10 Questions with ... Terri Thomas
August 19, 2014
1) How hard is it to program multiple stations and do it successfully?
It's a labor of love. You have to build a great team, be willing to delegate and make sure everyone understands the vision. Although I program more than one, our motto is "one band, one sound" (from Drumline). What works best for me is to have one team regardless of your main call letters. Everyone is equally invested in our collective success
2) How did you get started in radio? Tell us your journey and don't skip anything!
I started when I was 14. I took a tour of a small 10-watt radio station that broadcast from my high school. The GM saw my interest since I was asking a zillion questions. He challenged me to get my FFC license and promised me a slot if I did ... a few months later I presented him with my license. He held it up to the light to make sure it was real. LOL. He made good on his promise and I had my first commercial radio job offer one year later.
3) What were some of the things you noticed that were different between college and commercial radio?
I went to Emerson College and my mentors Phillip David March, Ken Johnson and Dana Hall ran it like it was a commercial station. They wanted to prepare us for our future. I will say we were the only Urban format at night in Boston (88.9 at Night), so we took it seriously. I also thank Fran Berger for believing in me ... in all of us. She was our Radio Godmother. My last year at Emerson, Phillip mentored me by airchecking my show every few weeks. He was PD of WFXE/ Columbus, GA and I was very fortunate that he took the time to teach from afar.
4) You have had great ratings with diary measurement and new PPM. How different is your approach to programming music with PPM?
Diary is about brand recall and PPM is about exposure (basically). PPM holds us all accountable to make sure the brand lives up to its promise and that we really work hard to serve the community and reflect the local culture.
5) What frustrates you the most about the music industry?
I wish we all had gotten ahead of the technology game. There are so many creative people in our industry and I wish that we had been the innovators of our own destiny. We have to embrace the visionaries and take more risks.
6) Can you tell me about all the mentors who have helped you?
I've named some above and I MUST add Hurricane Dave. Phillip gave me a great foundation and Hurricane had a lot of faith in me rising to my potential. We had some great times together and the experience and wisdom was invaluable. I learned a great deal from them all and admire them greatly. They were truly the wind beneath my wings. I am grateful.
7) Can you tell us about the book you wrote?
I have two books -- "J Mac is the Freestyle King" and my next book, "The New Kid," dives into how hard it is to make friends and meet people when you're coming into a new environment. Ultimately it's a story of faith, friendship and forgiveness. "The New Kid" will be out early 2015 from Dog Ear Publishing.
8) You told us how you started, what's your advice for air personalities just starting out who have dreams of programming?
You must learn to follow before you lead. Arm yourself with tools -- quantifiable skill sets. Learn all you can about the Internet and social media marketing. Read! Learn video editing, creating graphics and writing. Study big business brands and learn what makes them successful and not successful. Study the audience and the culture of your market. Learn to recognize the nuances of what makes it individual. Experiment on yourself (we all are a brand). Never stop learning because no matter what you know there is always more to learn. Strive for balance in your life. You must take time to recharge and reconnect with yourself. This business is fast and you don't want to burn out before your reach your potential.
9) How hard is it to program and do a daily air shift?
It's always a challenge for those that do both. I did it in Cincinnati. Have a great team, great systems and trusting them is essential to your success.
10) What kinds of things do you do to work with your air talent?
Everything! On-air, online and building the brand in the community. I also hone in on what makes each individual on the team special; what are their gifts and how can we grow them? Great managers put people where they're strong and build on it. I want to see each person on my team win. When they win we win.
What other concerns outside of radio you wish were in a better state?
Education ... our education system is in disrepair. No one can take from you what you know. We need to completely overhaul education system so our kids can compete with kids from other countries. School should be year-round AND well-rounded so our kids and our country can compete better on a global level.