Notable industry vet programmer Jason Kidd took the time to talk to us about the current state of radio, programming and the future of radio. He is currently the president of his own company New Generation Radio LLC.
ALL RADIO NEWS: You have an amazing programming background and I see that you are running New Generation Radio now. What stations are you currently consulting?
JASON KIDD: Thanks very much for the nice words! I started the company early last year after spending almost 10 years with CBS. I am consulting radio stations for Alpha Media including KJXK/San Antonio- plus KBHT/Waco, KKLS/Rapid City just to name a few.
ARN: Do you feel the lines are becoming more blurred between current formats?
JK: I do very much feel that way. It’s been going on the last 4 years or so. As the Gen X crowd ages, the AC formats are getting more contemporary. The Gen X crowd grew up on CHR, Hip Hop, Grunge and Dance so they still very much like today’s music. To reflect this in 2015, AC at times will sound like a HOT AC. I was at WWMX/Baltimore when we evolved it from a Hot AC to an ADULT CHR. Industry people would ask me what the difference was musically between Adult CHR and CHR when you are playing pretty much the same currents… I would respond, “the gold,” that’s it.
ARN: Who are some of the Programmers you admire most in the industry right now?
JK: Rich Davis at iHeart/Seattle. He is absolutely at the top of my list. His track record speaks for itself. I’m sure I will miss a few on this list, but off the top of my head I also love Rick Gillette with Cumulus in NYC, Reggie Rouse at V-103 Atlanta, Kevin Weatherly at CBS/LA, John Ivey at iHeart LA, Pio Ferro at HOT 97/NY, Dave Labrozzi from CBS/Baltimore, Cadillac Jack at Greater Media/Boston, Cat Thomas at CBS/Las Vegas, Phil Becker and Scott Mahalick at Alpha Media/Portland, Stevie Demann at Cox/Orlando, Dan Hunt at iHeart/Atlanta, Matt Johnson at Broadway Media/Salt Lake City, Grooves at KTFM/San Antonio, RDub at Z90-Magic 925/San Diego, Lisa McKay at Curtis Media/Raleigh, Stanley B at WKXB/Wilmington, NC, Albie Dee at WOCQ/Ocean City, MD and Rick Stacy at WOCL/Orlando are all doing GREAT radio!
ARN: What changes in radio do you like the most and the least over the last 10 to 20 years.
JK: I like how radio has adjusted and utilized the internet, including social media. Consolidation has definitely been my least favorite. It has led to things like spending less money on marketing the product. At a time where we have more competition coming from many different platforms, we should have the ability to market radio stations like we used to. We would market our talent like rock stars with TV spots, etc. It made our stations and industry very flashy, very Hollywood.. it made people care. Some companies still do it right, but it’s definitely not the norm. The iHeart Radio show is one instance where it’s been great not just for that company but for the entire industry. Hubbard also does a great job marketing their stations.
ARN: Out of all the stations that you have programmed what was the most challenging?
JK: No doubt, WPGC/Washington DC. I came in as the music cycle was changing. The radio station was as low as 16th place. Urban music was not crossing over like it had been. I was brought in to still focus on African Americans, but broaden our reach with more whites and hispanics like the station once did back in the 1990’s. While we had a run in the summer of 2012 where we were # 1 18-34 beating HOT 99-5 for the first time in PPM, along with #2 18-49, #4 P25-54, the rest of the time was challenging as urban was not crossing into the mainstream. Aside from that we were coming off of Donnie Simpson doing mornings for 17 years, followed by Big Tigger– two very big urban personalities. Also, we had a heritage sales staff that hadn’t evolved with the new direction of the radio station so it took time to maneuver through all of that. In the end, we had some great success there over the almost 3 years and I left the station on a 9 month in a row uptrend, W25-54. I continue to be very proud of the staff there- they are doing great!
ARN: Do you think streaming will eventually affect commercial radio?
JK: I believe it already has. Again, the lack of marketing has sped this process up. We will never have the audience share that we once had, however as long as we deliver good content, localize and deliver listener experiences that they can’t get anywhere else. Also, I am finding radio is still very much alive in the smaller rural areas of the US where broadband is not very good. In the cities as data plan prices increase, radio will remain free… but we gotta do our part and deliver the best on air product possible.
ARN: What qualities do you think make a great jock?
JK: Entertaining. They don’t always have to be funny.. just entertaining. We need them more than ever to be able to be creative and compelling. Music alone will not save our industry. If we solely worry about the music, we are in big trouble.
ARN: Tell me about what else New Generation Does?
JK: We do everything from create music formats, like our young Classic Hits format, “Smash Hits” to consulting, offer major VT Talent, as well as offer Imaging/VO services. We do it all for cash or barter! Everyone can check us out at getsmashhits.com and virtualjock.com.