10 Questions with ... Eric Faison
August 30, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Programming: WZAK Cleveland, WAMO Pittsburgh, WBLK Buffalo Syndication: SJS Entertainment, New York, Access .1/Superadio New York
1) If a genie in a bottle gave you three wishes, what would they be and why?
All three would go back in time...
- The Communications Act of 1996 would have never happened and consolidation would not have occurred so rapidly.
- Radio would have recognized the threats from other audio platforms years earlier.
- Radio would have remained true to its original place among media as a destination for theatre of the mind-like entertainment and the discovery of new music and not begun to emulate another form-the jukebox. All due respect to Todd Storz and Bill Stewart.
2) What new challenges do you think radio faces?
There is a battle going on between competing philosophies and business models, "Live and Local" versus national and centralized. Large groups have built their own content factories that make it a lot tougher for independent syndication companies to cut through. Also the creeping migration of "radio" content from terrestrial tower-based distribution to the Internet is happening before our eyes. Once streaming royalties are addressed, the time will quickly come when broadcast frequencies delivered by antennas will be repurposed for something besides commercial radio transmissions. It's a difficult time because we're experiencing the contraction of traditional radio jobs, but it's fascinating to watch the evolution.
3) What do you miss about programming a station?
Putting an imprint on a station on a daily basis. I also miss the vibrancy and the day-to-day camaraderie of a team focused on one goal. In my job we deal with multiple products on multiple stations from a distance. The programming makes a difference but it's not quite the same.
4) How do you think a metric for giving value to internet radio will change syndication?
It should open up opportunities for syndicated programming that can't find a home on terrestrial radio. The only thing holding that back has been the inability of some syndicators to figure out how to monetize the Internet platform in any significant way.
5) How do you think Hip-Hop has affected the Urban programming landscape?
Hip-Hop has fragmented the Urban audience for a while. It's the music of many of our lives but at some point, do we outgrow it? Do we play it on Urban ACs? When do we play it? How often do we play it? In some dayparts but not in others? These days it's much more difficult for formats to deliver to a narrow audience on a medium meant to reach a broad one.
6) Any advice for those with dreams of programming someday?
Learn as much of the business end as you can from top to bottom, but don't forget how to put on a show.
7) Do you think having been a PD gives you an advantage working in syndication?
Yes. It gives me the advantage of being someone who has sat in the chair and faced many of the challenges that come with it. However, too much empathy can be difficult for someone whose primary job is sales. You can fall into identifying too much with the programmer and miss opportunities to sell the benefits of the programming.
8) Who are some of the people that have influenced your career?
So many ... Crocker, Boulding, Shannon, Tolliver, Mayo. I've learned a ton about national ad sales from Jack Bryant
9) Do you have a favorite radio memory? Something you either heard growing up or something you participated in.
Winning a call-in contest on WWRL from Hank Spann. He was very cool ... made me want to be on the radio.
10) Would you please give us some of the scenarios of how shows get syndicated?
Most talent at some point in their careers believe they should be syndicated and heard by a wider audience. There are traditional and non-traditional ways to make that happen. The most successful scenario in the terrestrial syndication model is one where the company he or she works for supports syndication efforts by allowing them to control some of the commercial inventory inside the show. Make that happen on a station with some audience and you may have something.
What is your opinion on the future of the Urban format?
Radio is meant to be different from other forms of delivering (music) audio to listeners. Urban should develop personalities who matter and give them room to create.