10 Questions with ... K.J. Holiday
August 28, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
WJDY-A/ Salisbury, MD 1983; Norfolk, VA; Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; to WJLB/WMXD-Detroit.
1) What was your first job in radio? Early influences?
I started in the small town of Salisbury, MD (WJDY-A) in 1983. I grew up in NY and emulated Chuck Leonard. I used to listen to him on the great WABC-A along with Dan Ingram. Other jocks who influenced me included Ken "Spider" Webb, Frankie Crocker, Vaughn Harper, Jerry Bledsoe, Rosco (WKTU), Scott Shannon, Shadoe Stevens, Brute Bailey, Jeff Foxx, B.J Steele (he used to use different names and used to work at WDJY, WUSL, WRKS ... where the hell is he? I thought he was the greatest).
2) What led you to a career in radio? Was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it"?
The whole thing was an accident. I used to be a mixer/DJ in college (I attended the Univ. of Maryland/Eastern Shore). I was in the ROTC on campus and was at a drill having a conversation with my Sgt. about DJ'ing (Sgt. Marshall ... I can still remember his name). I told him I was tired of DJ'ing on campus and that I needed a change, and he said, "I can take you somewhere." We ended up at a little place that looked like a house. I said, "This is not a club." He said, "No, it's a radio station" ... then I said, "A radio station?"
I was looking to spin off-campus at a club. But he said let's go in and check it out anyway. Inside I met the PD, Chris Barry, who was at Interscope Records after he left radio. He said he was looking for a party-type DJ to mix on the air (N.Y. stations were among some of the first stations to start the club thing on the air back in the day, and he wanted to try the same thing). I told him that I'm from N.Y. and he said he spent a lot of time there, so we hit it off, and the next thing you know, I was on the air, mixing with the actual studio turntables on the board -- not a mixer, the actual board with POTS (I was a beast). He taught me how to speak, and from there it's history.
3) If you were just starting out in radio, knowing now what you didn't then, would you still do it?
Yep! Despite all of the B.S. in the business, I would be committed to eliminating all of the B.S and eliminating all of the B.S. people who perpetrate B.S. I would be sort of a "slayer of the B.S."
4) There have been some recent changes in Motor City radio and yet your stations have not only survived, but prospered. How do you account for the recent rating surges for both WMXD and WJLB? Did you do anything different?
We are always trying to do something different. I surround myself with creative people, and we constantly try to reinvent the wheel. So I cannot put my finger on any one thing, other than that we are constantly reinventing ourselves.
5) What's your take on today's Urban radio? Is it as good as it was a year ago, six months ago, better, or about the same?
It's pretty much the same. We have to be able to balance science, research and creativity. There are those who don't understand this ... and that is disappointing. However, it will not affect me because I plan to keep doing what I'm doing.
6) What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
The bullshit is the same in every market, but as the market gets bigger, the only thing that changes is the equipment gets better. I don't want to sound negative, though, because for every negative, there are 10 positives. I love my job.
7) Although you've been in Detroit for a while now, were there some adjustments you had to make (other than riding your motorcycle less) when you moved from Virginia to The Motor City?
I had the same position my last two years in Norfolk, so my only adjustment was with fewer stations and a cold-ass city.
8) Of all the skills you have gained through the years, is there an area you'd like to improve?
Time management! Sometimes I'd rather speak to a young jock on the importance of communicating to your target listener than sitting in a budget meeting (I know they're necessary, but they get on my nerves sometimes). I can spend hours talking to jocks about programming. I also tend to speak to any and everyone when I could be handling more pressing issues.
9) How well do you think today's Urban broadcasters really understand Arbitron?
Just like most of us, they understand enough to be dangerous. We just have to continue to learn more and more every day. I don't think anyone totally understands Arbitron except the lil' dude who invented it. Trust me, there are a lot of people who talk that shit, but if they were quizzed by the lil' dude, they'd all fail.
10) As you look back over your career ... any regrets? Missed opportunities?
The only regret I have is that I could be out more in your face, but I'm a low-key kind-of-behind-the-scenes guy (don't get it twisted; I have a lot of passion, but I don't care about shining in everyone's face). I would probably have gotten to where I am now years ago if I showed my face, and my talents, sooner. Better late than never, though.
How did you get your present job?
Doc Wynter asked ... I said yes.
What's the best piece of advice anyone's ever given you?
Cover your ass, never shit on anyone, and if you love your job, work like you love it (I live by that). The worst: Do the log on the weekends and make sure you put in plenty of new music back-to-back to make the station sound fresh.
Describe your favorite meal.
Chinese food. It's hard now because I'm Mr. Low-Carb, though. I love rice.