"Getting Rich In Tucson"
Up Close With KMXZ/Tucson PD/morning host Bobby Rich
By Mark LaSpina
>> Who were your major influences? What jocks did you listen to growing up?
BR: I grew up listening to KJR Seattle. The jocks (Larry Lujack, Lan Roberts and Pat O'Day) were reminiscent of my other entertainer influences back in the day: Stan Freeburg and Steve Allen. They were funny in both goofy and intellectual ways, but they were also smart and cool (to me at least).
My later and current influences include Scott Shannon, Michael O'Shea (New Northwest), Erica Farber (she was my GM at WXLO), Kurt Hanson, Mike McVay and possibly the smartest radio person I've ever worked for, Journal Broadcast Group's Steve Wexler. (Now VP Scripps Radio Division)
>>Size up the very competitive Tucson market.
BR: Tucson (had) been dominated for a decade by one big country station (KIIM). KMXZ has consistently been a strong runner up 25-54, and we have own 25-54 women and 35-64 persons.
>>Give us a feel for the flavor of your station.
BR: Our mass appeal AC format, you can call it Mainstream, Lite or Soft if you like, is really just the mature version of CHR. As I listen back on my Top 40 airchecks from the 70's and Hot AC from the 80's I am amazed that we played so many mushy, wimpy songs mixed in with the younger demo hits of the day. Just like all formats, it's all about playing the hits. We find great acceptance with all eras and genres of hit music. So we play a MIX of 80's, 90's and currents and recurrents.
The talent is strong and major market sounding and has been here for a long time. I still preach that "radio" is what comes BETWEEN the songs, so you'll definitely hear content throughout the day. We specialize in At Work listening, and that?s our marketing focus. But, we also have identified our target audience needs and we find ways to give them information and entertainment they want without letting it get in the way of the music flow.
>>What's your philosophy toward adding new music?
BR: It's a demo thing. The younger targeted stations are all about being first to play new stuff. And it's always been that way, which is why you often hear songs played for a few weeks and then disappear, never to be heard again. In other words, they are forced into making mistakes but they can justify it because that's being a leader. The more mature demos like familiarity, so we have to be very cautious in introducing new music. It's not nearly as much fun and many artists and music promotion people just don't get it, but that's where AC gets its massive numbers.
Obviously, AC is not an aggressive format for new music. We love it when our CHR and Hot/Modern AC friends break in the new tunes. We rarely feel comfortable being the only station in town playing a current. Although if it weren't for 94.9MIXfm, listeners here would have never heard some smash hits that are exclusive to us.
>> Promotionally, how active are you in the community? Are you involved with any particular charities?
BR: Our philosophy is that we can do ANYTHING we want, but we can't do everything. All of our imaging is about "At Work" listening, so we run everything we do through an "at work" filter. That keeps us focused and avoids many promotions and campaigns other stations do for the wrong reasons. We know our target (adult women with a great big bear hug around the 35 to 44's) so we pick and choose carefully.
Our primary causes are a Women's Health Expo (Breast Cancer), The Diaper Drive (collecting over 750,000 diapers for needy families last year alone), our annual Baby Fair (an NTR event that draws over 6000), several community recognition events The Community Food Bank's Thanksgiving On The Mayflower, The Chamber of Commerce Copper Cactus Awards for Small Businesses and United Way's Day of Caring.
>> You're owned by Journal Broadcast Group (**Now--2015-- merged with Scripps), not one of the biggest companies , but certainly one with a good reputation.
BR: Let me slip into recruitment mode! Journal --now Sxripps-- is not only product driven and customer focused, management listens to us and tells us exactly what is going on. I know more about our revenue, expenses and profit margins here than I did when I was a General Manager in Seattle.
Here's a great story about our company and our slogan "Built To Grow". Leslie Lois worked for 9 years part-time at our flagship WKTI, Milwaukee. NINE YEARS doing promotions weekend jocking, music scheduling and everything else she could. She even purchased stock in Journal. In 1999 she finally got her first shot at a full time radio gig, as our music director. She is now PD for KMXZ!
>> Where would you like to be in 5 years?
BR: I'll be on the radio and I'll be programming numerous formats and coaching talent. I am excited about the changes and challenges that technology and the rapid reorganization of business bring. I just don't know if I'll be transmitting on FM, AM, Satellite, Internet or through a chip implanted in your head.
>> You'll really done it all from jocking to programming to managing. And you've been a winner in different formats, yet you still continue to be very successful. Are you a survivor, a legend or a workaholic?
BR: I've been blessed. I knew what I wanted to do when I was 12 years old. I got on the radio when I was 14. I've been fortunate to work for great radio stations with excellent people at the right time and place.
Oh yes, I did have a couple of clunkers in there. I made plenty of mistakes and did some incredibly stupid things. And I was punished for some of them as well as shown the door for no good reason at all. But I never let it make me bitter or negative.
I do what I love and I love what I do. I am a passionate radio guy.