R.A.P.: When you came to KROQ, were you hired as the Creative Director?
John: When KROQ had the opening, it was for Production Director, and that was the guy in charge of commercials, station imaging, and anything that came out of the production room...anything. That only lasted about two years. We decided we wanted somebody else to handle the commercials to keep my style from being associated too much with the commercials. The image of modern rock is one where you don't want to confuse your image with that of most of your advertisers. My style is heard on all the jingles, all the promos, all the station imaging we do. And the other guy who does the commercials, he sounds completely different. We want to keep our image special and unique. I remind people of KROQ, so I don't read commercials.
R.A.P.: So, two years later you became the Creative Director and stopped doing commercials?
John: Something like that, yeah. And we've become more and more a produced radio station to the point where we're almost hyper-produced now. Everything is now some kind of production element, and it is a full-time job now. When I first got here, we weren't doing a lot of station imaging things. We were kind of proud of sounding like just a little more than a college radio station at that time. That was before the ratings really came through for us.
R.A.P.: Who handles the commercials?
John: Raymond Banister. Raymond was one of our DJs that we no longer had a shift for just because we were trying different things, but he's such a great guy. He's the person we put in the position of doing the commercials, and he's always been happy to help in any way he can.
R.A.P.: Is there an AM station attached or a duopoly situation?
John: The same company does own K-Earth which is an oldies station on FM out here. But we don't cross much of the same territory.
R.A.P.: Tell us a bit about KROQ's image and how it's achieved on the air.
John: We try to really encourage creativity. I think we have the best creative air staff around the clock, people who just try weird stuff. They goof off and do stuff that really stands out. And every production element we have, whether it's a jingle or a promo or whatever, has a personality of its own. It has a life of its own. We want to be really unpredictable. As an image for the station, we want to be interesting and fun and weird to listen to. More than anything, I think, I try to image us like a cartoon version of a radio station where it's a goofy, ongoing, got a personality of its own no matter who's on the air kind of thing. The Program Director and myself are the ones who sit down and figure out what we're going to do at any point to get that accomplished. We figure out what we want to accomplish and how much room we have to goof around with it without losing the point of the promotion or losing the point of the jingle or imaging piece.
R.A.P.: Is this approach to image typical of modern rock stations across the U.S.?
John: I can't really name another station that does it this way. Image-wise, modern rock is traditionally thought of as having a less hype, less self-indulging type image. That's the traditional thing that modern rock is able to do pretty well. The self-indulgent, hypy stuff fits Top 40 better, or somebody else better than it fits us.
KROQ has a variety of different images going constantly, and it's probably the hardest station I've ever come across to image just because we try to do something that doesn't sound like anything on the radio station right now. And to do that, it's like a constant reinvention. For example, I have this cool delivery, if you will, that I can sell most things with. But we don't want to sound like some cool delivery radio station, so we don't use that character that much. Or, I could write everything into a little sitcom and it might win an award; but when it's standing next to a bunch of other little sitcom-type promos, it doesn't stand out. So we're constantly trying to find something that doesn't sound like anything we've done.