Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Interview with Ryan Lang - Promotions Director at Clear Channel Communications and Entertainment -- **Feature Story**

            Ryan Lang, Promotions Director at Clear Channel Communications, started his college education by studying mass communications at Santabarbara City College.  He then went on to the University of Santabarbara to finish his Bachelors degree.  He finished his college education at UCLA where he earned his Masters degree. 
            His career in radio began in 1992, at thirteen years old, when he was hired as a promotional intern and part-time air talent.  In 1994 Lang was offered full time hours and worked from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. as the overnight jock on a top 40 station.  On January 31, 1997 he was let go when the company went in a new direction, allowing him to pursue other opportunities outside of Sanabarbara. 
            Over the next few years Lang worked in many other markets, moving from San Luis Abispo to Los Angeles to San Diego, then to San Francisco and next to Las Vegas.  He traveled back to his hometown in 1999 where he worked for Jay Core, which was later bought out by Clear Channel.  It was there that Lang took a brand new, unknown station and made it number one in 9 months.
            “This is known as gorilla radio warfare,” Lang explained.  “Once I took an unknown station and either matched or beat the number one competing station in the area, my contract was up and I moved to another market.”
            Once his contract was up at Clear Channel in his hometown, he took the opportunity to move to a small market on the east coast.
            “My goal was to eventually find a job in Florida and settle down there,” said Lang.
            He landed at a small station in Florence, South Carolina where using gorilla radio warfare he destroyed their competitor station in 6 months, taking it from the number one spot to number 13.  Once he beat the station, he was let go, but he was not unemployed for long.
            “Thirty minutes later I got a call from the station I had just destroyed, asking if I could build them back up,” Lang explained.  “I agreed, and completed the task in 6 months, taking the number 13 station back to number one and keeping it there for three years.”
            When he left he moved to Sumter, South Carolina and worked for Miller Broadcasting, which has stations in Columbia, Orangeburg, Sumter and Florence as well.  His job position was a morning-show DJ on an urban station, afternoon jock on a country station, and a mid-day jock for a rock station.  It was there that he held the title position of Promotions Director for all four markets.  He stayed with them for three years, and then decided it was time for a change.
            “I felt burned out, plus we were under-staffed and the stations were suffering from lack of budget,” Lang said.  “It was then that I decided it was time to retire from radio all together.  I took two years off and worked for a few private companies, but I wasn’t staying as busy as I was used to.  That was when I took the job I have now.”
            Before Lang took the job as Promotions Director of Clear Channel Communications in Columbia, South Carolina, they had two Promotions Directors, two assistants and fifteen interns doing the job he is doing now with only three interns and no assistants.
            Lang’s first responsibility as Promotions Director is protecting the license of the station aka “keeping them legal.”  He creates and publicizes marketing incentives, which are meant to increase sales and the image of the station.  Typical promotions for the station include: giveaways, contests, samples, coupons and discounts to name a few. 
            When asked about the pros of his job Lang replied by saying, “I get all the free music I want.  I also enjoy getting to meet famous artists and actors that come through the studio and to our concerts and promotions.  I like to see the other side of concerts and the personalities of the people who are putting on the show.”
            When speaking about cons, on the other hand, Lang said, “I am forced to babysit the promotions department and sales people.  I am constantly dotting Is and crossing Ts, which should have been dotted and crossed by other people who should be doing their jobs.  People don’t take the time to follow through because this business is so fast paced.”
            Some people may think the business of radio is dying, but Lang disagrees with them.
            “Some teachers will tell you radio is dying, it’s not.  It’s changing.  It’s morphing so quietly that people don’t notice, and we can’t spend the time telling them.  Our listeners are changing with us, as well, so in a way, we don’t have to tell them,” said Lang.
            He used the example of how Clear Channel Radio is now referred to as Clear Channel Media and Entertainment.  This is because they are not only their own radio stations, but they own half of XM radio and the 13th most popular app, “I Heart Radio.”  They also own outdoor billboards, TV stations, and so on.
            When asked if Lang had any advice on young professionals trying to break into the business he advised them to do an internship where they will get to see first hand how people are and how to deal with unique, artistic people.
            “The phrase ‘different folks, different strokes’ really applies in this business,” Lang joked.
            During their time at their internships, Lang says students will learn that “with some people you have to have thick skin, some you need to hug, and some you just know won’t make it in this business.”
            He cautions that when you make friends in this business you will always find yourself working with them in the future and to stay employed you’ll find it is what you know, and most certainly who you know.  He admits that not everyone is meant for radio but for the few who make it their life, “they call it their choice of drug, because once it’s in you, you won’t want to stop.”