Radio program/music director

Radio program/music director

Jim the radio guy

Boston, MA

Male, 55

I have spent over 25 years in radio as a program/music director as well as on-air for various stations in New England. Feel free to ask me anything you like or wanted to know regarding this fun career!

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Last Answer on May 31, 2015

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What kind of music does your station specialize in? Have you ever worked at a station where they completely overhauled their format or theme, like going from Top-40 to completely New Country or something?

Asked by Apostlez over 4 years ago

The station I currently work at is top-40 with some variety - (some tunes from the late 80's up to today leaning mostly toward current songs)

On part 2 of your question...yes I used to work for an oldies station that after several years switched over to "smooth jazz". Nobody was let go even though there was a change in format. Very often if a station changes format many or even all of the staff could be let go.

That was really the only complete overhaul that I have been through. That said just about every station I have worked for or programmed has tweaked or modified the format slightly at one time or another although that is nothing at all like a total revamp.

Thanks Apostlez for the questions !

OK, level with me: is there any secret to actually GETTING THROUGH when you call in for a radio station contest or promotion? I feel like I've probably dialed 1,000 times and gotten 1,000 busy signals.

Asked by CALL IN over 4 years ago

Hi Call In,

There really is no secret. All I can say is keep trying! There can be a lot of callers when a prize is being offered even to the point of overloading the circuits. It's not easy to be the correct numbered caller. One method of trying to win is calling the number a few minutes before the contest (if you know about when it will be) however most places clear the lines before asking for a certain numbered caller.

At any station I have worked for it has been done honestly...when you hear that the 10'th caller wins, they really do take caller 10. Some stations have several phone banks that places calls in order. So if say 5 banks are available, it's easy to get caller 5 simply by picking "bank 5".

The key is to keep trying...I wish you the best of luck in getting through & thanks for the great question!

 

When doing your music programming, how much of it is mandated by the charts vs. your own selections? If there's an unproven/obscure artist you feel is worth including, does it happen?

Asked by FaFaFooey over 4 years ago

FaFaFooey greetings to you. Formats are usually mandated by the station owner/program director. A station that plays hits would probably not stray from that format to play an unproven artist or group. Sometimes stations have special programming that plays songs from unproven bands. The band trying to make it has lots of work to do such as hiring a manager who can get them a contract & exposure. We have all seen on TV where a band brings a copy of their song into a radio station & that station loves it so much they play it causing other stations to play it. I never say never but this just does not happen. The Billboard charts go up to 100 known as the "Hot 100". For albums, it's 200. Hit stations usually play much of the first 40 & perhaps a few others from the Hot 100. Billboard has charts for every format from top-40 to rock to country. There are many songs that make it to say number 85 & never get much exposure. It's a tough business...asking a radio station that plays hits to play something that is not a hit can cost in people tuning out. If I heard a song that I feel should be included but is not a hit or already on the charts, I doubt very highly I would be able to play it on the station I work for. Unproven is different than obscure. There are many obscure artists that might get played on progressive stations but will never be heard on a hits type station. Commercial radio is a business...unproven & obscure artists can both usually be heard on many college stations but not always on commercial stations. Bands trying to make it can also perhaps get their songs on internet stations which could gain them exposure if they are well liked. Good question...thanks!

What are some of the biggest on-air fails you've had at your station?

Asked by Marinersftw over 4 years ago

Hi Marinersftw...I'm not exactly sure of what you mean by "fails". Do you mean mistakes on the air or bloopers? If so, we have had just about everything happen from equipment failure to the dj going down the hall after telling the computer to stop when the song is done & so the song stops & nothing happens...all kinds of things can occur. A big mistake can be saying a town's name incorrectly. It's considered "big" because if you are supposed to be serving a certain area & you don't say the town correctly you lose creditability.  It's hard to say what the biggest one really is. If you mean things we have tried & yet didn't go over well with the audience the number is very small. Thanks for the question!

How realistic was the TV show Frasier re: the depiction of life at a radio station? I know it was a sitcom, but is there anything you think they got particularly right or wrong?

Asked by 2fer over 4 years ago

Hi 2fer...Usually, sitcoms push the truth in order to get a lot of mass appeal humor in there. It's been a long time since I have seen Frasier & due to time I don't usually watch a lot of TV. As I recall one episode mentioned something about 28 seconds of dead air, spilling coffee into the control board & messing up the call letters. Things like that do indeed happen every now & then although maybe not all in the same day. Sorry I couldn't be more specific but as I said it's been a long time since I've seen Frasier. Appreciate the question 2fer!

Is there a reason why certain station numbers seem to appear in many markets? Like every city I've lived in has a 107.9 and a 99.9. Is it just coincidence or do are frequencies clearer or something that lead to them being more used?

Asked by Cohen over 4 years ago

Hi Cohen! It's not the frequency itself that makes it clear or not, it's what is already on the frequency or next to it. Example...if a station is on 97.5 & there is a 97.3 or a 97.7 some 60 miles away, the station on 97.5 won't make it to that area very well unless you have a very selective radio (most don't) The FCC can assign frequencies...people can bid on open availabilities. The FCC takes into account what might interfere, what is on the adjacent frequency, how strong the next 97.5 is down the road, distance, terrain etc. If a prospective station owner wants a certain frequency, he/she would have to prove to the FCC that it won't interfere with any other station, airports etc among other factors. Stations are allocated so many watts by the FCC as well. Whether a city has a 107.9 available depends on where the closest 107.9 is down the road, & where a 107.7 may be along with plenty of other factors. Albany, NY is an example of a city with no 107.9 because among other things they have a 107.7 there.  Thanks for the question!

What are some songs that you had to play repeatedly because they were so popular but that made you want to put your fist through the wall?

Asked by judeinlaw over 4 years ago

Hello judeinlaw...I like most music that I hear & understand that as someone on the air, I will hear some songs repeat in any given day sometimes several times. Even though I might be playing a song for the third time that morning, I still like knowing that it is being enjoyed by the audience. I can't list any songs that make me want to put my fist through a wall as I don't have that kind of temper. If during a show a DJ does not want to hear a certain song they can turn their monitor down &/or tune it out. Thanks for the question!