Remembering a Great Radio Mentor
When I started my radio career, I was blessed with having a great mentor and friend that took an interest in developing my talent and knowledge of how to properly program a radio station. His philosophies are with me today and are used in my programming of Edgewater Gold Radio. John Kiernan was the Operations Manager at WIXL-FM and WNNJ-AM in Newton, New Jersey when I met him in 1983. WIXL was an FM station programming country music. I was given a weekend shift at this station. John kept a close handle on the stations sound and how the jocks were executing the format. John was tough but taught us so many important elements of radio programming. Structure was key. Even though the music was most important, positioning of imaging liners, jingles and jock talk were key. John believed that the music should flow but should not be segued in this format. After each song there was a jingle or imaging liner. Jock talk was frequent but kept to a minimum so you couldn't just "ramble on." John always stressed that the audience will remember only a fraction of what is said so make the talk breaks short and but tell them something important like an upcoming contest or station promo or something significant about the song and artist. Always let the audience know who they are listening to and what the station does. Every jock break had to begin with the words "Constant Country WIXL fim" If those words did not come out of your mouth, John would call you out on it! All stop sets began with some jock talk and then the forecast. Imaging liners were used going back into music. One of the worst things one can do is have a commercial come out of nowhere without a live talk break or liner. At Edgewater Gold Radio, we use live (Or voicetracked talk/weather) or an imaging liner. It sounds awful when a song ends and a commercial comes out of nowhere! News features were introduced, they never just "popped up." The music was properly rotated so that a balance was created. The audience always knew what they were going to hear when they turned on WIXL-FM. On weekends we always ran a "country gold weekend" which contained many more gold cuts that currents. We always had to come out of a commercial break or top of the hour with an uptempo song. If you didn't ,expect the phone ring with John on the other end!
These are simple, basic programming rules for a music station. Keep it interesting, tell the audience what they are listening to and let the audience get to know who you are and relate to you. You know what, it worked and it worked well. Unfortunately, radio has become a mish mosh of crap. I'm very fortunate to have John Keirnan as a friend an mentor. He was one of the best and I will always use his programming techniques. Listen to Edgewater GOLD Radio and you will see.
Unfortunately John passed away over 10 years ago. I would love to have him help me with the programming of Edgewater Gold Radio. I would also love to know what he would think of my technique and believe me, he would let me know! He would always offer helpful hints to make things sound a little better! I really miss John!