10 Questions with ... Jeff Harrison
June 14, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Successful radio career spanning over three decades from the Midwest to the West Coast to the South and beyond, primarily in the top-10 markets of the country.
1) What are your goals at the moment?
Maintaining a relevant presence in a fast-changing, ever-evolving social media-driven, new age technology world.
2) Who influenced your radio career?
Ernest James, Jay Stevens, the late Jerry Boulding, and also the late Sonny Taylor.
3) Has there ever been a station event you were most proud of?
For a great part of my career, here in Houston, I did promotions that were very appealing to the audience. In particular, in one promotion, I would take 100 to 150 listeners to different islands (the Bahamas, Cancun, Jamaica, etc.). Being able to relate to the listeners on a personal level not only was a lot of fun but rewarding in terms of how much it meant to them. It makes you really know that radio makes a difference in people's lives. They become your family.
4) What do you think the keys are to successfully program?
You've got to create an atmosphere for winning, first by assembling a great team of people committed and aligned with your goals. You've got to always have your best product on the air. This means the best music, the best promotions, the best marketing and highly localized, to a point where your listeners become loyal to you because you're a part of their community. You're at the schools and neighborhood events, and you have to obviously work very hard and continuously strive to hit higher numbers.
5) Do you have any advice for PDs or MDs when it comes to dealing with music?
My theory is that you have to be aware of what's going on around you. You have to be able to know what people are looking for. You must watch the charts. I think that you guys here at All Access do a great job of keeping up with and reflecting what stations are doing around the country. You should definitely use research as a tool, but only as a tool and not be restricted to the research. You need to be plugged into social media and the clubs.
The way the approach differs depending on the format, is that you are doing your research based on your target audience (i.e. Oldies format versus classic-focused).
6) If you were given three wishes, what would they be?
- That radio would be the unifying force around the world because music makes the world a better place.
- That radio would continue into infinity because it is always relevant and socially viable and connects people in a way that no other medium does.
- That I would continue to enjoy good health and quality time with my family and friends.
7) What are your top-five favorite songs of all time?
- "Reasons" by Earth Wind and Fire
- "Piano in the Dark" by Brenda Russell
- "Kiss on my Lips" by Hall and Oates
- "What's Going On?" by Marvin Gaye
- "Tell Me Something Good" by Rufus and Chaka Khan
8) What's the future for Urban and Urban AC?
I think there is a bright future for Urban and Urban AC; however that can only come about if we continue to make our number-one goal to entertain and serve our local community. Equally important is continue to invest in and develop new and existing talent.
9) How should music research be used?
Music research is a great tool; it can give you great information. However, I feel that it is very important to have the programmers, music directors and audience's input. You must mirror what your audience is indeed looking for and that comes through getting out in your local community with promotions and events and actually talking to the people who listen to your station.
10) I know your passion for radio, but along the way, what other jobs have you had?
I've lived and breathed radio since a pre-teen. However, to get there, I've worked in grocery stores, I was an apprentice carpenter and held various odd jobs leading to my radio career. I think that I took something from each of those jobs that helped me in some way to be better at my profession.
Were your parents supportive of your career choice?
My parents were always very supportive of everything I've done and for this, I am forever grateful. I could never have been successful without them.