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Colby Colb Tyner is one of the busiest vets in the radio and music business. Based in DC and a frequent traveler, he’s the Vice President of Programming for Radio One and works directly with SVP of Programming Jay Stevens. He’s responsible for the numerous brands and Reach media programs, more specifically, he works directly with the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus. Indianapolis, St Louis and the Philadelphia markets strategizing with a diverse group of programmers and formats (urban mainstream, UAC, Inspiration, Top 40). He also works closely with Radio One founder and industry icon Cathy Hughes overseeing the Inspiration formats stations across the country.
In addition to that, Colby works with all of the syndicated Inspirational programs including; Erica Campbell, Willie Moore Jr. and Darlene McCoy shows. Finally, Colb helps manage company relationships with the record labels, artists and artist management.
With all of that under his belt, this industry legend, made time to respond to the request to speak to Radio Facts about his perspectives on the industry.
“I’m blessed to do what I love.”
KEVROSS: For those who don’t know, what is your history in the industry?
COLBY COLB: I’m a child of radio. As a child of divorced parents, I spent a lot of time listening to radio and calling the DJ’s and learning from them. My mom lived in Philly and my dad in NYC so I had two awesome radio markets to study. One Christmas break, when I was 15, I was invited to the WRKS studios by the legendary DJ Fredd Buggs. 98.7 Kiss FM was the #1 station in the city at the time. Once I walked in the studio, I knew this was what I wanted to do.
Upon graduation from high school, even before my freshman class started at Temple University at 17, I started an internship at WUSL in Philadelphia. I started from the bottom from intern to board op to producer to having my own very successful show at 21 which eventually opened the door to be promoted to nights. Then I co-hosted mornings with (the now successful syndicated TV talk show host) Wendy Williams.
16 years after the internship started, I was on mornings and Assistant PD of WUSL. I then left to go to NYC to help launch WWPR, I was music director and afternoon drive host. I returned to Philadelphia for my first programming job at WPHI. After that, I went to Cleveland as Operation Manager for WENZ, WZAK, WJMO and WERE. My success in Cleveland landed me my current job.
KR: First and foremost, I may have already said it but I’d like to congratulate you on your promotion at Radio One…
CC: Thanks, I’m three years into the job now. It’s cool to do what you love to do.
KR: You pretty much worked in one market for most of your radio career (Philly), why did you decide to stay in one market?
“Good radio is a combination of creativity, unique content and always leaving your listeners wanting more.”
CC: I was blessed to be accepted and loved by Philly. I have a deep connection to the City of BROTHERLY Love and had an amazing run there. I probably would have stayed forever but I got fired which was the best thing that could have happened to my career. Cleveland took me to another level.
KR: Where you offered other opportunities to leave?
CC: Yes, numerous times. Some pretty cool opportunities have come my way. Switching jobs is all about timing and it being a good fit.
KR: Many say the new pool of DJs has dried up, are you coming across a lot of people who want to be in radio?
CC: There are lots of people who want to do radio, the problem is that there isn’t a lot of training ground but there is a lot of raw talent.
KR: You and I have often discussed the importance of being progressive in radio. There are a lot of people who like to reflect on their past careers on the social networks. I see a lot of pictures from days gone as if many of their best days are behind them. As you know this industry moves like the speed of light, forward. Many industry people over 40 are under their impression (or conclusion) that their careers are over and there is nothing left. What are your feelings on that?
CC: Your career is always evolving, you have to keep it moving and keep an open eye for the future. If you claim that it’s over then it’s over. You can evolve into all kinds of opportunities, it starts with believing in yourself.
KR: Is there life after 40 in the industry?
CC: If you’re really good at anything there is no age limit, you define your opportunities which is where most people mess up. If your time is up somewhere and you want to stay in the game … you move on. Have more than one talent, have a social media presence. Have a professional package. When you’re out of work do video shows everyday on Social Media. Life just gets going at 40!
KR: Amen. How would you suggest that people remain objective and maintain value in their radio careers?
CC: Don’t get comfortable, treat every day like it’s your last. Give your all in your job, you’re not doing the job for the company you’re doing it for yourself. I’m a firm believer in the Universe. What you give it will return to you in abundance good and bad. Many get complacent then have a bad attitude then that attitude costs you your job. Never be bitter either. Also, don’t get freaked out by change. Change can be amazing especially in your later years.
KR: You were one of the few PD’s who was very active on social media early on. Your topics are interesting and you obviously understand why social media is important. Where you initially resistant? How did you develop an interest?
CC: I love Social Media and embraced it right away. I miss being on the air so SM is my show every day. It’s like turning on the mic with just a click. Information can flow so quickly now, also a great way to stay in touch with friends you’ve accumulated over the course of your life.
KR: I’ve also noticed that you still like to be on-air and maintain your relationships with artists, It is often difficult if not impossible for jocks to develop a true connection with artists ?
CC: Artists are the lifeblood of what we do. I’ve always maintained relationships with artists at all levels of my career. The best talents have robust relationships with artists and producers. If something is happening with an artist you go to the source. If an artist likes you then you will get exclusive content and music.
KR: Broadcasting schools have all but died off, is there still room and time to train new announcers today?
CC: Yes, Social Media is where you start. Get into the station in some role and network for opportunities. Study what the best people are doing then implement best practices. Start an internet radio show and implement your ideas then work it in. Yes, it’s different now but you could argue that there are more ways to make your mark.
KR: What are some of the ways that you find talent today?
CC: I go to Social Media first for everything.
KR: What advice would you give the younger you today if you we’re just starting in the industry?
CC: Be humble and be open to learn. It may take some time for you to achieve your dreams but you will have to put in work. Find a mentor, be open for constructive criticism and understand that most of the time it’s not personal. Toughen up.
KR: What are some of the constants that you see in a radio since you started that are still good for the industry?
CC: Always do your show prep as a talent and programmer. Those that put the work in reap the rewards all the time. Good radio is a combination of creativity, unique content and always leaving your listeners wanting more.