10 Questions with ... Phil Michaels-Trueba
April 23, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- WHQT Miami 1991-1999
- WPYO Orlando (Signed on) 1999 - 2001
- WPYM Miami 2001 - 2005
- WHQT Miami 2006 - current
1) Where and what was your first job in radio? Who are some of your mentors?
My first job in radio was where I currently am ...WHQT. I started as an intern in 1991 and promoted all the way up to APD in 1997. I've been blessed to be around and learn from some of the best in our industry. My first mentor was Willie B; he plucked me out of the sales department during my internship and brought me down to programming where I really wanted to be. Keith Isley was the PD at the time and I learned quickly that radio isn't a 9-to-5 job watching his work ethic. Hector Hannibal gave me the Michaels in my name and was the first to let me in the studio to run the board and crack open the mic even if it was just for three seconds saying the top of the hour ID ... I worked that trust me.
Then came Tony Kidd in 1994, who took me under his wing and is responsible for the major development in my career as his assistant. I literally shadowed him everywhere. I observed, listened, questioned and took many mental notes. Tony to this day is like a big brother to me and we make one hell of a team together. Rich Reis gave me my first PD job in Orlando when we signed on WPYO. For a first-time PD, it's a challenge now throw in a brand new station which was a Class A going up against 100,000-watt heritage monsters but we did some great guerilla radio and we were a pain in the ass to our competitors. That was fun!
During that time I had the opportunity to work with the master Bill Tanner as our consultant. I always admired him from being the architect of many great brands in my hometown of Miami such as Power 96, Y100 and even Hot 105.I signed on the nation's first 100,000-watt PURE DANCE (Now called EDM) station in the country with WPYM Party 93.1 South Florida's PURE DANCE Channel and that was an amazing ride with Mike Disney as our VP/GM and David Isreal as my OM.
I left Cox in 2005 when they flipped it to Rock and in 2006 Jerry Rushin called me and gave me an offer I couldn't refuse. To come home again and run Hot 105. Jerry is the
man! A truly living legend and icon ... and I am so lucky to be able to say I worked with him and was on his team. All the stories you hear are true! I learned so many valuable and priceless lessons from him. He has so many great stories and intel on our business.
Here's a great story about Jerry: When my father died two years ago, he comes into my office and says, "Don't worry, son, I'm your daddy now". That's Jerry! He truly is a father figure to me. He's now enjoying retirement like he should and deserves, but I still call him all of the time for his advice and wisdom on personal or business issues.
Currently, our new market manager Dan Kearney is a major influence in my continued development and growth and I love being around him and watching him lead. We have the best people in Cox. It's not just something we say; it's part of our core values and culture. I have to give props to Jorge Usatorres, Jay Dixon, Jeremy Rice, Steve Holbrook, Bob Green, Mitch Wein, Bob Neil, Steve Smith, and now Kim Guthrie for their wisdom and guidance that each has shared in my development. I know I've omitted some names and if you're one of them please forgive me. You know who you are and what you've meant to me as a mentor. It's been 22 years of mentors and growth!
2) If you were just starting out in radio, knowing now what you didn't then, would you still do it? What would do you differently?
Absolutely! I love radio. It's one of the only forms of entertainment that is still free and so tied into our local communities. We invade people's most intimate and private places as and we become a part of their lives and routines. I also love the people in radio. We're passionate, creative, competitive, inspiring, and innovators.
3) Given the various faces of Urban AC over the past few years, how would you best define the format today?
This is pretty simple to answer. Play the music your local audience wants to hear. You find that out by researching the market and creating a clock that serves the passion the audience has for the music and eras. UAC is a Hot format! There is so much passion for the music which is tied into so many memories and moments in people's lives.
4) You recently celebrated a milestone when you re-signed with James T, who is a Miami radio legend. What makes him such an outstanding personality for the format? How loyal is his audience, many of whom have obviously grown up with him?
I'm raising my hand on that last sentence. I was inspired to pursue a career in radio by James. I listened to him on WEDR and was taken in by his presence on the radio and the passion and love he has for our community. I'm here to testify what kind of impact James has had in radio in South Florida. I'm a product of that. His passion for the community and the music is immeasurable. James would give the shirt off of his back for a listener if he had to. He cares so much. He's going to kill me when he reads this, but he's a pioneer of Urban radio in South Florida. That doesn't mean he's old as dirt, but it means he helped blaze the trail and created the blueprint on how to do great Urban radio in South Florida. He is South Florida and his audience loves him. How many UACs can say they're consistently #1 in middays in such a heavy Hispanic market like South Florida. Well, James can.
5) How important are morning shows in 2013? Does it really matter if the morning show is live or syndicated, as long as it is connecting with the audience?
Having a strong morning show is still the foundation for a successful radio station. The day starts with them ... the radios turn on with them ... first time the meters light up are with them. I believe that it doesn't matter if your morning show is syndicated or local as long as it's relevant and engaging to the audience you're trying to super-serve. That's why when we put Tom Joyner on as one of his original affiliates in 1994 I knew it was going to work because he's an entertainer and very relevant to the audience. Fast-forward to 2013 and Tom dominates and owns this market ... the audience loves him and his show because it satisfies all of the audience emotional and informational needs. You can build that local or national but it takes a special talent to do so.
6) Because of callout research are today's Urban 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?
I don't believe so. Research validates your ears and gut instincts. In the UAC format playing new music is not what drives the audience ... but it is a very important part of the recipe. We have some great artists that create some amazing songs......we just don't add seven songs a month. We slowly introduce them into the mix ... and let it simmer like MJ used to say. A power current on WHQT spins in the high 20's a week.
7) Over the years what been the one thing (or is it one thing) that's enabled WHQT to remain on top and a major player when it comes to creating great radio in a market like Miami?
Consistency ... when you turn on the radio to 105.1 in Miami, you know what you're going to get. Great radio! We're famous for our music and famous for our people!
8) How vital do you think research is in today's multi-media world and which research do you find most important?
Research is key to your success. You have to know what the audience wants and needs to able to satisfy it. Now you just have many other sources to find that out through social media such as Facebook, YouTube, Vevo, Spotify, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
9) Is Urban AC radio moving swiftly enough in keeping pace with outside media, pure-play competitors attempting to invade its space, especially given the streaming options growing in auto dashboards?
My belief is that radio will continue to be competitive and widely available through distribution on the airwaves, the Internet, digital apps, and remain a major part of our car dashboards. Our job is to continue to make radio relevant, entertaining, inspiring, engaging, informational, tied into our local communities, and most of all ... FUN! Like I said, we're FREE. Where else are you going to get all that for free. Plus these streaming options will also give us the opportunity to expose our brands to mass audiences as well. We get e-mails from Brazil, France, Japan. How cool is that? We still have to super-serve our local audience though. That's what makes us different and unique.
10) As you look back over your career ... any regrets? Missed opportunities?
I have no regrets. I love what I do. My passion level for radio is higher than ever. I have been blessed to work for and with some of the greatest entertainers, innovators, mentors, and characters in this industry. Radio rules!
What are your current station pre-sets?
Um, all of the Cox Media Group stations in Miami. Yeah! Seriously though, I listen to them all. We have some great brands in our market with some great personalities.
What the best piece of advice that someone has ever given you that you still use on a daily basis?
Trust but validate.
What's been your biggest disappointment in Radio today?
Any advice for broadcasters?
Remember the first time you walked into a radio station and/or TV station. Keep that feeling alive.
How important is consistent marketing and contesting to a station's overall success?
You have to market your brand. What you're famous for. Otherwise, you'll get lost with all of the other sources out their competing for someone's attention.