With our continued profiling of the greatest PDs in the industry this time we spotlight Mr. Mark McCray. He is the Vice President of Programming and Operations in Dallas at Urban One. He’s highly respected, eager, determined and has an undeniable drive to win. I became familiar with him when he was a spokesman for Weight Watchers after losing a lot of weight (and keeping it off) a few years ago. He’s one of a few African American Program Directors in the Rhythmic arena but he is beyond qualified and confidently aware of his ability to do a great job.
Tell us about one of your recent successful radio promotions
One of the yearly promotions that we are very proud of is “Mammogram Month” in October. We offer free breast cancer screenings to women who need it and may not have the resources to get one. We have been able to treat hundreds of women over the past few years and identified several women who needed additional screenings potentially saving their lives.
Who would you consider to be your biggest competitors in the market?
I come from the thought that all the stations in the market are competitors. Obviously, we share more of our audience with some stations over others, but we are ALL trying to get more occasions of listening. Over the years I have learned that even though you may have a “direct” competitor”, you share cume and occasions with several formats. Especially with the popularity of the Hip Hop and R&B we play… it is now mainstream.
What advantage does your station have over other stations in the market?:
I think we have great high personality talent in all major dayparts, unique compelling imaging and we are VERY active in the community! We also have a large amount of millennial on the air in major dayparts.
Do you think commercial radio is going to have a hard time in the future in competing with streaming?
Not as long as commercial radio continues to evolve
What are your thoughts on Podcasting?
I think podcasting is a great way for otherwise unnoticed talented people that have interesting content to get noticed. It can also be a great way to extend a popular brand after they are off the air.
Some PDs think the talent pool for new Radio DJs is drying up, do you?:
Have you looked at Podcasters as potential Radio DJs on your station? Why or why not?:
The names of some popular podcasters have been considered. However, There is a difference between podcasting and broadcasting and that is something that needs to be considered. Taking a popular podcaster and putting them on a broadcast radio station can be a tough and unrealistic transition. Mainly in some instances what made that podcaster popular may not be able to translate tradition broadcast radio.
What do you think of the growing festival market?:
The millennials are shaping this culture and popularity of festivals. It’s a bit of a disruption to the traditional concert model. I think this younger generation is helping to rethink and disrupt the traditional model…and the festival experience is the new way of experiencing live music.
How do you make your events different from the competing stations?:
We are one of the few stations (in the market) that specializes in station branded events, especially for the Hip Hop and R&B audience. It is something we do very well and thankfully has experienced a lot of success. We have branded events like our Dub Car Show and Concert that is not only a concert but a lifestyle experience.
Do you find it hard to find morning show producers?
There are a few reasons why I think morning show producers are more challenging to find. One reason is that the talent pool is smaller than in the past years. Secondly, many people want to be ON the microphone, not behind the scenes. Being a morning show producer is a special job…not always a glorious job,…but one of the most important jobs a morning show can have.
Are there other positions that are hard to fill? If so why?
Finding good part-time talent can be a challenge as well.
What do you think makes a GREAT programmer today?
Being innovative, open-minded, sales friendly and approachable. Be a great coach, continue to learn and grow with your team and maximize your time. The great ones understand the role they have in creating the culture in the building, on the air and even in the community.
What is your greatest challenge as a programmer?
Time. Managing your time can be a challenge for many. Programmers now have a lot of responsibility and in many cases have more than one station, an on-air shift, several weekly meetings and conference call, music rotation and scheduling duties and a family. That is why you have to have a good team, great time management skills and the ability to problem solve in a reasonable amount of time.
Where have you seen other programmers go wrong in their approach to radio?
They feel that all the good ideas have to come from their office. Great ideas and amazing points of view can come from anywhere.
What is the BEST promotion you’ve ever seen in radio?
One of the best promotions I have seen was where we gave away a shopping spree. The winner won $10,000, a limo, bodyguards and 6 hours to spend it. We qualified people on the air, then had an event (in the morning) where we did a “reverse raffle” for the $10,000.
The winner had to be ready to shop that day immediately after they won. the limo was waiting outside. RULES: They could only shop within 50 miles of the city…they couldn’t purchase gift cards, pay bills, or apply the money toward a purchase totaling over $10,000.
This promotion was fun for the Radio DJs to talk about, got the listeners excited and even got us some press.
What is the worst promotion?
Outside of the infamous “Hold your Wee for a Wii” contest… There was this “Pennies from Heaven” promotion. A great example of an idea sounding awesome in a conference room, but didn’t work out in real life. The Promotion: Get people to donate their pennies for this charitable cause. Invite listeners to go to a few locations around the city to drop off their pennies on a set day.
The problem: The station gathered so many pennies they couldn’t move them! Pennies are heavy as hell when you have a bunch of them! The promotions department weren’t ready for that!
If you could break bread with three great programmers dead or alive, who would they be?
- Michael Spears (one of my biggest mentors and gave me a great break). He passed many years ago but I think he would be really proud of me considering he knew me since I was 19 and he put me on the air at his station in Chicago.
- Frankie Crocker – Never met him, just heard amazing stories and I’d love to hear some of his.
- Sunny Jo White – A Pioneer
Tell us about your Full-time staff?
- Veda Loca – (mornings) Passionate unique, raw, unfiltered, single mom (The Cardi B of radio)
- J-Kruz – (mornings) Lifestyle driven hip hop music, sneakerhead
- Jazzi Black – (mornings) Millennial, highly opinionated fresh-faced, bright personality
- Kayotik – (mornings) Mixer, Fun Loving, Dad
- Lil D – (middays) Sassy, Afro-Centric millennial minded, homegirl
- Jesse – (afternoons) Latin. highly energetic, lovable
- P-Skillz – (nights)Party starter Millennial. Dancer, crowd energizer, loved by the teens and schools
- Joyner (mornings)
- Cindy B (middays) -Local longtime DFW talent. Mom/Homegirl/Baker
- D.L. Hughley (afternoons)
- John Monds (nights)
Thanks for the opportunity to be a part of this.