Interview: Impact Radio | Mike Adam & McGinn
Mike and Michael (McGinn) are both riding the radio waves and are known amongst the fandoms as the go-to-guys when the goal is to have their favourite song played on air. Whether you're a Louis Tomlinson / Steve Aoki fan requesting Just Hold On, a Camila Cabello fan requesting Crying in The Club, or sticking to your roots and requesting What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction - these are the two guys you speak to. Mike and McGinn work for AMP Radio, exploring new musical frontiers and taking fans along for the journey.
By speak to, we don't necessarily mean on the phone - although this is obviously an option, as one of our team members found out when she called McGinn from Australia to request a spin of Just Hold On and proceeded to have a lovely chat with him about the kangaroos in her backyard ! - we're referring to the way any fan, in any fandom, in any country can communicate with Mike and McGinn through the power of social media. Social media plays an extremely crucial role in fandom culture today, allowing fans to interact with one another, but also interact with third parties associated with their favourite artists.
King Updates spoke to Mike and McGinn to gain some insight into fandom culture online, the impact of radio plays, successful fan projects, and their impression of Louis Tomlinson. Our goal was to find out more about the world of radio, how fans can influence what is played on the radio, and to treat ourselves to a little Louis-love from these industry influencers. Here's what Mike and McGinn had to say about fan culture and of course, Louis Tomlinson.
How did you get into the industry and what is it like working at 92.3 AMP Radio?
McGinn: I started off working for 92.3 NOW FM (now 92.3 AMP Radio, based in NYC) at the bottom of the totem pole as a Street Teamer/Promotions Assistant. This position consists of what we like to call “Guerilla Marketing.” Me and my fellow street team members would hit the tri-state area and promote the radio station by giving away free merchandise to random people. I worked my way up by making constant demos so I could pursue my dream of being an on air personality. With time and patience I was given the chance to work for a #1 market radio station. Working here is absolutely awesome! I get to talk, listen to music, giveaway prizes to our audience, but most importantly: make people smile by playing their favorite songs.
Mike: I started out doing college radio (at a school I wasn’t even attending) with a friend, and kind of caught the bug there. I went to the Connecticut School of Broadcasting (CSB), then landed an internship with iHeartMedia Hartford after I graduated from CSB. I then worked my way up the ladder. I enjoy working at AMP NYC so much. We have the best radio team I’ve ever worked with. Beyond the talent, they’re just good people. We operate as a unit, no egos. I love going to work, and I love that each week is a little different than the last. We always have different events going on, artists coming, and new music to play.
Recently, there has been an outburst of fan engagement / fan promotion thanks to social media. Songs are being requested on numerous platforms, fans are able to send in questions when their favourite artist is being interviewed - what is your opinion on this fan x social media phenomenon?
McGinn: I think fan interaction is amazing. There is a very limited of amount opportunities a fan has to ask an artist a question that has been on his/her mind. And thanks to social media, that opportunity presents itself more often for the fan.
Mike: I think it’s awesome. You know, radio has always been the middleman. We get the fan closer to the artist. Social media has helped with that. We hold m&g contests on Twitter, take artist interview questions from fans on there, and really just let fandoms be heard. Social media is a great indicator for us when it comes to what songs/artists have the highest passion level.
How are songs chosen to be played on air? Is there a process with the artist’s distribution label that goes on behind the scenes?
McGinn: The song has to be trending and flat out awesome-sauce! We want see how many people are Shazaming, downloading, buying, sharing via social media etc. And as long as the song is “good”, this is fairly easy to accomplish.
Mike: The process isn’t really with the label, it’s with the radio station itself. How it works is, the record labels pitch the songs to the radio stations that they want to get played. Then we have to take all those songs into consideration, and choose the ones that we think best reflect our station’s sound, and the songs that we think our listeners would enjoy being exposed to the most. We look at sales, streams, Shazam, social media activity…everything. Plus there’s other research that I won’t bore you with. But it’s definitely a process.
Is there a limit to the amount of times a song can be played per day?
McGinn: If a song is trending, HELL NO! Let’s give the listener what they want to hear as much as possible. It’s just important to not overdo it to the point where every time we play it, people tune out.
Mike: Not really…that’s up to each individual station. If a song is a ‘power’, then it’s in heavy rotation, and will be one of the songs you hear the most on the station. Those are the biggest hits out…the songs that our audience (based on the research) wants to hear the most.
When fans request their favourite songs, which platform is most impactful? Twitter, Facebook, calling, texting?
McGinn: I would say all platforms are important and very impactful. If a song is trending on all platforms that is just more of a reason for us wanting to play it for everyone to hear, so I would blast out the song you want to hear as much as possible.
Mike: I think it varies. It depends on what platform the individual jock on-air at the time is most active on. Because it’s really just a matter of us noticing your efforts, right? So like for more, during my on-air shift, I’m most active on Twitter, Snapchat & IG. I take requests from all of those platforms. And of course when you call up! I love actually chatting with listeners. But I personally think for requesting, Twitter is the best. Just because that specific platform works so well with requesting… ‘RT for Swish Swish, LIKE for Crying In The Club’…’400 RTs and we’ll play Malibu’…stuff like that.
Whenever Louis releases new music, fans host ‘projects’ that organize methods to get Louis’ song to #1 on the charts. One of the methods is to make a list of popular radio stations, the radio hosts and the timing of their shows. Through this, fans are provided with contact information that will allow them to call/text/tweet in and request a song.
Is this an efficient way of going about helping a song get to #1 on charts / overall exposure? Do you have any other suggestions?
McGinn: Hmm... This question is tricky. Yes, it is a good method to form a bond with those playing the songs you want to hear. If you hit me up and ask, “Did you hear this song Just Hold On?” … If I haven’t, I’m going to Google it and check it out. If I think it’s an awesome track, I’m going to pass it on to those who are involved in the music selection. But at the same time, if the song isn’t “Hot” or not getting a big enough push by the label, it’s hard for us to focus in on that song if it’s not presented to us.
Mike: I’ve noticed that, and I think it’s great! It goes back to what I was saying about all the things we take into account when choosing songs to play. ‘Projects’, ‘Streaming Parties’, all that stuff is awesome, and doesn’t go by unnoticed. You have to remember; THE PEOPLE ultimately choose our playlist. If it’s being Shazamed a gazillion times in our market, we’re playing it, if it’s selling like crazy in our market, we’re playing it.
As a team member of a popular radio station, we’d love to have your opinion on Louis Tomlinson and Steve Aoki’s song, Just Hold On. Any other opinions in the studio are welcome as well! Were you expecting this from a One Direction member?
McGinn: I absolutely love that track. I’m a big Steve Aoki fan, and Louis Tomlinson’s voice was the perfect match for it. It gets people dancing, which is different from the other One Direction members’ songs. This is probably the most upbeat and fun song that was released, out of all the members.
Mike: I love the song. Individually, both Louis and Steve are great, so when I first found out that they were teaming up for a song, I was thrilled about it. Honestly, all the 1D guys have surprised me with their solo efforts. I’m in awe at how seamlessly they all just transitioned. You’d think that being out on your own after getting so used to being in a group could be paralyzing, but none of the guys even seemed to skip a beat. I can’t wait to see what’s next from all of them.
Louis Tomlinson has upcoming new music, just around the corner. Will you join our army of bees (as Louis and Steve call us) and help with the radio play it will inevitably deserve?
McGinn: Hell yeah! I’ll join your army of bees! Don’t just look at me as the guy who works at the radio station, we can always be friends too! Don’t be afraid to tweet me on Twitter.
Mike: If it’s a hit, we play it. And knowing Louis Tomlinson and his talent, it’ll be a hit.
We'd like to thank Mike and McGinn for taking time out of their busy schedules to answer our questions! We're looking forward to collaborating with them fandom-to-host when Louis' new music is released - radio truly is the middleman.
Interview conducted and edited by: Miya.