10 Questions with ... Jay Dixon
February 14, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- '80s, '90s -- Served as Production Dir. for WILD/Boston, WJLB/Detroit and WRKS/New York
- January 2000-June 2011 - Cox Radio PD WALR/Urban Format Coordinator
- August 2011 - PD, WRKS New York
1) Where and what was your first job in radio? Early influences?
My brother, Donny taught me electronics ... and with the help of many family members donating electronic parts and records, I build transmitters as a teen ... and started broadcasting through my neighborhood. Yes, I started as a pirate with FCC trucks tracking me through the housing project. During my high school years, I was an intern at WILD where the late Sonny Joe White was PD. He was a great mentor. My radio family in college at Northeastern University's WRBB influenced my music tastes with Disco, House and Paradise Garage music. Frankie Crocker and WBLS were the reference for "great radio" and our college station mirrored WBLS. That with a passion for Top 40 radio shaped my programming style.
2) If you were just starting out in radio, knowing now what you didn't then, would you still do it?
There's no question I would still have traveled this same path where many opportunities were presented to touch people's lives -- and share lots of life experiences with people in my profession. My mentors, peers and listeners were like my family. I've shared many triumphs and tragedies with them, which helped shape me into the person I am today. I wouldn't change a thing.
3) Does anything surprise you along the lines of new media platforms in terms of effectiveness with the audience?
Yes, the way iTunes became a huge distributor for music. I didn't see that one coming back in the early 2000s, but didn't think we'd be lining up buying 45 records forever, either...
4) How you prefer to be promoted on new records? And how do you feel about playing local New York artist's records or would you still prefer to wait until the research validates it?
I'm all about supporting artists who create quality music. 98.7 Kiss features new music on our website with a feature called "Single Life," showcasing new and upcoming projects. It's a great platform to get feedback. As for submitting music, I prefer links to download the music. Never send me an MP3; those files clog my mailbox and I just delete them ... o a link to download the file is best. I like getting feedback from the marketplace about a song, but can also hear a hit ahead of time...
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?
I look for talent with great social media skills, who know how to communicate professionally, one-on-one and to the communities they serve. I follow them on Facebook and see lots of potential stars out there who are on the pulse of what's happening and know how to stay relevant. All broadcast vets are in a position to mentor and find time to train them.
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 WRKS?
I guess it's reflected in the all those media monitoring services spying on us...
7) Of all the many skills (especially productions and voiceovers) you have gained through the years, is there an area you'd like to improve?
I'm always developing and improving all of my gifts, including being the best husband and father. Professionally, I'm always developing leadership skills for the next generation of talented programmers, brand managers, imaging gurus, on-air talent, operation managers and others who will take our industry to the next level. They know who they are and I'm proud of all of them. Mentoring is very important to me and I'm always working to improve that skill.
8) What's your read on the format, music-wise, nowadays?
It's healthy and still relevant. I love Classic R&B, but also love new R&B and Hip-Hop. Will there be AC formats one day playing artists like Drake, Nikki Manaj, Jay-Z, Kanye and Rhianna? Time will tell. There's a good batch of new Urban AC music out there too that fits well with the Classic Soul titles.
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?
Radio is a business and the brand is shaped by the marketplace ... that means people. Today's broadcast leaders have to make smart business decisions that benefit the communities we serve.
10) As you look back over your career ... any regrets? Missed opportunities?
Not really, but some people might not know I produced records for a period of time during the '80s and '90s. I never had that BIG hit record -- but hear songs today that make me say "wow, I could have written that song..."
What would people who think they know Jay Dixon be surprised to know about you?
My younger daughter wants to be a pilot. A DJ in Atlanta named Si-Man presented me and my daughters with an opportunity to learn about flight and flew in a single engine plane over Atlanta. This was opportunity was presented to us by my on-air competitor. He was the nighttime jock on WAMJ while I was doing nights at WALR. How funny is that? My other daughter wanted to be a meteorologist after our experiences with tornadoes in Birmingham. You never know how your radio career moves will shape your family's future.
How can Urban radio best bridge the gap that exists with the younger/future listener base that exists today?
If you listen to the new releases and understand this generation's culture, the music makes sense. Whether it's Drake, Nikki, Jay-Z or J-Cole ... the music has a very powerful cultural connection to this generation. I wouldn't play "I Do" by Jeezy for my wife, but I get the meaning of that track. The songs are socially relevant to that demo. I like getting out of my comfort zone and appreciate the creativity from a different generation -- and not just think it's "space music." I went to the Kanye, Jay-Z concert and had a blast, one of the best concerts I've ever attended ... but very different than seeing Earth Wind & Fire on stage.
What the best piece of advice that someone has ever given you that you still use on a daily basis?
(Former Cox CEO) Bob Neal told me when developing your strategy - you better back it up with research ... keeps you out of the frying pan.
What's been your biggest disappointment in radio today?
Sloppy, careless execution
What's your favorite reading material?
Jerry Boulding's All Access articles
Do you feel that Urban stations should be more careful not to blindly copy formats but tailor them specifically to the age and racial make-up of their own markets?
Of course, you can't walk in another station's shoes until you know the wardrobe for your own audience. What does that mean? No one knows what it means ... but it's provocative! Should get the people going!
Do you feel that Urban stations should support new artists?
Yes, of course! I like the way Estelle is ramping up with an Urban AC hit "Thank You." We should get behind artists who create quality songs - Keshia Cole, Trey Songz, Ledisi, Jill Scott, Anthony David, etc -- they will be the future of this format...