10 Questions with ... Al B. Sylk
June 18, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Being hired as MD for WGCI and being able to do nights (WEDR) and mornings (WPOW) at an Urban and a Top 40 in a market such as Miami. My WOWI experience, my Philly experience.
1) Where and what was your first job in radio? Early influences?
My first job in radio was a part-time board-op/mix show host in Houston at KMJQ (102 JAMZ). I learned from Mad Hatta, Porsche Foxx, Long John, "Smokin'" Tony Richards and most importantly, "Hurricane" Dave Smith, because he was a great teacher and gave me my first job in Pittsburgh. WOW!
2) What was/were the most influential radio station(s) growing up?
I grew up in Chicago, so WBMX and WGCI were the stations to listen to, but I just remember all the legendary names (too many to mention).
3) If you were just starting out in radio, knowing now what you didn't then, would you still do it?
Oh yeah, in a heartbeat. I just would have started at an earlier age if I could have. I love our sector of the entertainment business.
4) What stations pre-sets are in your car right now?
WGCI #1, WVAZ (V103), WKSC (Kiss FM) and WNUA (I don't even know what they're saying; it sounds sexy.) LOL! I'm a music lover so I listen to a little bit of everything.
5) How do you prefer to be promoted on new records? And how do you feel about waiting on a record you hear until the research validates it?
I know we all have a job to do and most of these records really speak for themselves. As we say in radio, sometimes less is more. Now as far as waiting on a record ... it depends on the song and the artist. The key question is: Does it fit our station and what we're trying to do? We know research is an important tool, but it's not the only tool. There are other elements that play an equal part in the decision-making process.
6) What are your thoughts on syndication? What would make it better and more effective? Is the fact that you now have control over your local morning show an advantage? If so, how so?
Syndication can be good for some markets, but I wish more on-air talent could be groomed and promoted from within. You have more control, input and advantages with a local morning show. You also have better accessibility and local market input. If something happens locally that is important, you can be on the air with it instantly. I recently returned to the air. I'm now doing a regular night air shift.
7) How can Urban radio best bridge the gap that exists with the younger/future listener-based of the medium that exists today? Are programmers going to be slowed in exposing 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 WGCI?
I wouldn't say we're going to be slower going on new music ... just more patient because so much music is coming out so quickly. It's still about music curation. Radio today is audio delivery on several platforms. As a decision-maker, you still have to sort through and find the best quality. As far as the maximum spins in power, I would say about 50 spins or more, depending on our rotation, but I'm not exactly sure. Let me check Mediabase and don't quote me on that!
8) Of all the skills you have gained through the years, is there an area you'd like to improve?
There's always room for growth and improvement, plus with my supporting cast of Kris Kelly, Doc Wynter, Derrick Brown and Earl Jones, I'm just fortunate to learn the most I can from some of the best in the business.
9) How do you feel the continuing ratings growth of WGCI is going to affect the market? Do you feel there are going to be new challengers from other formats?
Positively is the only way we think; we do our best to entertain, inform and embrace our market. I don't know if we'll have any new challengers, but I can say we'll be ready because we are just trying to perfect our craft on a daily basis and be the best we can be.
10) As you look back over your career ... any regrets? Missed opportunities?
No, I don't really have any regrets. Maybe one or two things I would've done a little differently, but I don't think I've missed any opportunities, unless you know something I don't!
What would people who think they know Al B. Sylk be surprised to learn about you?
That I'm always working, even when I'm not working!
All Chicago teams: Bulls, Bears, Cubs, Blackhawks, White Sox
What current radio stations other than your own, do you admire & why?
I always have loved WOWI (worked with KJ Holiday and The Boodha Bros.) and Power 99 in Philly (always been good and competitive). I've always liked what V-103 in Atlanta (I still see you, Reggie) is doing and K104 in Dallas with George Cook -- maintaining the course.
What's been your biggest disappointment in radio today?
That there are no pension or retirement plans.
How do you feel about Arbitron's PPM replacing the diary?
I like it actually. But I would like to see the sample base improved and going forward, diary-measured stations and PPM-measured stations will need to follow somewhat different paths with different priorities.