10 Questions with ... Warren Stevens
June 11, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Attended Urbana High School starting in 1982 where I received my initial radio/television training. Afterwards I attended Capital University in Bexley, OH majoring in Speech Communications. While in college I had the fortunate opportunity to continue my radio/television work. In college I held a regular radio air shift on our student-run radio station WCAP. I also held the positions of camera operator, floor director, audio engineer and director for our student run public affairs television show "Skyline Columbus."
1) Where and what was your first job in radio? Who are some of your mentors?
I started in radio at the age of 14 at WUHS 91.7 fm at Urbana High School. I got my start as a play-by-play announcer for high school football and basketball in 1983 while in high school. Some of my mentors include: Pete Dunn, Lee Collins, Mike Dolph, Eugene Brown, Bishop Mel Griffin, Vince Fruge and Joe Woodford.
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?
Yes, I would still pursue a career in radio. The only regret that I have is that I didn't get a chance to work in radio in different radio markets across the country and in different states.
3) Without giving away and secrets, what do you plan, if anything, to do differently that will give WXMG a ratings advantage?
I am paying careful attention to the length of all elements on the station. I want to keep our programming as brief and as concise as possible. We always want to sound as if we are playing more music while eliminating unnecessary clutter. We also want to keep our imaging as local and topical as possible.
4) As a successful veteran programmer, what are some of the most challenging aspects of the job of programming then and now?
Developing new talent is a big challenge. Most stations automate during the overnights now. Back in the day overnights is where most air personalities got their start and development. Now you have to train talent on a one-to-one basis in a simulated radio environment before actually going on-air.
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?
Morning shows are still extremely relevant and extremely important. While a live local morning show would be the most ideal show to have; a nationally syndicated morning show has more available resources. We syndicate Tom Joyner in the morning on WXMG and he frequently has Oprah or Tyler Perry on the show. On a local level we wouldn't be able to get someone like Oprah or Tyler Perry on our station.
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 WXMG?
I believe today's Urban AC programming adds music a little slower than Urban Mainstream programming. Adults consume music a lot differently than younger listeners. Adults tend to spend more time with a song. They also don't prefer an overabundance of new music pushed at them. Songs in our power rotation typically receive a maximum of 25 -28 plays per week.
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?
It depends on the people involved. Overall the record labels are trying to get as many of their songs played as possible. I believe that they still may not understand that the Urban AC format is not going to add a lot of music. They're releasing multiple singles by an artist a little too frequently for the Adult Urban AC format. They're trying to drive music sales. We're trying to keep our listeners musically satisfied.
8) What's your read on the format music wise nowadays and how do you feel about the future of Urban radio?
I feel that Adult R&B music is in a good place. With core artists like Maxwell, Charlie Wilson, Alicia Keys and Kem, the music format will continue to thrive. Urban Adult radio in general music will continue to lead the way. Overall the Adult Urban format represents our community in a better light. Urban radio is here to stay.
9) Is Urban radio moving swiftly enough in keeping pace with outside media pure plan competitors attempting to invade its space, especially given the streaming options growing in auto dashboards?
Yes, I believe it is. Digitally speaking Urban radio keeping pace. I believe that we have a huge task to consistently educate our listeners on how to make the transition into the digital world. More specifically, we have to educate our listeners on how they can take their favorite radio station with them on their phone, the web and on their car dashboards as new blue tooth car technology come to the forefront.
10) As you look back over your career ... any regrets? Missed opportunities?
None that I can think of. I feel really blessed to have been a part of the radio industry for over 30 years.
What would people who think they know Warren Stevens be surprised to learn about you?
I have a deep interest in real estate and financial investing (stocks, bonds, 401k etc.)
What the best piece of advice that someone has ever given you that you still use on a daily basis?
Always be coachable. Be willing to listen.
Name the one gadget you can't live without.
Any advice for broadcasters?
Be willing to relocate anywhere in the country to get your first break in the business.
What is your Favorite book?
"Rich Dad Poor Dad" by Robert Kiyosaki