I'm the subject of "10 Questions with..." in this week's AllAccess.com.
Sr. Dir/Country Programming & Hot Country PD
Company: Dial Global
Born: 11/18/73, Longview, WA
Raised: Longview, WA (40 miles north of Portland, OR)
April 4, 2010
1) Congratulations on the job at Dial Global-tell us exactly what the job description is?
We have 14 different 24/7 digital formats. Four of them are Country. I oversee the PD's that program Mainstream Country, Classic Country and True Country. I'm also the day to day PD of the Hot Country format. Our four country stations together have over 600 affiliates across the country with total cumes over five million.
2) How was the move from Portland, OR to Denver for you and your wife (Nicki), and your baby. You guys settled in?
We love it here. The Portland area is my home and Buffalo, NY is my wife's home. We are nicely nestled in between both. Denver is awesome. The move was extremely smooth. We found a great house and my wife gets to be a stay at home Mom to our 11-month-old daughter. She loves that. Plus, l've never lived in a city that's an airport hub to so many different airlines. That means tons of direct flights and really low fares. I actually like flying now.
3) Can you talk about the transition from terrestrial radio to a network? What's the learning curve like?
The learning curve is extreme. I'm learning something new every day. It will take a few more months before I understand everything we do and how it works. I ask a lot of questions. Going from looking at everything local, to now national is a huge adjustment. I love having live jocks in all day parts (that's something new to me), all of them with major market experience. There are some restrictions with what we can and can't do (because they affect so many affiliates) but we find ways around them. It's all about supplying great programming out of our building.
4) What's the biggest surprise about the switch so far?
The number of people we have listening. The numbers are huge. Our AQH is well over 300,000. It blows me away. That number doesn't even include the fact that we supply Armed Forces Radio with our Mainstream Country format. We are heard on military bases, major ships at sea and in embassies all over the world. If you want country music is Baghdad, South Korea, Frankfurt, etc., you listen to us. I laugh when I think of an Iraqi local listening to country music, and he's listening to us! Our cume alone from listeners to Armed Forces Radio (not including the cume from our domestic affiliates) is around 2.5 million. You add total cume for our Mainstream Country format and we are around 5 million listeners a week.
5) The way you left terrestrial radio was a lot different from the industry you started in. Was it still fun when you left and would you ever return?
It was fun, but really stressful. Part of what continued to motivate me at KUPL (while knowing we were for sale, and dealing with cutbacks, downsizing, loosing programming tools and live day parts, etc.) was the fact that my goal in radio was to be the PD of KUPL. I grew up listening to KUPL and even worked there part time when I was 18. Being able to work there kept me motivated, but in the end I knew I wouldn't survive the sale. I saw it coming, was prepared for it and was actually relieved when it happened. I knew I had bigger and better things coming. I love radio, whether it's local, national, syndicated or satellite. I would never say I wouldn't go back to terrestrial radio, but I can't tell you how happy I am doing what I'm doing right now. There aren't many companies left that really care and invest in programming. Dial Global is one of them and I'm so glad to be here.
6) How many people do you oversee? And do you do things like go over air-checks with them?
I don't know the exact number. With all the jocks, promotions, production and programmers with all of our Country stations, it's over 50. I also oversee some people that work out of our office in L.A. I meet regularly with my Hot Country jocks and daily with the PDs, MDs, production and promotions directors and constantly offer feedback. It's my job to help make the jocks and the other stations sound as great as they can. You can't do that by having your door closed, not communicating or not returning phone calls/e-mails.
7) If I owned a radio station, why would you say I should take a Dial Global service and what would be my choices?
We can instantly supply you with a large/major market sounding station. Just because you are in Small Town USA doesn't mean your listeners aren't entitled, or want great sounding radio. We have researched music, big promotions and top talent. It will save you a ton of money and you'll be the best sounding station in your market. Plus, we supply you with all the tools to make the station sound local. We probably do more to make the affiliate sound local, than most locally programmed radio stations do. We give you all the tools to win.
8) I know people always say that the local stations need to try and keep it 'local'- however let's face it-many times even when they are 'locally programmed,' in reality they're not-so can you keep a network station sounding local with the little staff that they hire?
It's tough, but many PDs don't have the time to teach, train and push their jocks to be local. It's a shame when I hear a live and local radio station and the jocks aren't doing phoners and involving the listener. They aren't connecting with the music or the area they serve. They are just title/artist/time/temp. It's boring. Our big push at Dial Global is to give people a reason to listen beyond the music. It's just as much about talent and programming as it is the music we play. I love that philosophy. It's sad that a lot radio companies don't share that vision.
9) How do you like Denver so far? Is it a great city?
We love Denver. The weather is great (it's sunny and 70 as I answer this). It doesn't rain. I have a view of the Rocky Mountains from my house and my office. There's lots to do and see. We are having a great time exploring the area and seeing the sights. My wife and I are avid outdoors people and can't wait to hike and camp this summer in the mountains.
10) You were the Agenda Chairman of this past Country Radio Seminar. Great job! Were you pleased? Why are you returning next year-I don't remember anyone else doing two years. Isn't this kind of what the guy in Russia did when he extended his term?
Mike Culotta was Agenda Chairman two years in a row. Yes, I was extremely happy with CRS and the Agenda Committee. We knew we had challenges this year and made some big changes that I think paid off. The response has been huge and it was great to see CRS attendance up over 3.0%. I'm returning as Chairman because I enjoyed the process of creating the biggest radio seminar in the country so much. It's fun to see it go from ideas at our meetings in July, to an actual seminar.
1) Do you really drive a Volkswagen Bug? That must move well up those Colorado Mountains!
I do. I have a 1973 VW Super Beetle. I drive it every day and love it. It's in perfect condition (I'm the 4th owner. It's all original paint and parts). It's been a great car. The chicks dig it.
2) How are the restaurants? Where are you taking me when I come out there and I don't eat sushi, Indian or Ethiopian?
I'll take you to a great place called Arby's. It's really fancy. Make sure you wear a sport coat