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PD Profile: Julie Stevens - KRTY San Jose

2-13-2013

Julie Stevens is the Program Director for 95.3 KRTY in San Jose, California. She's been in radio since 1979 and except for three of those years she's been programming Country radio in the Bay Area. In the upcoming special Country Radio Seminar issue of Radio Ink magazine, Stevens will appear on our 2013 list of Best PDs in Country.

General Manager Nate Deaton says, "Julie is the consummate professional. Like so many in radio today she wears multiple hats, but they all fit perfectly. Morning Show Co-Host, Program Director, Music Director and my sounding board. The success of KRTY is certainly a result of our teamwork between programming and sales, but Julie is always the voice of reason." Today, we profile Julie Stevens of KRTY as she explains her success, in her own words.

 
Nate Deaton has been the General Manager of KRTY since 2004 and for the first time in my career I feel like we had a real clear mission. No longer were we adding songs hoping for the best. We had someone at the helm who saw the path and never lost sight of it. For instance, you asked about the digital age, it was Nate who helped define the role of digital, and our station's relationship to it. We interact with Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, and our own website but were very careful to always send them back to the radio station. Radio is about people listening to your station. That might seem like a silly statement but Im astounded by the number of programmers (me included) who spend lots of time and energy on other outlets forgetting that the radio station, and the time the listener spends with you, should be your only concern. Those other outlets might be good for reminding folks about your station, but they shouldnt occupy the lions share of your thoughts and time. 

It was also Nate who taught me to fly in the face of conventional wisdom when it comes to new music.  Conventional wisdom says that new music is a tune-out. Nates feeling was new music is the only thing we can offer folks that they cant get anywhere else. It is the digital age, so the first time you play a new song that people like, they can head to a number of different places to get four other songs from that artist and probably download to their phone the song you just played on the station. If you arent introducing your listeners to whats hot, hip, and happenin, what is your role as a radio station?  If its just to be a companion while they are commuting to and from work, that doesnt sell many appliances. By that I mean you will never generate enough passion among your listeners to do your sponsors any good. Nate helped me to see that you can talk about cume and occasions all day long but if they arent going into your advertiser's business you wont be on the air very long.

Which brings me to my next point, there should be a friendly simpatico relationship between sales and programming. Nate taught me to stop fighting the sales department and start working with them. Course, its helped that we have a General Sales Manager, Tina Ferguson, who LOVES Country music, more importantly, she LOVES KRTY. When you have a Sales Manager that understands what youre trying to do in programming, you never have to tell her no when she suggests a partnership with a client. Because of Tinas input, I no longer see the Sales Department as the enemy of Programming, I see them as an avenue to offer listeners stuff they cant get anywhere else. It was Tina who brought us a winery that has a beautiful amphitheatre and was a perfect venue to create our very own CRS Live where we feature songwriters on four Saturday nights in summer. Its Tina that got our morning show out at the Auto Show to interview the owners of the largest car dealerships in the market. It was Tina that suggested we provide the entertainment at one of the biggest festivals in the area (The Gilroy Garlic Festival) that puts Country music in front of around 200,000 people every year. And those are just a couple of examples of how sales and programming have worked together over the years. Theres been others. 

All of this has translated into KRTY being consistently in the top five of all English speaking stations. Let me make that even more impressive. KRTY is a Class A 839 Watt signal. Since Nate and I have been programming KRTY there have been six Country stations that have tried to take us on and every one of them has failed. 
 
Im very excited about the state of Country radio in 2013 because I think Country music is stronger than ever.  What worries me is how a few programmers that work for a mega company are controlling SO many adds at so many radio stations. Its ironic that at a time when there are more Country music labels than ever before, there are fewer radio "ears" to hear them. Radio, in its best and purest form, should be live and local. If we ditch that, we do it at our own peril. I see that a lot these days, and it worries me. Nate and I are very fortunate to work for a man who really believes in radio being local. Our owner sits in the front office every day and if we want to do something new and innovative it doesnt take an executive writ from Detroit to get it done. My heart goes out to programmers who have to deal with that situation every day. 

Reach out to Julie and congratulate her Julie at jstevens@empirebroadcasting.com



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