The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we do business, including our industry gatherings. All Access has rechristened its annual radio industry conference as the All Access Audio Summit for 2021. This week, it takes place in virtual form instead of the usual meeting in southern California.
Prior to 2020, I would conduct interviews with speakers at the event each year and release them as a podcast series. The interviews go all the way back to 2015, back when Mark Ronson was funking you up and Taylor Swift had a blank space for your name.
I liked to end every interview by asking my guests to make predictions about what we'd be talking about five years into the future. For some of these interviews, that time has already come and gone. While the details of what we're talking about it have changed, many of the broader themes are the same, whether we're discussing technology — connected cars are still a hot topic — or politics — at the time of his interview, Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan had recently joined other Indiana business leaders in signing a petition objecting to the policies of then-Governor Mike Pence.
To get you ready for this week's summit, here are five of my past conversations to remind you what we were talking about during more normal times:
1. Morning Show Host Woody Fife (2019)
To be honest, I have always walked into my interviews with morning show personalities with a bit of trepidation, no doubt due to my preconceived notion that on-air talent — especially successful on-air talent — comes with ego. And yet, every year, without fail, the morning personalities that I interviewed turned out to be far friendlier and more engaging than I ever expected.
Moreover, in my conversations with everyone from JV to Elliot Segal to Jeff Dauler to Tom Leykis to Bubba the Love Sponge, it's been apparent how incredibly thoughtful each of them are when it comes to their craft. I particularly enjoyed my interview with Woody Fife because you can hear how his brain works. I learned so much during this conversation that it almost made me want to get up every morning at 2:00am to prep for a morning show. Almost.
2. Talent Coach Steve Reynolds (2016)
In addition to learning from on-air talent, I've also been fortunate enough to learn from talent coaches through my interviews, including conversations with Randy Lane, Valerie Geller, and Mike McVay. They're chock full of nuggets of wisdom, that I wish I had possessed earlier in my career. Steve Reynolds was the first talent coach I ever interviewed, and he made me rethink the way I approached radio shows. To this day, I find myself repeating his ideas to others and even trying to put them into practice in my own podcasting endeavors.
3. Imaging Director Dom Nero (2018)
I began my radio career as a production geek. I still remember the first time I heard John Frost's sweepers featuring beatmatched Public Enemy samples over a KMFDM bed on KOME in San Jose. I used to wander through record stores in Berkeley searching for Ministry and White Zombie albums in an attempt to reverse engineer these production elements. Most of the time, I keep my passion for production buried deep beneath my cool, calm exterior; but when I had an opportunity to sit down with somebody else who shares my love of imaging, it rushed to the surface.
4. Voiceover Talent Roberta Solomon (2017)
There are a lot of areas of the radio industry that I know a fair amount about, but there are also some that reside outside of my day-to-day experience. While I have worked with a number of voiceover talents during the course of my career, I didn't know much about how that part of the business worked until I sat down to speak with Roberta Solomon. She was incredibly informative; in fact, this interview ought to be required listening for anybody looking to break into the world of VO.
5. Big Thinker Fred Jacobs (2015)
I was not yet working at Jacobs Media when I conducted this interview. In fact, this conversation was the first time that Fred and I had met; I joined Jacobs Media as their digital consultant later that summer.
Back then, Fred was primarily a rock radio consultant who's research — especially his annual Techsurvey — was increasingly leading him into areas that were bigger than any one radio format. He found himself delving into concepts like smartphone apps and connected cars, which would not only have an impact the entire commercial radio industry, but public and religious radio, too. Want to know how much things have changed, and yet how much they have stayed the same? Listen to this.
As you head to the All Access Audio Summit, it's easy to be focused on how much things have changed in the last year. But the truth is, they've changed a lot in the last five years, with the rise of smart speakers and podcasts, radio companies merging and emerging from debt, and the birth of Clubhouse and TikTok. Listen to past episodes of the Worldwide Radio Summit podcast, and you'll realize how far we've come.
We'll see you at the All Access Audio Summit!