10 Questions with ... Terry Base
January 25, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
WXLY/Charleston 1987-1989, WMGL/Charleston 1988-1990, WDXZ/Charleston 1990-1992, WSUY/Charleston 1992, KJMS/Memphis 1992-1996, KHXT/Memphis 1997, WWWZ, WMGL/Charleston 1997 (added WXTC in 1998, became Dir./Operations in 2001)
1) What was your first job in radio? Early influences?
My first job was as a copywriter for WXLY in January of 1987. Connie McPhaul (Big Mac) and Al Wilson are influences.
2) What led you to a career in radio? Was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it"?
When Earl Boston hired me to be Production Director and midday announcer at WMGL in 1989. It was my first full-time on-air position, and seeing him work I really learned the depth of this industry and its impact on the community. That was when I was hooked.
3) If you were just starting out in radio, knowing now what you didn't then, would you still do it?
Probably ... but I would have used it to better set up other opportunities (entrepreneurship, politics, etc.).
4) Where do you see yourself and the industry five years from now? How do you feel about the PPM replacing the diary?
I still have dreams of ownership. I feel like soon I'd like to get out of the way so that some up-and-comers can get the opportunities to program. I was blessed to program my first station at the age of 24 and not many people get to do that at an early age. I think I'd make a good GM at some point. As far as the PPM, I believe that the time is now for it to make an impact. In a digital and technology-driven world, radio has done a good job keeping up the pace. Arbitron now needs to make sure that the PPM is something that radio and the advertisers believe validates the ratings process. Radio is a very effective and healthy medium ... and PPM can only further our industry.
5) How you feel about being made to wait on a record you hear until the research validates it?
Fortunately I work for a company that believes in its PDs and doesn't dictate music playlists to its programmers. Obviously we have to make sound decisions to generate ratings, but we don't have a lot of dictates.
6) What is going to happen to the training of tomorrow's talent and programmers if the current trend continues? (In other words, who is going to do it?) How do you feel about syndication and voicetracking?
To the young people trying to grow, I'd suggest you seek out PDs who will lend you an ear and begin dialogue. With conventions all but gone, networking (or butt-kissing people you want to hire you) is a lost art, but you've got to figure out who you think is a hot PD and get to know him/her ... and ask every question you can.
7) What adjustments, if any, have you had to make recently because of the changing competitive situation in Charleston?
I'd have to say I am continuing to adjust to the changes of our time. Being flexible is an asset. There are things that happen in radio now that I would have never agreed with years ago, but in today's corporate environment you've got to adopt a cluster mentality.
8) Of all the skills you have gained through the years, is there an area you'd like to improve?
Being able to have a complete education in engineering, the business office and traffic departments. If I'm going to own one of these one day, I've got to know everything. I'd only give myself a B- in those areas right now.
9) As you look back over your career ... any regrets? Missed opportunities?
I probably should have had a major independent label. I have helped a lot of talent either get record deals or by exposing their music on the radio, they've been able to attain label deals. I should've have made them sign their lives away to me first. Fortunately, that's not my character.
10) How did you get your present job?
Don Kelly (now with Ibiquity HD) was one of the leading consultants in Urban radio and he talked me into coming back home. My wife also wanted to get back home.
What do you do with a song you don't like?
Go back and listen again ... watch and then look for research stories to prove my gut right ... or wrong. At the end of the day the music on the station is not for me; it's for the listeners. I have to be as impartial as I can be.
What's your favorite fast food?
Zaxby's ... real chicken fast. It's off the chain.