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Lisa Miller - "How I Got Into Radio"

Steve Smith

2-22-2013

If you know Steve Smith, then you know there is no one else like him in the radio industry or in the world for that matter. Steve's personality is all over every station he programs and the stations success is the result of Steve's It's the right thing to do" attitude. Hes never scared of the establishment and follows the voice in his head that tells him which direction to go. And in doing so, he is always ahead of the game. In the early 90s, I worked with Steve when he was overseeing the programming of KKFR in Phoenix. We had just placed Danny Bonaduce after his first run in Philadelphia. Danny made every day interesting; every phone call from Danny started with "Lisa, you're not going to believe what happened" and every one of Steves calls started with Lisa, youre not going to believe what happened. So, needless to say, Steve and I spent a lot of time together on the phone not believing what happened. If you don't know Steve, you don't know one of the brightest guys in the industry, as Director of Radio Programming, is still working ahead of the business and making Cox a formable competitor.

Now, here's Steve in his own words

I was 17 years old, playing in a rock band, going to Arizona State University, and preparing for law school. I was going to be a litigation attorney.

I took a job with Phoenix Pest Control as the new telephone sales manager. We would call new home owners and trick them into thinking we had been servicing there house all along. I became a top sales manager within weeks. One day the phone rang back, a bit startled I answered; it was a woman from a research company. She asked me if I wanted to help her by answering a few questions. She went on to explain that she would play the hooks to certain songs and I would rate the songs between 1 and 10 based on if I liked them or hated them. I said, sure. Several months later when I left the pest control company, I needed extra money for my senior year in college so I called the song hook girl and asked her about openings at her company. The next day she called me and told me that I had an interview for a job. I drove to the company for my interview; the corporate headquarters were located in a double-wide trailer in Guadalupe, Arizona.  As I sat through my interview, I remember looking at the guy behind the console who was talking into a microphone. I thought he was performing air traffic control for Sky Harbor Airport nearby; I had no idea he was the DJ of the radio station located in the trailer.

The next thing I knew I was in the research department, where I made up all the answers, picked my favorite songs, and watched the station get the best ratings ever.

From this, I was promoted to weekend public affairs/overnight producer. KUPD was a Top 40 FM station. The station was known as Cupid; and if the Cupid Call Girl called you, you got cash. The AM station was a wacko throwaway; I was on the AM station. Steve Casey was the PD of the AM station and John Sebastian was the PD of the FM station. One Sunday, while babysitting Dateline Israel, I cracked the mic and said 670 KKKQ Phoenix, break from the tapes with more of your favorite music.   The next day Steve took me aside and told me: While driving my wife to the airport Sunday morning in an effort to get her to a 6 a.m. flight, I heard you.  Im sorry," I replied.  Im not angry, I thought you sounded good.

Thirty days later I went to work for KUKQ-AM an R&B radio station. I was a paid weekender and acting as music director for free.  In 90 days we had a 5.5 rating 12+ and beat KUPD, and creamed Guy Zapoleon at KZZP. Guy immediately flipped to a rhythmic CHR.

I had finished college and was enjoying playing at the radio thing when I was accepted to Pepperdine in Malibu. But, I was struggling with the thought of going to law school and leaving the radio business. I told my Dad, I love this radio thing, meeting great artists, going to concerts; its really a lot of fun. My Dad said, If this radio thing is so great, how come you still dont have enough money to live on? So I went to law school, and when I finished I went to work for Hot 97.7 in San Jose.

Lisa Miller is the President of Miller Broadcast Management in Chicago. She's also one of Radio Ink's Most Influential Women in Radio. Miller can be reached at Lisa@millerbroadcast.com or 312-454-1111.

So, how did you get into radio? We'd love to hear the story about why you're passionate about radio.

How Dan Mason Got Into Radio
How John Gehron Got Into Radio




(12/15/2013 7:22:30 AM)
XOxlzw A round of applause for your article post.Really thank you! Want more.

- NY
(11/18/2013 6:11:54 AM)
3ubNoM I think this is a real great article.Really thank you! Awesome.

- NY
(10/23/2013 9:26:35 PM)
mIZgK5 I value the blog post.Much thanks again. Really Great.

- NY
(2/22/2013 11:44:43 AM)
Steve Smith was fun to work with. When he was going to law school in LA, he was the music director, then soon program director of 670 KWNK "Top Hits 67 K-Wink" in Simi Valley. We had some good times there. And I knew then Smith had what it takes as a great PD.

- Maverick

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