10 Questions with ... Eric Faison
May 13, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Programming: WZAK/Cleveland, WAMO/Pittsburgh, WBLK/Buffalo Syndication: SJS Entertainment/New York, Access .1/Superadio New York
1) You've been a PD, do you think it has given you an advantage working in syndication?
Yes. It gives me the advantage of being someone who has sat in the chair and faced many of the challenges that come with it. However, too much empathy can be difficult for someone whose primary job is sales. You can fall into identifying too much with the programmer and miss opportunities to sell the benefits of the programming.
2) Would you please give us some of the scenarios of how shows get syndicated?
Most talent at some point in their careers believe they should be syndicated and heard by a wider audience. There are traditional and non-traditional ways to make that happen. The most successful scenario in the terrestrial syndication model is one where the company he or she works for supports syndication efforts by allowing them to control some of the commercial inventory inside the show. Make that happen on a station with some audience and you may have something.
3) What are some of the things you miss about programming a station?
Putting an imprint on a station on a daily basis. I also miss the vibrancy and the day-to-day camaraderie of a team focused on one goal. In my job, we deal with multiple products on multiple stations from a distance. The programming makes a difference, but it's not quite the same.
4) How do you think a metric for giving value to Internet radio will change syndication?
It should open up opportunities for syndicated programming that can't find a home on terrestrial radio. The only thing holding that back has been the inability of some syndicators to figure out how to monetize the Internet platform in any significant way.
5) What is your opinion on the future of the Urban format?
Radio is meant to be different from other forms of delivering (music) audio to listeners. Urban should develop personalities who matter and give them room to create.
6) You told us how you started, what's your advice for air personalities just starting out who have dreams of programming?
Learn as much of the business end as you can from top to bottomm but don't forget how to put on a show.
7) If a genie in a bottle gave you three wishes, what would they be and why?
All three would go back in time. 1. The Communications Act of 1996 would have never happened and consolidation would not have occurred so rapidly. 2. Radio would have recognized the threats from other audio platforms years earlier. 3. Radio would have remained true to its original place among media as a destination for theatre-of-the-mind entertainment and the discovery of new music and not begun to emulate another form -- the jukebox. All due respect to Todd Storz and Bill Stewart.
8) Who are some of the people that have influenced your career?
So many ... Crocker, Boulding, Shannon, Tolliver, Mayo. I've learned a ton about national ad sales from Jack Bryant
9) Do you have a favorite radio memory? Something you either heard growing up or something you participated in.
Winning a call in contest on WWRL from Hank Spann. He was very cool ... made me want to be on the radio.
10) What new challenges are you anticipating?
There is a battle going on between competing philosophies and business models, "Live and Local" versus national and centralized. Large groups have built their own content factories that make it a lot tougher for independent syndication companies to cut through. Also the creeping migration of "radio" content from terrestrial tower-based distribution to the Internet is happening before our eyes. Once streaming royalties are addressed, the time will quickly come when broadcast frequencies delivered by antennas will be repurposed for something besides commercial radio transmissions. It's a difficult time because we're experiencing the contraction of traditional radio jobs, but it's fascinating to watch the evolution.
What are your three favorite songs of all time?
That's tough to answer, but "Happy" is moving up there.
What are your thoughts on hip-hop and how its evolution has had an affect on programming in Urban radio?
Hip-hop has fragmented the Urban audience for a while. It's the music of many of our lives, but at some point do we outgrow it? Do we play it on Urban ACs? When do we play it? How often do we play it? In some dayparts but not in others? In 2014 it's much more difficult for formats to deliver to a narrow audience on a medium meant to reach a broad one.