Colby Colb is truly one of the hardest working programmers I have ever known in the industry. I’ve always been very impressed with his ability to play several roles at the stations he worked at including marketing and promotion. Colb is so well-versed in so many roles at radio I would not be surprised if he’s a great radio engineer too. RFFocus got a chance to talk to the recently promoted VP of Programming at Radio One.
KEVIN ROSS: Give a brief history of your industry background and your current position
COLBY COLB: Started as an intern at WUSL in Philadelphia, worked my way up the ladder from board op to producer to having my own show to nights to mornings. Along the way I was assistant music director and then promoted to APD. I did all this at WUSL for 16 years. I then went on to be the MD and afternoon host on WWPR in NYC for its launch in 2003. Then I came back to Philly to be PD/Afternoons at WPHI. I did that for 6 years, took a much needed forced vacation 🙂 and then Radio One hired me to be the OM and Afternoon host on WENZ in Cleveland where I was for 4 years until I was promoted to VP of Programming.
KR: At what point did you go from jock to management and how did it happen?
CC: I didn’t understand why we played certain music, the promotions, the things we were doing so I asked a lot of questions. Helen Little promoted me to full time nights, she saw potential then proceeded to teach me the behind the scenes stuff and I took that knowledge,humbled myself then started to rise up the ranks. I also saw the writing on the wall 10 years early that in order to stay relevant in this business you must be on air and behind the scenes in Programming. I can still do a shift on any format in a heartbeat. Helen opened that door, then I wrapped my hands around the nuts and bolts of programming and haven’t looked back. (click “Next” for the next segment)
KR: Name 5 programmers/industry people that you admire the most
CC: I know you said 5 but I have more than 5 ***
Hurricane Dave– This guy has a wealth of experience and he is a teacher and mentor to so many.
Terri Thomas – Very creative, always thinking of what’s next. Love our brainstorming calls.
Jay Stevens– He eats, sleeps and drinks radio. A fierce competitor with a wealth of knowledge. I pick his brain daily.
Doc Wynter– One of the smartest programmers I ever met. You always learn something from Doc.
Helen Little-She was my mentor, saw potential in me and taught me so much about the business and leadership.
Tom Poleman– This dude is so smart and is always working on that “next” thing in our business.
Cathy Hughes– Started from the bottom and created an incredible African American Broadcasting empire.
KR: What would today’s Colby tell the one who started in the industry many years ago.
CC: Stay humble and be open to listening and learning.
KR: I know you have had some interesting jobs when you were not working in radio. If you were not in radio what would you be doing?
CC: My other passion is Screen Writing, I want to make movies so that is what I would work on if I wasn’t in radio.
KR: What are three things that make a great radio programmer?
- Detailed-You must be organized and focused. Your team is watching you at all times. The little details are what makes you GREAT.
- LEADER- Your team must believe in you and follow your lead. Great leaders are humble and they listen to their team.
- Creative- You must be always thinking forward. Proactive not reactive. Not be afraid to be different and unique. Allow your creative energy and your team’s energy to live freely.
KR: BONUS – How important is it for Radio People to reinvent themselves?
CC: You must be thinking about growth/change at all times. If you stay the same way you run the risk of getting comfortable. Comfortable is a very dangerous place to be. I remember what it felt like to be unemployed and no one takes your calls as you sit on the outside. I never will feel that again. We have a very unique skill set in radio and it can open you up to a lot of different things but you have to be thinking along those lines constantly.