10 Questions with ... Skip Dillard
January 14, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Worked in great markets as a jock and eventual PD -- Norfolk, Greensboro, New Orleans, San Francisco Detroit, Buffalo Washington and New York. Spent a year away from radio in 2003 writing for Billboard Magazine's Airplay Monitor.
1) What are your biggest challenges programming in New York City?
A very spread-out audience. The people with meters are everywhere -- Harlem, Essex County NJ, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx ... and sometimes places you may not expect including Staten Island to far out on Long Island. You've got a lot of ground to cover.
2) Your station has consistently monitored PPM's methodology; what are your thoughts on Neilsen Audio's efforts to improve?
At the moment it's a lot of communication back and forth and as usual, a lot of questions that raise even more questions. It's going to be a very interesting year.
3) Where was your first job in radio and how it did shape your thinking?
First job was a part-time talent at WOWI/Norfolk while a student at Hampton University. Dream gig for a college student because it was on air, thanks to Ron Atkins, who needed a weekend/swing talent and thought, although I'd only been doing college radio, I was strong enough. It taught me that to succeed, I'd have to be a fast learner. WOWI was #1 in the market and all of their talent sounded great. I was definitely exposed and had to press hard to keep up.
4) Who are some of the people that have influenced your career?
You, Jim Snowden, Verna Green, Brian Wallace, Brian Douglas, Frankie Crocker, Donnie Simpson, Mary Catherine Sneed, Charles Warfield, Tony Gray, Deon Levingston, Jerry Boulding, Ron Atkins, Steve Crumbley, Vinny Brown, Hal Jackson, Sean Ross and many others along the way!
5) How is your station planning to take advantage of having the Super Bowl in your city this year?
Our stations are presenting two concerts and partnering with several other events. We'll be all over.
6) There is so much voicetracking these days, while at your station you actually have jocks doing their shows in real time. What are the advantages?
I believe social networking and the even faster-paced lives we're leading now scream for "live" engagement as much as humanly possible. Thankfully I think radio is reminded about the importance of being live more than ever.
7) How do you feel about how music rotations and new music? And how do you feel about waiting on a song you hear until the research validates it?
I still believe that regardless of how conservative PDs can be perceived to be, a great song always finds its way quickly to the radio. I will wait if I need to see a song grow a bit, but I'm always seeking a hit!
8) What is your opinion on the future of the Urban format?
It will only be as good as our future on-air talent and the music churning out from the record companies. There are many pitfalls but we've come this far. There was technology; people said it would do us in years ago, and there's some new gadget every time we look up today. We've got to keep our running shoes on and our guard up at all times.
9) You told us how you started, what's your advice for air personalities just starting out who have dreams of programming?
Use the advantages you have. Get online, learn the terms of the trade on the Nielsen Audio site. Stream stations in many markets including a few internationally. Check out various formats. Look for reasons you like one station over another. Most important, tell every radio person you meet that you would like to program one day! I did that from the time I was 19. And one day when I was 25, someone heard me!
10) Looking back over your career ... any regrets? Missed opportunities?
I'm very blessed. I've made mistakes, learned from them and met fantastic people at every company I've worked for. I did regret not going for a graduate degree when I was a jock before I took on programming, but I continue to take courses so I'm continuing to work on bettering myself in multiple areas.
What are some of your favorite stations other than yours, you like listening to?
WWIN-WERQ/Baltimore. WDAS/ Philly, Power 106/LA, Z00/NYC, WHUR/Washington, 1010 WINS/NYC, Kaya FM/Johannesburg SA, V103/Atlanta, K104/Dallas, V103/Chicago, WTOP/DC and Hot 97/NYC.
How did your parents feel about you going into the radio profession?
They've always been supportive. My father has a great voice, which always had him doing some kind of public speaking somewhere. He said he may have tried radio had he known local radio was going to become so big when he was young.
If you weren't in radio, what other profession interested you? Please elaborate.
Law. Always been fascinated with the legal system. Maybe a pianist if I'd been willing to practice more as a kid.