CBS Radio is one of our favorite radio corporations. The programmers and Radio DJs that work for CBS always say great things about the company and we love the fact that they are innovative and they allow programmers autonomy in various markets to actually program their stations. Respected programmer Rick Thomas was just settling in with a new format at Los Angeles’ KTWV in Los Angeles when he was called to work in radio’s top market (NY) to tweak and grow the format at 92.3 Amp Radio. I have to admit I was not happy when I heard he was leaving as I thought it was too soon after developing the new format and the corporation might switch formats again. I was really enjoying the changes and found myself constantly tuning in to see how the format was working at KTWV. It’s great to know he will still be involved and the format will not change as the station sounds better than it has in over a decade and the new format was a welcomed and much needed change to the market. Many stations and programmers have tried the same format but fell short with the implementation and presentation. Thomas aced it by keeping some of the key Radio DJs like LA Staple Talaya Trigueros, who can probably work any format, and bringing in great vet talent like Frankie Ross. (no relation to me as some people think). Here… Thomas gives us an update of what roles he is currently playing not only at 92.3 but for the company’s LA Stations.
KEVIN ROSS: Congrats on your new gig, did you expect to make a move this fast after The Wave?
RICK THOMAS: Not at all. I love what is going on with the Wave. Regarding NY, I had intended to play whatever role CBS wished of me on a task force of CHR PD’s who were sort of internally consulting the NY project. Along the way I realized how much fun it would be to apply what I do to serving listeners in the city where I was born and raised on a daily basis
KR You left the Wave in the middle of a big format transition, will CBS hire a replacement and will the format remain.
RT: The search is on for the right PD. KTWV cash-flow is very healthy so not sure why it would change, I except it to grow. While March was an odd month, April bounced back huge and the station grows every week. There is a thirsty appetite among LA’s affluent R&B consumer for the station.
KR: Would you be up for the challenge to program both markets? (NY and LA)?
RT: I have been asked to continue my involvement in KTWV and KRTH’s brand growth. K-Earth has achieved record setting ratings growth this year and while KTWV is still a baby in its UAC brand, it’s growth this Spring has been steady and we want that to obviously continue. New York will be a fulltime job and then some, but I am happy to to guide the LA stations however the company wishes. Having two great APD’s in LA makes it a lot easier.
KR: So now your switching to CHR, what do you like most about that format?
RT: The active-ness of todays CHR listener. They LOVE music out loud!
KR: Do you plan to make any changes?
RT: Since it’s a forgone conclusion that the station needs work, it’s common sense to say improvements will be made.
KR: From your perspective, what’s missing in radio?
RT: In general, I think radio lacks heart. At it’s onset, PPM faked out so many PD’s that the result in the past few years is plastic, boring radio. We need to be smart, but let’s not lose track of the fact that we are programming to human beings. And an emotional connection is like super glue.
KR: As a busy programmer, do you still find time to train new talent or is it easier to work with established Radio DJs?
RT: Both. We have some vets in LA who are some of the best people on the planet. That said, radio stations also need a bullpen. If we fail to grow young Radio DJs, we don’t set ourselves up very well in the years to come.
KR: If you were not in radio what would you be doing?
RT: Early on I had an interest in being a cop. But that would not have panned out as I have trouble sometimes with “rules”. Maybe I’d open a restaurant in NY or Hawaii.
KR: Name 5 current Programmers that you greatly admire and why (if possible)
- -Frankie Crocker. Although not current, He was foundational. Taught me street level music recon before organized research existed.
- -Kevin Weatherly. One of the smartest guys in radio today in any format.
- -Skip Dillard (WBLS and WLIB). WBLS results under his tenure speak for themselves
- -Michael Martin. One of todays best CHR guys. Buys expensive drinks, too!
- -Michael Erickson. Knows his audience and always has a great sounding station.
KR: Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
RT: I can cook you some of the best Italian food you’ve ever had.