It was on this date in 1999 when a new season began in my life. I hadn’t even recognized it as such just yet (that would come just over a year later), but I was about to begin a journey that would lead me away from the Nashville music industry – my reason for coming to Nashville three years earlier (to the day) – and back to my first love. Radio.
The WAY-FM Media Group (and I say this in all sincerity) is by far the best company I’ve ever worked for. Before coming to WAY-FM, the longest I’d spent without interruption at any one company was about two years. I’ve now done that five times over with my current employer. No small feat to say the least.
I’m the first to acknowledge how truly blessed and extremely thankful I am for being given the opportunity all those years ago by Matt Austin and Bob Augsburg, WAY-FM’s General Manager and President/Founder respectively. The staff over the years has gone through a multitude of changes, but one thing has remained constant: I’ve truly enjoyed every single individual I’ve had the chance to work with.
Names like Doug Griffin, Karla Lawson, Ace McKay, Kortland Fuqua, Andy Thompson and Jim Turvaville (aka “Turbo”) immediately come to mind when I think of those early days. Later, it would be programming pros like Doug Hannah and Dave Senes that would cross my path; two men from whom I’ve learned a great deal.
As much as anyone, it was sometimes the “non” WAY-FM staff – consultants and talent coaches – I often learned the most from. I will always be indebted to guys like John Frost and Tommy Kramer. Not to mention the more recent and awesomely talented air staff I’ve had the opportunity to work with. The names are many and include stars like Marcia Ware, Jayar Reed, Jeff Connell, Donna Cruz, Wally and Brant Hansen among others.
I dreamed of this job as a kid. I often think back to that Christmas I got that first tape recorder. I’d listen back to myself saying or doing whatever for hours. Then there was the record player/AM-FM radio/8-track stereo combo I cut my DJ teeth on. When I remember those days, it’s difficult for me to believe I’ve been doing this for nearly 22 years.
As I look to the future, I can’t help but wonder how much longer I’ll be allowed to do it. I wonder that, in fact, for all of us in this “business” of radio. I believe if we, as an industry, listen and put into practice the ideas and methods of thought leaders like Mark Ramsey, Seth Godin, Chris Brogan, Michael Hyatt, Fred Jacobs and Jerry Del Colliano, we may surprise a lot of people and actually survive this uncertain future we face.
Make no mistake. It is a future that will include, if radio is to truly remain relevant, time shift-able any-time content (making our terrestrial signals irrelevant if not unnecessary), constant video content creation and distribution, and a complete and total willingness to embrace all things social media, not as a promotional platform, but as a community one (hat tip to Mark Ramsey).
What will that look like for companies like WAY-FM? Will it be driven at the corporate level or will individual stations have the opportunity to build their own communities? When the terrestrial signals are rendered irrelevant, will corporate view individual stations as no longer necessary, or choose to keep them alive, honoring the company’s original mission to impact the local community?
All I know is, with the slice of the WAY-FM pie in which I’ve been entrusted, I plan to do everything in my power to ensure our survival, not for our sake, but for the sake of the community we strive to impact. I hope I can continue to be blessed with that chance for many more years to come.
Filed under: The Future of Radio, WAY-FM | Tagged: Ace McKay, Andy Thompson, anniversary, Bob Augsburg, Brant Hansen, Chris Brogan, Dave Senes, Donna Cruz, Doug Griffin, Doug Hannah, Fred Jacobs, Gary Wallace, Jayar Reed, Jeff Connell, Jerry Del Colliano, Jim Turvaville, John Frost, Karla Lawson, Kortland Fuqua, Marcia Ware, Mark Ramsey, Matt Austin, Michael Hyatt, radio, Seth Godin, Tommy Kramer, WAY-FM |