In this episode Laura discusses the changing face of radio, building a youthful audience, using social media and the importance of being on the ground in your market.
Laura was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia where she attended Georgia State. In college she started out in computer science before moving to a degree in journalism. Laura got her start in radio working the graveyard shift at the campus radio station Album88.
“It was a really cool thing being someone who got to introduce people to new music. The radio station used to compete with 99x in Atlanta. Album 88 to this day is still known for that. It’s definitely still on the forefront of introducing people to non-traditional artists and genres,” says Laura.
Laura remembers her time working the 2-5 a.m. shift fondly. Saying it was as close as she got to working alternative radio. The station and the time slot gave her the freedom to play bands like The Rubens and Lime Cordial. She interned with Adam Bomb. When Adam was working on the on air portion of the show, Laura would attend local events in his place. “I would go out basically interact, take pictures get audio, do stuff for social and kinda, you know, getting an understanding and a taste of street activation for a radio station. It’s important to keep up that face to face interaction and showing people we are more than people that play music. We interact, we attend local events and support community,” says Laura.
After graduation and before moving north Laura worked in promotions and as a board op at the Cumulus stations: Rock 100.5, 99x ,and Kicks 101.5 and O.G. 97.9 in Atlanta. Today she in on evenings in Wilkes Barre Pennsylvania. Working at CHR/WBHT which has two transmitters 97.1 Wilkes Barre and 95.7 Scranton (Home of Dunder Mifflin’s top branch).
Laura works a time slot that was previously not held by local talent. She says it has been nice to connect with her audience and retrain them to expect a live body in the station on evenings. She notes it is fun to stay involved with all things Gen-Z using Instagram and Facebook live to interact with her audience, but says social media can be very time consuming and that she prefers to schedule it in rather than letting it run her show. Twitter is the platform she uses least and that like it or not, you’re gonna have to use TikTok if you want to capture a youthful audience.
Every Tuesday CHR/WBHT does a High School takeover. A bunch of high school students come in and take over programming at the radio station. The station has a pizza party and gets imaging, social and word of mouth out of the deal. “We just hang out get to know them and they really appreciate that,” says Laura. She knows this is helping to build the next generation of listeners and talent.
"Radio is changing but not going away. It is in changing the way we interact with our listeners that we will keep radio alive." Her message to anyone who dreams of a career in radio: “keep pushing through.”
Laura hopes to one day be a program director at an alternative station.
Laura and Matt go to the Conclave in Minneapolis every year, along with several others who have been on this podcast. It's an event she calls exciting and inspiring for all things radio. Laura gives a shout out to some of her favorite people that she has met there: (All have appeared on our podcast) Lori Lewis, Jillene Khan, Alyssa from 107.7 The End who was on the podcast.