PD Profile: Steve Stewart - KSD "The Bull" - St. Louis
Steve Stewart is celebrating his 25th year in the radio industry, 10 of which have been programming the Country format. For the past two years he's been the PD at Clear Channel-owned KSD The Bull in St. Louis where, from December 2011 to December 2012, ratings at the station are up 20 percent (25-54) and up 53 percent (18-34). KSD ranks number one in all three core demos for the last quarter: numbers that have never been attained by KSD in its history, according to Stewart. In the just-released CRS issue of Radio Ink magazine, Stewart will appear on our 2013 list of Best PDs in Country. Here is what he has to say about his success.
How have you become so successful that your peers consider you one of the top Country PDs in the business? First and foremost any success I have is because of the people that I am surrounded by. This team is 100 percent committed to the total success of the station. When we go through ratings, we always look at the total station first before we ever look at individual accomplishments. In PPM, we are able to find small nuggets of opportunities that we can turn into big wins for the station. We are all passionate about putting out the best product possible and I think that is why I have been able to have a great level of success with KSD.
What role does digital play in the success of your station?
It is a huge factor and is the main driver of our grassroots marketing. Our team is communicating with our audience 24/7. Our Facebook “Likes” have more than doubled in just over a year and we are finding more fans are starting to use Twitter than ever before. We also engage our listeners with SnapChat and share pictures of artists in our studio directly with listeners in real time. Everything we do is 360 degrees…we have weekly planning meetings on how digital works into our promotions and on-air presence. The team as a whole is constantly looking for the hottest apps to help get the station in front of our very digital-savvy audience.
Where do you believe Country radio is right now?
I think we are in a great timespan musically right now. With the influx of great young artists and core artists that are putting out music, it really hits the center of the demos we are trying to gain. I don’t see it slowing down for a while and believe that the format will remain strong well past this coming year. Another large plus has been the addition of so many great minds from outside the format that have brought great ideas and perspectives on what we can do as Country programmers to help grow the format on a mass-appeal level.
Where do you believe the radio industry is headed?
My best guess is the industry is going to continue to show its power and growth through its ability to adapt to any new challenge. With all of the noise that the industry competes with, many operators have done a tremendous job of moving into spaces where they are able to take advantage of new opportunities. From the evolution of iHeart radio to the research we can gather from iTunes, Facebook, Twitter, and others, we truly have more to work with today than we did in years past. This information age will help lead us down the path that best serves our listeners.
How can a new or smaller-market Country PD sit in your chair one day?
Love your job. No matter where you are and who you are working for. Having been in small, medium, and large markets, I can truly say that this is a passion profession. If you are not passionate you will not reach your goal. If your goal is to be in a large market, then learn everything there is to know about programming in the PPM world. Network; pick up the phone or email a PD that has never heard of you before and ask questions about how things are done. My best advice came from a friend working in a major market who said “radio is radio, no matter what market size you are in.” Finally, understand that you don’t, and never will, know everything. I love talking shop with PDs and air talent from ALL formats and learn something new everyday. We have taken practices from the CHR and Urban worlds and put them in place in the programming philosophy of The Bull and a lot of them have worked.
Who is the one person you most admire (not a member of your family)?
I am constantly amazed by so many people so my list is always changing. But if we are not talking family or God, then currently on my list is a woman named Maryam Durani. She is a radio station owner/operator in Southern Afghanistan. I came across her story this past year and found that she risks her life to broadcast about women's issues in the Kandahar province, right in the middle of Taliban territory. She stands up for womens rights and talks about important issues that affect the women of her area. Thinking of Maryam helps me reset my thoughts on what it is that we do. Yes, we are a business, and yes sales and ratings help us keep these jobs, but the reason why we started doing the job is the most important thing to me. For Maryam, she sees herself providing a service to her audience and one that could cost her her life. I truly believe that whether I was here in St. Louis or in a remote region of Afghanistan, I would want to do what I am doing. Maryam creates a product that she hopes inspires people to an emotional response. I believe that is our job as well and for that I admire the great lengths that she goes to.
Reach out to Stewart directly and congratulate him on a job well done email@example.com
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