10 Questions with ... Derrick Baker
August 7, 2012
1) What have been the biggest programming challenges you and your staff have faced in the past year, and what have you been able to do to become not only format dominant, but also market dominant?
Our biggest challenge is simple: Don't believe the hype and stay focused. Nearly two years ago, prior to PPM in the market, we all agreed we would be the exception. Our goal was to do extremely well in PPM. In targeting 18-34-year-olds, we compete with several outlets (online usage, TV, etc.), so we must stay focused and super-serve our P1s.
2) How important do you feel it is for programmers to be personally involved with social networking?
Social media is vital. I'm not sure of the exact number, but I'm guessing if your station targets 18-34-year-olds. Ninety percent of them use some sort of social media platform -- Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc.
3) Does anything surprise you along the lines of new media platforms in terms of effectiveness with the audience?
Not really. If anything, "timing"... today everything is right now/in the moment. If something happens at 1:15p, we needed to be on it. At 1:10p the next day, whatever it was is now irrelevant and done with.
4) How you prefer to be promoted on new records? You still occasionally play local Miami artists' records and have been responsible for calling national attention to many of these new artists you played.
I still believe good records are good records -- if it's good, we will find it. I don't mind if an artist/label highlights or can show me a story. Our music philosophy is simple: We play the best songs (Jamz) for Miami. The criteria is the same for both local and national artists. As I have said in many music meetings, "Just because you are a Miami artist does not afford you a slot on this station." However, we do have a feature called "Local Love," which highlights up-and-coming local talent
5) With the current trend toward talent importation and voice-tracking, 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?
This is one of the most exciting parts of my job - coaching. In addition to the many responsibilities of a major-market PD, developing talent is the most rewarding. Feedback, coaching sessions or listening to last week's air-check are great tools...
6) Because of callout research and M-scores, are today's Urban 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 WEDR?
We are in the middle ... more aggressive than most Urban ACs, but not as aggressive as Pop/Rhythmic stations. A typical week could range in the 80s for powers
7) Do you look at the sample size of your callout and Mscores the same way you look at the sample size of your PPM in-tab? And do you ever feel research can be a detriment to the decision-making process?
Not really -- callout and Mscores are just two of many tools we use on the station. Listeners will tell you what they expect from you and what they enjoy hearing. Over the last few months, we have been careful not to put our audience in a box. We have no problem playing Pitbull or Justin Beiber next to Miguel or Ric Ross -- if that's what our listeners want. Mscores can be tricky ... so we use them with care.
8) Describe your staff's involvement individually and collectively in what WEDR has been able to achieve, particularly in the latest PPM ratings?
Nothing short of remarkable ... our Jamz team is made up of several talented individuals working together to reach a collective goal. I know we should not brag, but I must highlight my entire team. WEDR won every demo -- 1st quarter, 2011 -- and has been #1 in two of the three key demos in the last six consecutive months
I am surrounded by lots of talent - such as part-timer Felicia Monet (Foxx), who was helped out in nights (with DJ Khaled) and has done extremely well, or a Toine "the Don" Edwards, who at 23 is on the PD fast-track and will do well in this business. From the morning guy to weekend board op, we have a really strong team.
9) Your former GM, Jerry Rushin, has been replaced by Dan Kierney, a different type of GM who does not come from programming. Do you feel having a GM with different kinds of strengths will have an effect on WEDR?
Having a GM such as a Jerry Rushin offered "many" things. His many years of experience, understanding of the needs of the community and most of all, how his stations can get the message through the speakers helped us so much. We will just have to see how things develop with our new GM. I'm prepared to continue to win
10) As you look back over your career ... any regrets? Missed opportunities?
Not at all ... I'm in Miami!
What would people who think they know Derrick Baker be surprised to know about you?
I am really old school; I am a WDIA/Memphis P1.
These days everyone is being forced to do more with less. What are the key factors that allow you to stay focused on your daily tasks?
Great support staff ... and a drive to be the best.
How much of an effect has PPM measurement had on your programming philosophy?
A lot. Stations can no longer rely on heritage and/or the hype. Execution and content play a major role in the programming philosophy.
How frequently do you sit with the staff individually in a mentoring capacity?
We meet twice a month as a group and (one-on-one) weekly. We are also very transparent. When the numbers come out, we review them as a staff. No secrets at WEDR.
How important are contests to ratings success?
Contests play an important role in our success. Our goal is to make sure all of the station contests "sound" just as fun and exciting as they are to play!