As K-Rock's Music Fades, What's Next For Mike Peer?
November 23, 2005
You can still Rock in America, but Infinity Broadcasting has made sure you can’t Rock in New York City, no matter what your age is. WNEW, New York City’s home of Rock & Roll since 1967, was killed by Infinity in September 1999 when the station flipped to Talk. WCBS-FM, home of Rock & Roll for the elderly, was Jack-ed off the airwaves by the Variety Hits format earlier this year. Most recently, it was announced that Infinity’s WXRK K-Rock would be dumping its "Great Rock Period" format for Free FM, leaving Clear Channel’s Classic Rock WAXQ (Q104) as the only station serving New York listeners with Rock music.
K-Rock was destined to be a radio station in transition once Howard Stern announced he was headed for satellite radio, but as the deconstruction of K-Rock as a music station has set in, the current staff has been left blowing in the wind. Case in point, many staffers found out about the station's impending flip to Free-FM when GM Tom Chiusano marched David Lee Roth into the studio with Stern. After Roth left the studio, a conversation ensued on Stern’s program with Chiusano, middayer Julie Slater, night jock Ben Harvey and others that was more informative than anything the staff had been told by management. Earlier this week it was announced that Leslie "Radio Chick" Gold would be taking over the afternoon drive slot, leaving the afternoon drive team headed by Booker on-air, but in limbo.
The core of K-Rock’s programming staff has been a trio of players – OM Rob Cross, APD/MD Mike Peer, and Marketing & Programming Manager Marie Rodrigues. Cross is expected to announce his post-K-Rock plans any moment now. Rodrigues will join Q Prime artist management in early December. And Peer? At the moment, he’s last man standing.
Peer has always been a forward thinker and a force behind the creative input at K-Rock. When the station shifted to "Great Rock Period" earlier this year, Peer was behind K-Rock 2 – an online version of K-Rock that focuses on new music and core Alternative artists. He has developed programs such as Hacked – where artists takeover the station by playing tunes from their iPod, Bootleg – which features recent New York City concerts played back on air, and Domestic Disturbance – a one hour local show featuring the hot New York City scene and one of the most talked about shows on K2.
With a January 3 launch of Free FM planned for K-Rock, Peer is setting his sights on his next opportunity. FMQB caught up with him to discuss what those plans might be.
You’ve been the APD/MD at K-Rock for eight years, which is something that most people in radio would kill for. With the station going "Free FM" in January, what’s next on your agenda?
Staying in radio would be an obvious choice. The funny thing is, most people don’t have any idea of my background, since I’ve been doing Rock and Alternative for the last thirteen years. I started as a deejay in nightclubs, and, as a matter of fact, I still have over 15,000 pieces of vinyl in my basement. From there, I segued to Urban Radio, and then to Top 40 radio, before joining KNNC in Austin, TX in 1992, which was my first Alternative radio gig.
Since you have worked at multiple formats, would you be willing to leave Rock radio?
Absolutely, while Alternative and Rock are my expertise, the prospect of going back to work with other formats excites me since I haven’t done them in so long.
Would you like to be a PD again?
Absolutely!!! I was PD at KNNC in Austin for a bit, but I took a Music Director role to work with some amazing PDs in the last ten years, such as Joel Folger [while at KDGE/Dallas], Steve Kingston [at K-Rock], and Rob Cross [at K-Rock]. I have definitely picked up a few things along the way and it’s time to take the wheel again.
What would you be interested in beyond radio?
I have had meetings with the heads of A&R at some record labels in the past few weeks and that is extremely interesting to me.
That would seem to be a natural progression for you.
I’ve always been the guy who gets excited over finding a new band that people haven’t heard before. I can still remember the day that Joel Folger wrote in his day-planner, "Mike Peer says that Matchbox 20 will sell 10 million records." That was the day we called in the first ever add on "Long Day", which was their first single. I was also out in front on Linkin Park, Eminem, Korn, Fuel, Kid Rock, and White Stripes.
That’s a pretty good track record.
Yeah, even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then. A&R is something that I’ve been thinking about for years, and have actually been offered before, but was never ready to make the move, but now it’s time if the opportunity arises.
If you don’t transition to A&R, would you be willing to give up market #1 and leave New York City for another radio station?
My mind is completely open to new challenges and my next move is more about the job and what I’m doing than it is about the title and the money. Staying in the New York area is my first choice. Since I have four kids and my son is in high school, I really don’t want to move, but if the right job comes along, I would absolutely move. No matter what direction I go – record label, A&R, radio, Internet, satellite, band management – I’ll be excited for the challenge of something new.