In the spotlight....

Mornings With Dave O'Brien Featuring Cara

97.1 Hank FM - WLHK

Interviewed by Steve Harmon

Harmon:  From Harmon and Evans 17 years to ..just Steve is quite a change of life and show style. Dave has found that at Hank FM!!


Harmonious: How about a quick bio?

Dave O'Brien:  Married father of an 11 year old daughter. Owns two dogs, a minivan and a house that constantly needs work. Very active in daughter's activities - carpooling to music lessons and horseback riding lessons and Girl Scout meetings. Hobbies include not sleeping enough and yelling at teenagers who drive too fast through the neighborhood. Graduated from the University of Virginia with degrees in History and Environmental Science which come in handy when I'm answering out loud while watching "Jeopardy". Quick resume - WUVA, Charlottesville, Virginia 1985-1989; WWWV, Charlottesville, Virginia 1989-1992; WROV, Roanoke, Virginia 1992-1996; WRZX, Indianapolis 1996-1999, KCNL, San Jose, California 1999-2001; WNOU, Indianapolis 2001-2004; WENS, Indianapolis 2004-2005, WLHK, Indianapolis 2005-Present.

Harmonious: What's your biggest challenge?

Dave O'Brien:  Generating lots of content with a very limited staff. Cara is technically a part-time employee (although she puts in lots of hours) so a majority of the content generation, interviews, production, appearances, etc. are all on me. It's a lean operation!

Harmonious: Have there been major changes for you since PPM?

Dave O'Brien:  We went from a three person, six songs an hour show to a two person, ten songs an hour show. Believe it or not, we're still able to have a lot of good content because most of the songs are three minutes long, leaving plenty of time for other fun. We've actually seen a lot of growth in PPM and can use the minute-by-minute data to fine tune some of our content. We are careful not to analyze data too much though because good radio is still good radio, even with PPM.

Harmonious: Any PPM ideas that really work?

Dave O'Brien:  Less talk, more rock! Just kidding. Actually we have found that talk and personality are critical in a PPM world. It's just a different presentation. Our best PPM techniques involve teasing the heck out of the material and delivering it in smaller chunks. If you've ever watched the way "Entertainment Tonight" gives you 80% of a story in the tease, then gives you 10% more in the actual story then teases you to watch for the remaining 10% of the story - that's the idea. We sandwich all of that in between a few songs and it makes for a fast tempo morning.

Harmonious: What do the rest of you do if one person is in a bad mood?

Dave O'Brien: <Do what to him/her?>  Well, it's only ever me that gets in a bad mood so I yell at myself, then apologize and talk myself out of the tree.


Harmonious: What are some of the cool things about your market?

Dave O'Brien:  Indianapolis is a great town for raising a family. It has great pro sports (OK maybe not this season), museums, live shows, restaurants and activities without the traffic and huge crowds of larger cities. It's a very manageable town with a very walkable downtown area. People are usually impressed when they first visit. It also has a small town feel for a place with 1.5 million people. You almost always run into someone you know wherever you go. We are also within three to four hours of cities like Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Louisville and Cleveland.

Harmonious: Was there a radio star you loved listening to while growing up?

Dave O'Brien:  I grew up outside of Washington, D.C. and in high school we all listened to Howard Stern on DC101. When he left we all listened to The Greaseman. I was also a fan of YDB-Young Dave Brown at DC101. He called my house once to talk to my wife about a job offer when she was still doing radio. I thought that was pretty cool.

Harmonious: What do you see as your biggest challenge for 2012?

Dave O'Brien:  Maintaining momentum and coming up with fresh, new ways to engage with the listeners. Every time I start to feel comfortable with a bit or a feature, I know it's time to freshen things up. Keep what works but find new ways to make it unpredictable. I'm also trying to figure out how to balance the workload a little better.

Harmonious: How much video work do you incorporate into your show

Dave O'Brien:  I do a monthly video segment with Indiana's First Lady Cheri Daniels called "Cheri's Chores". We go out and learn a new skill together - everything from driving dump trucks to making candy canes to clog dancing to shrimp farming to serving school lunch to 8th graders. We have a great time doing it and we just won an Indiana Broadcasters Association award for it. Mrs. Daniels comes in the studio every month to talk about the Chore and solicit ideas from listeners for a new one. The Governor (Mitch Daniels - who should have run for President) loves the program and it's been featured on CNN, CBS Sunday Morning, the Wall Street Journal and lots of other national press. I also shoot a lot of video wherever I go and we have an amazing video staff that documents every event we do.

Harmon:  Did you know Philip's Daily Dose includes videos for your website?

Dave O'Brien:  Yes. Philip has also shared some videos that are not appropriate for my website.

<<PHILIP NOTE: Gosh Dave... hope I didn't offend you with any of them!  Heck, I share things with you guys that aren't really appropriate for ANY website!>>


Harmon:  Who decides how many promos run per day and which ones?

Dave O'Brien:  We run one per hour in other dayparts and I produce them. They are usually very artist-heavy. I have a Country artist on the air with me nearly every single day and generate promos from those interviews.


Harmon:  "The best BitBoard bit we ever tried was....."

Dave O'Brien:  I'm not sure if it was the best bit ever but I loved doing "Interview Craps" where you roll a die and whatever number comes up - that's how many words you're allowed to use in your interview questions. We never once had a guest catch on that something seemed odd.


Harmon:  Any changes or tweaks you'd like to see on Bitboard?

Dave O'Brien:  I say this knowing that I will never do it myself because (sigh) it's extra work. I would love to see more links in show's reports to audio or video of bits and events. I know I could just go to your show's website and find it myself but that seems like extra work too. I'd also like a Bitboard lounge in airports when I travel so I don't have to wait at the gate with people who fly coach.


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