10 Questions with ... Vicky James
October 11, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
1) Where did you get started in Radio?
Oh yes! My first job working in radio was at WFXE "FOXIE 103 JAMZ!" (Augusta, GA) in 1997. I grew up listening to this station as a kid! I was introduced to radio by DJ Boss who arranged for me to meet Kevin "Koolin" Fox, who was the OM. The Fly Night Guy, Robert Taylor, was the PD. They put me in promotions and on the fourth day, Kevin said you're going in the studio tonight (to learn how to run the board?). From that day I was bitten by the radio bug. Before long I was doing their weekend overnight shifts.
2) What has it been like learning your craft as a personality and an APD?
It brings things full circle for me being able to put a plan in place and not just hear it, but actually execute the plan. I can fully go in and be hands-on whether it's a contest or making sure imaging is set perfect or hearing a song and getting the listeners' feedback. I am on the front line and I am able to feel the pulse of what my listeners are thinking.
3) Who have been your mentors?
Terry Base was the first person to hire me when I got to college at Charleston Southern University, SC at WWWZ. Also, I got the opportunity to work and study under Minnesota Fattz at WPRW in Augusta, GA, at which time I knew I had to be a programmer! I happened to be sitting in his office when record executive Rodney Terry was there for a music meeting and told Fattz that a PD in the Charleston area was looking for me. I was in absolute shock that a PD was looking for me?
That conversation led me to Michael Tee at WXST (Star 99-7) where I landed my first full-time gig as the morning show co-hostess/APD/MD. Star 99-7 quickly became my first radio love! I will forever cherish the opportunity of working alongside Michael Tee!
Delores Jones, my Professor at CSU, probably believed in me more than anybody.
Some of the recent people that I've had the pleasure of working alongside, just to name a few: Steve Crumbley, Bill Tanner, Mark & Colleen Shands, John Olsen, Carl Conner and Greg Davis.
There are so many people that I would not want to leave anyone out who has contributed to my career over the last so I graciously say, thank you!
4) What's your philosophy for on-air?
My philosophy is to respond to the desires of my listeners. That means to put my personal tastes aside and if a listener wants to hear a certain song, we will play it. I believe in our listeners giving us direction. Thus far, it has given us success here at 107-3 JAMZ in Greenville SC.
A few things that have helped build and guide 1073 JAMZ:
- Matters of the heart and things that touch people.
- Health matters. We annually participate in the Minority Health Summit with free health screenings to the community.
- Money. We always provide career fairs information and hiring information for our listeners.
You cannot be afraid to take risks when necessary. For example, when something significant directly affects our listeners, we stop the jamz and open up the lines for their input and give consolation to those who may be feeling dismayed or discouraged. An example, the Charleston nine shooting was one of our stopping the jamz initiatives. We wouldn't be doing our jobs if we ignored major stories.
Finally, having a concrete work ethic (thanks to my daddy who still thinks radio isn't a real job, LOL!). I attribute much of my success to being a very detailed programmer delivering winning ratings.
5) What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Being stopped in the grocery store and a listener tells me they love the station.
6) How do you balance personal and work?
My goodness ... There are days when you can't turn it off in your head because the radio station is on 24/7! Since I live, eat and drink radio, it becomes either show prep or I am always accessing what people think of the radio station. However, balance is a must! I make it a priority to reset every day.
7) What is your outlook on music?
I take a broader outlook at what's out there musically. Every station has a base identity but some songs may not be an obvious fit for the format. For instance, at one time our listeners demanded that we play Ed Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud." The song became a smash in our research and we were flooded with requests!
8) Explain your style of management.
I'm able to not only program but I can also jump on the air at any given moment. We get so caught up in emails but I believe in a conversation to make sure we're on the same page, because a text message or e-mails don't always translate the passion that I would like to convey. Managing also requires taking the time to learn your team's strengths and matching them to be a part of projects that highlight those talents.
9) What do you think about female leadership in radio?
Female programmers are very rare so I'm extremely blessed to be in this position! I'm ecstatic when I do see women take the top spot. I think women are just as capable as men. Females are very nurturing which helps us to be considerate of others. Women have just as much passion to progress radio to the next level as anyone. I'm inspired by female leaders and intend to be a part of that movement. The leader of our cluster in Greenville, is overseen by a female, VP/GM, Karolyn Mulvaney who has set goals that we've surpassed, many of those by record numbers.
10) What are your thoughts on the future of radio?
I'm excited about the future but this requires us as programmers to be innovative. This includes finding a way to intertwine raw talent like a YouTube sensation or local talent who's found a voice in the community and develop them. Hunger for radio can't cease but we as programmers have to expand the brand to the social media scene.