10 Questions with ... Dionne Burkett Lewis
May 28, 2013
1) Where and what was your first job in radio? Who are your mentors?
My career in radio began as a volunteer at WKYS in 1994. In 1995, when Radio One purchased WKYS, I became the Programming Assistant for Steve Hegwood and Mic Fox. My mentors in the radio business are Steve Hegwood, Kathy Brown and Elroy Smith.
2) If you were just starting out in radio, knowing now what you didn't then, would you still do it?
Certainly, I love this game!
3) WMMJ recently had some of its highest ratings in years. Was there any one single thing that you did differently that might have given WMMJ a ratings surge?
One of the things I love about radio is that it feeds my competitive side, and if I were to give you my "plan," then I would surrender my competitive advantage. What I can tell you is that the passion I have for radio and moreover, DC Radio, is going to continue a successful footprint for WMMJ in DC. So in the words of my President, next question please.:)
4) As a first-time programmer in a major market, what are some of the most challenging aspects of the job of programming WMMJ?
The biggest challenge is the number of meetings that takes me away from focusing on the station. So finding the right balance is a challenge.
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 connects with the audience?
Morning shows are still a vital part of radio. In a PPM world, it doesn't matter if the morning show is live or local. What matters is the relevancy of the content; the connectivity of the talent with the audience, and in the morning Information is key ... so get people what they want, when they want it. My philosophy is as long as you challenge yourself in ways to localize a syndicated show it works in PPM.
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 WMMJ?
Research is a huge part of the record-selection process. However, it shouldn't hinder you from playing a record that you strongly believe will work for your station. The key is that you have to use research and your gut. The maximum number of spins is 28.
7) Do you think today's radio/record label relationship is in a good place where both have a better understanding of each other's goals?
Yes, I feel the relationships are in a good place, where we understand each other's goals and needs. However, it can sometimes be challenging especially when the labels are trying to break new artists.
8) What's your read on the format music-wise nowadays and what excites you most about the future of radio?
Music is something that never dies. The great thing about music and the format of Urban AC is that all the music we play evokes an emotion in my listeners: joy, happiness, peace, laughter and in most cases, a snapping-finger good feeling. The evolution of radio excites me, and I am glad to be a part of it. I realize that I am not just programming a terrestrial signal in D.C., but I program for people to hear WMMJ all around the world, and that's amazing. I love that I can take the station everywhere with me via my iPhone, iPad or Macbook (Can you tell I am partial to Apple products?)
9) Is Urban 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?
We are working hard to keep up with the industry trends, and consumer demands. We are mobile, and we recently launched Black Planet Radio, which will increase our online user experience with thousands of musical options, while cross-promoting our terrestrial radio brands. With this growing technology we have control over the messages are placed on the auto dashboards for our stations.
10) As you look back over your career ... any regrets? Missed opportunities?
No regrets. I choose not to live life with regrets because it keeps you from moving forward, because you are always thinking behind. I had a few missed opportunities, but those have been teaching moments for me, and all worked together to make me the programmer I am today. Everything happens in time.
Name the one gadget you can't live without.
Describe your favorite meal?
How do you feel about Arbitron's PPM replacing the diary?
It's not the best way to measure listening for Urban radio
Most annoying thing people ask you.
"Can you get me tickets to a show?" I am not Ticketmaster.
What is your favorite book?
"Who Moved My Cheese?"