The Branding of Steve Jones
Updated: Feb 7
This week's guest is Steve Jones, author of the books, Brand like a Rockstar and Start You Up: Rock Star Secrets to Unleash your Personal Brand and Set your Career on Fire. Steve has had an impressive career ranging from Boston to the Cayman Islands, down to the most competitive markets in Canada from Halifax to Edmonton, where he has worked with brands like Q104 and K97; he currently serves as the VP of Branding & Content at Newcap Radio.
Steve tells us all about the great promotions, professional imaging, and stellar talent that come into play when building a strong radio brand. Steve has been behind some impressive campaigns, like the "Male is in the Cheque" promo, which delivered a fresh take on stereotypes about mail-order brides, and the "Win a Baby Contest" that not only literally created life, but also pulled attention to widespread challenges with conception. In his current role, he continues to stand behind the talent that brings such stellar content to life. He explains that the big secret to managing "Challenging" Talent (spoiler alert!) is moving beyond the reputation and actually getting to know them. Go figure!
In this episode, Steve also reflects on some controversial moments in his career -- top of mind was the Quick Hitz debacle on Amp 90.3 in 2014. You know the one. It's the kind of controversy that caught the eyes and ears (and tweets) of pretty much everyone in the industry, from radio talent, to listeners, to musicians, to producers, right down to the mainstream press and back again. The crux of the controversy -- which I'll repeat, has now long since past, given that the format only lasted about three weeks -- was a radio format that edited songs down to half their original length, which resulted in more exposure to individual songs (or parts of them), ads half the length, and royalties to a greater number of musicians. While the goal may have been to keep listeners, especially those with short attention spans, engaged; the result was a host of musicians threatening legal action against the station and a whirlwind of mixed reviews.
In the end, Steve stands behind the spirit of innovation that inspired the format and in reality, it's this kind of risky experimentation that makes for a great story and for better or worse, real, measurable innovation in a sometimes not-so-innovative industry. I should note that we also spend some time in this episode talking about Smart Speakers, and whether or not the industry will regret consolidating so many unique brands under unified same-sounding umbrellas that probably make instructions that begin with "Alexa" and "Okay Google" all the more confusing! Anyway, we get into it, have some laughs, and even gain a bit of insight into where we're headed.
We have to give a shout-out to Justin Dove of Core Image Studios in this episode, as he gets honourable mention from Steve, as "one of the rare producers who creates great music with his productions, without any musical to speak of".
What a great episode!