Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I always knew I'd be in radio. I loved radio ever since I can remember. Imaging is still my first love. I never thought I'd be a politician let alone a Mayor of a city. But... I guess stranger things have happened. While I'm blessed to still be happily employed as the imaging director at several of the finest Country radio brands in America (KBWF/San Francisco and KKWF/Seattle), I wasn't feeling like I was contributing enough to the world that gave me so much. So I ran for City Council in 2008 and was elected Mayor of my town in 2009. I know that a lot of radio folks they’ve been laid off are now being forced to look at alternative ways to make a buck. I hope my story will give you a little inspiration about how to use your radio experience to find a new non-radio love in life.

It's amazing how my experience in radio has helped me along my journey as Mayor. I mean - I've only been in government for a little over a year and Mayor for a little over a month, but I've already drawn a few parallels between the radio industry and local government. The ultimate goal is basically the same: serve the public and make your customers happy. It's just the products, personalities and politics in government are worlds different from those we're exposed to in radio. Regardless of what your new career will be, the goals will most likely be the same: do more with less while making customers happy. It's just the products, services and methods you're working with in your new gig will differ. For me, just as a radio market size influenced the resources available to me at a particular station (budget for jingles/sound effects/voice guys, record label promotional support/artist availability for liners, number of jocks I could count on for VO work, etc.), in local government, population also influences the resources available to your entity - big cities get big tax revenue and direct grants from the Federal Government, small towns like Kemp have a tiny tax revenue base and usually have to go through a more competitive grant process to get money from the Federal government through a middleman agency (the state, county or local council of governments).

Location of Kemp in Kaufman County, TexasDuring my time working at KSNI in Santa Maria, we had a full time programming staff of about 5. Together we ran 4 stations, we all pitched in to cover air shifts and production orders, and we all drove the station vans to remotes. We all had access to update the website, and we all knew how to answer the front desk phone. We even pitched in with the occasional sales call and made trips to the transmitter site to make repairs. When I was at the Wolf in Dallas, I was in the station van, maybe - twice in 4 years? I only did 1 remote, the occasional infrequent weekend or fill-in shift, and otherwise just focused on imaging. If the website needed updating, you shot an email to the full-time webmaster (or one of his assistants). Sales calls? Not even - we had a staff of 15 sales people to do those. Answer the phone at the front desk? I couldn't even tell you what the two switchboards looked like... Here in Kemp - I'm running the equivalent to a small market city. We have a minimal staff, but we still need to keep the water and sewer plants working, the water towers full, a police force on the streets, potholes filled, pipes leak-free, and park grass mowed. Just like a small market station, we stretch, work together, and do what we need to do to get by and ultimately look to make the product better and improve customer service.

When I worked at a small market station, my goal was to make it SOUND like a major market station. Running a small town, my goal is to make the quality of service equivalent to that of any major city. Being both a small and major market radio veteran, I've been blessed with the experience to see how to stretch a buck and use creativity to reach a big result. The focus, no matter what your station or new situation happens to be, is always: to make customers happy by providing a first-class product and quality customer service.

I'm grateful radio taught me those lessons to help serve the 1200 people that elected me. The message for you is this: soak up and learn from your experiences in radio. No matter how good or bad things might be for you right now, know that the challenges and experiences you've had in radio are a priceless benefit to you - regardless of what path you take during your journey. Oh, and in your new career, chances are you'll probably realize that radio people aren't the only ones that have crazy personalities...

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