Connoisseur Media’s very own Jon Daniels took some time to sit down with All Access to discuss the industry, KJOY 98.3 and hobbies during lockdown.
1. How has navigating the pandemic made you a better programmer?
It reinforces the reality that our listeners are going through the same things we are – everyone in the community is in this together.
2. What’s the work dynamic been like as far as going into the office vs. working remotely?
Everyone’s been great – and reachable when needed. Once everything was worked-out as far as the technology was concerned, I don’t think we missed a step.
3. You still do middays every day—what has it like for you being on the air as the crisis continues to play out?
I’m on-air 7 hours a day on KJOY 98.3, plus another 3 hours a day on WHLI. During a situation like this, there’s no advance voicetracking, as news breaks frequently and situations change. Staying up to the minute on what’s happening is vital, as is the need to relay important information to our listeners.
4. Do you think that there was a definitive “Song Of Summer” 2020?
Definitive? No. But I just spent a week on the beach out in Montauk, and if I had a dollar for every time I heard Harry Styles’ “Watermelon Sugar” from someone’s set-up, it would have been a much less expensive trip!
5. Mainstream AC radio has embraced artists/songs in the recent past that would have never made it past the Stop sign not all that long ago. How has that been reflected in the way that you choose your currents?
We’re in a unique situation, as a local station competing against stations from New York City. It gives us the opportunity to sometimes carefully lead the way with songs that are unique to our format, while at the same time making sure that we are playing the hits that are tested and proven and loved by our audience.
6. What led you to a career in radio?
I always loved radio, and started working at a commercial radio station (WVBR-FM) in Ithaca, New York while I was a student at Cornell University. I became President and General Manager, and parlayed that into an internship at Long Island’s legendary WLIR, where I spent 7 years, leaving as the Program Director of WLIR and its sister station The Bone, and then to my current Connoisseur station group, where I’ve spent the last 17 years.
7. “Local local local” has always been radio’s mantra. How do you keep the station visible and involved in the community in the midst of everything that’s been going on?
We stay active and a part of whatever the community is doing to get through this, from having our van in drive-by birthday parades, to having our personalities hosting drive-in concerts. Plus, encouraging our front-line heroes, and helping to spread the message of local charities that are working hard to support the community during these tough times.
8. Which social media platforms do you use to engage with your listeners these days?
We’re focusing on Facebook, while trying to grow our reach on Instagram. One of the activities I’ve been doing at home with my family throughout the quarantine was cultivating a vegetable garden – you can see some of our progress and harvest on our KJOY 98.3 Instagram, using my #FarmerJon.
9. Who were your mentors? Who would you say has influenced your career the most?
We just lost perhaps my biggest mentor, Jeff Levine, who passed away recently, and far too young. He was program director at WLIR when I started there, and I was lucky enough to learn from him–a tough, but super-smart marketer and programmer with an eye for every detail. He really set a strong foundation and base from which I’ve worked hard to build a career.
10. When all of this is behind us, which artist would you love to play a ‘welcome back’ bash for your listeners?
Billy Joel! He’s such a huge part of Long Island, and attending his residency of shows at Madison Square Garden is a rite of passage for us all. Plus, he’s been extremely charitable and has focused on music education with a school on Long Island that he helps endow. What’s more “radio on Long Island” than Billy Joel? Billy – please consider this an open invitation from your friends at KJOY 98.3 🙂
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