10 Questions with ... Elroy Smith
February 5, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- Graham Jr. College/Boston 1979
- Emerson College 1979-1981
1) What was your first job in radio? Early influences?
My first radio job was in Bermuda at ZFB. My debut on ZFB was a disaster. Twenty minutes after signing on the air, the station went off the air and never came back on the air until the next day. The person who influenced me in Bermuda was Sturgis Griffin, who was the PD. He did radio in New York City at WWRL, WABC, WBLS and CD101 as Sergio Dean.
2) What led you to a career in radio? Was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it"?
In the latter '70s, I was a member of a singing group in Bermuda. I was fired right after a performance that was attended by 3-4,000 people. I had not left the grounds of the performance and I was told that it was over. I thought that we did well. We sang a song by the Persuaders, "Thin Line Between Love & Hate." At that moment, radio broadcasting popped into my mind and I hadn't looked by since that time.
Days later I visited the local radio station in Bermuda, applying for an on-air job. At this point, I was asked to read copy. However, I discovered that I could not read. This was very embarrassing for me. I immediately taught myself how to read. I practiced reading out loud any piece of material I would get my hands on.
This was a very tough time for me because I was doing poorly in high school in Bermuda. I went to two different high schools, both resulting in the same outcome -- failure. I never received a high school diploma. After applying to Graham Jr. College in Boston to enter into their Journalism two-year program; they explained to me that I needed to give them a reference from a politician and minister in Bermuda ... and if these letters were favorable, I would be accepted without having to submit my high school diploma/certificate of graduation. I did what they asked and was accepted.
This was an extremely difficult point in my life because I was so behind in American History, reading, writing and verbalizing my point of view. On top of all of that, I had a thick British accent and was instantly labeled as an outsider. After intense hard work, I graduated in a year-and-a-half with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. This degree inspired me to go after my bachelor's in Mass Communications and my Graduate degree in Business Management from Cambridge College, Cambridge, MA.
3) If you were just starting out in radio, knowing now what you didn't then, would you still do it?
Knowing what I know now, I would have still pursued radio. The passion for this business is still incredibly intense. This business is intoxicating to me.
4) You have had some ratings success with WRNB.
Yes, we've done quite well with the adult audience in Philadelphia.
5) In spite of the economy and the pressure, what still gets your adrenaline going?
Now more than ever, I find myself having to use my imagination and exercise smoking mirrors frequently.
6) How do you feel about syndication? Does it significantly affect the number of hours that you have control over the music that you play?
Many years ago I wasn't fond of syndication. However, I have come to appreciate it if the content is compelling
7) Because of callout research, are today's 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 WRNB?
Since WRNB's concentration is gold and recurrents, we are playing fewer currents. Currents are no longer a priority for WRNB. Our concentration is super-serving our '90s constituents.
8) Of all the skills you have gained through the years, is there an area you'd like to improve?
I am awful when it comes to understanding numbers. This is an area that I would need to get more training. Thank God that I have a great Business Manager who consistently assists me with any and all accounting issues.
9) How do you account for and what effect do you feel the continuing ratings success WRNB has had on the Philadelphia market?
WRNB has changed its direction to more of a '90s-based station, with a special emphasis on community service. The reaction of our new focus is amazing. Our cume is improving tremendously.
10) How do you feel about Arbitron's PPM?
I was spoiled by the diary world because I was at a station that had lots of equity in the city of Chicago (WGCI). The station was truly a brand that, whether you listened to the station or not, was top-of-mind in many diarykeeper's mind. PPM is a true reality check! What is good about PPM is how it can show you immediate results of such things as a format change, a promotion, etc.
As you look back over your career ... any regrets? Missed opportunities?
Even through the up and downs, I have no regrets. Every challenge or disappointment happened for a reason, which only helps me to grow and to learn from the experience.
Describe your favorite meal?
Everything that my wife cooks
What's your favorite reading material?
I read anything that praises God. I love the Bible because it offers so much wisdom. The Bible is my life coach. The book that I recently enjoyed was entitled "Never Give Up" by Joyce Meyer
You have always had a strong link to the community. You had it in Dallas, in Chicago, and now in Philadelphia. Has your outlook changed and how important is it in this age of electronic measurement?
My outlook is still very community-oriented. I love the fact that we have many community initiatives that we have supported and will continue to support in the new year.