Tommy BoDean, PD. WNWW/Jacksonville & Jordan, PD, WKFS/Cincinnati
Jordan: Congratulations on unveiling a new brand with RADIO NOW 97.9! How’s the transition been? Tommy: It’s been a very cool experience! We really took a good look at the landscape in the market and made a decision to fill the void. There is no Hot AC and the Top 40 competitor avoids a lot of the mainstream records which gives RadioNOW a bigger lane. It’s been an intense couple of months making sure we had everything in place but a unique opportunity to start from the ground up and build something that I truly believe in and am passionate about! Jordan: Share a little bit about your staff at RADIO NOW 97.9… Tommy: Reading that question the word little stands out…not unlike most radio stations we have a small dedicated staff but we all know our roles and that makes it easy. I have MJ In The Morningbased out of Tampa and he has continued to produce. Ryan Seacrest in middays fits well, even though he doesn’t make it to our Tuesday staff meetings anymore! I really depend on Bryan, afternoons/APD, as the face and voice of the station. He knows how to hit the streets and works the social networks as well as anyone I’ve seen. He’s solid/real on-air and extremely passionate about RadioNOW and radio in general! Nights and imaging are handled by Riggs out of Milwaukee who is quickly becoming a key part of my team. He has brought a fresh sound to our imaging and completes the package. Jordan: Jacksonville is no Cincinnati (or, Madison, WI for that matter!) What are you getting yourself into to keep your sanity outside of the radio station? Tommy: Being able to golf year round doesn’t hurt at all! My game hasn’t improved much but I can still somehow convince myself that today is the day it will all click and I will be going pro. I actually have found that I love just chillin’ on the beach looking for shark’s teeth and have made the realization that I need to be a surfer! No really, I’ve signed up for surfing lessons and I am practicing the correct pronunciation of “dude…no way” and “killer wave!” Jordan: Last time we spoke, you were becoming more adjusted to PPM in Jax. Has it gotten any easier? Tommy: I don’t know if it has become easier, but I have found myself measuring in longer periods of time and not stressing on every weekly but paying attention to trends and making small track-able adjustments. PPM does measure ‘real’ listening but many of the same tactics apply as did in diary. The right talent, songs, promotions and creating a bond that your competitor can’t duplicate are still big keys to being successful. The memory game is still in play to some extent they have to remember to come to you. Jordan: I learned a LOT about music when you were my PD here in Cincy, and I’ve always respected your strong ear for mainstream records. What are you really liking that some might not have on their radar yet? Tommy: I still love music and listening to everything that comes across my desk. It’s the part of my job I will always love. The song I can’t seem to stop playing in my office is Adele “Someone Like You” and right behind that would be Matt Nathanson “Faster” and I do love the new Coldplay. My gut tells me that we’re on the eve of another shift in music
Jordan:You have one available slot and three PERFECT records for the slot. What deciding factors play into your decision making process before putting the ‘right’ song in? Tommy: The first filter I have, “is it anyone’s favorite song yet?” and I determine that by other stations in the market playing it, regardless of format. Next, is there a consistent sales story on it? If you posted the song by title and artist on your social networks would anyone care? Is it an artist that my audience is familiar with, has it proven to perform with other titles in my recurrent/gold categories? I also look at any other impressions that may be putting the song in front of my audience. Is it playing where they hang out? Does it have any impressions from TV or movies? And finally, gut and fit for my listener. Then I just increase the size of the category and play all three! Jordan: Time to name drop…mentors (and yes, it’s cliché in radio when asking), but who’s guided you along the way and what’s something that’s stuck with you that you learned from them? Tommy: I truly feel I have learned something from every person I’ve had a conversation with about radio. There are gems of knowledge in every corner of our industry and lessons to be learned from people who have never even been inside a radio station but are passionate about what we do. There are two people, and one group of people, that stand out as most influential. The first was Jimmy Steele in San Diego. Jimmy was the person who really saw my potential and challenged me everyday to live up to it. I was an ok night guy and Jimmy saw my passion for music and radio in general and pushed me every day to follow my dreams. Without his confidence in my ability I would have never made the cut. My take away from that has been to look for those on my staff with passion and potential and help them realize it themselves. The next person on that list would be Rich Davis in Nashville. He was a solid radio pro the minute I met him. He was a technician with Selector and worked every day to create larger than life radio. He has a true drive to succeed and the absolute ability to take a good idea and make it into great radio. I learned a lot from Rich working with him and learned just as much working against him in Nashville. Rich, if you’re reading this can I get my All Access Summer of Fun lanyards back? The group of people that I mentioned was my staff in Cincinnati. I could mention every person individually but it was the team that made us so successful. Our weekly meetings and brainstorming over a game of darts and the talent in every department to make them happen. I walked away knowing that ANYTHING was possible and with the right group can be amazing! I still talk about you being chained to five people for a week or getting kicked in the Johnson for tickets to the Johnsons…or using a gassy ghost in a Halloween promo. We pushed the envelope every day and every week. Jordan: For the up-and-coming PDs in our industry, what advice would you share about what’s on the horizon? Tommy: The biggest piece of advice is at no point come to the realization that you know what you’re doing. We are in a constant state of change and need to be willing to not only adapt to change but look for it. If you don’t find it, it will find you and you will be unprepared. There is no handbook, do these three things and you will be successful. Every station, market and staff brings a unique set of challenges. Learn and listen to everyone you work with from your managers to your interns. Don’t ever be satisfied in your abilities. Learn as much as you can about every department and learn how to view them as an asset and not just staff. Jordan: If not radio, then what would it be? Tommy: In all seriousness I’ve asked myself this question numerous times and keep coming back to “but I don’t want to do anything else.” I’ve had a couple periods of time outside of the industry and it doesn’t take more than three weeks before I would do anything to be back in a radio station. It’s all I’ve wanted since I first cracked a mic at my High School radio station…shout out to my peeps at WOAS 88.5! If you can find it on a map I will be impressed, 10 watts of the High School’s Hot FM. Ok…so probably a History or Math teacher if they kicked me out of radio. Jordan: You have to permanently give ONE up…GOLF or DARTS…which goes? Tommy: My family would say golf and my liver would say darts. I’m Irish and those two things and the Shepherd’s Pie at Cheesecake Factory are my happy places but since my travels have taken me into the deep south and darts are considered a weapon in some places I would say the darts would go first and you will always find me about 15-20 yards off the fairway probably in someone’s back yard looking for my balls.
Tommy:You have one of the hardest schedules in radio, Mornings and PD in Cincinnati, and add to that multiple stations that you voice-track. How do you prioritize your day, and stay awake? Jordan: Little did I know how dynamic this schedule would be before accepting the position. The 4:15am alarm comes EARLY no matter what time I get to sleep! To be honest though, I’ve learned to prioritize on an almost hourly basis, and have my iCal app opened at all times! I do love morning drive though, because I now feel like I’m not ‘missing anything. We cover SO MUCH that it’s almost impossible to not know what’s going on in Cincinnati or the world each day. I’ll handle our morning show with our new co-host Joey, then transition into my voice tracking duties (96.1 The Beat, Colorado Springs, and Y100 Ft. Myers, Fla). Once my ‘on air’ work is complete, it’s to the office where I handle my Programming duties...daily meetings, music calls, rotations, one-on-ones with the team, etc. You have no idea how odd it felt that first week being home by 2pm. It never ends! Delegation is my new favorite word! Tommy: When you get a weekly or monthly what are the first three things that you look at to gauge the health of your station? Jordan: I’ll review our 6+ cume, P18-34 overall rankings and our W18-34 breakdowns with weeklies. It’s scary how it feels like Christmas morning with each weekly and monthly trend, seeing if we ‘got what we wanted’ or not. Tommy: M-score or not M-score, are you a fan? How do you use it? Jordan: M-score is something I review when dealing with my gold and recurrent categories, but again, it’s hard to really track where each meter goes and why each record ‘does what it does’ when reviewing audience migration. Tommy: You’ve recently had to replace yourself in afternoon drive, a key daypart at any station and increasingly important in PPM. What is most important to you when hiring a new team member? Jordan: Stepping away from afternoon drive was a difficult decision. To me, it was the ‘perfect daypart’, in terms of schedule. However, it allowed me to bring in my right-hand partner, and I couldn’t be happier with what Jare E J has brought to the station (in from CC Eau Claire!) I looked for someone who wouldn’t try to fix what wasn’t broken already. Kiss has been the market leader in pm drive for over a year and a half, so I wanted someone who didn’t feel the need to reinvent the wheel. We found that in Jare. Not only is his excitement through the roof, his work ethic is second to none. I think he works as many hours as I do! PM drive is our second morning show in a sense, so getting the service industry people to work while bringing the 9-5ers home is a delicate place to be in. We’re music intensive, 12-13 songs an hour, but we add plenty of listener generated content that keeps the show forward moving. Knowing where to trim the fat is important and Jare handles it like a seasoned pro. Stream his show…he never throws a break away. Tommy: You can only use one social network to complement your brand…Facebook or Twitter; which do you choose? And is Google+ going to be the real deal? Jordan: No question, its Facebook. Facebook presents things to our audience in a way that Twitter can’t. You have the immediacy of SEEING pictures or videos without having to click through multiple links on Twitter. It’s also an arena that allows your audience to interact with not only you, but also with those who are already interacting. They also don’t have the ‘140 character’ restriction to deal with! While Twitter is great for teasing and quick appointment setting, it doesn’t have the connection capability that Facebook has. As for Google+, I’m still figuring it all out, but I like how they’re not allowing companies to join, making this solely a person-to-person community. I look at this like I looked at Tumblr. Will our audiences ‘get it’ remains to be seen, but it does have great potential. Tommy: You’ve had continued success as a PD and have always sounded great on the air. If you had to choose one direction to take your career which would it be, on-air or programming? Jordan: I was having this discussion with my girlfriend the other night. As much as I love being on air, the programming side has been the more satisfying role. I love the fact that it’s a team effort in programming. Relaying the positive ratings news to team members, or coaching them through the not so positive provides me with that undeniable sense of accomplishment. Watching your team grow and strengthen is a sight that’ll never get old to me. I guess this is what being a father is like, in a sense. It’s also unbelievably humbling to know I have numerous resources across the country that I can rely on for assistance in something I’m on the fence with. Besides, I could always take on a weekend shift if I felt the urge to be on air again, right? Tommy: When putting together a promotion, what are the key elements you look for? Jordan: First thing our Promotions Director (Samantha Stanford), our Digital PD (Dan Gialluca) and I review is if it’ll land in our target listener’s net. Does it relate to who she is, what she does, etc? If not, how can we mold the promotion to fit? Once we have that in line, we decide the proper execution. We’ve worked on moving away from ‘Caller #___ wins’ execution, and have focused much more on digital presentation. Photo submissions, text-to-win platforms, etc. Listener generated promotions are most fun; everyone feels unique in their own way, and this provides them with an opportunity to shine. We fine-tune the presentation; get a one-sheet in front of sales and move on to the next one. We have plenty of ammo with e-mail blasts, Facebook and Twitter as ideal promoting platforms, so when we aren’t talking about it on air; we have our digital forms of communication to keep our audience plugged in. Tommy: What advice would you give to someone looking to get on air fulltime for their first on air job? Does that advice change in a PPM market? Jordan: I’m actually working with new hires in the promotions department who have expressed interest in being on air. It’s funny to think that was me 12 years ago in Jason Kidd’s office at Hot 1079 in Syracuse! I suggest new talent approach radio the way they approach talking to their guy/girlfriend. Make that emotional connection each time you open the mic. Don’t over-do it, keep it straightforward and simple. Promote the station; LEARN the station and who the audience is. Don’t worry about ‘hitting posts’ or all the other jocky radio crutches we pick up along the way, and always remember it’s NOT about you! It’s radio in its purest form for the newbies. Tommy: What is the most recent song you’ve learned to play on the guitar? And why do guitarists get the hot girls? Jordan: I’ve been messing around with Band Of Horses and Guns ‘N Roses lately. Interesting blend, I know. As for the hot girls going for guitarists, I decided to do some inner-office research. The first response I got was ‘Ooohhh, my ex husband played guitar in a band!’ I decided that was enough research for the day. Tommy: Skyline or Goldstar and why? Jordan: Skyline wins, every time. Maybe it’s because for years doing nights, Goldstar was the only chili spot open after 12 for dinner, so I overdid it with the chili cheese fries? I still hit up the Kenwood Skyline for lunch. Our ‘friends’ are all still there, except for the guy with the glass eye. Not so sure what happened to him.
[FMQB ORIGINAL CONTENT, published July 2011, please do not republish or reprint without the express consent of FMQB. Make sure you visit us on the Web atwww.fmqb.com]
Jon Zellner EVP/Programming Operations iHeartMedia