I have a radio show, but I don’t know squat about the radio business.
I know even less about the many people who work in the industry throughout the state. Even at WKXL in Concord and WMNH in Manchester, where my one-hour music show, “Granite State of Mind,” is featured weekly, the interaction between radioheads is limited because we’re all chopping out space at different times of the week. God bless them.
So, when I was introduced to a disc jockey from Frank FM and The Wolf named Craig Driggers about a year ago, I was elated. As a huge fan of radio as an art form – the pacing, the instincts behind the voice, the accuracy and delivery – I seized the opportunity to get in Driggers’ ear and find out if the on-air persona actually matched the curtains.
I wasn’t disappointed.
Driggers, 42, from Manchester, is a born raconteur – a towering, bearded mass of frenetic energy who is both introspective and seemingly unhinged all at once. In short, exactly what I was hoping for out of a rock and roll DJ.
Nothing plastic, just heat.
GSM caught up with Driggers to discuss the ins and outs of the radio business and the science behind building a “music log”….whatever that means.
Q How does it work? Did you just wake up one day and say, “I want to be a DJ?”
Kind of. I had been hearing for the longest time that I had a voice for radio (a face for it too) but I had absolutely no clue how a person would even start down the path of radio, so for far too long I didn’t pursue it. Then a career change happened and the opportunity to go back to school. A few days before I had to start enrolling in classes the universe handed me the opportunity to speak with Greg Kretschmar from WGIR. He essentially laid the path out for me, Communications, internship, paid gig, get used to “low pay” and that’s exactly what I did.
Q. How important is it to formulate some kind of persona when being an on-air personality?
I’ve been given two very important pieces of advice during my career. The first was “Never burn any bridges.” Radio is a very small community. The second was, “Be yourself.” The first one made a lot of sense, but the second one confused me a bit. I’m a bit of a personality away from radio. But I believed in the beginning that I needed to become “someone else.” In some marketplaces that works. Here in NH, genuineness is key. I’ve never tried to “fool” our listeners. I’m me 100 percent of the time. That’s gotten me into some trouble to be sure, but me is who I know best.
Q. Do you have much say in deciding what music will be played during your show? Does it matter to you?
My program director, who by the way is one of the best in the country, builds what are called the “music logs.” Most people have absolutely no idea just how much actual science goes into why one song rolls into another song. It’s a very carefully thought out, focus tested, data driven formula. With that said, there have been times when Phil Collins “In the Air Tonight” has come on … again … and the choices were take it out, and “spike in” a different song or, take myself out. My PD receives a report documenting when his logs have been changed, and all I can say is, that’s a wrath sometimes you just have to endure.
Q. You have a podcast as well called “Common Sense NH.” Is your approach different when doing a podcast versus a straight up radio show?
The podcast is infinitely different in nearly every aspect. We do have segments, which are discussed prior to the show with my cohosts Bernie Dellano and Mike Pursey. Like actual radio there are clocks that we follow and spot breaks that we take. But the approach and the way we handle content is significantly different than radio. First of all, you can swear and I take full advantage of that, much to my mother’s dismay. On the radio, it’s truthfully less about me, and more about the music. Most of the radio audience for say Frank 106.3 or 93.3 The Wolf, want to hear music, music information, prizes, etc. My night of drinking with my buddies and the madness that ensued is uninteresting. The podcast however is meant to be a “talk show” of sorts, and I genuinely am able to let it all fly. My cohost Mike said after our podcast this Sunday, “This is like therapy” and I couldn’t have put it better myself.
Q. What’s the toughest part of the gig?
To be 100 percent honest, “voice tracking” or essentially recording radio shifts. It’s become all the rage as corporations have sought to save money. It’s actually quite standard now, with live radio shows being more rare. The thing about non-live radio that bothers me is there’s very little to no audience interaction. I love radio for one primary reason, the people. I love meeting people, and talking to people, and listening to people. I love learning about people. I can have a conversation with someone about the most seemingly mundane thing, but if they’re passionate about it, I am too. I’m honestly fascinated by people and I absolutely love meeting and interacting with them.
Q. Is the future of radio bleak or bright?
I’ve found it tends to ebb and flow. Right now feels like a flow. I’m privileged to do what I do and to work with the people I work with. We all do it for one reason, and it isn’t the money I promise you, it’s because we want to entertain. We want to make someone’s day. We want people to see us as their friends, because we truly are. I think right now the listeners are coming back to their old friends, because their new ones got a little too expensive.
Want to find out more about Driggers? Go facebook.com/craig.driggers