate the Urban formats and music divisions. Why? Just look at the current landscape and see who's being eliminated and replaced in radio and music. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see what's really happening.
How many Urban managers in radio and records continue to hit the glass ceiling and kicked out? In terms of Hip-Hop and R&B, the genre of music will continue, but it will be played by non-Urban radio formats and marketed to non-Urban music divisions. Why? Music companies are placing more dollars within their Rhythmic divisions while some Urban divisions are eliminated. In radio, advertisers are more comfortable with Rhythmic formats instead of Urban, regardless of the ratings performance and success of an Urban station.
6) How you feel about being asked to wait on a record you hear until the research validates it?
When I was younger I was more eager to jump on a record quickly. But now it's about space and timing. I always been a firm believer that a station has to play music that fits the market. If a record is a hit, it must go into rotation without research.
7) How do you feel about syndication? Does it significantly affect the number of hours that you have control over the music that you play?
Syndication has its pros and cons. The star power of the syndicated program is very important. Musically, syndicated programming, especially morning shows, eliminates a lot of songs. I do not have a problem with that -- if our audience responds to less music and more content, and our station wins ratings, I'll take that any day.
In terms of syndicated mix-shows, I liked a locally produced mix-show because syndicated mix-shows sometimes have songs that do not relate to a particular market.
8) Because of callout research, are today's Urban and Urban AC programmers going to be slower in adding and playing new music? What is the maximum number of spins a record in Power rotation could be expected to receive in a given week on KPRS?
First, I think that stations are slow to place music into rotation because there's a lot of marginal music. Look at the record sales. Forty to forty-five spins a week is number working with in power rotation.
9) Of all the skills you have gained through the years, is there an area you'd like to improve?
I have a lot of things on my plate and follow-up is the area that I continue to perfect.
10) Even though there have been some fluctuations, for the most part KPRS continues to do well. How do you account for the continuing ratings dominance KPRS has on the Kansas City market?
KPRS continues to dominate because our brand and heritage has been in the market for over 50 years. We continue to address the needs of our listeners and have presence in the Kansas City community. PPM will be the greatest challenge for our station in 2011 if we do not market our property correctly.
As you look back over your career ... any regrets? Missed opportunities?
Any regrets? I've always wanted to work in another market. But, in today's environment, who's moving?
What's your favorite reading material?
I read information from the Internet and newspapers. I'm really big on marketing books from Jay Conrad Levinson, "The Godfather of Guerrilla Marketing."
How important is consistent marketing to a station's overall success?
It's vital to market a station consistently. In order to win today, radio companies have to understand how to market to its current audience and also groom the next generation of listeners. That why it's important to have a strong marketing campaign that has a great mix of traditional marketing (TV and print), virtual marketing (website, social networking, e-mail blasts, etc.), promotional marketing (any items with your logo) and public relations.
How do you feel about Arbitron's PPM replacing the diary?
The jury is still out. My thoughts ... if it wasn't broke why try to fix it? But we've still got to adjust and learn how to sustain audience growth and ratings with the meter.