I should probably admit up front that my eclectic tastes in music cover just about every genre out there and make traditional format focused radio stations a challenge for me. I thank (or blame) the DJ at Skate World of Troy, the roller rink of my youth who played classic rock, disco, new wave, punk and alternative in its infancy. Now that I have that disclaimer out of the way, I can continue on with my story. My day job is in advertising so I realize that my tastes are not reflected by the masses and that radio stations exist primarily to reach a segment of the population desirable to businesses that want to reach them in a format that appeals. Radio is a business and for better or worse, the industry has consolidated in recent years facing huge competition from digital innovations competing for people’s attention and advertiser dollars. I should note that as a marketer, my integrated strategy is a mix of digital and traditional mediums still includes a lot radio as it works for my clients.
All that said, local radio still has the power to reflect the communities they broadcast in and those that are lucky have show hosts who connect with listeners on a level that make them feel like they a part of their lives. We all have had that morning, afternoon or evening show host who we have tuned into a station specifically to hear. The words locally owned and operated were rare indeed in the radio world, and now, as of Monday, September 28, they are non-existent in San Diego with 102.1 KPRI being sold and ceasing to operate so it’s time to move on. If you have not seen it, owner Robert Hughes gave a poignant farewell that is on their Facebook page.
Four years ago, with Lick the Plate in The Coast News hitting it’s stride, I was out having dinner with my good friend and frequent contributor to this column Chef Michael Zonfrilli and we started talking about how the column had resonated with folks and how cool it would be to take it to take our culinary storytelling to another medium. The concept of a daily segment on a cool local radio station came up and Lick the Plate Radio was born.
There was really no question as to what station in San Diego was the best fit for Lick the Plate. KPRI had the locally owned and operated thing going on, and I knew from buying ad time for my advertising clients that they reached a foodie audience who would appreciate hearing the stories of the talent behind the exploding culinary scene in San Diego. So the really cool thing about this is that sales director Pat Osburn gave it the green light in short order. I was elated and the culinary community was stoked to tell their story in a fun, unique format, we were off.
I thought it would be a struggle attracting guests but it was just the opposite. Interview request declines were rare and soon I was getting multiple inquires per day from all kinds of chefs, owners, brewers, growers and PR firms. My mix of guests was like my perfect mix of artists on a killer radio station. It would have been easy to focus exclusively on hot new eateries but there are so many more stories out there so I mixed it up. Since then, I've done over 200 interviews from all walks of the culinary world and a few outside of it but with some connection to plate licking, which leaves it quite open right? That’s what I wanted and it worked hand in hand with this column on many occasions. When San Diego Interim Mayor Todd Gloria gave me 60 minutes in the mayor’s office to talk food and music, I was stoked! It was my mayoral interview with an asterisk but I’ll take it.
KPRI did not blink an eye at the random parade of guests I brought on the show, it was a perfect fit. The interview process itself is a joy for me and the occasional Monday experience of a chef night off having beers and talking music and life over my kitchen table with the likes of Chad White from Comun, Troy Johnson from San Diego Magazine or Hanis Cavin from Carnitas Snack Shack were pretty much spectacular.
The mix of great people I worked closely with at KPRI was as good as it gets. They will more than likely be responsible for Lick the Plate landing quickly. Radio pros like Madison Keith, Jodina Scazzola, Haley Jones, Brian Schock, Chris Cantore, Mookie, Kerry Keys, Kim Hallisay, Jim Infantine, Cat Girdner, Magi Aguilar, Frankie Blue, Kelly Cole, Geri Tovar and owners Robert Hughes and Jonathan Schwartz were a blast to work with.
That said, the only constant in life is change and Lick the Plate will continue on soon in San Diego on another station, in Detroit on 93.9 The River, and in the Coast News and a TV pilot is in development. KPRI was cool as hell for taking me on and it was a great ride. Independent media outlets are rare these days and that’s why it’s important to support those like The Coast News. It’s not the end, it’s the beginning of a new chapter and I’m grateful to KPRI for helping to make it happen.