10 Questions with ... Barbara A. McDowell
June 21, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I began my career as an intern at WEJM (106Jamz)/Chicago with Mic Fox and Cortney "Babygirl" Hicks. Mic Fox was the evening personality at the time and I produced a community affairs show where Cortney was the host in addition to her midday duties. While interning, I became the assistant to the receptionist at WVAZ Chicago for six years and the position phased out. I worked in the promotions department as promotions assistant for a year. I left AM/FM to start at a new radio station, Hot 102FM, on a small signal (3,000 watts) with Crawford Broadcasting. Crawford Broadcasting flipped their Gospel station 92.3 to Urban on March 26th, 2001. I have been with the company for 14 years.
1) First the most important question, who has the best pizza in Chicago?
My ultimate favorite place to eat is Maggiono's! If I want thin crust pizza, Italian Fiesta is the best. Giordonno's has the best deep dish pizza in Chicago!
2) What's the stations formula for selecting music?
I love a variety of music! Pop, rap, gospel, R&B, rock. It really depends on my mood. When choosing music for WPWX, it must appeal to our brand and our audience, which is hip-hop. WSRB is very gold-driven with the right amount of current hits. Our consultant Tony Gray has the final approval for selecting music for WSRB.
3) Would you share your radio background?
I have worked in every department of radio except the sales department. My core radio background is in the programming department. I love the creative and music portion of programming, especially breaking new artists!
4) Do you guys use callout research?
We do not have research. We depend heavily on our DJs, charts, Mscores, knowing what's hot in the market locally and our gut when it comes to placing new music on our playlist.
5) What is the Chicago music scene like?
Chicago, once known as the house music capitol, is now home to blues, rock, country, dance and rap music. The Internet has given the youth an opportunity to express themselves, thus creating a unique sound called drill music. The city is a melting pot for music lovers.
6) Who were some of your mentors?
I have taken what I like to call programming nuggets from various people I have worked with or have been around within the past 17 years of working in radio, such as my current PD Jay Alan, Mic Fox, Monica Starr, Jamillah Muhammed, Maxx Myrick, Tony Gray, and Barry Mayo. They influenced my radio career.
7) What to you do to relax when you are not working?
When I'm not working, I enjoy reading, attending networking events, blogging and painting.
8) What are your thoughts on the future of Urban radio?
I believe Urban radio will continue to have success as long as we embrace change and not be afraid of new technology.
9) How do you feel about Nielsen Audio's PPM?
Change is good! PPM is not perfect, but I like some of its programming tools. I can see weekly how our stations are performing. Musically, I can see when our listeners leave our station when a particular song plays.
10) What are your radio goals?
I created a vision board and have accomplished all of the goals except for radio ownership. I am still a student of this business and I will continue to grow as a radio programmer. I am now trying to master what I have learned and hopefully consult other independent radio stations.