10 Questions with ... Terry Styles
March 22, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Twenty-seven years in the business, my career started in 1998 at heritage Urban WJTT (Power 94)/Chattanooga, TN. Then to crosstown heritage Urban AM 1260 WNOO as News Director and morning sidekick. From there I got my first Top 40 gig at WBDX (B103), which was a mirror image of Top 40 WYHY (Y107)/Nashville. Then I moved to Knoxville, TN to work at heritage Urban 1340 WKGN, doing mornings, MD and production. In 1993 I came back to Chattanooga and worked swing-shift nights for heritage Country station and seven-time CMA Station of the Year, US 101 WUSY. While working with Cumulus, I was given an opportunity to cross the hall for my first programming job at Urban AC WLOV 97.3/99.3. Later in 2004, I moved to Pensacola, FL as PD for Urban AC, WRRX (Magic 106.1). After leaving Magic 106.1, I came back to Chattanooga, TN as Assistant Production Dir. and on-air personality for Bahakel Broadcastings AC WDEF (Sunny 92.3) and currently at Top 40 Hits 96, WDOD.
1) Did you ever think you would be in radio this long?
Yes, as a child I always knew this was the business I wanted to be in. I used to listen to various radio stations, and at the time I knew when a jock was going to do a break, when a sweeper would play at a certain time, so I started designing clocks in my mind. One day I grabbed a tape recorder and started mimicking and playing around pretending, I was a radio personality. I took the tape to let my father listen to it, he said "That's not you" and I said "Yes, it is." So throughout the years, until I graduated high school I kept perfecting my craft as a radio personality and landed my first gig a year after high school.
2) What wisdom about this business would you like to pass along to newcomers in this industry?
Never stop learning, ask questions. Try to be available and learn all aspects of the business, such as sales, production, on-air, promotions. Try to find someone you are comfortable with to be a mentor whether inside or outside the business. Eat, sleep and breathe the business.
3) You have handle on different aspects of radio, where did you learn all of this? Sales, production, etc.
From various managers throughout the years. I learned programming and sales from current station owner WNFZ/Knoxville, TN, Johnny Pirkle, who taught me the ins and outs of radio, including sales, promotions, and owning a radio station. More of my programming came from Ken Johnson, current VP/Urban Programming of Cumulus Media, who taught me the ins and outs of corporate radio. Bobby Wonder, current OM of WUFO (Mix 1080)/Buffalo, NY on the proper way of doing a radio resume and approaching a correct way of being an on-air personality.
4) You have done mornings, give us some clues as to how to approach that shift.
In doing mornings, or whatever format I was working, I always made it a point to research topics that pertained to that targeted audience, from music, social media, to current events that affected that audience. Cross-promotion pertaining to events outside of radio such as, health fairs, different charity events, and community events along with music and contesting.
5) Would you name the people who have influenced career?
- Ken Johnson, he helped me learn brand managing in corporate radio.
- James Alexander, he instilled wisdom and knowledge in programming.
- Bobby Wonder, who is a mentor who helped me hone my programming and on-air skills.
- Liz Hanlon, who taught me the different aspects on being a market manager.
- Johnny Pirkle, he taught me the ins and outs of being a station owner.
- Danny Howard, OM of my current station, who instilled in me the knowledge of programming multiple formatted stations.
- Chris Adams, production director of my current station, who taught me the different aspects of production from barter, to national, to local and co-op.
- Sam Weaver, who is a mentor and guide in this wild broadcasting business.
6) How is it that you have had success in various formats?
I am a true lover and very versatile person when it comes to music. I guess you would say I'm an '80s baby. With the love and passion I have for music, I have been able to work various formats from Classic Hits to Today's music, which includes Urban, Urban AC, Top 40, Country and Classic Hits.
7) Why do like being on the radio so much?
It is a passion that is been instilled in me since my childhood. I am a people person, I love to interact with people on and off the mic.
8) Do you have any funny radio stories?
When I worked in Country radio, no one knew I was Africa-American until they met me at different events, such as remotes and concerts. I would show up to certain events and people who were over that event would say "Can I help you with something?" I would tell them who I was and they would be very shocked but then opened up to me with open arms.
9) You programmed for several years, what were the challenges?
My first challenge was WLOV. It was my first programming gig, I was green around the collar and I was going up against a heritage station that had been in the market for many years. My challenge was letting the community know my station existed. So I became very street savvy. I was at every community event and every function from a state fair, to Relay for Life and all other events, even non-paid. My second challenge was coming into a market, Pensacola, FL, and taking a station that was dead last, Classic Rock, with the help of Ken Johnson and flipping it to Urban AC, taking it to #2 in the market against heritage 100,000-watt stations in the region. My station was a Class A 2,959-watt stick. I caught the eye of several other programmers in the area, one in particular, a Country station who ended up doing a contest with the FL lottery similar to a spring promotion I did the year before which was a huge success.
10) How do you see the future for radio?
Continued consolidation, having one person responsible for many jobs. More voicetracking.
Radio has changed over the years; what are some of the changes you like and name those you don't like?
Today radio is more social-savvy; we have more networking to get the brand out in the community through blogging, Internet, Facebook, Twitter, etc. These platforms are great for reaching your average listener. Voicetracking, when necessary, can be effective in certain markets.
Don't likes: I'm from the old school and more of a hands-on-type person. I miss the "roll your sleeve up and get down and dirty," such as queuing up records, splicing phone calls, playing carts and CDs. Today everything is automated. I would like for some of the new upcoming talent to experience what radio was like from days gone by.
Is there a question you've always wanted to answer but have never been asked?
Yes, why and where are the new mentors in the business today to train and prepare for this business?