[../../../_private/magazine_tmp.htm]DJs Go Back to School
What do 500 morning disc jockeys from all over the United States do for four days while holed up in a hotel in Atlanta? According to KCLX a.m. personality Scott Thrower, they "hold a summer camp for morning DJs, which, when you think about it, could be a little scary to non-radio people."
Thrower and his longtime partner, Rick Rumble, participated in a four-day "Morning Show Boot Camp 1993" starting Aug. firm.
"It was the largest single grouping of skinny, black-leather ties and parachute pants in America," Thrower deadpanned.
According to Don Anthony, director of Talentmasters, the company sends invitations to top-rated stations all over the United States. Consisting of 11 sessions, spread out over four days, Camp Jock covers a broad range of subjects, from brass-tacks managerial methods and syndication issues to collections of infamous disreputable antics of well-known morning teams. Thrower described the seminar as "sort of like Morning Schtick 101."
Q106's morning maestros, Jeff & Jer, were the other San Diego representatives at this year's boot camp. The two are alumni of Camp Jock, but this year the team served on "Morning Mouth Panel." Consisting of six a.m. personalities or teams who have been cover faces on Morning Mouth Magazine, an industry publication, the session traced the evolution of successful a.m. folks through a montage of sound-bites.
Aside from sheer entertainment value, Anthony asserted that sessions such as Morning Mouth can be highly instructive.
"When a green a.m. jock listens to a highly polished team like Jeff & Jer, and then hears how they sounded when they started out - let's just say they start to think, 'Hey, anything's possible!" he said. "That kind of motivation is raw power in this business. Even veterans with a very pure, very polished talent, like Rumble & Thrower, can benefit from a motivational shot."
Other topic were especially germane to the ever-evolving and growing San Diego radio market. One session, titled "You Want Me To Do What?" addressed the improbabilities and seeming impossibilities peculiar to morning radio's co-hosts and producers - people who are normally asked to do not-so-normal things.
"In this arena, the name of the game was 'How to Pull Off the Coup,' " Anthony said.
Thrower said the gathering was a great chance to see former radio cronies and to relive some of their more infamous antics, but is quick to emphasize that despite morning radio's off-the-cuff reputation, "behind the microphone, it really is a business, much like any other."
Another boot camp offering, "Being Your Best Every Morning," revolved around the book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey. While the best-seller's broad subject applied to the business world in general, according to Thrower, the book's philosophy of harnessing the forces in creative people translated well to morning-show personalities.
"Keeping up the motivation and creativity is fundamental to most industries," Thrower said. "But to radio, especially morning radio, these things are crucial, even life and death! You don't just need maintenance; you want creative jump-starts! "
"Going From Worst to First" targeted the secrets of top-rated stations' rise from the bottom to the top of the ratings chart.
"In some cases, it is true that a morning show's format or personality is key to a station's success," Anthony said.
San Diego radio listeners may recall several recent a.m. changes that have lead to ratings hikes. For example, Jeff & Jer's move earlier this year from B100 to Q106 has multiplied the KKLQ's morning audience.
Although the conference's agenda featured some down-to-business topics, Anthony admitted that things did get a little wild at times.
"After all, these are some of the wittiest, mouthiest people in the country; and many of them have known each other for years," Anthony said.
Despite the competitive nature and cutthroat reputation of the morning radio industry, Anthony pointed out that DJs comprise a group that thrives on camaraderie and cooperative creativity.
"The pressure to be brilliant every morning is grueling, and these people hang together in order to stay sane and keep things in perspective," Anthony said. "It's nice to have friends who know what you go through firsthand. After all, this is not a war."
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