By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com
It is an honor to welcome back one of my generation’s best radio personalities to Jake’s Take: Nathan Graham.
Since we last spoke in 2014, Mr. Graham has been promoted to the Assistant Program Director at 103.7 KISS-FM in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His show’s primary audience has shifted from the evenings to the midday and has expanded to include the listeners of Indianapolis’s 99.5 WZPL.
In this edition of Catching Up, Mr. Graham opened up about how Decision 2016 affected his radio show and revealed his favorite interviews, albums, and songs of this year.
Jacob Elyachar: How have you grown as a radio personality since the last time we spoke?
Nathan Graham: I have grown so much as a radio personality. I learn more and more every day. When you talked to me in 2014, I was doing nights. Now, I have shifted to middays. It’s an entirely different audience. I am not speaking the same language I was when talking to 16 to 24-year-olds. Now I’m talking to people on the 9-to-5 grind. The evolution has been fun.
JE: Earlier this year, you were promoted at your Milwaukee radio station (103.7 KISS-FM) as the station’s Assistant Program Director. Could you please describe your duties to my readers?
NG: In a nutshell, my job is to pick the music we play on our station. It involves talking to record industry people all day, looking at numbers and using my ears a lot. When you get tired of hearing the same songs over and over again, I am the guy you blame. This is my favorite part of the job, though, even more so than being on the air.
JE: This year, you also expanded your audience to include Indianapolis’ 99.5 WZPL. Did you have to change the format of your show to satisfy Indianapolis’ listeners? If you did, which segments were eliminated and why?
NG: I would not say I changed how I execute my show entirely; I am just speaking to more people. I have to be conscious of things going on in Indy, even if I am not physically there. It’s a challenge, but we have been killing it. WZPL has been the most dominant Top 40 station in the country this year. I am just blessed to be part of the team.
JE: Has Decision 2016 impacted your radio stations? If so, how has the 2016 Presidential Election affected your shows?
NG: We’re talking politics, A LOT. Typically in media, that’s frowned upon. This election is unlike any other we’ve seen, though, so the jokes and comments are just too easy. You have to say something, without coming out and choosing sides. We like to have fun with it.
JE: You spent most of your career in stations all across the Midwest. How does the Midwest radio audience differ between state-by-state?
NG: I would not say there is a huge difference between the states, it’s more the region. Midwest is very into the pop/rock stuff, as well as hip-hop. The west coast is where a lot of the dance records break out of. East coast tends to jump on the hip-hop stuff early too. The key is knowing your audience and what they enjoy listening to.
JE: Who were some of your favorite artists to interview this year? What made these interviews stand out?
NG: We have gotten the chance to speak to tons of artists this year. Everyone from Twenty One Pilots to Iggy Azalea. I would say my favorite interview this year was with Camila Cabello from Fifth Harmony. More than just the interview, I love who she is as a person. She treats everyone with kindness and respect. She’s going to be a big deal for a long time, not only because she’s super talented, but she’s got that “Taylor Swift charm” about her. Love her.
JE: What were some of your favorite tracks of 2016?
NG: Man, there were tons of great songs this year. I’ll give you the few big ones that come to mind: Sia’s “Cheap Thrills,” Lukas Graham’s “7 Years,” and Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic.”
JE: What were some of your favorite albums of 2016?
NG: Beyonce’s Lemonade, Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo, Jon Bellion’s The Human Condition, Panic! At the Disco’s Death of a Bachelor, and Mac Miller’s The Devine Feminine.
JE: In one month, 2016 will be over. Have you thought about your goals for 2017? If so, could you please share them with my readers?
NG: 2016 was a great year for me, and for my team at KISS-FM. For 2017, I want us to become the most listened to station in the state of Wisconsin. (We’re almost there!)
Personally, I want to take more time to travel and spend time with family.