10 Questions: Leigh Kuhlmann
Leigh Kuhlmann is the Program Director of K-Rock in Geelong, and always good for an inappropriate joke or three. We put him under the '10 Questions' spotlight.
So why did you get into radio?
I had a mate who was working in the sales department at MMM Adelaide and he never shut up about the hot chicks and great times he was having. Being a fat kid down on his luck and needing an angle with the ladies I got him to get me an interview in the promotions department.
Within 2 weeks I was handing out Icy Cold Cans of coke, the ladies took a lot longer to materialize.
If you knew when you started what you know now, would you have chosen radio as a career?
For sure. I have done so much great stuff and worked with so many great people. The fun factor in radio out-weighs the downsides by a mile. No other job lets you meet the Foo Fighters one week then giveaway $10,000 the next, well maybe unless you are Angelina Jolie.
Best part of the gig?
Free record company lunches, that and creating or being part of that single moment of radio where you know people are waiting in their cars because it is that engaging they have to hear what happens next. Those moments are rare, often not planned, but come through huge amounts of hard work. They might only happen once a year but when they do the station lights up. It’s better than sex, mainly because it only last for about 30 seconds.
The dollar. Creating great radio was once about taking risks with untried guys who have that spark of something special, spending hours nurturing it into a talent and show that creates amazing content. Now it's about working out the best way to network weekends so companies can save $100 and making sure what ever goes to air is beige enough not to offend a client. I get it, it’s a business now.
You’ve been at some big metro stations: Triple M and Nova, and now in a major regional market. Does your metro experience influence how you program K-Rock?
Definitely, I think I have a level of expectation when it comes to most facets of the station that might not have been there before. It has raised the bar but the results are 2 fold – the station sounds better, from that the revenue follows plus as a bonus we attract better staff. In the last year, 3 people have moved on to prominent metro positions all through the training and development they have got from our station.
Geelong, like many major regionals, is in the shadow of a major metro, which means the big players signals are loud and clear in your market. Does this influence your programming?
For sure, they are our competition in every sense both financially and on air. We may be a regional radio station but that doesn’t mean we need to sound like one. I think a lot of people get lazy when they don’t have metros in their market pushing them to another level.
For us it’s a mindset on every level we need to be competitive with these guys even if we are not on their radar. While we can never compete by having a Hughesy or Mick Molloy on breakfast or giveaway a million dollars, for us that is the only area we can’t compete in. Music/ production/ announcers and content can all be up to their standard plus we leverage our biggest advantage almost every time the mic is open- we’re local. I think having those guys so strong in our market makes us aim for great radio rather than good radio.
Hypothetically, ignoring budgets, contracts and size of market they’re currently in, what personality or team would you love to have on K-Rock if you could?
I have never really thought about it…..much. Probably kick off with:
o Breakfast- Denton and Molloy
o Mornings- Whippy
o Lunch- Get this
o Afternoon- Todd Campbell
o Drive- The Shebang
o Nights -Meshel Ash Kip and Luttsy
o Late Nights- Denis Walter just for a laugh
Last song you added to the playlist and why.
Children Collide- Sword to a Gunfight. It’s a banging rock song plus I think its important to support Australian Music. If the government was taking it seriously they would up the minimum Oz content to at least 50%. Its a shame that such great Australian bands like Airbourne never get the commercial airplay here in Australia like they deserve but get belted overseas.
What station do you rate highly (excluding those in your market)?
Everyone at the moment is playing it pretty safe. MMM Melbourne sounds really good at the moment especially breakfast. As much as you want to dislike Eddie, they get the big interviews; he is surprisingly down too earth for someone who earns 1-2 large ones a year, Mick is all class and they have the one quality that makes a great show being able to flick between serious content one minute to taking the piss the next. Fitzy and the guys are doing a great job.
I am not sure if I like it because I am getting older or I just like seeing an underdog stick it up them.
Finish this sentence. The great radio programmers….
always trust their gut.