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Lisa Miller - "How I Got Into Radio"

Andy Denemark

3-8-2013

Like many of us who attend the NAB, we have all seen the good-looking  hippie'esq gentleman who moves around the convention, stopping to talk to everyone, and always wearing a smile and a backpack. Yes, that's Andy Denemark, the EVP of Programming for United Stations Radio Network. I always noticed Andy and one day made a point of introducing myself. He was one of the most knowledgeable and interesting people with whom I have come in contact. Andy is an avid fan of music and radio, with an Ivy League education and a keen knowledge of everything from Wall Street to Main Street.

As we got to know each other, I realized that he knew everything about the business, and understood how the business works, with simplicity and passion. After years of getting to know Andy, I made a point of finding the right business model to work with United Stations, and two years ago we joined forces to advance the syndication of "The Dave & Jimmy Show" and "Serving Your Country with Ramblin' Ray Stevens." With Andy at the helm, the company works with ease and my clients couldn't be in better hands.

Now here's Andy in his own words

I was in the Cub Scouts in the town where I grew up, Pottsville, PA, and part of our education, perhaps on the way to earning a badge or two, we did field trips during which we would tour businesses in town. We went to the dairy and watched milk being bottled, we went to a bakery and watched bread get baked, sliced, and packaged. And then we went to the towns dominant AM radio station, WPPA-AM. I saw the darkened booth with the disk jockey; I saw the clocks and flashing lights and heard the news coming across the teletype; I saw the pan pots, and then, a channel was opened and I heard the disembodied voice say, This is the Mutual Broadcasting System. And I was hooked.

Being that this was the mid-60s, the Beatles had already arrived and the music world had changed. I was a Top 40 listener (the only option!) and a loyal American Bandstand watcher. I also loved the local rip-offs of Bandstand that came through on the New York, Philadelphia, and even the Lancaster TV stations we received (our town was a VERY early adopter of Master Antenna TV delivered via cable). So the mix of music and broadcasting was in my blood. I also learned years later than when my mother was pregnant with me, she stayed up late at her dads bar in Atlantic City and I heard long renditions of Night Train in the womb -- and thats still one of my favorite riffs. BUT, above and beyond all of those factors, it was seeing the operation of a real radio station that got under my skin.

A few years later, when albums became the dominant medium for rock fans, a gentleman (and I wish I could remember his name) used to drive 90 minutes up to Pottsville from Cherry Hill, NJ, on Sunday nights and WPPA-AM would give him a slot to play music from LPs. The Marconi Experiment was already happening at WMMR in Philly and other large markets had stations playing early album rock, but this was our towns little way of embracing early progressive radio. WPPA had no albums, just 45s. So this jock brought his own. And somehow, soon into the life of that show, a friend of mine from junior high and I started bringing our own albums down to the station to help him expand his library and program the music. I was 12. Clearly, music radio was for me.

Fast forward to college  I was lucky enough to get into the small but famous Labor Relations School at Cornell University. Didnt know what my career path would be and I found the mix of economics and psychology to be appealing. Like most college kids at that time, the first thing I did in my dorm room was set up my stereo system and the next thing I did was find the hip FM station on the dial which was WVBR-FM. Little did I know that it was a student-run station with a mission statement that called for (and still does call for) continually training Cornell students in the art of radio. I discovered that fact in the second semester of my freshman year, and from then on, I could be found at the radio station at all hours of the day and night. I became Program Director at WVBR just 14 months after joining the training program, held that gig for two years, worked with some great people who are still in broadcasting today, and that gig led me to the world of syndicated radio based in New York.

And Ive been involved in the network radio business ever since. Ive been lucky enough to have met a lot of incredible people along the way, (both famous and unsung), Ive produced and/or been responsible for lots of high-profile shows and events, and Ive traveled the country and beyond dealing with production and talent. But I think deep down Im still that Cub Scout who is fascinated by the wires and lights and disembodied voices that make radio the special art form that it is and I hope it stays that way.

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


 



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