Straight From the Mouth
The Morning Mouth's June interview with Kane
(Reprinted by permission; Copyright © 2010 Talentmasters Inc.)
Give us a quick background check, the Reader's Digest version of your career?
From intern to mornings: Intern at WCKI/New Haven, WJPZ/Syracuse, nights at WWHT/Syracuse, nights at WFLZ/Tampa, PD 90's & CHR channels for XM Satellite Radio, PD & afternoons WFLZ/Tampa, mornings WIHT/Washington DC, in addition to voicetracking shows on a billion radio stations.
Always a fun Q to ask. How much did you make in your first radio gig?
Nothing. And I freakin' loved it. As a matter of fact, I was accused by the APD of sleeping with his wife. My daily duties included answering the phones, organizing music, etc.. and picking up our APD's wife and kids after school. That would never fly anymore. I was late to get back to the station one day and our APD (who will remain nameless) accused me of boning his wife. I was 16. And a big virgin.
Have you always been Kane? Always one name? Who decided on?
I was Sean Kelly back in my Hot AC days when I worked for WDAQ/98Q Danbury, CT. Kane was mutually decided on by Ed LaComb (then PD of WWHT/Syracuse) just hours before I took to the air as his late-night show. I think we dropped a phone book on the floor to find an 'un-radio' name that wasn't cliche.
For those unfamiliar with your show, how would you describe it?
Unpredictable predictability. You never know what's going to happen, but it will be good. No two shows are the same. We live the lives of our listeners.
I prep about 5 hours for the morning show on Hot 99-5 and about the same for Club Kane on Sundays. Prep is a huge secret weapon for us. Sarah, Samy, Erick (our AM show producer) and Scott (our Club Kane producer) all spend hours after the show scouring the web. At the end of the day we all trade prep & combine it to one sheet for the following day. Our team gets pissed when we read/see or hear about something that we didn't already know about. We take a lot of pride in being first.
Who did you listen to growing up? Were there shows that inspired or influenced your style?
I grew up in Danbury, CT, so the two stations everyone listened to were KC 101 and Z100. Glenn (Beck) and Pat we're one of the reasons I got into radio. Because of Glenn & Pat I started calling Kid Kelly, Kelly Nash & MoJo (now Tic Tak) which helped me get an internship where I drove an hour each way to work for free. Best. Summer. Ever.
I also remember staying up late listening to Jagger & Dr. Judy on Z100 and when Elvis did afternoons. I clearly remember driving over the Newburgh/Beacon Bridge in Poughkeepsie, NY listening to Z100 on a Friday when Elvis said he had a 'huge announcement' I ended up puling over so I wouldn't lose the station to hear he was moving to mornings. Radio gave me goosebumps.
Who's shows do you make it a point of listening to online?
Everybody! I use iHeartRadio on my BlackBerry more than anything and I love to catch Dave Ryan, Kidd Kraddick, Elvis, Mojo, JohnJay & Rich, MJ & Seacrest. I'm also a fan of what Romeo is doing on Saturday Night Online and jocks like Billy The Kidd at KHKS, Jackson Blue, JJ & Mo Bounce. As a jock I find myself getting into my comfort zone, hearing other jocks helps me with re-thinking ideas and taking different approaches to what I do daily.
Do you work with any consultants?
Other than Sarah, my wife, Tommy Chuck & Thea Mitchem, no.
Whose opinions or critique of show do you listen to most?
I'm open to critiques from anyone, especially those who are fans of the show. I've gotten the best unsolicited feedback from listeners. They're not always easy to stomach, but the message is clear and it helps us make sure we're on target. We also have a great support system of peers including Thea Mitchem, Tommy Chuck, Michael Bryan and a handful of other PD's whose opinions I value. I've tried to instill in my team that we're not perfect, there is always room for improvement. And it's good to admit faults, that there's room to grow.
Are you big into guests?
We are, when they're worth it. It's a different time with PPM now. One of the hardest things is getting labels and management to understand that having a compelling interview helps us AND their artist. I know Katy Perry doesn't want to talk about Russell Brand -- but that's what everyone wants to know about. We respect the artists privacy, but it's a tough line to walk when you're trying to get someone compelling enough to keep listeners. Management and labels need to see the Media Monitors that we see. Miley Cyrus talking about touring doesn't necessarily move the meter, but when she talks about cockroaches in her bedroom or who she's dating -- does.
And being in Washington, DC, you gotta have lots of political guests, no?
Nope! I think that's why we've done so well. We're an escape. Do we talk about headlines? Yes. Do we address hot topics? Sure. But we don't form opinions. We're bound to piss half of our listeners off while making the other half happy. We've found a formula where we don't have to have a political talk show to do well.
Any politicians that you know for a fact listen to you?
Everybody does and we're always shocked when we meet someone who's a beltway heavyweight & says, "Remember when you guys did..." It's scary. I spoke on Capitol Hill last year about the Performance Tax and almost crapped my pants by the number of VIP's that pulled me aside and said either they or someone they knew listened.
Which guest(s) that you had on will never return?
Bobby Effin Brown. We gave him $19,000. He was in jail. His family wouldn't even bail him out. We paid the cash in exchange for him coming to DC to hang with us for a few days as a member of our staff. He backed out on us after he was freed, even telling us ON AIR that we didn't spring him from jail -- even though we had the e-mails from his lawyers. We got the money back and ended up getting quadruple in exposure than what we spent.
Strangest encounter ever with a listener?
Our show is about real life. Munchie (who is at WKSS/Hartford now) was working with me at WFLZ Tampa. He called saying there was a hooker outside the station and he wanted to know if he should bring her in. I said sure. She was very happy to meet us and to talk about her profession on-air until we asked her how much it would be to make love to us. It was at that moment she pulled out an Outback Steakhouse knife and told us on air that she'd cut us for making fun of her. We quickly apologized, went to break, promised her we'd give her alcohol and cash if she'd 'wait out front'. Once she got outside we locked the door and called 911.
Where do you see your show headed in the next few years?
More stations. Content is king, now more than ever. And providing content that fits PD's & radio stations wins. Our morning show just got added to WZKF (98.9 Kiss-FM in Louisville KY) because we offer content that fits the amount of music that they want to play in the morning. We offer a show solution that plays as much OR as little music as you'd like -- and it's almost in real-time. Club Kane is on 22 stations and it's the only 100% live show available to radio stations on Sunday nights. We're plugged in everyday of the week to make sure that everything we do is compelling, can't-miss radio With social networks and the speed of information, you need to be there now.
Where do you see radio headed?
Dom Theodore always said that radio is about content and not necessarily the delivery method. I remember sitting under the 93-3FLZ transmitter in 1998 and he said that one day 'this tower will be used for data, not radio.' In a way he was right. Now it's not just about your FM signal. Sure, that's primary. But podcasts, streaming, Twitter, Facebook and even apps like iHeartRadio provide content to listeners on a global scale. If you do something that is entertaining, people will listen, no matter where they are.
What have you learned about PPM?
Shit or get off the pot. PPM is the ultimate PD. I still can't believe that there are jocks that don't believe what PPM's say. We can see who tunes in, out and where they come from and go to. Most importantly you can gather patterns to see why. What keeps people, what makes them go, it's now right there on a screen. Everything has to happen at the speed of now. No more dwelling on topics or taking 20 calls just because they're on hold. Be armed with great prep, hit a hot button, move on.
Give us a caption for the photo on our cover (describe the expression - we'll close with this)
I got into radio so I'd only have to buy one suit and tie.