10 Questions with ... Jeff Harrison
March 25, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Successful radio career spanning over three decades from the Midwest to the West Coast to the South and beyond, primarily in the top ten markets of the country.
1) What new challenges are you anticipating?
Maintaining a relevant presence in a fast changing, ever evolving social-media driven, new age technology world.
2) What people have influenced your radio career?
Ernest James, Jay Stevens, the late Jerry Boulding, and also the late Sonny Taylor.
3) Do you have a favorite radio memory? Something you either heard growing up or something you participated in.
For a great part of my career, here in Houston, I did promotions that were very appealing to the audience. In particular, in one promotion, I would take 100 to 150 listeners to different islands (the Bahamas, Cancun, Jamaica, etc.). Being able to relate to the listeners on a personal level not only was a lot of fun, but rewarding in terms of how much it meant to them. It makes you really know that radio makes a difference in people's lives. They become your family.
4) You successfully programmed Magic in Houston for a number of years, what were the keys to your success?
You've got to create an atmosphere for winning. First by assembling a great team of people committed and aligned with your goals. You've got to always have your best product on the air. This means the best music, the best promotions, the best marketing and highly localized to a point where your listeners become loyal to you because you're a part of their community. You're at the schools and neighborhood events. And you have to obviously work very hard and continuously strive to hit higher numbers.
5) What advice do you have for programmers in putting together a music playlist and sound for their station or stations? And does the approach vary depending on the format?
My theory is that you have to be aware of what's going on around you. You have to be able to know what people are looking for. You must watch the charts. You guys at All Access do a great job of keeping up with and reflecting what stations are doing around the country. You should definitely use research as a tool, but only as a tool and not be restricted to the research. You need to be plugged into social media and the clubs.
The way the approach differs depending on the format, is that you are doing your research based on your target audience (i.e. oldies format versus classic-focused).
6) If a genie in a bottle gave you three wishes, what would they be and why?
- That radio would be the unifying force around the world because music makes the world a better place.
- That radio would continue into infinity because it is always relevant and socially viable and connects people in a way that no other medium does.
- That I would continue to enjoy good health and quality time with my family and friends.
7) What are your top 5 favorite songs of all time?
- "Reasons" by Earth Wind and Fire
- "Piano in the Dark" by Brenda Russell
- "Kiss on my Lips" by Hall and Oates
- "What's Going On?" by Marvin Gaye
- "Tell Me Something Good" by Rufus and Chaka Khan
8) What's the future for Urban and Urban AC?
There is a bright future for Urban and Urban AC; however that can only come about if we continue to make our #1 goal to entertain and serve our local community. Equally important is continue to invest in and develop new and existing talent.
9) What are your views on music research and how it can or should be used?
Music research is a great tool; it can give you great information. However, I feel that it is very important to have the programmers, music directors and audience's input. You must mirror what your audience is indeed looking for and that comes through getting out in your local community with promotions and events and actually talking to the people who listen to your station.
10) Have you ever held any other jobs outside of radio that you loved?
I've lived and breathed radio since a pre-teen. However, to get there, I've worked in grocery stores; I was an apprentice carpenter and held various odd jobs leading to my radio career. I took something from each of those jobs that helped me in some way to be better at my profession.
How did your parents feel about your going into the radio profession?
My parents were always very supportive of everything I've done and for this, I am forever grateful. I could never have been successful without them.