10 Questions with ... Jay Postal
July 30, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- On-Air Radio Personality/Promotions (2010-2013), Urban/360 MD, (2012-Current)
- Clear Channel Media + Entertainment/Boston - Programming Intern
- Universal Music Group, Republic Records - Promotions & Marketing Intern
- Simon & Schuster, CBS Corporation - Digital Marketing/Social Media Intern
- Brown University B.A., Bank of America - Intern
1) Where and what was your first job in radio? Who are some of your mentors?
WBRU is my first gig in radio, and I love it! Although I am young, I've been fortunate to have great mentors who inspire me, give me great advice and instill in me a love and appreciation for the industry. The first is our PD, Wendell Clough, who has been at the station for a little under a decade. Next, I'd have say Doc Wynter, and also Jennifer Norwood for all their invaluable insight during my young and emergent professional career.
Finally, I've been particularly inspired by those who have operated very successfully in the broadcast media, music and entertainment business, such as Stephen Hill, President of Music Programming and Specials for BET Networks, who has always given me some of the best advice; Jonathan Klien, President, CNN/U.S.; and Atlantic Records Chairman/CEO Craig Kallman -- to name a few -- all of whom started shaping their formal careers in radio and, interestingly enough, at 95.5 WBRU! Seeing their trajectories and passion has truly inspired me to become involved in the business.
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?
Seeing as though I'm a very young programmer, I honestly can't answer this question in a way that someone with extensive industry experience could. Nevertheless, I absolutely love radio! Instead of asking myself what I "would have" done, I instead ask, "What I should be doing differently?" The last few years -- studying, challenging myself, and learning from those who are more experienced -- has exposed me to the industry and some of its deeper complexities in an unprecedented way. Being knowledgeable and having been able to apply the systems, research, tools and techniques that are standard in the industry is a start. Looking forward, I seek to continue developing the traditional skill sets, habits and practices needed to be successful in this industry, but also hope to be able to focus on new, innovative ways of making the medium cool and relevant for younger generations.
3) What do you plan, if anything, to do differently that would give your station a ratings advantage?
To give our station an advantage, we have to nurture what we already do well, and continue to embrace and leverage the fast-changing digital/social media landscape. At WBRU, we already do a terrific job at delivering quality music programming and exclusive, compelling content. Beyond simply serving our demographic by tailoring our programming to their interest and needs, and by marketing the popular artists in the music industry they love, we're unique in the sense that we give our listeners a voice, and a choice -- programming specific times for them to get on-air with requests, shout-outs and other unique benefits of that nature.
Another thing that will give us an advantage is taking risks and not being afraid to introduce them to great new talent or break new artists. For example, last year we broke Macklemore's "Thrift Shop," which ended up being a cross-format hit! Other things include great web/viral content, great imaging, creating more anticipation/listener magnets, more music and less clutter. Finally, all while we're playing great records, we want to keep setting ourselves a part through our local/interactive content, which elicits a more of an emotional response and gets our community to actively participate -- whether it is on-air, online and on-site. This may be bias, but across all departments -- programming, production, promotions and sales -- we're moving towards becoming arguably one of the most creative and engaging stations in the marketplace.
4) As a programmer, what are some of the most challenging aspects of the job of programming then and now?
As a programmer, the biggest challenge is trying to make traditional, terrestrial radio relevant and cool again ... in hopes that we transfer this excitement to buyers, so they're inclined to allocate more of their budgets towards radio. As more and more young people resort to mp3 players, iPods, online streaming radio services like Pandora and Spotify, satellite radio-equipped vehicles and other emerging technologies, it's our responsibility to find innovative ways of reminding people of the perks of radio. Everyone knows that radio is free, readily available, and that you can win free concert, tickets, and even money. Those promotional incentives clearly aren't enough anymore. Now we have to make an asserted effort to enter the platforms and forms of technology that consumers are embracing and integrate that with our programming.
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 an incredibly vital part of radio. The argument over live vs. syndicated is a tough one. If choosing between the two, I'd always go with whatever could culturally connect to the listeners in the marketplace, attract the biggest audience and ultimately bring in the most revenue to the 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 your station?
It seems as though Urban AC programmers are a lot slower than Urban Mainstream programmers in adding new music given their respective audiences. But I'd hate to generalize given that everyone's programming philosophy is a little different. For me, I'll jump on new record if it works for our demo and if I can confidently anticipate it climbing the charts and being a hit record. However, if there's one thing I've learned from attending an Ivy League research university, it's to be huge proponent of research and data! It's okay to occasionally trust your gut but validation from research and patience should always take precedence. Max spins at WBRU on alt. is a little under 40.
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?
Of course! It's always been a symbiotic win-win relationship. I love going above and beyond to both expose and excite our listeners about new singles and artists across all our platforms. I've also been blessed to have worked with great promo reps who understand our mission, programming and sound, and provide us with some of the things we need, such as its interviews, shows, merchandising etc. that we can share with our audience to help us further build our brand loyalty as a station.
8) What's your read on the format music-wise nowadays and how do you feel about the future of Urban radio?
I'm a fan of many formats, and I especially love the Urban format, music-wise. Carrying on the legacy of DJ Buck (who's now PD at WZMX), we've kept the future of Urban radio alive in our area. New England has a diverse and sizeable minority population, but no mainstream Urban station on the panel. Seeing that we cover Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and parts of Connecticut, we seek to serve the Urban niche/target market during our Urban segment (although we're listed Alternative) and give our listeners an experience that they can't get from listening to the Rhythmic-formatted stations in these states.
As Rhythmic stations in Rhode Island and Massachusetts have progressively become more Top 40 leaning, we've been able to capitalize on the R&B/Soul records they've shied away from. This includes artists like John Legend, Miguel, Elle Varner, Fantasia, Jennifer Hudson, as well as Urban leaning singles from artists like Beyonce, Trey Songz, Usher, Chris Brown mixed in with the rap chart-smashers such as the Lil Wayne's and Drake's, as well as some great urban recurrents, classics, and golds (e.g. Evelyn Champagne King, Charlie Wilson, Michael Jackson etc). I can be very critical of the content in Urban music nowadays, but it also speaks to a unique experience that many of our listeners, really gravitate towards and I respect that. As long as the hits keep coming, the future of Urban radio looks bright ... and we'll fight to keep it alive in New England.
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?
I believe we have to stay competitive and invade the outside media players' space as much as they invade our space, via the airwaves, through the Internet, through leveraging digital, social media marketing, and social analytics. The integration of digital/social media and big data will continue, and as people develop greater access to streaming options in auto dashboards/compelling music, and real-time content on other platforms, we have to always be in there face constantly reminding them of the fun, informational, entertaining and LOCAL content that they can get from us.
I believe it should be a requirement that everyone working at a radio station, including upper management and everyone in between in programming, promotions, sales and especially on-air jocks should be on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Vine, Pinterest, etc. Yes, social media is time consuming but if 76-year-old Pope Francis is on Twitter to communicate his message to the masses, there should be no reason why anyone in radio shouldn't. When I started at WBRU a few years ago, we barely used social media. However, in the last year or so, for example, we've grown about 81% on Facebook reaching over 23,000+ fans.
On the Urban side, we've grown to over 15,000 followers on Twitter (@WBRU360) which I think is the highest amount for any station in our marketplace, and we're constantly looking for creative ways/platforms to help grow our digital/online/mobile presence and constantly remind people to stream or listen in. My personal Twitter, I use almost as a customer service tool. I love engaging, interacting and responding to every listener tweet, hearing their feedback/requests and also re-tweet all the rave reviews of our programming, which can be hundreds of tweets on a day of Urban programming.
Letting the people do the real-time word-of-mouth promotion on social spaces such as Twitter is very effective; when people see all their friends talking about how good our station is, it's almost irresistible to not tune in -- by streaming online, over their phone, or in the car listening via physical radio.
10) As you look back over your career ... any regrets? Missed opportunities?
Not at all! In fact, I'm young and just getting started. I look forward to growing, being a team player, developing with the times and being the best that I can be.
What would people who think they know Jay Postal be surprised to learn about you?
That I don't want to do radio forever! Seeing my passion, people get surprised when I tell them my goal isn't to actually be a longtime radio personality or programmer. Although I'm young and have a long way to go, my overarching goal is to continue to operate in the music/broadcasting industry in some capacity for the next couple of years, get my MBA, continue to learn and ultimately be able to develop innovative, strategic responses to the fundamental technological and market changes we'll be experiencing for years to come. I love radio and the music business and I want both to be flourishing generations from now.
Name the one gadget you can't live without.
Not the New England Patriots! The St. Louis Rams, forever the greatest show on turf!
What the best piece of advice that someone has ever given you that you still use on a daily basis?
I've always been taught to put my head down, work hard, aim high, chase passion, give back when I can, and approach everyone and everything with respect and humility. Those are the values I'll always live by.
Last non-industry job
Working with children at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Providence! I've since continued working with children as a once a week volunteer tutor for Inspiring Minds: Volunteers in Providence Schools.