10 Questions with ... James Alexander
March 22, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Radio highlights: WJLB/Detroit, WGCI/Chicago, K104/Dallas, WBOK-WYLD/New Orleans, KRLY/Houston
1) Where and what was your first job in radio? Early influences?
WCIN/Cincinnati was my first radio job; grew up on WCIN, listening to Tom Knox (TKO), Bob "Sweet Daddy" Long, Charles "Buggs" Scruggs, Jockey Jack (The Rapper) Gibson, Eddie Castleberry, Bob Hudson and Grandpa.
Early programming influences:
Jim Randolph, Jerry Boulding, Earnest L. James, Jim Maddox, Walt Love, Sonny Taylor, Monte Lang, Mac Allen, Rick Sklar, Paul Drew, Gordon McClendon, Buzz Bennett, Quincy McCoy.
2) If you were just starting out in radio, knowing now what you didn't then, would you still do it?
Absolutely ... this is a career choice
3) Does anything surprise you along the lines of new media platforms in terms of effectiveness with the audience?
Not really ... technology is "ever-evolving;" once you have an appreciation for that it is not difficult to transcend in your profession
4) How you prefer to be promoted on new records? And how do you feel about playing local Mobile artists' records ... or would you still prefer to wait until the research validates it?
Simply present their product (it will speak for itself) ... (songs/artists - local, regional, national). Here's a reality: In today's competitive environment they must be a "fit" (benefit) to the competitive growth of "said" station.
A second reality is that people charged with the success of these stations have a tremendous responsibility which transcends into accountability; as a result prudent decisions relative to music selections are the order of the day
5) With the current trend toward talent importation and voicetracking, it feels like we're at the end of an era of fundamentals and the dawn of a new paradigm. How do future personalities continue to maintain relevance? Who's going to train them?
The reality is that it is a different world than when I broke into the business ... and yes, it is not as easy today as then, Having said that, if I were breaking in today, I would identify several people and study their style, demeanor and persona and use that as a foundation for their development. If this is going to be a career choicen then look inward and don't become discouraged All things are possible.
6) Because of callout research are today's Urban and Urban AC programmers going to be slower in adding and playing new music? And what is the maximum number of spins a record in power rotation could be expected to receive in a given week on your stations.
I don't believe that programmers are going (or have ever been) slower or faster relative to adding music; the reality is that a station can only effectively expose a finite number of songs ... the number of spins (power rotation?) in a given week. There is no set number, per se.
7) Of all the skills you have gained through the years, is there an area you'd like to improve?
People have different "intensity" levels. I have an appreciation for that
8) What's your read on the forma,t music-wise, nowadays?
The Urban format (music) is strong ... did I say "strong songs?"
9) As you assess the financial shape of the industry today, are traditional budgetary expectations still taking precedent too often over the investment on the product and human resources channeled into it?
Yes and no...each situation is unique within itself
10) As you look back over your career ... any regrets? Missed opportunities?
Missed opportunity? To have worked for the "Doctor" - Jerry Boulding during his programming days
What would people who think they know James Alexander be surprised to know about you?
Don't let the serious demeanor fool you; I actually have a real "sense of humor."
How can Urban radio best bridge the gap that exists with the younger/future listener base that exists today?
Being a keen listener (that's the real research) and implementing accordingly
What the best piece of advice that someone has ever given you that you still use on a daily basis?
Be quick to hear, slow to speak and slower to act.
Name the one gadget you can't live without.
My car keys (can't drive without them) ... I like the computer tablets
What's been your biggest disappointment in radio today?
I would equate it with society in general
Do you feel that urban stations should be more careful not to blindly copy formats but tailor them specifically to the age and racial make-up of their own markets?
Absolutely ... if your intent is to be successful. The key is to be unique to your market and true to your target audience