In March of 2013, I got tired of hearing about what was wrong with radio and what radio needs and decided to shine a positive light on what radio already has going for it, namely some very talented and passionate people. Since then, I've crossed paths with a number of others who are doing awesome work while tackling the challenges in today's corporately owned, downsized, media-challenged radio world.
AWESOME AIR TALENTS: BROOKE TAYLOR, ELIZABETHANY, ELISTA
All three of these young ladies are making a big splash in the radio world by combining new media skills and raw talent to make the leap to bigger markets very early in their careers. I first became aware of
Elista Burneisen when my OPs Manager at WDSY asked me to listen to an aircheck that was submitted for our open night position. I was amazed at the confidence in her reel. She walked a fine line between genius and bat-shit crazy as she interacted with callers & delivered content over intros. Her over-the-top delivery and social media skills helped propel her from Parkersburg, WV to Pittsburgh, PA. She's since has grown into an amazing jock while adding Selector experience to her already solid social media skills. I predict big things for this kid going forward.
Elizabethany showed up on my radar after hearing her demo from Hot-FM in Virginia Beach. I began following this young gun via social media. I fell in love with her "What Are You Wearing Wednesday" feature on Twitter and her videos from in the studio that peeled back the curtain for the listeners. It wasn't long before the girl with the hybrid name showed up in a big market, moving to Washington, D.C. at Hot 99.5.
Another young female who made a gigantic leap thanks to her video prowess and social media savvy is Brooke Taylor. I learned about Brooke thru the Facebook group, Radio Peeps. She was in Fort Wayne, IN doing middays and killer videos. That work got her attention from L.A. where she landed as the night personality for Radio Disney.
All three of these young talents serve as a reminder that radio is not dead and that young people can still get a foothold in our industry. Keep track of what they do by following them on Twitter: @ElistaB, @luvelizabethany & @BrookeRadio. Social media has played a huge role in their ascent and shows that the next big starts may very well come from outside the industry via Twitter, Facebook or YouTube.
JAY SPARXX: FOUNDING FATHER OF RADIO PEEPS
Speaking of Facebook...If you're in radio and you're on Facebook, you need to be a part of Radio Peeps. Jayson Sparxx, then, night personality at Kiss 95.1 in Charlotte, NC,started this group on Facebook a few years ago. Initially it was a collection of night jocks sharing bits and exchanging ideas. Since then it's grown to nearly 1,500 members in all facets of the radio industry. In fact, most of the people I write about in this article, I became acquainted with via the Radio Peeps Facebook group. It used to be that you had to attend Gavin, R&R or the Conclave to interact with other radio peeps like this. Now, thanks Jay's desire to network, we're all just a click away. Jay is now off the air and "radio adjacent" as a Digital Specialist for Townsquare Interactive in Charlotte, but remains active as the "mayor" of the radio peeps forum. Follow him on Twitter here: @JaySparxxShow & ask to be a part of Radio Peeps On Facebook here:https://www.facebook.com/groups/SparxxMedia/?ref=br_rs
RACHEL McGRATH The SAMSUNG of Radio Imaging V/O
Samsung's slogan is, "The Next Big Thing Is Already Here". Well, that can be said of voice-actor, Rachel McGrath. After Jennifer Vaughn, Ann DeWig & Kelly Kelly Kelly, she is the next big thing in female v/o's and she's already arrived. I first caught wind of what Rachel was doing thanks to an interview she did with Radio And Production Magazine while she was still the imaging director at The Bull in Atlanta. Her production had the qualities I admire: lots of great writing, great acting and vivid theater-of-the-mind. When Rachel left the day-to-day radio world for a full-time career in voice-overs, it didn't take long for her to start collecting the call letters: WSTR-Atlanta, KINK-Portland, KDGE-Dallas, CIDC-Toronto, WLIF-Baltimore, WRMF-West Palm Beach, and so on and so on. One of the things that sets Rachel apart, for me, is her willingness to become part of the team. Check out Rachel's work here: http://www.rachelmcgrath.com/
AVERAGE JOE - IMAGING PHENOM
He may go by Average Joe on the air doing middays at Cleveland's Q104, but there's nothing average about the imaging he produces for sister AC WDOK. Joe is fantastic at writing. He takes the most mundane, sales driven promo copy and creates a theater-of-the-mind scenario that keeps you engrossed for :30-:40 seconds.
KELSIE LOOS -GRAPHIC DESIGN GODDESS
Whenever someone on Radio Peeps asks for help with graphics, the name that always comes up is, Kelsie "Don't Call Her Loose" Loos (Low-ce). She is the Digital Program Director for iHeartMedia in Portland, OR. Though she may work in visuals, her passion for radio is just as strong. From wrangling listeners at meet & greets in the performance studio, to taking photos at events, to producing killer graphics for their stations vehicles, t-shirts & websites, Kelsie is all about this medium, despite not having anything to do with the sound that comes out of the speakers. Find Kelsie on Twitter @WebGirlKelsie
VIDEO SKILLED RADIO STARS: JOHH MINGIONE, RYAN WRECKER & CHRIS CRUISE
Generating video content at a radio station is now hugely important. Creating killer content and schooling radio people in how to do it are Chris Cruise, Ryan Wrecker and John Mingione.
Thru my work with The Conclave, I discovered all of these guys while setting up a panel on station generated video content. John Mingione does 'late night TV' style videos for the Dana & Jayson Show on WBLI in Long Island. As a student at SUNY New Paltz he won several prestigious awards in film, including two CINE Golden Eagle Awards, whose past recipients include some guys named Spielberg, Lucas, Howard, and Scorsese. His video content has generated millions of views on YouTube and gives their morning show lots of visual exposure. Follow John on Twitter here: @JohnOnlineBLI.
Helping to spread the gospel of better video production by radio stations are Chris Cruise of KMPS in Seattle and Ryan Wrecker of WOWO AM/FM in Fort Wayne, IN. Chris' video, "The Radio DJ's Guide To Making Videos" is a must view for anyone generating video content at a radio station. https://youtu.be/zxU27lseMDs
Also helping to school radio peeps in making better quality videos and making an impact with them is WOWO AM/FM PD, Ryan Wrecker. I discovered Ryan on Facebook with a video similar to Chris' about content creation and why radio people don't do more of it. He's also a contributor to Radio Ink on the subject of digital content creation and implementation by radio. Find him on Twitter here: @RyanWrecker
So that's my list of what, or who, I think is right with radio today. Who's on yours? Add to the comments below or hit me up @DrakeDonovanon Twitter. Let's see if we can grow the influence of these radio stars and make our medium stronger for the future.