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Industry Pro-files: Orlando Davis – WLLD-Tampa “WiLD 94-1”

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Orlando Davis – WLLD-Tampa “WiLD 94-1
Tampa, FL. Beasley Media

Orlando Davis is one of our favorite PDs. It is rare that we see programmers utilize social media as well as he does and who find an equal balance between being a programmer, morning show host and a radio personality simultaneously. He’s funny, timely and interesting and he’s consistently on social media promoting his station and his morning show and keeps us up to date with what’s going on with the station with a great newsletter that we get a couple of times a week. You always know to click his videos because he’s going to say something interesting. In addition, he’s cognizant of social issues and charitable causes and he covers quite a bit of industry ground and makes it appear effortless, but we all know the amount of work this must entail. We got a chance to talk to him recently about his station and opinions about radio and the industry.

RADIO FACTS: Do you think commercial radio is going to have a hard time in the future when it comes to competing with Streaming?

ORLANDO DAVIS: I believe commercial radio still has the ear of the people. We have throngs of listeners who stream, but run up with their take on the morning show’s argument, from that day. Content wins and while radio has beaten into our heads that “music is the star”, it may have to move over because great content has a space on the Walk of Fame, as well.

What are your thoughts on Podcasting?

I think podcasting is the in-depth conversation, of old. I’ve been in the business long enough to remember listening to the great Tom Joyner and Doug Banks interviews, where you learned more about the guest instead of gaining “oh wow click bait”. Howard Stern was another that could pull things, from the subject, that made you get lost in the conversation and still does. That’s what good podcasts accomplish. Less PPM mechanisms and real exchange, without being under the gun.

Some PDs think the talent pool for new jocks is drying up, do you?

No

Have you looked at Podcasters as potential jocks on your station? 

No…luckily we’ve grown a lot of our own talent and drafted some great jocks, to continue the WiLD tradition. However, I’m not above looking at anyone who gets how to connect with the Tampa Bay audience.

Who would you consider to be your biggest competitors in the market?

We’ve been blessed to be in that upper space, of the ratings, for numerous years now so our competition is everyone. I can’t just look at the Top 40’s or Urban AC, as our world. We’ve handily beaten them, in the last year, and are now watching them perform format tweaks and perceptual studies, trying to gain ground. We pay attention to the AC above us, the country station below us etc. We focus on our own product and relationship with the audience but welcome smoke, from all sides.

Some of the other programmers say “All” when you ask about the biggest competitors. Why are stations with different formats also important?

Growth…progress…more opportunity. From McDonald’s to the dope boys depicted in Hollywood film, do they stop with dominating their current space? #1 at hamburgers, let’s take on the coffee market. Maximizing profit, on this block, let’s expand and take over “the Carter”. If it’s savvy enough of a business tactic for Steve Easterbrook or Nino Brown, it makes sense for us, as well.

What do you think of the growing festival market?

I don’t believe many are making the real money, that the branded festivals (Coachella, Bonnaroo, Essence and EDC) are doing. Kids give up their hard earned money, so they expect an incredible experience. Many have been led astray by the short money outings, who do nothing but blow comps for other live performance rates. A company tried, a few clicks south of us, with the Okeechobee Festival and it’s now defunct. It’s harder than people think, to create the magic that audiences and artists trust.

With the festival market exploding without radio, how do you think big summer station events will fare in the near future?

I disagree that it’s “without radio”. While radio doesn’t have a financial share in the festivals, those artists are cultivated and nurtured, at radio. As far as the people trying to duplicate the New York, summer radio model, that’s gonna be heavy lifting. Mainly because mediocre acts are asking, AND GETTING, astronomical dollars, for sets hardly better than most high school talent shows. I’ve seen $150k quotes from artists topping the charts, and an artist who’s never made it above 30 on the charts. Huh? If promoters are handing out big paper, to hear artists sing over their records, how is there any chance at ROI?

How do you make your events different from the competing stations?

We produce it. I trust my team over any of the people we compete with.

Do you find it hard to find morning show producers?

Morning show producers are the same as the air talent pool, you have to know where to find them and be willing to mold them to fit your needs.

Are there other positions that are hard to fill?

There is only one thing that is a battle in procuring talent…their expectations. We all got into radio and took roles that weren’t sexy, we did grunt work and got unfettered access to a world most of us have fought to remain in. The lawsuit wielding interns, above grabbing lunch, or putting up off decorations have made their expectations the enemy. The “I’ve been in promotions 5 months, when do I get my shot” mentality is cancer. It’s not deadly, but it is uncomfortable.

What is your greatest challenge as a programmer?

Time to be creative. The best ideas have come from spending time with the staff or listening to the radio station. However emailed tasks, initiatives and assignments, make it difficult. We have to be all things, which makes us have value but there is a cost of too many things that pull out of the kitchen.

What do you think makes a GREAT programmer today?

  • Ability to notice greatness in others.
  • Awareness of who the audience is and what they enjoy.
  • Time management.
  • And a bomb squad of people, moving in the same direction.

Where have you seen other programmers go wrong in their approach to radio?

I can’t say that I have seen it “go wrong”. I’ve seen PD’s make decisions and the outcome was less than expected, so they were moved on. I see it differently though, is it the PD who failed, or the company who didn’t allow he or she to right the ship? I’m been able to make dumb suggestions, bad decisions, and stumble, but given enough room to fix it and turn it around. Those are the companies that you want to work for, so I’ve been extremely lucky.

What is the BEST promotion you’ve ever seen in radio?

The ones that make the audience see the effect and reach of radio.

What is the worst?

The ones that show the audience you’re out for the pub and not the people.

What advantage does your station have over other stations in the market?

Our talent is simply more connected to the Tampa audience. Plus anytime the word “WiLD” is used, in a school, hospital, or bedroom, we come to mind. I’ll take that.

If you could break bread with three great programmers dead or alive, who would they be?

  1. Jimmy Steal
  2. Kid Curry
  3. Thea Mitchem

What would make a programmers job easier in today’s industry?

Less constraints on interns. I came from that world, and it was survival of the fittest. Who’s willing to do what’s needed, to win a way in. Now if they aren’t holding a notepad or following a syllabus, they are not being utilized correctly. That hurts because that avenue is closed now and it bothers me. I found my path because of my work ethic and have seen brilliant people do the same. Interns should never be taken advantage of but the should be allowed to take every advantage afforded to them.

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