Back in February, Los Angeles urban radio got a much needed injection with the launch of the REAL 92.3. It’s the new home for Hip-Hop and R&B—and perhaps even more significant, it’s the new home for radio superstar, “Big Boy.” After more than two decades at Power 106, the larger than life personality has taken his talents to iHeart Radio to kick-off each L.A. weekday with his highly-rated morning show.
Navigating this ship as Program Director is broadcast veteran Doc Wynter, who also continues in his greater role as Sr. Vice President of Urban Programming for iHeart Media at large. Music Industry Quarterly got a chance to chat with Doc and talk about the newly-launched station and his adjustment to the Los Angeles market.
Programming one station is a full-time job. How do you balance your involvement with the other iHeart stations?
I still participate in conference calls, strategies, and researching with program directors. I have not been traveling as much as I did in the past with this [L.A.] station being relatively new. I will continue to travel from time to time. Los Angeles as my priority has afforded me the opportunity to stand still and even lose much of my frequent flyer miles as I speak. [laughs]
How has the adjustment to Los Angeles been for you?
I grew up in New York City and have been living in Florida the past 19 to 20 years, so it’s definitely different. The people have been great to me. So far, the weather is amazing but the traffic is horrific.
Los Angeles is a very Latino-based market. I’ve learned that you have to balance the sensibilities of the people who gravitate to a Hip-Hop and R&B radio station versus their respective ethnicities and backgrounds. It has been intriguing – definitely a learning process on a daily basis.
With that in mind, talk about some of those demographic nuances, especially since Los Angeles hasn’t had a true mainstream Urban station in quite a while.
You’re right. We see all of this as an opportunity. I feel those that did it in the past didn’t take the Latino community into heavy regard. My thinking is they considered African Americans first and then Latinos. Los Angeles is clearly a Latino market. If you’re putting together a coalition, I would look at the Latino base first followed by African Americans.
Because of the internet and social media, listeners react to songs much quicker. The lifespan of songs is much shorter than in recent past. How do you program a station when the rise and fall of songs is more fluid?
You’ve got to focus on who your core audience is and you’ve got to focus on what you’re expectations are. Every once in a while you may experience a result that was unexpected but that could be a good thing, i.e. a record like Disclosure’s “Latch.” It is what it is – a hit. You embrace it, make it a part of the fabric of your station and keep it moving. In addition, I work with the other radio stations and have conference calls. I look at their music research as well and research from markets that are more closely aligned with Los Angeles like San Francisco and Houston. You make the best decisions you can…because you can’t play everything.
Who are your signature artists?
Right now, Drake is doing really well, as is Nicki Minaj. We do well with Usher and Big Sean. Miguel’s got a new record out that is doing well for us. We play some of the Gold music that was born and became famous in Los Angeles like Dre, Snoop and Ice Cube. We’ve seen that this audience still wants to hear it along with today’s Hip-Hop and R&B.
How significant was it for you to get “Big Boy” over to the Real 92.3 after his lengthy tenure with Power 106?
That was absolutely amazing. I’ve known “Big” from having spent time talking to him years ago while visiting Los Angeles when he expressed interest in having his show syndicated. He’s an amazing guy and I honestly never thought he would leave [Power 106]. Obviously, what we saw with “Big,” like what we saw with Angie Martinez, is it’s difficult to not be wooed by iHeart Media. There are so many great opportunities here and it’s such a fantastic company. Once you allow us to show you what we can do, it’s pretty difficult to turn it down.
There are so many distractions and numerous options for people to get entertainment. How do you keep audiences interested in terrestrial radio?
It definitely helps that Los Angeles has a driving culture. People listen to radio inside their cars. But it also helps having talent like “Big Boy” who people gravitate to. I watch him in the streets of L.A. and go to various venues with him. He’s just a good dude who happens to be incredibly hilarious. He has the signature relationship that a radio personality wants to have with his audience. They know him and love him. He not only is involved with the community from the standpoint of being on the air every morning, he cares and has evolved over time. He is the voice of L.A. He loves the city, and he loves to share his knowledge and time for events that benefit our audience.