10 Questions with ... Terri Avery
June 30, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
My career spans 30+ years in the radio business. I've worked major markets, large markets and one small market. I've won numerous awards for programming and music but the one I'm most proud of was being honored with the Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio award. The organization presents an award to women, by women, honoring women in Radio.
1) Why did you choose radio as a career?
Radio chose me! I got interested in radio when a high school teacher of mine talked to me about a broadcasting career. He then hooked me up with some life mentors who took me to see the broadcast studios of WBLS in New York. Dyana Williams was on the air that day and I got a chance to speak to her about radio. I got bit by the radio bug that day and never looked back.
2) Could you tell me about the radio you grew up listening to?
I grew up listening to all the great radio personalities in NYC. WBLS - Frankie Crocker, Lamar Renee, Vy Higginson; 99X - Walt Baby Love (I called in one day to his show to request a record, and he played it!); WABC; and my all-time favorite, WWRL with great voices like Jerry Bledsoe, Jeffrey Troy, Gary Byrd and my mentor and good friend to this day, Bobby Jay
3) What did you learn from some of the folks who you grew up listening to that you use today?
- Always respect radio as a business
- Be the best at what you do in radio
- Help others to be the best at what they do.
4) Was programming different from what you thought it would be?
Yea cause now you're the teacher and boss. Everyone gets quiet when you come in the room, or if you call someone to your office, the first thing they ask, "What did I do?" It can also be lonely because you might have to fire a talent one day so you can't really be friends with them. You definitely have to have a life outside of the radio station
5) When young personalities come to you for advice on what they should do, what do you tell them?
Respect radio as a business first. You can have fun on the radio, but know other departments and what they do to contribute to the overall business. Know how to do more than just one thing. Learn how to do production, work in promotions, and go on sales calls with the salesperson. Learn Selector, be a jack-of-all-trades in the station. You never know when you'll be called to step in for someone and you always want to be the person who can step up and say, "I can do that!"
6) How do you decide on how to select music and put them in rotation?
The answer of course is research for rotations. After that, I believe a good programmer is connected to the streets. Whether it's through mix jocks, clubs or listening to the kids in the community, you can tap into what's happening in your market as pertains to music. We would do Hit Squad meetings. We would invite kids 18-29 to come to the station, one day a month. They would go online and take our music test and then we would play new music for them. It was very popular. We would feed them pizza and there would be about 20-25 kids in the group each month.
7) What jobs outside of radio have you had and have you taken any of that and incorporated that into your radio career?
I worked for the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington, D.C. I learned a lot about the politics of Radio. I met corporate owners, Presidents, and Vice Presidents of radio groups. It made me realize that I really like the talent side of radio, but that there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes in the business of radio.
8) Can you tell us about your mentors and teachers in this business?
Early career mentors were Bobby Jay (WWRL), Bob Law (WWRL), Sonny Taylor (WWRL) and Chuck Smith (KKDA) These guys helped shape my career and encouraged me to be the best, not just as a woman broadcaster, but the best broadcaster. One of my best teachers was Michael Spears (KKDA). He was a promotional genius. He knew how to give away $2 and make it sound like you were giving away $2 million! Then, there were countless air personalities who taught me to be a better coach. One of my biggest lessons was that each talent is an individual and you can't treat everyone the same. Kinda like life, everyone is unique to there own self.
9) What do you like about radio?
The best part of radio that I like is coaching talent. I enjoy seeing personalities grow to be all they can in this business. One of my claims to fame is No Limit Larry at WPEG. Larry started out as an intern, worked hard and now has been doing a live morning show for over 10 years. I'm proud of what he has accomplished, and I'm proud that I played a role in helping to make that happen.
10) How important is it for programming to work with sales department?
VERY IMPORTANT! I've been called the salesperson's programmer because I believe all areas of the radio station have to work together to be successful. With that, both sales and programming have to respect what each does. The best salespeople know the station but more importantly know the listener that is attracted to the station. When they understand that, you won't get asked to give away tanning salon coupons on an urban station.
How do you see the future of radio?
The future of radio is going to be change. The competition for people's time is growing shorter and shorter. Companies are going to have to take a look at long stopsets and shorten them. Social media is a MUST with talent. You can't get away from it, especially in the contemporary formats. As social media becomes more of a way of life, with new applications coming out, it's important to stay top-of-mind with your listeners that way. Stations need to offer streams without commercials as a service to listeners. You will always have to be playing the best music, have the best personalities and serve the community with great events, to continue to win.
Is there anything about you that people would be surprised to find out?
People would be surprised that while I am passionate about radio, radio is not all I can do. I enjoy public speaking, especially to kids. My speaking is inspirational, while lifting them up to be all they can be.
What would be your perfect radio job?
I'd love to program one station, preferably by a beach, coach a staff, do an air shift, create awesome NTR events and have great website content. I am open to all formats and welcome, the opportunity to program formats other than Urban. Other goals include GM and ownership.