10 Questions from AllAccess.com

BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
  • 2005-2006 – Weekend overnights, WKSS/Hartford
  • 2006-2012 – APD/MD/nights, WILI/Willimantic, CT
  • 2007-2012 – Weekends/utility guy, WMAS/Springfield, MA
  • 2008 – 6 months as Interim PD/afternoons, WZRT/Rutland, VT
  • 2012-2013 – PD/Digital Content Dir./Sports Commentator WKSI/Winchester, VA
  • 2013-present – APD/MD/afternoons WKCI /New Haven, CT

1) What led you to a career in radio?

As a kid growing up in Western Massachusetts, there was so much radio for me to listen to as a kid. I spent my entire childhood outside — and a lot of it with a radio. With so many legendary radio stations (Kiss/Hartford, KC101, Kiss 108, Mix 98-5, 96.5 TIC) to listen to, I got to hear a lot of good radio and be inspired to be in this business. I loved music, and it seemed a natural fit since I also love to talk.

2) How would you describe the radio landscape in your market?

It is incredibly unique. Our sister station, WKSS/Hartford, and us cover a lot of mutual turf, playing a lot of similar music … but our brands are different, unique and are compelling and appealing to listeners and advertisers. We both share tremendous audiences with each other, but have had great success making our P1s-P2s of the other station “keeping it in the family,” so to speak. We also have two Hot AC competitors that we share a lot of music with, which put great signals over much of our metro: WTIC and WEZN. WBLI from Long Island is one of my favorite stations to listen to, and bleeds into much of the market; and there are portions of our market that can hear the entire New York City FM dial, including Z100, KTU and 92.3 Now. We find our success in such a crowded landscape by being hyper-local to Greater New Haven, having unique and interesting personalities that offer a different, atypical point of view; and extending our brand 360 degrees – with iHeartradio, web and social interaction and more.

3) What are you doing, social media-wise?

We have a tremendously engaged staff from a social standpoint – blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram – you name it, we’re there. I blog at least four times a day and interact with fans on my own personal Facebook; we have our Promotions Dir./fill-in guy and his interns tweet almost 24/7 … I tweet and interact with listeners (give me a follow @adamrivers) as much as I can; and Instagram my daily life – things I see, find funny, etc. When I came to KC101, one of the things I really pushed to our staff was to build a 360-degree brand – build a viral monster online – and together with our midday personality, Ashley; night jock Perez; and part-time staff who is equally enthusiastic about posting, we’ve seen great gains with more to come as we, as a radio station and brand, continue to evolve socially.

4) What is your favorite part of the job?

Being a listener advocate. And I’m thankful to be working alongside my PD JB Wilde, who is one of the best in the business (and not just because he is my boss). In the current state of radio, so many meaningless promotions; sales initiatives or content has been shoved down the throat of our P1 listeners, who are the future of our industry. I like to think of myself as a listener and programmer equally. What would I like to hear? What would interest me? Before doing a break, adding a song or working with our sales team – I want to think about the listener first and foremost. All sorts of studies and naysayers doubt the effect radio can have on the lifestyle of our next generation of consumers, but it’s because collectively as an industry, we haven’t always given them what THEY want. We haven’t made ourselves a part of our daily lives. They aren’t afraid of, or to love radio; they just don’t want bad radio when there are so many alternatives.

5) Who is your favorite air personality not on your staff and why do you like them?

The Freak Show – Mikey and Big Bob on 96-1 KISS in Pittsburgh. Always different, engaging, entertaining and very memorable with a huge, passionate fan base.

6) What was your favorite station to listen to when you were a kid?

Kiss 95.7/Hartford and KC101/New Haven. Still are both, to this day. Honorable mention to 92 PRO-FM in Providence when visiting family in Rhode Island.

7) Do you have a favorite hobby outside of radio?

I am a die-hard New England sports fan. Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins, and Celtics … and UMass basketball.

8) What advice you would give people new to the business?

Work hard, be willing to do anything, be the guy who has the opportunity that someone else lost. Someone wants you to drive the van in a parade? Volunteer, don’t be forced. Wanna get coffee for the office? Volunteer, don’t be forced. Help out in any way and soak up as much learning as you can. With so many programmers/managers enlisted with so many tasks, find out what you can help with and be trusted with and take it off their plate. It will make you look great in the long run and you’ll learn a ton.

9) What is the current state of the radio “talent pool?”

Not as bad as so many people think. Sure, it is tough to find talented people who are willing to work hard; but it is in any industry. I think the talent and the fire is there in a lot of people. The coaching and the mentoring is not in a lot of instances. Rob Anthony at WMAS (now RPM for CCM+E) was tremendously influential for me, taking an 18-year-old kid, putting him on a #1-rated AC station where I didn’t even know half the songs, and mentoring me. We need more Robs. There are still many small-market jocks doing their thing and improving and being coached, and as an industry we should be stepping up and repaying the help that was given to us.

10) What would you like to do to save radio from its “dying-industry” image?

Give listeners what they want. Continue to be a listener advocate while being a programmer. Consumers and users of media will love radio that’s done right – the tremendous passion that I saw with the Country station WUSQ/Q102 in our Winchester, VA cluster is the perfect example of it. A great morning show with Chris Mitchell and Rosie Walsh; and engaging talents Lori and BC in midday and afternoon drive. To be there and a clustermate of those folks was an honor as they do radio the right way and it showed with how much the listeners cared. Their first annual radiothon for Children’s National Medical Center raised over $120,000. In market #215. That’s amazing, but also a testament to the passion of the listeners. Look at the Elvis Duran show – look at the Bobby Bones morning show. Let the listeners into your life – make them a part of your daily routine as much as you are of theirs, and success will follow.

Bonus Questions

For someone vacationing in your market, what one thing would you say they “must see?”

Must-see and must-eat … Pepe’s Pizza in New Haven. The #1 pizza place in the country. It’s good. And the birthplace of the hamburger … Louie’s Lunch. New Haven is an awesome college town.