10 Questions with ... Keith Landecker
November 18, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
As a native of Detroit, my passion and inspiration for a career in radio began through listening to great radio such as WJLB, WGPR and WDRQ. In my graduating year from Kentucky State University in Frankfort, KY, I got my first radio job at WFKY, then moved to Louisville, where I worked as an air personality at WAKY, WLRS and WJYL. My first taste of programming was at WJYL where I became the Public Service Dir. and later MD, before moving to Cincinnati, OH where I became the APD/Production Dir. and on-air personality for WIZF.
While in Cincinnati, I met two of the most important people in my radio career; Jim Brewer, Sr. and Jim Brewer II, who had just bought an Urban station in Tennessee and were looking for a PD who wanted to grow with their company. Accepting the position of PD/air personality for Power94, WJTT in Chattanooga, has afforded me the opportunity to be a part of the growth of Brewermedia, as the company has now grown to include five radio stations, Traffic Network, The Pulse newspaper and several .com interactive companies. At present I hold the position of OM of the Urban Division.
1) How important has longevity played into successfully programming your station?
In my case, longevity has been very important because the PD's job has changed so much over the years. It is more than just programming music because of technology, and to be able to be with a company in which you are encouraged to develop new skills provides the opportunity to successfully program and continue to grow with the company.
2) Can you tell us how things have changed for you when it comes to the kinds of meetings you participate in as a programmer?
In the past, there were only programming meetings making sure all departments we're on the same page -- production, promotions, public service, etc. In addition to these meetings, programmers now participate in operations, sales and technology meetings. Technology meetings have been added due to the growth of social media and have become a priority.
3) What's your approach to adding music? Gut vs. research.
Research is important in adding music especially with technology such as BDS, All Access, and other search engines where you can research any song. However, every good PD looks for those songs that will rock his phones and will keep his station hot, in tune with its market and its listeners. Whether that's the new industry hot sensation or that local artist who is making big noise in the region.
4) Do you think there is a correlation between sports and radio?
Yes, every radio station wants to put together a winning team. Every good PD has great people working with them who understand the game plan and executes it each and every day, and I have some of the best on my team.
5) You told me a great story concerning your son and your mom;could you tell it again and the significance of it?
My mother, who is living in a nursing home and is now in the second stage of Alzheimer's, has good days when she is engaging and talkative, and bad days where she sits silently. On this particular visit, she started talking to my son, who had just left home for his freshman year in college on a baseball scholarship, and my daughter who is about to start her student teaching this year. With great enthusiasm Mom said to them, "Whatever you do in life, and in whatever you want to learn, put yourself around people who can teach you and show you the right things to do. And people who don't know shit ... stay far away from them, and I know your dad taught you the difference between the two -- cause I taught him!"
The significance ... she's right!
6) How hard is it to program and do a daily air shift?
For me it is not hard because it keeps me in the trenches. I love to do both, so I schedule my work day to maximize my time and energy for both responsibilities.
7) This is one of my favorite questions: Could you share one of the funnier moments you've experienced or witnessed in radio?
I find great joy and sometimes humor when I groom a person for their first time on-air and the crazy mistakes they make -- like leaving the mic on and shouting, "Oh My God Oh, My God!!' repeatedly while they try to remember how to turn the mic off. Or the new announcers who emcees their first concert and almost passes out before they hit the stage.
8) You told us how you started; what's your advice for air personalities just starting out who have dreams of programming?
Be a student of the game. I learned four different programming philosophies from four different programmers before I got my first shot at programming. Learn from your mentors and let your work ethic guide you.
9) It's time to recognize those people who have either mentored or influenced you in your career.
There are really way too many to name. I am really a self-motivator and was blessed to grow in the industry during the time when there where opportunities to learn from the best in the business at panel discussions at radio conventions. These panels were led by legends. Here are some special people I would like to acknowledge:
The late Dr. Jerry Boulding, Tom Lewis, Jack Gibson a.k.a. Jack the Rapper,
The incredible Walt Baby Love
Donnie Simpson who I idolized because he came from the same neighborhood I lived in.
James Alexander -- While programming at WJLB in Detroit, he mentored me.
Tony Fields -- While programming at WJYL, he showed me everything that needed to be done to become a program director.
Marv Hankston -- While programming at WIZF, he taught me the Selector Music System, the first of many I have learned since
The Power94 and Groove93 staffs, who have contributed greatly to my longevity and success ... the BEST teams in the business!
Jim Brewer, Sr. and Jim Brewer II -- They gave me the opportunity to become the programmer I am today and taught me the business of radio. The Brewer's dedication to company and employee development makes them, hands down, the best owners I have ever worked for.
10) How do you see the future direction for Urban radio?
Urban radio will continue to be important to its community if we as broadcasters commit to the lifestyle of its listeners, by embracing technology such as social media, maximizing community involvement, and super-serving our clients and local business development. Urban radio will continue to be in the business of uplifting the music of our format, working hard with new artist, and will always provide a vehicle for respecting and acknowledging where our music came from.