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October 27, 2014:
The BEST
MANAGERS
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Best Small-Market PDs

Best Program Directors In Radio 2012

Below are 2012's top 15 program directors in markets 76+.


1. Rob Cressman
WAQY & WLZX/Springfield, MA
Saga Communications

How long have you been a program director?
Eighteen years.

How long have you been in radio?
Twenty-six years.

What was your first job?
I was a news anchor and reporter for what was then full-service WFVA, in Fredericksburg, VA. I worked as a college intern in the WFVA news department during summer and holiday breaks and was later hired as the station's full time midday announcer.

What should a well-programmed radio station sound like?
Great radio stations are points of reference. They sound as linked to their locations as Bourbon Street to New Orleans or the Golden Gate to San Francisco. The best-programmed radio stations reflect the sounds of their streets, their towns, and their neighborhoods. Their communities are on the air introducing the next song, raving about a new city councilman, or grumbling about how sick they are of hearing that Katy Perry song again. Great-sounding radio stations are funny and self-deprecating, serious and trustworthy. They are what they say they are. Great-sounding radio stations are well produced and impeccably imaged. Here, they never rest. The scenes they illustrate and the stories they tell elicit emotion and response. Well-programmed stations are highly visible and always accessible. They develop and host experiences that transcend the airwaves to become hallmarks in their communities.

What does the station mean to your listeners?
Listeners depend on radio stations to make accurate choices for them regarding music, hosts, contests, and promotions. The alignment between anticipation and delivery cultivates affinity and allegiance. So we always look for new ways to provide opportunities for the audience to actively participate. We want listeners to interact and share their experiences with other listeners. The station should be a place of candid conversation, music discovery, real-time information, and entertainment. It should be a diversion from the tension and tedium of everyday life. Listeners depend on our stations to let them know when concert tickets go on sale, and they expect us to take the lead in providing news and relief efforts in times of local emergencies or natural disasters. Listeners identify mutual interests and shared lifestyles with our stations' personalities. Developing these solid relationships is integral to building trust and success.


2. Joe Kelly
WSJO/Atlantic City
Townsquare Media

How long have you been a PD, and how long have you been in radio?
I've been a program director since 1986. I've really only had two jobs in radio. First was WONW-AM in Defiance, OH. I started out in 1983 part-time and quickly moved, within two months, to full-time, doing nights while still in college. By 1986, I was hosting the morning show and became the program director for the station, which was Full Service/Country. I left that job to take my second job in radio: WPUR-FM in Atlantic City. I was hired to be the PD and morning host in 1998. At the time, the station was a new sign-on signal. I added PD duties at WSJO in 2010.

What should a well-programmed station sound like?
A well-programmed radio station should sound like the community in which it's located. I believe in personal, professional, and fun. It should be a meeting place for local residents to obtain entertainment, news, and information, all delivered in a one-to-one style by entertaining and engaging personalities. It must be well-branded and reach out and touch listeners, each in a personal way. I truly believe in our company's concept that we need to be the "town square" of our communities.

What does the station mean to your listeners?
Cat Country 107.3 reaches people of all demographics. We are a voice of and for our community. Some listen for the music and the entertainment, others for the news, information, and localism. I believe that we are a like a companion. A friend. We see the passion our listeners have for our station every time we go out of the studio, and now through social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

One more note: I am blessed to work with a wonderful staff here at Townsquare Media/Atlantic City. We are truly a team that works well together! I look forward to coming to work each and every day!


3. Ken Hopkins
KZZU/Yakima, WA
Morgan Murphy Media

How long have you been a PD, and how long have you been in radio?
Started as PD in 1990. Two-year gap doing mornings at sister station KEZE-FM, and I returned to KZZU as PD in 2005. I've been in radio since late 1983.

What was your first job?
First job was interning at a tiny AM in Nampa, ID. I interned at KREM-FM in Spokane while at Eastern Washington University. That turned into part-time then full-time. KREM-FM flipped to KZZU-FM in September of 1984.

What should a well-programmed radio station sound like?
It should sound like a slice of the city you live in. Content is king and if "local" is your goal, then it should be incorporated into the fiber of your station. If you have the luxury of living local, it's not very hard to sound local. Formatically, it's not real hard to set up a template and follow all the general "radio rules." The biggest challenge is to develop a brand and reinforce and add to it every day. Listeners have a multitude of platforms to find what they want. If your content connects with them, they will find it and return to it. That includes utilizing every platform your listeners use -- apps, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.

What does the station mean to your listeners?
Hopefully, "community-involved." Programs like our annual Christmas Wish charity have had a huge impact. The neatest thing is that we get to facilitate it, but it's the generosity of the city that makes it run. It's fulfilling to step back and see the impact it has on people. We have the luxury of having staff with deep Spokane roots. We collectively have such a wide array of interests outside of the station that it shows up on the air without sounding forced.


4. Myla Thomas
WBVR/Bowling Green, KY
Forever Communications

How long have you been a PD, and how long have you been in radio?
I've been a program director since 2003 and I've been in radio since 1982

What was your first job?
Reading local news/obits, etc. on Sunday mornings for WVSV/Stevenson, AL.

What should a well-programmed radio station sound like?
At WBVR, we want to serve our listeners. Our mission is to entertain and to offer the information they need as they go through their lives. We put lots of phones on the air and often ask people to tell us what they think of our music, our contesting, and our events. A well-programmed radio station is critical to the lives of the community it serves. It should sound in touch and reflect the lifestyle of its community. It should sound special, too — offering an escape from daily life, with fun and a glimpse into the lifestyles of the artists, yet still be grounded right where it lives. A well-programmed station should also strive to provide the very best commercial production possible, always remembering that without results for our clients, as well as the loyalty of our listeners, we could not afford to have live personalities throughout the day.

What does the station mean to your listeners?
We are a part of their family. We've been a part of Southern Kentucky for 30 years; we've been there when their kids were born, graduated, married, and now have kids of their own. We make sure we are involved in their lives, and that they always want to be a part of ours.


5. Greg Runyon
KZIA-FM & KGYM-AM/Cedar Rapids, IA
KZIA, Inc.

Greg has been a program director since 1998 and has been in radio since 1990.

What was your first job?
Weekend overnights on KKRQ-FM/Iowa City.

What should a well-programmed radio station sound like?
A well-programmed radio station should do whatever it can to reflect the communities it serves. Politics is local. Radio is politics. So radio should be local. Take some chances, do something unexpected occasionally, whether it's on song selection, talk topics, the way you do your imaging, or just what your overall clock looks like. There is far too much national cookie-cutter junk on the air these days. That's a great way to be made irrelevant by an iPod.

What does the station mean to your listeners?
Our stations are active in the community. Our fans can meet us. Plus, they know we're there live 24 hours a day, seven days a week, keeping an eye on things. They can count on us to tell them about traffic problems or severe weather. Regrettably, fewer and fewer radio stations put any effort into the stuff that is really important. It's really gratifying to work for and with people who "get it."


6. Donovan Short
Townsquare Media/Wyoming

How long have you been a PD, and how long have you been in radio?
Got my first APD gig in the mid-'90s at now-defunct Active Rock WWBR-FM in my hometown of Birmingham, AL. I moved to Casper in 1998 for my first PD position at KRVK-FM, and have been with the same group of stations (through four different owners) for 14 years. Have been in radio for 23 years. My first paid job was afternoons at a little daytimer, WRSM-AM in Sumiton, AL -- started when I was 16.

What should a well-programmed radio station sound like?
To me, aside from all the no-brainers like the right music, talent, promotions, it's really that intangible "it" that the great stations have. You can just hear it -- there's a vibe that carries through in everything they do, imaging, talent, street presence, even the way they present and interact digitally and socially. Behind that is always someone sweating the smallest detail, which is a bit of a lost art these days as folks have gotten more stretched out. You can pick it up almost immediately when you hear a great one, though.

What does the station mean to your listeners?
I always thought of a great local radio station as the original social network — that place where people came together to discover, discuss, connect, laugh, cry, help. Listening and interacting with them as a kid engaged me to the point of wanting to run away and join their circus. Even though times and tech have changed and will continue to, as long as that bond-building is out front in everything we do, regardless of delivery platform, that one-on-one connection is tough to replace.


7. Matthew Jeff
WPOR/Portland, ME
Saga Communications

Matthew has been a program director for nine years and in radio for 14 years.

What was your first job?
Overnight host at WNNJ-FM/Newton, NJ.

What should a well-programmed radio station sound like?
Despite how technology has influenced what we do, the basics still apply. A great-sounding radio station is fun and full of energy and momentum. It entertains, engages, and connects emotionally. And most important, it's local! "Stationality" should reflect the tastes and interests of the local audience. It's the key to any successful radio station.

What does the station mean to your listeners?
In simple terms, to Mainers, WPOR means country music. We're Maine's connection to all things Nashville, and we consistently deliver on that association with our content and the various concert events we produce throughout the year. On a more emotional level, we're a friend. You can feel it in the way listeners interact with us on the air and in public, and how they support everything we do, from concerts to charity events. We have a great relationship because, like any great friend, we connect with them.


8. Terri Ray
WKLT & WKLZ/Traverse City, MI
Northern Broadcast Inc.

How long have you been a PD, and how long have you been in radio?
I became program director in February of 1996  -- 16 years. Counting my high school and college radio work, I have been in radio since 1976 -- 36 years. My first paid gig in radio was at WSDS (Suds Country Radio)/Ypsilanti, MI; I worked there while still in broadcasting school at Specs Howard in Southfield, MI. I graduated from Specs Howard in fall of 1983 and was hired weeks later at WKLT; I have been at 'KLT for 28 years

What should a well-programmed radio station sound like?
A radio station is the soundtrack to listeners' lives. We are the entertainment to and from work, we're at the beach, on the boat, we are there through our listeners' good times and bad. Disc jockeys are that familiar friend who rides along with listeners, and because DJs know exactly who their target audience is, they talk about things that interest and intrigue the audience. A well-programmed station is very active in the community. The staff doesn't stand back at remotes or at events, they engage and interact with listeners. A well-programmed station strives to keep promos and imaging fresh, which in smaller markets with a limited staff can be a challenge, but a goal worth working toward as often as possible. A well-programmed station can sound like magic when the music, the airstaff, the imaging, and promotions are blended seamlessly, knowing who the target audience is and that everything that is done keeps that target in mind.

What does the station mean to your listeners?
WKLT is the heritage Rock station in Northern Michigan This year is a big birthday for us: We are celebrating 30 years of playing the best rock 'n' roll on the planet! I have been at 'KLT 28 of those years. 'KLT strives to be a huge partner in the community. We are there when people are in need. When we learned about a decorated military veteran who had a hole in his roof and was living in less than desirable conditions, we rallied listeners, and, led by our airstaff, we put a new roof on the fellow's house. Donations poured in, and the man ended up with new furniture through his entire home. Plus we were able to get the attention of the military, who helped get him much-needed medical attention.

From people to pets, 'KLT is involved in the community. We have a service on our website that we call "KLT's Pet Post." I know many programmers think mentioning lost and found pets is "small-town" — and so do we, that's why we do it. Anyone who has lost a pet knows the anguish. 'KLT is there to help return your family home. We are part of the community, and everyone knows us by name.


9. Mark Elliott
WIKY/Evansville, IN
South Central Media

How long have you been a PD, and how long have you been in radio?
I've been a program director in Cincinnati and Dayton, OH; Fort Wayne and Tampa, FL; Traverse City, MI; and Evansville — total time about 15 years (in between I've done mornings and was a independent consultant for about 10 years). I'm celebrating my 40th year in radio in 2012.

What was your first job?
My first job in radio was at WIZE Springfield/ OH in 1972, as the all-night jock — one of the WIZE Guys.

What should a well-programmed radio station sound like?
I've gone through my thesaurus of adjectives "fun" and "tight" and "exciting," but the one I think works best is "effortless." I think you can hear when a radio station, or any business, is just trying too hard. Much better to prepare and work hard before you go on the air so it sounds natural. A well-programmed radio station reminds me of a swan -- gliding "effortlessly" around the pond, but we know there is a furious amount of paddling going on underneath the surface.

What does the station mean to your listeners?
WIKY is a station with a deep connection to its listeners. For more than 60 years, people have expected this locally owned and operated station to be their source for information and entertainment. People have a question, they call the radio station expecting us to have the answer. Makes it tough to define using traditional radio terms. Are we an Adult Contemporary music station with a full news commitment, or are we a news and information station that plays a little music? When asked "What's the format?" my answer is now "Whatever Evansville listeners want."


10. Frank Edwards
KRYS, KKTX & KMXR/Corpus Christi, TX
Clear Channel

How long have you been a PD, and how long have you been in radio?
I've been a program director for nine years and in radio for 16 years.

What was your first job in radio?
First radio station was KTAI-FM, the college radio station at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, and my first "paid radio" job was at a local station in Kingsville that is no longer around.

What should a well-programmed radio station sound like?
Playing the best music is important, but it is equally important that a station talk about things that matter to people who are taking the time out of their day to listen to us. That sounds basic, but we can easily be replaced by so many options for information and entertainment. We have to be local and plugged in to what is happening

What does the station mean to your listeners?
I have two letters on the wall in my office. One is a note I received after our annual radiothon a few years ago, thanking us for what we did and sharing a story about our local children's hospital. The other is an e-mail from a listener who was so thankful we were doing non-stop updates when our area was hit with severe weather in May. She was shocked, but thankful, we were live at 1 a.m. We're all fun and music when we can be, but also the place for information when we have to be. I hope we are an important part of their daily lives.


11. Fletcher Brown
WXFL & WLVS (KIX96)/Florence-Muscle Shoals, AL
Big River Broadcasting

How long have you been a PD, and how long have you been in radio?
I have been programming for six years and in radio for 15 years.

What was your first job?
I began in Country radio at WXFL in 1997, working part-time on the weekends, 6 a.m.-12 p.m., and running the board for Auburn football broadcasts at the time.

What should a well-programmed radio station sound like?
A well-programmed station should sound unified. By that I mean that your listeners should never question what station they are tuned in to when they have you on. The imaging reflects the overall attitude of your station in all dayparts. It should match the format. Obviously, the attitude of a Rock station is not the same as a Country station. The air personalities should reinforce your brand whenever they are on. The music mix should also be a solid reflection of your stations brand, i.e., New Country, Classic Country, Rock, Top 40 Hits, etc. Leave the wild mixes for iPods. A unified brand is my main goal as a programmer.

What does the station mean to your listeners?
A radio station should be an extension of the community it serves. What are your listeners needs? It's different in different markets. Small, medium, or large, the community you serve has expectations. What are they? For me, this station is a voice for the community that they otherwise would not have. We have no local television station, and many other local radio stations use very few live jocks. So when there is severe weather, traffic issues, or breaking live news, we supply that information. Often they turn to us first for any information they need, from weather to local entertainment.


12. Tucker Young
KNDE-FM/College Station, TX
Bryan Broadcasting

How long have you been a PD, and how long have you been in radio?
I've been programming now for 4 1/2 years, all spent managing Candy 95, along with its HD and Web properties. And I've been in radio for 15 years and counting (which sounds a lot longer than it feels).

What was your first job?
My first radio job was running syndication for a Christian AM station when I was 16. All CDs and carts. A few months after that a friend of the owner let me try my hand at weekend overnights at his Country FM once a month, and I was hooked for life.

What should a well-programmed radio station sound like?
It should be an audible mirror for the audience. When someone listens, they hear their interests and passions coming back at them through the speakers. It should sound like the community it serves. Talking about what they're talking about. If they care enough about it to Facebook or tweet it, we should care too and make it part of our product. A big part of that is taking time to listen to your listeners. Figure out what they're passionate about and react to it. Well-programmed stations make listeners feel like they found their best friends, who just happen to be on the radio.

What does the station mean to your listeners?
It's a station that "gets" them. It's a station that doesn't just care about what they bring to us, but what we bring to them. It means having a place to turn for a laugh, great music, and talent that they would hang out with on a Friday night. It means if they actually need something (help with a fundraiser or just a shout-out for a friend's birthday), knowing we'll do our best to make it happen. It's a station that they can feel invested in. If someone says "Candy 95 is my station" and really believes it, I've done my job.


13. Crystal Primaky
KRLC/Lewiston, ID
Idavend Broadcasting

How long have you been a PD, and how long have you been in radio?
I have been a program director for 3 1/2 years, and I have been in radio for almost four years. My first job in radio was somewhat of a roustabout. I downloaded music, edited logs, and made contacts for the station.

What should a well-programmed radio station sound like?
A well-programmed radio station should be focused on the needs and wants of the target audience. A good station is entertaining, informative, interesting, relevant, comforting, and friendly. Good programming means having trust from your listeners, and meeting expectations from the friendly voices that are invited into their daily lives. The best stations are the ones that you look forward to waking you up in the morning. It gives the information that you need throughout your day, and gives you something to talk about at dinner. Good programming will play the music that brightens your spirits and takes you down Memory Lane. It is what you sing along to, by yourself and with your loved ones. It causes you to dance in the kitchen when no one is looking and provides the opportunity for the slow dance with your sweetheart at the end of a long day.

What does the station mean to your listeners?
KRLC is a source of great country music, news, and information for our listeners. It's often the only company invited into the lives of many. KRLC is also viewed as the patriotic station that will be most supportive of any military-based needs. When the huge town flag was blown down in a wind storm, listeners did not call the city or parks, they called KRLC because "we know that KRLC would fix the problem." KRLC is a resource for our listeners for not only entertainment, but for information, both locally and nationally. KRLC also has the most utilized classifieds program in the area. We are hometown people who live and work in the same places as our listeners, and we share the same concerns. Live, local, trusted -- that is what KRLC is to our listeners.


14. Jerry McKenna
Cumulus Media/Worcester, MA

How long have you been a PD, and how long have you been in radio?
I've been a program director since 1997. I've been in radio since 1986. My first job was as assistant music director/callout research director for WXKS-FM(Kiss 108)/Boston during the Sunny Joe White days.

What should a well-programmed radio station sound like?
A well-programmed radio station is exciting! It is the target demo's go-to source for entertainment and information. The best programmed stations are those that make you feel like you are going to miss something if you tune out. That "something" could be a listener's favorite song, insight from a favorite personality, the latest entertainment news, or information on local happenings. The stations that do it best are able to take the biggest national stories and trends and make them local. It is ultimately all about connecting with listeners on an emotional level. To listeners, tuning into a well-programmed radio station should be like hanging out with great friend.


15. Tom Fricke
KYSL (Krystal 93)/Vail-Beaver Creek, CO








 
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