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5 Questions With Programmer Jack Silver

Nothing lasts forever, as they say, and last week Cumulus and Jack Silver parted company. Silver had been the long-time programmer for KLOS and KABC in Los Angeles. He has many years of programming knowledge and experience under his belt, having gotten his first PD gig when he was in his 20s. He also worked as a producer for Rick Dees at KIIS-FM. Silver says that opened the door to his talent coaching business and eventually running FM talk stations and music stations with major morning shows like Brandmeier, Stern, Carolla, and Mark & Brian We wanted to pick his brain and help spread the knowledge, so here are five killer questions with Jack Silver. 

How has programming a station changed since your first year compared to this last year.
The basics of programming haven't really changed but the game has. PPM changed the game in many ways. It rewards solid programming basics like clock management and playing the hits. Also, the ownership changes  have evolved the business as well. Finally, the people part of the job is still the best part... working with talent on a daily basis is my favorite part. Worrying about "making the quarter"? Not so much.

What were/are the three greatest accomplishments as a programmer for you and why?
Just recently, the growth I was able to accomplish at KLOS was pretty amazing. I hadn't done music radio in  a while, but I just used the tactics I learned from guys like Steve Rivers and Kevin Weatherly and they worked! Increases in all demos and dayparts. Then, the growth of 97.1 The FM Talk Station in Los Angeles was damn fun. After Howard Stern dubbed the station "Radio Hindenburg," everyone thought I was crazy to accept the programming job. But in the end, we built a strong station after Howard with great talent like Tom Leykis, and the station was a monster in adults and men. Plus, one year we billed $50 million! And I guess back in the day, being part of flipping KMEL in San Francisco to Top 40 was pretty cool. Today, KMEL is one of the best music stations in America and I got to be a part of that switch with Rivers and Keith Naftaly until I moved on to KFRC!

What's the pressure like programming in market 2?
I've been lucky to do radio in large markets so I don't know the difference! I like "major market sounding" radio so the stations I'm involved in fit the big-city profile. Actually, radio in Los Angeles can be easier as there are so many ad dollars available. But you need a strong sales staff and managers like Bob Moore and others who can cash in on the available revenue. 

Is PPM good or bad for radio?
Having followed the system since it was first announced and debuted in Philly, all I can say is that it has its pros and cons. The pros are that you see how people really use radio: they pop around, they push buttons, they are fickle.  But we always knew that, didn't we. The other positive is that you can see results or lack of results quicker in PPM than in the diary world. I think the con of PPM is that now everyone just wants to be the "exposure listening station," playing in retail establishments etc., so they get credit when, in reality, I like stations that are very foreground, and are chosen by the P1s by their choice. Either way, the methodology is here to stay and you have to learn the tricks in order to cash in on a PPM world.

Who should young people follow and look up to these days?
I have two sons. One who just graduated college and is now working in the digital space for a company, and the other who is headed to college to study computer programming. I tell them to look up to companies like Apple, Berkshire Hathaway, and the Disney company, and follow their growth and corporate culture. As for the stars in our industry, I think Ryan Seacrest is a good example for young people in that he created a brand and a business model that will work under any ownership changes that may be coming our way. 

Silver is not retiring. He says he has a passion for the business and making great radio on a daily basis. He plans to be back in the game soon. And make sure you look for programming articles from Silver in upcoming issues of Radio Ink magazine. Reach out to Jack via e-mail: jackesilver@aol.com




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