10 Questions with ... Skip Dillard
July 31, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
BA Mass Media, Hampton University
1) Where and what was your first job in radio? Who are your mentors?
WOWI/Norfolk while in college ... weekends/swing. I'd need a separate article for my mentors. Can't risk forgetting someone!
2) In what areas do you feel you've developed the most?
Patience; I feel like I'm an overall better communicator from a management standpoint.
3) What, if anything do you plan to do different that will give continue to provide WBLS with a ratings advantage going forward, given the huge ratings boost you've just received?
Continuing to localize and connect the dots between on-air and our digital platforms.
4) As a veteran programmer, given the changes in the market, what are some of the most challenging aspects of the job of programming WBLS and WLIB?
You're probably in the #1 City in the World for distractions. Looking for entertainment and information? It's here. You really have to be compelling and on top of this super-fast-paced environment to get people's attention. I definitely work more than I sleep. but that's life in New York City.
5) How important are morning shows in 2012? In PPM, does it really matter if the morning show is live or syndicated as long as it is connecting with the audience?
Morning radio is alive and well in New York. Commutes are a part of life here no matter where you live in the region. Our GM Deon Levingston is a big fan of live and local. He also believes that syndication can thrive in New York if the talent is willing to embrace the city. Steve Harvey lived here for over the first two years of his syndication. That helped him connect with New Yorkers and that bond helped him continue to win here -- even though he has almost 70 other cities to serve as well.
As for PPM, a good, consistent morning product can only help you. And mornings are still a place where there's more money to be made with good ratings in that daypart than pretty much any other.
6) Because of callout research, are today's Urban AC programmers going to be even 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 WBLS?
As I've said before, a great record still finds its way on the radio. PPM has made us all even more cautious on jumping on music. Anything that's a risk for "tune out" -- including unfamiliar or "abrasive" selections -- are eliminated as we strive to keep listeners tuning in and staying tuned-in.
7) Do you think your radio/record label relationship is in a good place where both have a better understanding of each other's goals?
I believe it is. Both our industries are much smaller and those who have survived know a great deal about each others goals. That said, a record executive is going to seek airplay and record sales while my job is to get ratings so we can seek ad sales. Somewhere in there we all meet and find ways to continue to work together.
8) Do you think there is a chance another company is going to attempt to do an Urban AC format in New York?
I learned something very important from our consultant Tony Gray: "Worry about your station YOU control." My goal is to continue to build the very best Urban AC station for New York City, period.
9) Is Urban radio moving swiftly enough in keeping pace with outside media pure plan competitors attempting to invade its space, especially given the streaming options growing in auto dashboards?
Any well-thought-out answer to this would probably be best saved for another time.
10) As you look back over your career ... any regrets? Missed opportunities?
I'd still like to go to law school part-time. I probably should have gone straight out of undergrad but radio won out first.
What would people who think they know Skip Dillard be surprised to learn about you?
I studied classical piano and theory through college. Playing is one of my hobbies.
How can Urban radio best bridge the gap that exists with the younger/future listener base that exists today?
First off, we have to be on top of our game digitally. That's where they are. And, of course, we have to be in the schools, the recreation centers and playgrounds directly. One-on-one is still forever important in letting people know we're still going strong.
What are your current station rep-presets?
I'm a radio geek so a little bit of everyone. Power, Hot, WLTW, 1010 WINS (who doesn't love them), WNYC (NPR), WBGO (Community Jazz), WWRL, WCBS-FM, WKTU, 96.3 (Spanish) 92.3 and Z100.
Name the one gadget you can't live without.
What's been your biggest disappointment in Radio today?
We become so corporate driven that we forget to keep the "fun" there!