10 Questions with ... Will Bernel "DJ Shad"
February 2, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Mix show/weekends at KMJK/Kansas City 2001-2002; guest mixer on The Michael Baisden Show; APD/show producer, Power 104.9 WTSX/Kokomo, IN 2014-
1. How does a financial consultant end up with a Hip-Hop and R&B online station?
I have worked on the banking/financial consulting side for the past 15 years, but my love is music and I wanted to give something back to my hometown of Rockford, IL. Before the station launched on April 1st, 2015; my business partner, Julian "DJ Big Juice" Holt, had been researching online stations for two years. RC Williams and Oliver "DJ Big O" helped us with deciding which direction to go. The online station is just the first step before we go through the process of getting a translator to be the sister station of Power 104.9 WTSX.
2. Could you share your progress in getting a translator?
Right now we are researching the steps it takes to get a translator license. We are working closely with John Grant, owner of Power 104.9 WTSX, on the steps to apply to the FCC for the translator license.
3. Are you going to be moving to Rockford?
I love my hometown of Rockford, but the last time I was there, the wind chill was 22 below zero. My business partner, Julian "DJ Big Juice" Holt, will be handing the day-to-day operations in Rockford and I will be handing the programming duties from my office in St. Louis. One of the advantages of having an online station is you can set up and operate anywhere in the world. I can remotely access the station by using the TeamViewer program. TeamViewer is a free program where I can remotely access the computer that runs the station via any computer, cellphone or tablet. I can be on an island somewhere and program the station with my cellphone or wi-fi access.
4. How did you get monitoring status as an online station?
We are one of eight online stations that is monitored by Nielsen. Oliver Jackson pitched the idea to me about becoming a monitored station. He reached out to Bill Henning at Nielsen and Mr. Henning did a test run of monitoring our stream. After that, we discussed the benefits of being a monitored station because it's a new concept to monitor online stations.
5. What's your radio background?
I started doing radio in 1996 at WIDB, the student-run station at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. I worked my way up from being a personality/mix show DJ to Urban MD to GM. After I graduated from SIUC, I moved to Kansas City, MO and started working part-time for KMJK (Majic 107.3 FM) from 2001-2002. From there, I was a guest mixer on various stations including WPWX (Power 92)/Chicago, KPRS (Hot 103 Jamz)/Kansas City, and WYRB (Power 106)/Rockford and on the The Michael Baisden Show. In August 2014, Oliver Jackson gave me a call about hosting a gospel show on Power 104.9 WTSX/Kokomo with Julian Holt. During that time, I assisted with programming the station, troubleshooting PC and equipment issues, consulting on which shows to add to the station and networking with people in the community.
6. How did radio lead you into being a financial advisor? And how has it helped you with radio?
At the time, I knew working in radio wasn't going turn into a full-time position so I became a financial advisor/banking rep for financial stability. I worked for various financial and insurance companies in Kansas City before I relocated to St. Louis for a job transfer. Being a financial advisor helped me understand the business side of radio and how to market and network to bring in revenue to the station.
7. Could you name the radio people who have influenced your style?
- The Hot Mix 5 -- The reason I wanted to become a DJ is because of their mixes on WBMX. My older brother would hook up the cable to the radio back in the day so I could hear their shows in Rockford.
- Dell Rice -- On my first on-air shift at KMJK, I forgot my headphones and he was willing to loan me his. From there, I would always ask him questions about the business and artists to understand the history of music.
- Big Al Harper -- He was one of the guys who helped me contact labels when I became MD at WIDB. We have stayed in contact throughout the years and he was even the DJ at my wedding when the DJ backed out at the last minute. I appreciate everything he has done to help me in the industry.
- RC Williams -- He helped me understand things with radio and took a lot of heat for me at KMJK. We would argue with our PD and MD at the time about which Urban A/C records would work in the market. He also was a main factor in providing the information about starting an online station. Once a month we discuss the emerging technologies that will become the future of radio.
- Hot 103 Jamz -- When I lived in KC, the way the station was branded impressed me. Also the community involvement impressed me as well like the Food & Toy drive and Generation Rap.
8. Would you explain how Shazam factors in with the selection of music?
I use Shazam to help determine what records we should increase in airplay. I also use it to see which records are popular in other regions to add to the rotation. Many of the records we have broke on 103.7 Da Beat end up being trending records in the Rockford, IL region. Shazam is one factor but we also discover hits via Instagram. We found out about Luke Nastyy's "Might Be," Big Will's "Dabb On Em" and T-Wayne's "Nasty Freestyle" by memes on Instagram. If a song can grab someone's attention in a 15-second clip, it has the potential to become a huge hit if the artist interacts with his or her fans.
9. What are your thoughts on the future of Urban radio?
The future of Urban radio will depend on embracing technology. One of the advantages of 103.7 Da Beat is we are TuneIn, iTunes Radio, our website and the 103.7 Da Beat app. We did research first before we went with Black Vibes to create a station app. Their customer service is excellent, the price is right starting at $20 a month and we can have all our social media tied to the app to make it a one-stop shop. We can send notifications, broadcast, send out alerts and news, showcase artist interviews via YouTube, and test new artists via the app. It gives you a direct contact with your listener.
Also, we embrace social media platforms like Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat because people want to see the day-to-day operations so they can learn. Social media can also help with branding if your personalities are interactive with their fans. Urban radio should embrace change because in the next two to three years 90% of the cars will have Wi-Fi and the main radio sources will be either Android or Apple audio and the way it's looking it's going to be either TuneIn or iTunes Radio as the main sources.
10. How important is it for a station to work with the community?
It's very important for a station to work with the community. It opens up to door to network and help spread the word of the station. When you build strategic partnerships with local businesses and community leaders, it helps in the long run with building the brand of the station.
When you not doing radio what do you do for fun?
I buy and sell classic soul/funk/gospel and jazz LPs to collectors around the world. I also travel throughout the Midwest finding out about lesser-known artists and find ways to help re-release their music to a global audience. Some things we might not like in the U.S. wind up being huge overseas.
How did your parents factor into your business life?
My parents, William and Ola, were a major factor in my business life. One factor is always having multiple sources of income so you're not relying on one thing. Also my parents and wife, Amber, support my love of music. I got my first record when I was two. My mom was in Sears to pay her bill and we passed the music section and I picked out a record and she told me no. While she paid her bill, I ran off and found the record again after the sales clerk had hid it. After I found the record the third time, the clerk gave it to me. My dad would have me make tapes to play at his lodge parties. My brother and sister played a part in my life as well because I would hear my older brother playing classics like Cameo and Rick James. My sister got me my first job as a DJ at the Ing Roller Rink when I was 15.