10 Questions with ... CJ Riddick
December 1, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started at First Media my senior year of high school in 2004 as a part-time board op running NASCAR on WPTM. Then I started producing the local high school football and basketball games. They loved the way I incorporated bumper music, special liners, highlights of the big plays, and the scoreboard updates into the broadcast, so they moved me to more of an on-air announcer. In 2005, WYTT flipped from Urban AC (running off The Touch) to its current format and I started doing nights. Then in 2007, the opportunity came up to program WYTT. The ratings and revenue shot up and I was then promoted to my current position in 2009. In May of 2015, I got another opportunity to do IT work for a medical group in North Carolina, while also keeping PD stripes at WYTT, and I am also starting up a mobile DJ business.
1) What's your radio background?
I actually started doing pirate/low power/Internet radio when I was 12! My cousin's Dad was a radio engineer. I always wanted to be a DJ and hanging around them I got educated in radio and all I wanted to be was a DJ on the radio and later a PD. But in my 10-year career I have done it all ... on-air, sales, engineering, promotions, digging ditches, cleaning windows, moving transmitters bigger than refrigerators, play-by-play, traffic, billing ... if it involved radio, I did it and loved every minute!
2) What is new in your world?
Recently I got a job is doing I.T. (fixing the computers, servers, phones, training staff on software) for a medical group in North Carolina. Once I get off from that job, I do nights on WYTT (99-5 JAMZ) and I also still serve as the PD. I am also working on expanding my mobile DJ business focusing on wedding receptions and corporate events.
3) Explain how you balance that with programming a radio station.
I thought it would be something I would struggle with, but I have learned to use my time wisely. So, if I am watching a ballgame 90% of the time my laptop is in front of me and I'm working on something. I also lean on my afternoon personality DJ 3-2-1 and my OM Cody Clark; they are great at helping me take care of things that need to be done when I am not around.
4) How has what you are now involved in benefitted you as a PD?
Seeing the different ways how people consume music and, more importantly, what grabs their attention, both song and content-wise. I travel to different offices so I see many different ages and races and see how they pick up on songs, see what throwbacks they react to and I keep all of that in mind when I am working on clocks and music rotations. I also try to pick up on what they are talking about and I keep that in mind when I am picking out the content for my show.
5) Have your personal goals changed?
Yes. Right now I am working to get better at the three jobs that are in my life right now (IT, radio/PD and mobile DJ). I have some other long-term major goals, but they are top secret right now.
6) You told us how you started, what's your advice for air personalities just starting out who have dreams of programming?
Be patient. Learn how to do everything! Sales, traffic, production, imaging, websites, graphics, minor engineering. Everything! An understanding of all departments will give you a much better understanding what everyone goes through every day and you never know when something may happen to someone and you can fill that role. Also I think it's important to read All Access as well as other trade publications every day. And read blogs and articles that other PDs and Consultants write. It's also good to keep a PD in your rolodex. Ask questions to better understand why things are done.
7) How do you see yourself growing in this business?
When the topic of top programmers comes up, I want my name to come up along with guys such as Skip Dillard, Reggie Rouse and Jay Stevens. Hopefully, someday I can be considered a programming legend like Bill Drake, Frankie Crocker or Rick Sklar. And, achieve this goal before I am 40, lol. I also see myself being VP of programming for a major company.
8) What do you think is unique when it comes to your city and its listeners?
I am the #1 source for discovering new music. Our listeners are vocal and that's the first thing they say about WYTT. And yes, I recorded some of those comments and put them in promos!
9) How do you see the future of radio?
I see radio using the video capabilities of social media to create new ways of promoting the station and the clients. Doing comedy skit-type videos or drama-type videos inside and outside the studios opens up all new possibilities.
Radio will continue to grow and be profitable as a whole. On the Urban side it could be bigger! But we have to develop new talent and make the radio the #1 destination for discovering new music!
10) Why do you like radio?
No two days are ever the same. It's something new to learn and try at every corner. It's also a job where you're allowed to be silly, and creative most of the time. Not many jobs allow that. And I love being on the air and trying to make my listeners day a little better.
What are some of your favorite stations other than yours, you like listening to?
WBLS/New York, WHUR/Washington, WERQ/Baltimore, WJMH/Greensboro, WQDR/Raleigh, WBZJ/Raleigh, WNVZ/Norfolk, and ESPN 980 in Washington because I'm a huge Redskins fan!
What do you think it takes to be a successful PD?
People skills, time management, teaching ability, and the art of listening. I think those are the most important things to becoming a successful PD.