10 Questions with ... Robyn Simone
March 10, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
My career started in the city where I grew up, Detroit, where I took a leap of faith and called Nate Bell for a job, and he hired me as a board op at Radio One. I later began filling in on air for 105.9 WDTJ, then later starting voicetracking for KISS 102.7 during the Quiet Storm. I also worked as a video producer for the City of Riverview and later worked for The UAW as the Assistant Video Producer. I left Detroit 9/11/02 and headed to Cleveland, where I started as on-air talent on 107.9 WENZ. I later became APD and after 10 years at WENZ, I moved to their sister station 93.1 WZAK as APD/midday talent.
1) You literally put your career on hold to take care of your parents; can you explain what that time was like professionally and personally?
The decision to care for both my parents never came with the decision to choose to put my career on hold; it kind of worked out when Radio One and I parted ways. Both my parents passed away during my departure and within the transition gave me time to heal.
2) What did you miss or not miss while you were not in radio?
I didn't miss all the politics, however I did miss being a part of an industry that I've grown with over the years.
3) How did being out of radio affect your growth in terms of listener expectations?
Time doesn't wait for anyone and even though I wasn't working, a part of me still was. I had to force myself to listen to the radio as the average listener. I had to listen to my old airchecks, comb every social media outlet and think of how I could stay relevant in a place where things were constantly moving. I knew that when I made my return I wanted the listening audience to hear me not missing a beat or a talk break. Listeners expect one thing, and that's greatness! Great music and great talent and that's what I plan to bring, 24/7.
4) The Big DM has a long successful history; could you tell us what you have noticed about the station's relationship with the audience?
The Big DM is all about the community and the community is all about The Big DM! The word of The Big DM is golden and the listeners trust that 100%. The Big DM has managed to create the soundtrack to their listeners' lives with all the great music they play. They're beyond a heritage station, The Big DM is creating history with the type of relationship they've created in Columbia, SC.
5) Put your teacher's cap on ... how do you approach building the ideal radio station, from personnel to on-air presentation?
Building the ideal station starts with an outstanding team! The music is the overall star of the station, but before you implement a great playlist, your winning team has to be in place! From sales, marketing and engineering to talent, it's a chess game and all positions have to be ready to go. How a station sounds from the music to the imaging and how our presence shines in the community are all key factors to success.
6) As you pointed out, your mom was very influential in your life; would you list some of the mentors in and out of radio which have helped shape your career?
Both my parents, Lee and Orene Beard, were influential in my success in life! They gave me the tools of survival and showed me what hard work and dedication was all about. My parents left me with the most important tool and that's knowing how to grind! If I want it, I can get it no matter what it costs! I've had the pleasure of meeting the right people who got me to this point in my life! Emmy Award Winning Video Producer John Hammond and Radio One VP/Programming Colby Tyner both served as mentors in my life and gave me the structure I needed to keep me grounded. John gave me a shot when nobody else did when he hired me as his Assistant Video Producer at The UAW in Detroit. He encouraged me to move forward and he believed in my dreams. I had the pleasure of working with one of the best programmers -- Colby 'Colb' Tyner in Cleveland, where I worked on-air and served as his APD at 107.9 WENZ and 93.1 WZAK. Colby kept me grounded, he pushed and challenged me and also reminded me of the key to staying employed, being humble!
7) What do you love about being back behind the mic?
Enjoying great music with my listening audience and being the voice for my community!
8) What advice do you have for those just starting out in broadcasting?
Grind. Be motivated. Work hard. Stay humble!
9) Crystal Ball time, could you describe what you see for the future of Urban radio and or radio?
If Urban radio continues to reinvent itself as it's doing at the present, it will continue to grow in numbers. UR has strengthened our communities with our leadership roles and has served as an outlet especially when it comes to the headlines that have affected communities worldwide.
10) What jobs did you do while you were out of radio and what did you learn from those experiences that you have brought with you in your return?
I worked as an Administrative Assistant. Anyone who's worked in this business knows it's hard to transition to any other job because it's in our blood. But when you have to make ends meet, you gotta do what you gotta do ... and I did! The job actually taught me a lot about myself, it gave me patience and strengthened my relationship with God and connected me with people who I'd probably not have met if I hadn't taken that job.
Would you share the funniest thing you have ever witnessed or happened to you in radio?
The day I flew in for my interview with Chris Connors from The Big DM and during the interview he spilled hot coffee all over the GM! It was one of those moments I was nervous and when it happened I couldn't help but say, "Better you than me!"
In the big picture for broadcasting, what part do you think Internet radio will play?
It's opened up an avenue for many people to share their talents, music and voices. The Internet has also given the rest of the world another outlet to connect with each other.
Could you give us some of the most important lessons you have learned along your career path?
Never judge a book by its cover! Everyone has something to contribute; know your strengths and weaknesses!