10 Questions with ... Julee Jonez
January 19, 2016
1) What are your radio goals for this year?
For starters, strengthening my on-air performance is a consistent goal. To assume "I got this" and not grow any further is complacent and simply lazy. It's easy to get comfortable when the numbers are good, revenue is coming in, and all is well. With the ever-changing landscape of radio - even in the weeklies - you must continue to evaluate your performance and see where adjustments need to be made.
I also want to use my platform as a way to cross over into other media. Occasionally, I am asked to come on a local news show to do some of the award show recaps. I enjoy it but I am ready to do television on a more consistent basis. The market I'm in can be challenging to do this, but it's an area where I am determined to begin to segue into alongside my on-air career. With me, there's always a C and D plan.
Plan C includes a lifestyle podcast that would cover everything from what I do daily during "The Midday Party" but with a chance to expound on the vast topics I address on my show. A podcast is needed since I realize my show is not on a Talk station - I'm there to entertain and inform but not drag out what I have to say. I'd like to go more in-depth when I discuss what I am passionate about. (And politics is a hot-button for me.)
Plan D includes doing more creative writing. This year I will self-publish my first fiction book, "Pressing Past the Past." It's the story of two best friends who try to hide their dirty deeds of the past, but unfortunately, when we don't confront the demons of the past, they always make themselves known -- when you least expect it.
Ultimately, the dream is to be a part of syndicated show ... should I stay on this career path? I have a strong voice with experience and opinions that I think could contribute to a great partnership with someone. I'm putting that out there just in case anyone is looking for a new voice with some fresh flavor. (Wink...) I admire all the syndicated hosts - particularly in the Urban genre. I just hope more opportunities become available to us who aren't widely known but have a lot to offer; we just need the chance and opportunity.
2) I have heard your show, you prep a lot and you're word efficient ...what's your approach?
I am always in prep mode. Whether if it's a personal issue, a conversation I hear (or overhear while I'm ear hustling). I simply take notes. I can be reading a magazine and if something pops out at me - bam! It's a part of my show. From the GOP to ratchet reality TV, I get it all.
Being concise is about planning. I never wing it. I stay precise by staying on track. I have one specific benchmark per hour. Each one has a different purpose. For example, my benchmark during the lunch hour is "3 Hot Things." The name speaks for itself: thee things that are hot for my listeners to know. In it I make sure I give one piece of information that is community related. The second piece is usually connected to health/wellness. This can be a health prevention observance -- like Domestic Violence Awareness, it may be a sex fact -- but something interesting that could impact your well-being or maybe just make you laugh. Today I did a bit on why you should keep your socks on during ... well, you know ... while performing "marital duties." Then the last tidbit is always a "teaser." It's a topic of interest where I give just a quick fact but pull you into our other media outlet -- kprs.com. There you can read my blog of the day. I talk about relationship issues, dealing with co-workers who are touched; just something that is relatable that can help someone.
3) Do you think in multiples when it comes to promoting what you say on the air?
Yes. People remember things in threes. That's why my benchmarks are three pieces -- but each having very few sentences. I actually write out benchmarks to keep me on track. I don't read them verbatim but if I see something is four sentences versus a maximum of three, I know it's got to go!
4) You've mentioned how close your OM works with the staff. Could you share what he does and anything specific he's helped you with?
Myron Fears has been an impeccable teacher when it comes to directing me in the programming aspect of radio. It's more than just "feeling" or "liking" a certain song or artist. There is a method for why PDs and MDs program like they do. Music rotation by categories, Mscores, station face-offs, trends in your specific market versus overall charts, etc. are just a few areas where his teaching is helping me think like a programmer - even on-air. I am always aware of making sure I keep listeners engaged and getting what I dub "My Quarter-Hour Gangsta Grabs." I am able to do that due to the direction from our OM.
Myron makes us think about how the landscape of our city and even nation can impact ratings. For example, we're not a Sports station but we must make sure we are on top of Royals and Chiefs happenings. We know Sports stations during a game could impact numbers so we marry sports and music, making a win-win possible for us. Right now, politics and police/community relations are on the national stage so we as jocks must address these hot button issues. Myron's transparency to show us data - from market research, to how we're doing hour-by-hour is insightful. To have an OM show you where you stand at 10a compared to other stations lets us know areas or points of weakness where we can make adjustments. Our meetings are more than our 6+ numbers or upcoming promotions; we go deep. Whatever Myron receives from research, we are allowed to discuss as a staff and get a greater understanding of our jobs and how other factors fit together to make us win.
Being able to assist Myron in some aspects of programming is helping me with possible future opportunities as well. You rarely see someone in radio who is simply a PD or MD. I want to know how to do both and a top-notch on-air personality. I just don't want to be "on radio" or a "jock." I want to a radio personality who has the ability to program and understands my market. Sometimes that means taking the extra steps to ask to know more or to learn other tasks. It's cliché but real: knowledge is powerful. People perish for a lack of knowledge but with an OM like Myron Fears, it's like going to school every day. And I want to make the grade.
5) Full-time air-personality and a parent, how do you balance the two?
Whew! A lot of prayer and open dialogue! My working here gives me the opportunity to share things with him that I experience. I know he and his friends listen to the music, watch the videos, check out today's television shows; it is what it is. So instead of sheltering him, I use it as the opportunity to talk about life and many obstacles he'll face and how to make positive choices. And of course, we like some of the same songs! We both rap the radio edit of "Lifestyle" even though we have no idea what ol' boy saying. But it's catchy!
6) You interned for a long time before you hit the airwaves; what did you learn?
I learned this field is where I wanted to be! As I interned I worked at Chrysler Financial Services at the same time. The corporate grind was good financially -- and I needed insurance. When I graduated I took a job at a sports company but it wasn't what I thought. I was a glorified secretary. Nothing wrong with that, but that wasn't what I signed up for! When my boss asked me to do his wife's resume and that chic was at home doing nothing. I chucked up the deuces! When I called KPRS to get a reference, I was so happy that turned into an invite back. I came back to KPRS/KPRT part-time and worked full-time again at Chrysler as a team member. At times, I'd get off at 11p and go work overnight at KPRT or KPRS. Did it for years! But eventually, it paid off.
7) How do you feel about working for the oldest Black owned-and-operated station in the country?
It makes me proud to be a part of something that is a rarity. I am so glad Michael Carter has chosen to keep his business a family business that even cares about his employees families. We are very close to one another as a staff but to have a boss -- the president of your company -- still be connected to you and your well-being is a blessing.
8) Any advice for those just starting out in broadcasting?
Be okay with starting at the bottom. The sense of entitlement I have seen with some students coming in disturbs me. Nothing happens overnight. And then some of my younger ladies need to realize you need more than your pretty face to make it. I mentor young women so I am very passionate about their self-presentation. I had one girl sit with me who thought her "cuteness" was all she needed. But for every cute girl, there's one who is cuter ... and cute ain't forever! At the end of the day, being smart and strategic wins in the long run.
9) Can you name some of the people who have mentored and influenced your career?
That guy I interned for. Sam somebody ... oh yeah, Sam Weaver. Myron Fears has always been my ace. He told me I had that radio thang the day he met me. I have had others in media who I consider "mentors in my head" though. Sidebar: Does that make me sound crazy?
10) What do you like about radio?
I get paid to do what I used to get in trouble for in school -- talking!
Anything people would be surprised to learn about you?
I am a Sunday school teacher. (I know.) But I bring the crunk to the class! The good thing is the kids and I relate on what's going on. Who says you can't get a lesson from "Love & Hip-Hop" and connect it to the Bible? Another thing that may surprise people is I'm also somewhat of a homebody.