I had a great first day with my new mentor Jay Dixon. - Radio Connection Success Stories

I had a great first day with my new mentor Jay Dixon. We reviewed the early experimentations of radio back in the 19th century with innovators like Hertz and Marconi at the forefront and groundbreaking moments such as the very first commercial (lasted just over ten minutes at a Queens, NY law firm) the very first commercial jingle (barbershop quartet singing a cappella for Wheaties cereal in 1926), and a 1920 broadcast from what’s considered to be the first commercial radio station, KDKA in Pittsburgh, PA. Jay gave me the opportunity to listen to some of these recordings and it was fascinating to hear the tremendous difference in sound quality compared to a modern day commercial or radio broadcast; there is a lot of crackling static in the background and the announcer in the KDKA recording frequently clears his throat.

I also got to listen in to a conference call between Jay and the team behind a San Francisco morning radio show starring comedian Mark Curry. Jay was consulting the team on recurring ideas that could be used for this new program premiering next week. One of the ideas, Community Events, tied in to a conversation me and Jay had about the importance of serving a local community through radio. I was also able to contribute questions to some of the ideas that Jay thought would be great to ask to the team (ie: for a segment titled “Mark’s Inspirational Moments”, who are the moments coming from? Mark? The audience? Both?). Overall, a key lesson I learned from that conference call is Jay’s skepticism about a morning show team wanting to “create the benchmark organically”. In other words, most morning shows aim to create natural, fun conversation among the on-air team with the assumption that the audience knows what they’re talking about. According to Jay, the audience usually never knows. This leads to a popular complaint of morning shows: “The DJ’s talk too much! I just want to hear my favorite song”. Jay notes that the problem isn’t the talking, it’s the fact that morning shows don’t “spoon feed” the listeners enough when it comes to on-air banter. Listeners need to feel like they apart of the conversation as opposed to feeling like an awkward eavesdropper.

Finally, Jay invited me to sit in and observe Hot 97’s music scheduling on a 24 hour basis. I learned that the most popular songs have to be played a certain amount throughout the day and night to sustain listenership, but the key thing is to not drive listeners away with overkill. Next time, we will go over FCC rules and regulations. Looking forward to it!


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