10 Questions with ... Kevin Gardner
September 24, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Highlights recap: WWPT/Philadelphia, WOKB/Orlando, FL, WWPD/Florence, SC., KDKO/Denver, WWDM/Columbia, SC., WDJY-WJZE/Washington, DC, WDAS/Philadelphia, WHBX/Tallahassee, FL., WKJS/Richmond, VA., WCFB/Orlando, FL.
1) Where and what was your first job in radio? Who are some of those who influenced you the most in your early career development?
My first commercial job was in Orlando at WOKB-A. I started off doing 7p-12a, quickly moved to middays and then to mornings. Some of my early on-air influences were Doug Henderson Jr., Dr. Perry Johnson, Jerry Wells, Beej in the Morning and the late Georgie Woods. Some of my programming philosophies were formed by being exposed to PDs such as Steve Crumbley, Dave Allen, Lee Michaels, Raymond Anthony and the late Joe "Butterball" Tamburo.
2) If you were just starting out in radio, knowing now what you didn't then, would you still do it? What would you do differently?
Radio is a passion for most of us so yes, I would do all over again because I believe whatever you're going through, good or bad, God is preparing you for the next leg of your earthly journey. At first thought, I could think of a couple of things I'd do differently but if I did, I wouldn't be the person I am today.
3) KRNB has already made a significant impact in the Urban AC world in Dallas, but there is a continuing major Urban AC battle going the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex. What are your initial thoughts on where KRNB needs to focus to achieve the kind of success you envision?
KRNB needs to continue on its current path of clearly defining itself from all competitors by playing the hits, providing compelling content, communicating thru our website/social media and being active in the community.
4) The company (Service Broadcasting) has been committed to digital initiatives. What new platforms are you seeing as being the most advantageous in terms of extending your brand and generating ratings?
KRNB is currently using and having success with our mobile app for iOS and Android smartphones. We use YouTube to share station happenings like our Pick-A-Purse and Shoesday preview parties, celebrity interviews and/or performances in our Red Silk Lounge. KRNB.com also helps us connect digitally to our listeners.
5) KRNB currently carries The Steve Harvey Morning Show. How important are morning shows in 2013? Does it really matter if the morning show is live or syndicated, as long as it connects with the audience?
Morning shows are still very important in 2013. If you don't believe me, just look at any radio station's ratings that don't have one or what management will do and/or put up with to keep a good one in the building. Live and local is always better, but if you cannot find the talent nor have the resources to put a solid morning show in place, syndication can and will work. The more the station does to make the show sound local, the better it should perform.
6) PPM has changed the way radio is programmed. What's one thing you see in that data that still surprises you about the way listeners are consuming radio today?
Listeners don't listen to our stations the way we initially thought. They're constantly punching in and out, being exposed to other brands and not listening for as long as we thought. Most listening to radio is done outside of the home. Women still dominate our format but men can no longer be ignored because their meters count too. I learned there are no throw away moments, every minute counts in PPM.
7. Has Urban AC radio, along with the industry, become too research-driven? Where does utilizing one's "gut" come into play, or does it? Should it?
No, we've not become too research-driven. Radio competes with others who deliver entertainment content to listeners so programmers should use every tool at their disposal to be successful. Gut comes into play when research doesn't dictate a direction. PDs can then lean on their past experiences and successes (gut) to make certain calls. GMs and VPs are easier to convince though when your decisions are accompanied by numbers.
8) KRNB has always been able to balance itself and adapt to new music trends with the Urban AC culture in Dallas. How tough is it to continue to navigate through all the cyclical changes and genres of music?
It's not hard at all. KRNB does bi-annual and bi-weekly research to stay on top of what people want musically in the DFW. I listen to as much as possible, I'm out at local clubs to see how and what people react to, station requests, and I check to see what's simmering nationally. KRNB has a history of identifying music trends & playing the hits so my plan is to continue that rich tradition.
9) KRNB has really embraced technology. How important is video integration when it comes to station web sites in 2013? And is radio undervaluing the use of video? 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 am fortunate to work with a passionateand talented team of people with an owner in Hymen Childs, who understands KRNB will only be as good as the people who work here so yes, we are fortunate enough to be able to embrace video integration into our brand. No, I don't believe it's being undervalued. In some cases, PDs don't have the time or staff to let them focus on it. When you're operating with less, you have to prioritize andoften times, social media, websites and video integration are the casualties. My friend has a Tesla and on his dashboard he has access to AM, FM, SirusXM, Internet radio andSlacker. I read recently that major car makers are soon going to offer these options so our jobs as programmers will be to continue to offer our listeners compelling and unique content they can't get elsewhere.
10) Do you have any advice for those up and coming young programmers who want to move to that next level?
Like the Boy Scouts motto, "Be Prepared!" It's not enough to be given an opportunity you have to be ready for it because you never know when that call will come for you to go to the next level.
What would people who think they know Kevin Gardner be surprised to learn about you?
That I met my wife Lisa in kindergarten and we got married in 2nd or 3rd grade. Not really, but it seems that long.
What the best piece of advice that someone has ever given you that you still use on a daily basis?
My dad said, "People will judge you by your word ... If your word is no good chances are you aren't either so mean what you say & say what you mean."
Name the one gadget you can't live without.
My iPhone, I take it everywhere and will go back home to retrieve it if by some strange chance I forget it.
Most annoying thing people ask you.
"License and registration?"
Brainstorm "Lovin' is Really My Game" & LTD "Love to the World"