10 Questions with ... Anthony "Big Ant" Simmons
March 31, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
It was never easy for me ... I was born a poor black child, I remember the days, sittin' on the porch with my family, singin' and dancin' down in Mississippi ... (Bonus point if you get it!)
The real story is I started off in Minneapolis, MN. A Graduate of Brown Institute, I got my first paying gig with Pete Rhodes at WRNB Cable FM. I got to crack the mic every evening from 6-9 doing the quiet storm at "Silk Simmons"... shut up! It seemed cool at the time! I also interned from 10p-2a at KDWB with Michael Knight and during the day I was assistant manager at Great American Cookie Company at the Mall of America! (And yes, I can bake and decorate the hell out of cookie!) After that, a cruise ship for a year, then Nation MC for Deja Vu, (yes ... it was as great as you're thinking it was!) started off Friday Nights with Brother Jules at KMOJ, then moved to the mornings for the Q&A Morning show with Walter "Q-Bear" Banks for a good little while. Eventually moved on to KTTB B-96 for a short stint then on to Huntsville, AL where I truly learned the art of programming radio! Now I'm at KMJJ 997 and ready to have a ball! I hope that was brief enough for ya!
1) How different are today's listeners and could you give some examples?
Basically they're the same, just more tech-savvy, which allows them better access to information, entertainment and music faster than the past. Same thing we wanted when we were younger just couldn't get as much as fast! For example, when I was DJ'ing on the cruise ship in Florida back in 19**. I heard a song called "Let Me Clear My Throat" by DJ Kool (I think you might have heard of it); when I went back home to Minneapolis, I played if for my friends and they had never heard of it. Mind you, it was already in rotation in the South and heavy rotation on the East Coast and the main thing in all the Go-Go clubs in DC! But no one had heard it yet in the North, but eventually it became a monster hit everywhere ... years later! Today, one tweet by the right person about a song on iTunes and game over ... national hit!
2) How did you get into radio?
When I called the Bartending School phone number, it was busy; the next commercial was Brown Institute for radio broadcasting ... a star was born!!!
3) What are your views on music research and how should it be used?
Many different research tools for us to use to try and get it right! But I have been and always will be a firm believer in "seeing is believing." We gotta get it from the streets, the schools ... from the listeners in our cities.
4) Do you have a favorite radio memory that's memorable or funny?
I was 16 years old when I got my first chance to meet Tom Joyner at the Taste of Chicago, but the crowd was too big to get close to him and I had to catch the train home. A part of my first gig was to transfer his weekend countdown from album to reel. I had a chance to say hello to him very quickly at Prince's 1999 New Year's Eve party in Minneapolis but it was so quick that I'm sure he didn't hear me. Finally this year, after 20+ years in radio, I got a chance to meet and talk to the legend and ask him a question I been wanting to ask since I was 16 years old ... I called and requested Lenny Williams "Cause I Love You" and he never played it! Why not?
5) A know there is a list, but who are some of the people who have influenced and mentored your career?
Pete Rhodes, Tom Joyner, Michael Knight, Walter "Q-Bear" Banks, Dusty Hayes, Paige Nienaber, Dr. Dave, Hundley Batts, Tim Moore. Most importantly, my Father for teaching me about management and my Mom for nurturing and encouraging my creativity.
6) What are the keys for a PD coming in to program in a new city?
HAVE A GPS!!! LOL!!! Don't be so arrogant and cocky to think you can walk in a city and make it yours or change everything without even checking the system out! I'm a firm believer in Stopping, Assessing, Thinking, Planning and Proceeding. Gather all the information you can to best map out a good course of action.
7) How important is paperwork and details when you are an on-air PD?
Crucial! To go between management and artist requires a lot of mental energy and I promise you're gonna drop the ball every now and then. To minimize screw-ups, you have to be a little more detailed than most with paperwork.
8) What advice do you have for those just starting out in broadcasting?
RUN! GO BACK TO SCHOOL AND DO SOMETHING ELSE! LOL! Seriously, be prepared for a hard, mentally draining, heart wrenching career that you'll either love for life or run screaming! If you are not a hustler, creative, out-of-the-box thinker, adaptable, flexible, an insomniac and slightly touched mentally, you need to start working on these things or move on!
9) How do you see the future for Urban Radio?
Since I'm one of the most optimistic people I know, I see the future very, very bright as long as we continue to grow with the times.
10) Would you share your views on the future of radio syndication?
In my humble opinion, the future of radio syndication will rely on localism. That's what listeners want and that's what we should be giving them. Can most stations afford to bring in a new morning show team to do local? No! But they can bring in one person to produce and do local breaks in the 16-20 minutes per hour. This will greatly improve your listenership in the morning looking for local content and you'll also give a new jock some time to work with some real pros (depending on the show). Win-win in my book,
What new challenges are you looking forward to?
Every single one of them.
Are there some things about you that people would be surprised to know?
I like Country music ... not all of it, just the good stuff ... yes, there is good stuff.
Would you give us some of the most important lessons you have learned along your career path?
When you look in the mirror, be sure to like what and who you see. If you do, then believe in yourself and your dreams only. No one else's. Be you, be the best and most creative you that you can be. And when they laugh at you, or say you're crazy for thinking or being a certain way, keep doing you ... they just haven't caught up to you yet.