How did you get your start in the music industry?
“I got my start in college at Chico State, working at the college’s radio station, KCSC “The Live Wire”, and I worked with some great people in that timeframe. Then in 1982 I had transferred to Boston University where I got my Bachelors in Communications. I had also worked at WTBU the college station and interned at WFNX! I loved Alternative music so much I had to immerse myself into that world and also worked at Stawberries Records.”
2. Why did you transition from working at radio stations to working in record promotion?
“It was a hard decision, but I felt I was a subpar DJ, and after seeing so many promotions people come through the station office, I knew that was where my passion would lie. I couldn’t believe that there was actually a job where you could be with the bands and artists, and go to the stations with them, promoting the music you were all passionate about. From there I just worked on getting my name out there, and my first job was in Philadelphia working for CBS Records as an Account Service Rep. At that point I was really just a merchandiser, but I knew I wanted to move on to something more. It just so happened that Colombia Records was looking for a full-time person to do radio promotion in Denver, and I got the job. From there I went to Chicago to do local promotion for Columbia, and eventually was offered to come to California to become the Director of the West Coast for Alternative Radio. My position with Columbia was great, but in ’95 I was let go, but I started my current company, UNCLE almost right away. So UNCLE is celebrating the silver, 25-year anniversary this year and I still absolutely love what I do.”
3. How would you describe your work, day to day?
“What makes my job exciting is that every day is a different experience; I learn new things every day when I’m talking to managers, radio and label personnel. There is a lot of creativity that goes around, and I have a lot of fun really trying to make something out of nothing. I really love my company UNCLE – Underground Network Committed to a Lifeline of Entertainment – because it’s almost ‘spy’ themed, in that I’m basically obtaining information from people and spreading it. So, I’m really in the information and ideation business.”
“Traveling is also something I love doing: I feel most effective when I’m on the road with bands and talking to radio stations, which is a big part of my role.”
“I’m spreading information, trying to come up with ideas, making connections… but at the end of the day the goal is always to come up with airplay.”
4. In your experience, what important role does ‘Radio’ play in breaking a new band in the digital streaming age?
“I think radio will always play an important role, and at the end of the day, we’re looking for mass consumption. There are so many tools to consume music, and they’re all vital, but in order to get that mass appeal you need radio. It can hit the entire country on one platform, at the same time. For example, you could have Alternative radio all get onboard, at the same time, with a track, and it becomes critical mass. Along side that, you have the components of digital, which can really push the track over the edge.”
“However, radio is very slow. People are in this age of consuming things very quickly and moving on to the next thing. So sometimes you have to slow things down to make a lasting impression, or things just blur together.”
5. How has ‘Radio’ adapted in the past decade since streaming has taken over?
“Radio is finally catching up in a lot of digital ways. Station websites were atrocious ten years ago, but they’ve really improved over the years. They’re also listening more to what people, like myself, are promoting that they may have shunned a few years ago due to consumption numbers. Digital marketing is really starting to be embraced by radio, and its only helping them more and more. They’re really embracing the change that is happening around them. The vetted Programmers are still going to go with their gut on a lot of things, but they aren’t going to take a chance on something that doesn’t have the consumption numbers that are out there.”
6. What has been your favorite experience working in the music industry?
“My mind goes back to when I was at Columbia Records, and we got a call from Don Ienner who said he had the idea of doing something with Tony Bennet at Alternative radio. It just so happens that the MTV Video Music Awards were happening, and we had the idea to get him on as sort of a shock and wild card to these young kids watching. So we got him to give out an award, and he was partnered up with Flavor Flav. So that went down, it was good.”
“But when the holidays came around, circa 1993, Tony had his record “Steppin’ Out with My Baby” coming out. At that point, Alternative radio was looking to have some of our artists perform at their Christmas shows, and we wanted to see if Tony would do some of these shows. When we talked to the Programmers about it, they thought it would be a great idea to close the show with Tony Bennet. We started in Washington, D.C. with WHFS, and it was a huge hit. Then we went to San Francisco, and of course Tony’s big hit is “I Left My Heart in San Franscico”, so he closed with that… and when he came off stage — I’ll never forget it –tears were in his eyes. He couldn’t believe that the young kids cared about him. He was brought into a whole new audience at that point, that he never thought he would access, nor did we. So, I would say that the Tony Bennett experience at Alternative radio was pretty darn cool.”
If you’d like to know more about U.N.C.L.E please visit their website here!