Operation Director and PD Journal KFDI/Wichita
Previous Stations & Positions:
KJJY/Des Moines ’81 to ’01 (Middays/Afternoons, PD)
WOKQ/Dover-Portsmouth-Rochester ’79-’81 (PM Drive, Promotions)
Years in the biz: 29
Marital Status: Married to Scott
Kids: I forgot to have any.
What is your favorite thing about Wichita? In the middle of “Tornado Alley” you might think this is a crazy answer, but…The weather! I love the weather here. I’m happy to dodge the occasional tornado (and we get good warnings from KFDI when they’re headed our way)…in exchange for 225 sunny days a year. It gets hot here, but it’s less humid than Iowa, and spring comes early to Wichita. It’s my favorite climate I’ve ever lived in.
You have worked in several Midwestern markets. What makes that area of the U.S. unique to the country music format? Country music is very mainstream in the Midwest, so it’s like we’re all speaking the same language. The values are second nature and innately understood. It makes programming Country radio a lot of fun here.
There are an abundance of country stations in your market. What are the unique challenges of programming in Wichita and how do you set yourselves apart? Yes, I think we’re up to 101 country stations in Wichita now… Oh! Wait! There’s another one! LOL. The market is challenging. You have to take some of what you “know” about programming and throw it out the window. We’ve learned some things about operating in a country-saturated environment that fly in the face of traditional wisdom. And, no, I’m not sharing them. J.
Journal has won many awards for news coverage. How have you made priority news programming work for you and how much of an impact does it make in branding yourself locally? The KFDI News Dept. is a huge image and driver for KFDI as a whole. News at the top of the hour and, “When news breaks out, we break in.” I love to say that. It’s so….so…Les Nessman. But, that’s what people know us for…breaking news and severe weather coverage. No matter who you are, active rock listener, AC listener, country listener, when there’s a scary looking cloud in the sky, or flames on the horizon, you turn your radio to KFDI to find out what’s going on. The downside of the news brand, of course, is that we can’t play as many songs per hour as our competitor. But, in a tornado, I’m always glad we’re not the station playing “Boot Scootin’ Boogie.” (*note to Brooks & Dunn: dig the song, just not during a tornado. Love you, mean it.)
Are you currently utilizing, or planning to utilize: podcasts, video, texting or other digital technology in your programming and promotions? If so, in what way? Podcasts, Yes. Video, Yes. Texting, Yes. All of the above. We try to find an interactive link to everything we do.
What is the most pressing problem radio faces today? How do you think it should be resolved? Well, we could write a book on this, couldn’t we? We’ve done a terrible job of making radio listeners out of young people. Arbitron has done a terrible job of addressing the cell-phone-only issue soon enough, so they don’t find the young folks. The ratings suffer on the young end, advertisers aren’t buying them…and meanwhile the young guys and gals are out there consuming large amounts of music and media, spending their disposable income, and we’re on the sidelines. We need an initiative to re-engage youth.
What can record labels and artists do to better serve you and your station?
I have some really terrific label reps who really get it. There are a few stuck in the 90’s but most are working their butts off. I’ve got very little criticism here.
If money and time were no object, what would you most like to do? I love languages and would like to learn more. We have a Regional Mexican station in our cluster, and I speak some Spanish, but I’d like to get fluent in it so I can understand the jokes! Then, I’d like to learn German.
Who has had the most influence on you in your career thus far? Why? Sorry, I can’t pick just one. I have had too many mentors in my career. I’ve gotten the most from the ones who modeled great character. Those lessons you never forget. The best feeling in the world is to work in an environment where the people you work for are fans of yours. That’s my job at Journal now. I am so blessed.
What is the most ridiculous thing about the music business? I respect the need for serious discussion on performance royalties, and I’m sure there’ll be some movement on the issue. But, some of the folks arguing for it are on crack! So, let me get this straight…radio needs to pay performance royalties because Radio’s getting all the benefit and you get no benefit from radio playing your songs on the radio? And yet, you’re spending HOW MUCH a year on your Promotion Departments, whose sole reason for existence is to get radio to play your songs? Hmmm…. I’m confused.
What advice would you give someone wanting to get into the music business?
There’s a nice Dairy Queen for sale down the road.
What are your plans for the rest of 2008? Win!
What do you do to “unplug”? I blow up a big pink floating chair, insert lime slice into Corona, and bob on the lake with Scott.
What is your assessment of how the Braves are doing thus far? Oh, you had to bring that up. Look what’s happened to all our pitchers! We have been snake bit this year. Smoltzy…more surgery. Sigh…. Your prediction? They might have a chance if they get healthy in the second half of the season. But, how ‘bout Chipper? #10 was battin’ 400 for awhile!