John Dodge, Program Director & Klem Daniels, Production Director, KidStar Interactive Media, Seattle, Washington

john-dodge-and-klem-daniels-feb96If you've wondered why you haven't read any articles in RAP from John Dodge lately, it's because he's had his hands full since he took the PD's chair at KidStar in Seattle about a year and a half ago. This month we check in with John and his Production Director, Klem Daniels to get a very interesting look and a very interesting format targeted to kids six to twelve. KidStar is currently on the air in Seattle on KKDZ 1250 AM, and in San Francisco on KDFC 1220 AM with plans to enter the top ten markets by year end. Hold on to your hats. Times are!

RAP: How did KidStar get started?
John: Let's start from the very beginning and acknowledge the fact that marketing to kids has exploded in the past ten years in the United States. Advertisers are recognizing the billions of dollars that kids control. As a primary market, they're spending their own money. As a secondary market, they influence purchases, and there's what's known as the future markets--getting kids to be brand loyal so that when they grow up, they'll buy that Coca Cola, they'll stay in that Hilton, or whatever. Add to this the fact that there are more kids in the six to twelve-year-old segment of the population than ever before due to the echo of the baby boom.

So with that in mind, the KidStar project began as a combination of idealism and pragmatism: idealism in wanting to create a media-oriented company that celebrated all that is creative and positive in children, and pragmatism by observing the successes and failures of others that had gone before us in kid media. The company is largely the brainchild of three people: a woman named Jodell Seagrave, a second individual, Bob Day, and a third individual, Bill Koenig. They came together from different backgrounds--technology, marketing, media--and they created this concept almost four years ago. They spent about a year researching it and locating and developing the talents to run the operation. Then in May of 1993, I believe, KidStar went on the air in Seattle. After two years of what was essentially research and development, live dress rehearsals on the radio, we were able to attract significant long-term capital investment, big money from a group of individuals, largely Japanese businesses--NT&T, which is Japan's AT&T, Sega, the game manufacturer, Bandai, the toy manufacturer--all mega-companies in Japan. There's Fukutaki which is an educational publishing concern in Japan, and the lone American in the group, the visionary here in the USA, was the cofounder of Microsoft with Bill Gates, a man named Paul Allen and the Vulcan Group. There have been other concerns which have joined the endeavor, but these are the original five.

Our time line is to roll out this huge integrated multimedia package into all the top ten U.S. markets by the end of the summer of 1996, and when I say integrated multimedia, let me explain. KidStar is comprised of four media. Of course, there's radio. Then we have an interactive telephone voice-mail message system that we call the Phone Zone which ties into our database. There's KidStar Magazine which is a quarterly that is free to all KidStar "All Stars." That's how we refer to our membership. And then there's KidStar On-Line which is the most recent of our media which we developed with Microsoft. It's on the Microsoft Network which is accessible via Windows 95 software.

So radio is just one part of the package. Recognizing that all these media are coming together into one, as your telephone and your computer and your television are all converging into one multimedia package, we tried to get ahead of the curve and not offer just one media, but rather offer them all. This was not only for the benefit of radio listeners but also for the benefit of our advertisers because we had to offer them a different way to access kids other than just spots on the radio.

The Phone Zone is a way that we complete the feedback loop with our audience. Kids call on the Phone Zone in order to do two things: to win prizes--and we give away a zillion prizes on a daily basis--and to get their voice on the radio which, again, is how we complete that feedback loop. The Phone Zone must have fifty or sixty different lines, activities where you can access a central telephone number for free. Everything is free. The Star Line is probably among the top five of Phone Zone lines in terms of daily accesses. Kids call and do their hidden secret talent. This could be sing a song, could be play a musical instrument, could be do a rap, could be a tap dance, whatever it is. They do it in the hopes that they do a good enough job so the announcers, when they review the Phone Zone lines, will actually pick that song or that dance and put it back on the radio. We do this a couple of times an hour. There's the Joke Line and the Scary Stories Line. There are, as I said, about fifty of them. From the listener's point of view, the idea is to get your voice on the radio and to win prizes.

RAP: Klem, would this phone message system be one area where you're involved?
Klem: Well, to a certain extent, I am. But we've gotten to a point where we've actually had to hire someone to pretty much program and operate the Phone Zone. There are two primary people who are involved, and one of them handles the production side. That person would be responsible for updating any material that would go into the Phone Zone in the way of a greeting or a contest, or pulling audio and then putting it back on.

RAP: What are your responsibilities as Production Director at KidStar?
Klem: That's actually a very difficult question to answer in relation to how normal radio operates because there's nothing normal about what we do here. We produce things and put them on the air in the way a radio station would, but the difference is in what we produce and the volume. Just to give you an idea of how much material we produce, I have a staff of six in production here. Each one of us has our own studio, or will have in the next couple of months. We each have our own ProTools 3 with full DSP...the works. The reason for that is because of the type of production we do and the volume we do.

RAP: Give us an example of the type of stuff you're producing.
Klem: We produce a variety of things that are entertaining and fun to listen to. It could be something that deals with science or it could be something that deals with a police officer. We have a feature called "Ask Trooper Fitz." It could be a feature with your local senator. We have Senator Patty Murray on the air. It could be a feature about garbage. We have a character called Phil Dumpster and the feature's called "Talking Trash." Basically, Phil Dumpster is an irresponsible radio host who pushes the buttons of kids who are responsible and know how it's supposed to be done. And, of course, that's how we get the kids to respond and get involved. So we've got about twenty to thirty features that are rotating on the air, and they're updated on a two-week basis. Now, some will go for a thirteen-week cycle then rest. Then we'll bring them back after a half a year and repeat it. And others are updated every two weeks throughout a full year.

John: There are three different features that have to deal with food, whether it's about snacks or whether it's about nutrition. We've got a fun game show with a wacky game host named Rudy Baga. That's essentially a guessing game having to do with food--a very hot topic with kids. We've got the Nike Street Sports Report which has to do with extreme sports and invented sports. With kids, Nike saw the need to get in front of the curve and not miss the next in-line skates, for example, so they partnered with us to make that sort of show.

Klem: By the way, ski skating is the hot item now. They have skates in place of skis. They're the size of skates, anyway. They're little boards they put on boots. Of course, you have to buy the boots and the ski skates....

John: And we've got a show called "What's Hot, What's Not" that has to do with trends just like that. We've got a show called "Virtual Hollywood" that's an entertainment feature that we do in partnership with Disney. We've got "Personal Safety Features." We've got a fantasy adventure called "Waft in Space." We've got a show called "This is Sylvia" featuring a kind of teen-oriented Ann Landers. We really cover the whole spectrum of topics that kids are interested in, and we know what kids are interested in as a result of two things. We've done a ton of market research and studied research that's been done in the United States, and we get a lot of feedback on the KidStar Phone Zone. I keep going back to the Phone Zone as a way we listen to our customers and find out what they want, and then we give it to them. It's a pretty basic marketing principle, but we apply it here daily.

RAP: Are we talking about little two or three minute shows here or are these longer features?
Klem: Yeah, we're talking about a feature that runs about three minutes long.

RAP: Where does the advertiser come in?
Klem: We didn't know exactly how this was going to be received by the client when we first put it out there as a pitch, but it turns out that the clients love it. They are more than eager to get away from the sixty and thirty second formats and are looking for new ideas and ways to get involved with subject matter. Basically, we meet with the client and discuss the possibilities of going on the air with a full-fledged campaign and feature package which includes involvement with the Phone Zone and magazine and all that. Then we come up with an idea that helps us in programming but also serves the client, as well. That's how we came up with the Nike Street Sports show. King County Solid Waste has the Phil Dumpster "Talking Trash" feature. King County Solid Waste is a big recycling operation. There's another example of how it scratches both backs; it's extremely entertaining for our listeners and gets the client's message across without preaching. We're pitching the same feature in San Francisco to another utility down there.

John: Keep in mind one thing. These are not three-minute info-mercials. That wouldn't serve our audience in any way. They're much more the way that public media uses underwriting. You get Nike's name and image to associate with this popular feature. They get mentioned in the beginning; they get mentioned in the end. As Klem said before, they're associated with the Nike Street Sports Report in the Phone Zone, on-line, and they get a page in the magazine. It's a whole integrated multimedia campaign. But if it were a three-minute info-mercial, it wouldn't necessarily be very entertaining for kids. Kids are really smart. In fact, their bullshit detectors are much more acute than adults', so they recognize a pitch when it's coming at them. We had to create something that was a programming feature, that was entertaining, that had value, and then we had to associate the advertiser with it. So it's a pretty sophisticated concept that advertisers from coast to coast--Nike, Kool-Aid, Biggs--are buying into in terms of pre-committing many, many millions of dollars to us on a national level.

Klem: We've been at this almost three years now, and our renewal rate with our clients who have been annual is one hundred percent. You know how much time Production Directors spend writing brand new spots and spec spots for brand new clients because the old clients tried you once and went away? Well, we decided it was probably smarter to super-serve new clients in the beginning, love them to death so that we would grow our client base, spend less time beating the streets and spinning the wheels developing new business, and more time servicing the business that we have.

I've never seen anything like what we have here in the way of servicing the client and making them happy and keeping them in the loop. I'd say ninety percent of them like to be directly involved. When I say directly, I mean the client is actually involved and not the agency. In a lot of cases we have bypassed the agency through the invitation of the client because they are so interested in what we are doing.

John: That's because the agency has no prior experience in marketing directly to kids.

Klem: That's right. It's an educational process for the agency in a lot of cases. In some cases the client has already been there and has been looking for something like this, and in other cases they look at us as the expert in the market they need to get into.

RAP: Do we have ads in the conventional sense?
Klem: Yeah. That's also an option with the package. They can purchase some additional time for sixties if they want to go that route.

RAP: How do you write to nine-year-olds? Do you have some sort of mini-focus group of kids that you touch base with on a regular basis?
Klem: Well, first of all, you have to hire people that are capable of writing good copy in general. That's your basic foundation. And then, they do have to develop a kid's mind to a certain extent. We're not a kiddy-radio station. We target preteens, so they are a little more sophisticated, which helps us in our writing. We try desperately not to talk down to them because if we do, like John said, the bullshit detector immediately goes off. So, from a writing standpoint and a production standpoint, we are constantly thinking about that, and after you do it for a while, you realize that you're just talking to another member of the audience. They just happen to be between seven and twelve-years-old.

John: You get a mind-set for it after you've been at it for a while. I think it is something you have to develop because you can't go to another market and say, "I'm gonna hire the best kid performer I can get who has sixteen years of radio experience," because that person doesn't exist. That's been a major obstacle here. Initially, because we were paving so much new territory, we were taking three steps forward and two back, and in some cases three back and starting all over again. We've learned a lot and, for the most part, I think we've been extremely successful right from the start.

Klem: Let me further answer your question, "how do you write to a nine-year-old kid?" You don't write to a nine-year-old kid, you write to a twelve-year-old kid. You're targeting kids six to twelve knowing that kids are in a rush to grow up. Targeting the twelve-year-old is a much smarter way to capture the largest part of the attention of that audience segment. And it's a proven fact that kids listen to kids more intently than they listen to adults so, as a result, the majority of our commercials, our promos, our announcer-driven shows, and our newscasts feature kids' voices. In fact, if we could pull it off, we would all become the assistants and the kids would become the bosses. But they lack certain skills, so I guess our job security is okay for a couple of years until they're totally teenaged and able to kick us out.

RAP: Promotions must be a different animal in this format. John, describe the difference in the approach to promotions as opposed to the adult format approach.
John: Well, we can look at promotions in three levels. There's overall marketing, and that is, "How do you get our entire media mix into households and accepted as part of their daily life?" One step down from that is public relations. You can spend millions of dollars in advertising through conventional media, or you can spend significantly less money trying to figure out unusual attention-getting, newsworthy--that's probably the key word, newsworthy--events, spectacles that garner public attention that will get your radio station on the nightly news, that will get newspaper placement, that will get mentions in trade advertisements. We have people assigned to each of these levels because it's a pretty marketing-sophisticated company.

Finally, on the level that we're most accustomed to thinking of promotions, there's the giving away of stuff. We've got a team assigned to that, too. Again, to offer incentive to call into the Phone Zone, there is a random giveaway of something on an on-going basis. We realized a long time ago that it's better to give away ten thousand cool, small items all the time than to give away one mega-trip to Disneyland on a quarterly basis. Not that we don't give away trips to Disneyland, we do. But the idea is, you want to have as many kids winning as many different things as possible so that they have a positive experience with KidStar, so that they do the most important thing and that is tell their friends who then tell their friends who then tell their friends and get this big network buzz going on for us. Kids are not quite as advertising saturated as adults are. They're getting there, but you don't reach kids in exactly the same way--with billboards, with television. Our word-of-mouth campaign is equally as important, if not more so, and as I said, we do that through the giveaway of a zillion smaller items.

Klem: One important aspect of our promotions is the type of promotions we create. John mentioned Disneyland, and that's an obvious one. But we like to take the unique approach. Come up with things that you just can't buy in the way of promotions. We just did a campaign which was very successful. There's a new television show, a cartoon show, about four or five months old now. It's called Santo Bugito. Cheech Marin of Cheech and Chong is one of the characters in there. We decided to incorporate that new show and its characters into our magazine and then come up with a contest for kids to draw their own character. The winner would then be sent down to the show's studios to develop their character along with the artist from Santo Bugito.

John: And this is one of the hottest cartoon factories in Hollywood, so the idea is that this is an "experience" prize rather than a gift certificate or a new car. The kid draws a cartoon bug, gets it animated by professional animators, and gets presented with a thing that's gonna be on that kid's wall probably till the day he dies--something, as Klem mentioned, he couldn't even buy, much less get anywhere else.

Klem: Right. And the family of four gets sent down there, gets to spend time in the studios right next to the people who actually do the cartoon drawing. That's just an example of the kinds of things we're going to be pulling off here in the future.

RAP: When time comes to produce promos for a promotion like that, you must have a blast.
Klem: Sure. We'll support that on air and on the Phone Zone as well. Kids can get more information by calling the Phone Zone. We had something like three or four hundred entries for this contest. We sent the top twenty-five or so drawings down to Hollywood to the guys at Klasky Csupo. These are the guys who did a bunch of hit Nickelodeon shows as well as The Simpsons early episodes, a massively successful animation shop in Hollywood. Anyway, we sent the top twenty-five entries down. They get a team of about six different artists together and they say, "I like this one." "I like that one." "This one with six eyes is good." Finally, they made their decision, notified us, and we brought the kid who won into the KidStar studios. We rolled tape and got him talking about how excited he was to win this thing. We roll that into the promo with the idea of playing that back so that kids everywhere can sort of vicariously live through his experience.

RAP: John, are you programming to parents at all?
John: Well, as a secondary market, we are, but kids are obviously the primary market. We'll do things that have a degree of parental irritation in them simply because, if you're a kid, that's sort of important to you.

Klem: We have a double standard of humor; there's the lower case and then there's the upper case. It works for both.

John: The best Looney Tunes or Rocky and Bullwinkle. Think about these shows. Or for that matter, if you watched Toy Story, the latest Disney hit movie, there's humor in that movie happening on a parallel track. There are lines going through all of those examples I just mentioned that the average nine to twelve-year-old kid's going to have no concept of, but they are there either to entertain the writers themselves--that's what the Looney Tunes guys will tell you--or there to entertain the adults.

RAP: Arbitron measures audiences twelve years old and up. Where does that leave you in terms of ratings?
John: The Arbitron company is in the business of measuring stuff. They will measure fleas on a dog if you pay them to. In very short order, and I'm going to predict within the next business cycle of about seven years, as this explosion of marketing to kids grows and grows and grows, companies themselves are going to ask that Arbitron measure the audience age six to twelve.

The thing is, the advertising agencies are in the business of pleasing the clients, and the advertising agencies aren't going to ask Arbitron to measure something. The radio stations certainly aren't going to ask Arbitron to measure because Arbitron is going to pass the cost of measuring that audience on to the radio station. That's the way it's going to work. The clients are going to say we need to know how many listeners age six to twelve are out there--radio, TV, what have you--and agencies are going to go, "okay." They'll get on the phone and apply pressure to Arbitron. Arbitron will say, "okay." Arbitron will get on the phone and apply pressure to radio broadcasting. Radio broadcasting will squeal to high heaven but finally take it because there's no other alternative, and that's how it will happen.

In the meantime we measure direct response, which is much more interesting to advertisers because it's more accurate than the recall diary method that Arbitron employs. We measure direct response with the KidStar Phone Zone, and we can tie advertisers' specific lines into the Phone Zone so that if we run a promotion for Nike or Kool-Aid or Kelloggs or whoever, we can measure exactly the number of active respondents on a coast-to-coast basis.

RAP: What about music on the station? What percent of the programming is music?
John: Between fifty and sixty percent.

RAP: Once again, we're dealing with an audience under twelve years old. Music research in the trades doesn't cover this demographic. How do you choose what to play?
John: It's an ongoing challenge to us. We know that the top end of the demo--and I'll describe that as eleven and twelve-year-old kids--are listening. Their primary sharing station is the dominant Top 40 station in any market that we'll go into. Mathematically speaking, that's just going to happen. Maybe a secondary station could be the modern rock or the AOR station. So we pay a lot of attention to all of the material that's charting, particularly the top twenty material that's charting, on all three of those formats. Anything that crosses over between formats, whether it's rock to CHR, or modern rock to rock, we pay particular attention to, and we'll use that as the core of our hot list, our "A" list of songs.

We take it upon ourselves to be responsible broadcasters and create a safe media playground for kids. So that we can get parental buy-in, we lyrically screen out stuff and take away objectionable material. That's not to say that there aren't songs about relationships and love and attraction and all of that, kids know about that stuff. It's just to say that the increasingly racy material that you find on any American Top 40 station, we have to go through and make a lot of edits on. That's about all one of our producers does is chop up songs and put them back together again so that they sound great but still pass the screens.

Klem: That's the main line CHR core of our list. But kids love novelty, and Weird Al Yankovic is the king of American pop novelty at this point. I would also call Weird Al one of our core artists. And we run a lot of spoken comedy material. For that matter, we run a lot of spoken word material--short stories and long-form stories at night. After eight o'clock we go into a program format we call KidStar Radio Theater. "You've got the biggest stars in Hollywood coming into your house via your radio...Robin Williams, Meryl Streep, Jonathan Winters," etc..

John: It's a multiple format, high variety radio service for kids. In the middle of the day, nine to three or so during the school year, it's effectively KidStar Junior. It's another format inside the format. You'll hear material there that is very young skewing, that has that sort of "la la la" sound that people must think of when they think of kids' radio. In the afternoons beginning at two thirty, three o'clock, another personality transformation. The tempo steps up, and the sophistication steps up. We do a Top Ten KidStar Countdown at seven o'clock that's sort of the end of the musical part of the broadcast day. We poll KidStar requests from the Phone Zone from the music request line and play those back strictly in the order they come in. Again, we're completing the feedback loop; we say, "You tell us what you want to hear, we play it." It's as simple as that.

Klem: There's a program on Saturday nights we started around Thanksgiving called "The Cool Show" which features three fifteen-year-old disk jockeys. I mean, these are just kids. They're like sophomores in high school, but they have great senses of humor and they have a real interesting chemistry between them--two boys and a girl. We try to get out of their way and supervise them as little as possible.

John: We laid down some guidelines, and they pretty much run with it as far as the music they pick. They get their own choice almost completely. They understand we have some lyrical constraints, but the music they pick is pretty wild and wooly. It's full out--Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Sound Gardens, Presidents of the United States of America, crunchy stuff but, again, that's the upper end of the audience that we're looking for. Twelve-year-olds are going to listen to that show and go, "Oh, my God, these guys got their own show. It's like there's no adults anywhere."

We've got a program on Friday night called "Friday Night Fright Night" which is nothing but spine-tingling, bloodcurdling science fiction, horror, and suspense for two hours from eight to ten. That's increasingly popular, as well.

RAP: How is a typical broadcast hour broken down? How many commercials, features, how much music, etc.?
John: We've got seven minutes worth of commercial allotment. There are seven minutes in an hour, and there are three 3-minute program features in an hour. There's news and information at the top of the hour for three minutes. There are five different announcer breaks, and those can go on for a period of time. Keep in mind we're not talking for ten or twelve seconds over the intro of a record, necessarily, but we're talking with Nancy Cartright, who's the voice of Bart Simpson. We're talking with so-and-so at the Museum of the Weird in Akron, Ohio--you know, topics that are more of kid interest. We're talking to the voice actors on the Animaniacs, so sometimes these little interviews will run two and three minutes.

RAP: You mentioned news. Who handles that and what kinds of stories are covered?
John: We have a fantastic News Director named Maura Gallucci. We can do some shorthand here by comparing the KidStar news effort to Nick News with Linda Ellerby in New York. Maura is fond of quoting Linda Ellerby when she says that news for kids is just like news for adults, only better. Obviously, you prioritize stories in a different way. If you tune in Peter Jennings, much as I revere and respect Peter Jennings, Peter is going to lead with first, the biggest international tragedy of the day, second, with the biggest national tragedy of the day, and then he'll follow up with any interesting local tragedies of the day.

Klem: If you happened to watch ABC on Saturday where Peter was the host of a show on the whole Serbian mess, they did a family show explaining the situation in exactly the same way, with the same approach we would take in explaining an international or local event. You have to come down a certain level and assume that there's this much kids don't know. It's the same with adults, really, except the networks don't come down to a level when they talk to adults. That's the problem with the news. As a result, we have a lot of adults who like our news because they are actually more informed by listening to us than they would be with the network.

John: Our big challenge is to constantly assume that we're dealing with intelligent people. These people don't have the breadth of experience that adults do, but they have the sensibilities and the sensitivities of adults. So we don't talk up, and we don't talk down. We don't preach. We're not an extension of the public school system. We're specialists in very direct, clear communications to kids.

RAP: These six full-time producers you have on staff, does each of them have a certain number of these features they're responsible for?
Klem: Yeah. Their job responsibilities are based on what they can bring to the table and what they're best suited for.

RAP: I bet character voices are a major plus for anybody who is going to work there, right?
Klem: Oh, yeah. We're always looking for that on an on-going basis. In fact, finding that has been a real problem for us because of what has happened to radio. For the most part, radio is not developing those people any longer, the "theater of the mind" producer with character voices and all of that. And that has hurt radio, especially for a format like ours.

John: By that he means visual radio, radio that is not a jukebox with jukebox servers as announcers, but radio that tells stories, that makes pictures happen in listeners' minds.

Klem: Yeah. Radio did that exceptionally well. Radio had that market all to itself, and then when TV came up, radio rolled over in about ten minutes and said, "Okay, lost that battle. Here's what we can do. We can play music." That's not to say that's bad because there's a market for that.

We did a test market project for Children's Television Workshop last summer. You're probably familiar with the Ghostwriter TV series. Well, they wanted to see if there was an extension available for Ghostwriter radio. So they made a pilot of about four 10-minute episodes which comprised one overall episode called "Footsteps in the Dark," a great murder mystery with sound effects and music and the cast of the Ghostwriter TV project. They called us ahead of time. We were quite honored by this because here's the Children's Television Workshop which had been cranking out hit TV for twenty years or more, the Big Bird guys are calling KidStar to say, "Well, what do you think of this pilot project?" We listened to them, realized that as great as it was, here were people who were specialists in TV and didn't necessarily know the ins and outs of writing great visual radio. So, we made our comments--we can improve here; we can pull back there...more music, less sound effects, whatever. We ran that show for them last summer, did a massive promotion campaign around it complete with Ghostwriter TV giveaways, and solicited a lot of feedback on the Phone Zone so that we could give that material to the people at Children's Television Workshop so they could figure out if they were on track. The reason I tell this whole story is that kids came back and said, "It is so cool to be able to watch the radio--to be able to make my own pictures. I watch TV. I get the picture that the producer and director want me to get. I watch the radio. I get what I get." They thought this was fantastic. It was brand new for them. So that's our challenge--just to take the excitement of that whole prospect of "watching" the radio and run with it.

RAP: KidStar has been looking for another producer. Is it a matter of just being overwhelmed with work and needing to expand the department, or is this a situation where the more producers you have, the better the station can be?
Klem: Well, it's a little of both. We have this growth factor which is always there. When we added San Francisco, that increased our workload to a certain extent, and our workload will increase as we continue to grow and add stations. There are certain elements that will be specific to that one station in that one market. You've got your Ids and everything, but we're also selling locally in these markets as well. So, if there were some sales projects we had to attend to, although we don't know what those numbers will be yet or what the volume will be, we'll certainly have to be able to accommodate it.

John: When a football coach tries to put together a great team, he's looking for running backs. He's looking for right and left guards. He's looking for ends, tight ends. You can't make a team out of eleven tight ends, nor eleven centers or right guards. So, we're looking to flesh out our team. We've got a lot of guys, but a great female who had all those characteristics, who did character voices and who is technologically real proficient and media savvy, who had a great straight delivery as well as a lot of character voices, a great female would add immensely to our team. Minorities would add immensely to our team. We're always looking to be as diverse as the audience in our top ten markets. So, if anybody's reading this article and thinking, "God, this sounds like a dream job. I don't have to buy the supplies. I don't have to deal with the BS. All I get to do is sit in the studio that's equipped with the top level technology available today and just dream up creative stuff and put it out...." We're looking.

We're also looking for announcers who have the same passion for working with young people and the same concept of making visual radio. I really need a great morning show right now, and there may be a producer or Production Director in the United States who does an air shift on a daily basis or maybe on a weekend who has really keen kid sensibilities, who is great with new technology, who has a lot of ideas they feel don't have any outlet because they are working at an adult station and what have you. I would gladly listen to tapes of people who want to expand in that direction. I need a great morning show. We want a young, bright sound, somebody who thinks in microseconds and who can create very short little worlds of entertainment.

RAP: How many salespeople are on staff?
Klem: We have a sales staff of six. We have a sales office in San Francisco that we've hired four people for.

John: We foresee a sales staff of at least fifty people by the time we roll out to all top ten markets at the end of this year. And while that seems overwhelming, it's only so because you're thinking of it like one Production Director. This is why eventually we're looking at a squad of like ten different producers. We've taken over this space we have near the Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle. It's a studio complex to die for, and it's all humming with creative radio types.

RAP: Well, it sounds like you both are enjoying this new format and your new jobs.
Klem: If I could describe a job that I wanted to be doing the rest of my life, I suppose this would be it. When you trip into it, you don't have the appreciation that you would if you had to really work hard to get here, and that's what I keep finding out when I hire people who are interested in coming here. They're doing back flips, and they just think it's the greatest thing that exists for them.

RAP: John, you left a good situation in Boston to come to KidStar about a year and a half ago. How are things going for you?
John: I left a pretty secure situation as Program Director at WCRB, the commercial classical station in Boston to come and take over the Program Directorship of KidStar radio because I thought it was the next big kid empire in development. It was in its embryonic stage then, and it's growing really smartly at this point. And that means six day weeks and twelve hour days and a lot of time and energy put into it, but I see this as becoming a real driving force, not only nationally, but in the English speaking parts of the world, and I'm talking, obviously, about Japan with our investor connections there. But not just Japan, there's Australia, Canada, the UK, anywhere kids speak English.

Here, you have a chance to work, 1) inside a company that is totally supportive of creativity; and 2) to break outside the sixty-second format into more open running area. You have the opportunity to make a mini-movie when you're working with a three-minute feature format. You have the opportunity to be tied more directly to creative and less to just the moving of goods and services. How many price and item spots you going to do today is my question.


  • The R.A.P. CD - July 2004

    Promos, imaging and commercials from Dave Foxx, Z100, New York, NY; Brian Whitaker, Saga Communications, Des Moines, IA; John Pallarino, Entercom,...