10 Questions with ... Derrick Baker
January 11, 2011
1) What was your first job in radio? Early influences?
Part-time on WEDR-99 Jamz while in high school. James T, Rick Party and Yolanda Neely stood out to me locally. While in college in Atlanta, I felt Melissa Summers was the best midday talent in modern time. Jerry Smokin' B on V-103 was good, and Mitch Faulkner on-air with that Blue Light in the basement Party. (Damn, that man really sounds like those drops.)
2) What led you to a career in radio? Was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it"?
In the late '80s, I won a contest on WEDR. I went to the station to pick up my Salt-N-Pepa tickets and got a brief tour. The rest is history ... turntables, cart machines, etc. Thanks, Rodney Baltimore and Leo Jackson
3) If you were just starting out in radio, knowing now what you didn't then, would you still do it?
It's different. However, I really love what I do, so I would do it again. There is nothing like working in radio, in your hometown (and that hometown is Miami).
4) Where do you see yourself and the industry five years from now? How do you feel about the PPM replacing the diary?
I want to continue to grow and help others along the way. My long-term goals include GM and station owner. PPM will have an effect on Urban-formatted stations; however, we will just need to think outside the box and really focus on serving our P1s.
5) How do you feel about being asked to wait on a record you hear until the callout research validates it?
I'm cool with that. Callout is a resource, just one out of five tools we use here on the station. I've embraced callout and feel it validates what we already know 95% of the time. It's that 5% you should worry about.
6) What is going to happen to the training of tomorrow's talent and programmers if the current trend continues? How do you feel about syndication and voicetracking?
It will be very difficult to find the next Joyner, Harvey or DJ Khaled. However, resources like HD channels, small markets and a good ear will help develop talent. One of the things I am most proud of is under Cedric [Hollywood], then Tony [Fields], I had the opportunity to develop talent on this radio station. With the exception of Big Lip and Lorenzo, we trained everyone on this radio station.
7) Although you've been with Cox Radio and WEDR for more than a decade, what adjustments have you had to make in your new position?
Patience and adjusting to a new role as a teacher. Every chance I get, I try to teach. My staff knows I can be tough, but we learn together.
8) Of all the skills you have gained through the years, is there an area you'd like to improve?
I have had the opportunity to learn from so many people. I have a patient GM in Jerry Rushin, who is full of wisdom; PDs like James T, Cedric Hollywood and Tony Fields, who are "very" different, but bring lots of things to the table. In Cox I have the pleasure of working with Tony Kidd (great teacher), Jay Dixon, Steve Smith and Phil Michaels (which is funny because we compete against one another -- and work "really well" as a team).
Personally, working and developing talent, being more patient and keeping my VM empty.
9) How do you feel playing local artists' music? How important is it in 2011 to break new artists and are Urban programmers going to be slower in adding and playing new music? Is there a place for marginal music ... just because it is local?
This issue is overblown. Here at WEDR, we play the Jamz -- it doesn't matter if the artist is national, local or from Mars. What is different is exposure -- radio just can't break records like it used to. Artists will have to use "other" resources like the web, mix tapes, etc.
10) As you look back over your career ... any regrets? Missed opportunities?
Networking -- in this business, it's key. Really wished I did a better job networking, so I am making up time now!
What would people who think they know you be surprised to find out about Derrick Baker?
I'm a fan of Talk radio and Oldies (James Brown and the Isley Bros.).
What's been your biggest disappointment in radio today?
Syndicated morning shows. We need to develop local talent.
How did you get your present job?
Hard work and learning fast from good teachers.
What's the best liner you've ever heard?
Sugar 900 Belle Glade WSWN. The station ran drops that said something like, "Sugar 900 covering (eight counties) in the state of Florida -- only the sun covers more counties in the daytime!" (Damn - that's big talk for 1KW AM in Sugar Country.)
Describe your favorite meal?