Meet Laurie Roberts, DJ for KPIG-FM

Q: How did your career start in Radio?
LR: My Mom would listen to the legendary SF station KSFO, and I liked it too. Jim Lange was the morning host, and every morning he would say Happy Birthday to listeners around the Bay Area, who had sent in their names, and he would do this over the music of David Rose' 'The Stripper'. My Mom was no shrinking violet, but also not one for public attention. Despite this, I sent her name in. On the morning of her birthday, as she made me breakfast before I went to school, the birthday segment came on.......and Jim Lange says, 'Happy Birthday to Beth Roberts of Alamo!!!!'. And her eyes grew wide and she said 'Oh!'. She smiled all day. I decided then that I wanted to do that for people, I wanted to make the same kind of connection with a radio audience. I went to CSU Chico, majored in broadcasting, and have been very fortunate during my long career to do just that.

Q: What are some of the changes you’ve seen in the Radio industry over the years?
LR: This could take all day, but in (sort of) brief:  Personality radio ruled the airwaves. Popular radio was pretty much one or two formats - Top 40, and Album Oriented Rock (AOR), which came along w/ the advent of KSAN in SF and KMET in LA, when FM radio was perfected. Then, with FM, came more stations. Eventually that led to radio consultants who were basically good salesmen, not radio people. They sold the idea of tighter formats and liner card jocks ("that was...so and so", "here is so and so", i.e. zero personality) to owners that wanted to make more $$, and buy more stations. Then radio became music niche formats, AOR became Active Rock or Classic Rock, Top 40 became Urban, Hip Hop, Classic R & B, Adult Contemporary, Hot Adult Contemporary, also Country, Classic Country, Today's Country.......and on and on. With huge corporations owning most stations in a market - they can own seven - radio has become for the most part bland and tightly formatted. Not helping this was the methodology for measuring ratings - first it was the Arbitron diary method, which wasn't all that accurate but still allows radio breathing room, which morphed into Nielsen PPM - personal people meters, used in major markets. These are meters someone agrees to wear for a year that measure to the second what they listen to. This method has taken creativity out of the major market radio because the pressure is on the air personality to grab the listeners attention within 12 seconds. Or they dial out. A large market, such as SF or SJ has 1,000 people wearing these meters. So, in a market of Santa Clara County - 2 million people - 1,000 of them decide what they will hear on the radio.

Q: What is a typical day like for you?
LR: I put our dog Sevi in the car and we head to KPIG. I spent many years driving the lovely-said-nobody-ever Hwy 17 commute, but now my commute is 25 minutes against traffic and I get to see the ocean. I get in, make coffee (very important) say howdy to the morning guy Ralph, and the Office Mgr./Traffic Dir (commercial logs)/on air traffic reporter Aileen. Our (parent company Mapleton) other stations in this area are in Monterey, but KPIG is by itself in Watsonville. Anyway, then I get to do five hours of fun radio, afterwards I work on all the stuff that needs doing - putting together promotions, listening to music, it's pretty much ongoing. You never know when or where the next good idea will hit you.

Q: Can you share with us the format at KPIG?
LR: KPIG is the original Americana station, which means a blend of folk, rock, country, blues, some r&b, and in our case comedy. The Americana format was created for KFAT, then KPIG, by Laura Ellen Hopper, who passed ten years ago. What she did was of such magnitude her obit was in Time and Rolling Stone. There are now hundreds of Americana stations.

Q: I understand you’re the operations manager at KPIG … is this a new position for you?
LR: Not technically, maybe the title. I was Program Director at Classic Rock 98-5 KFOX in San Jose/San Francisco for 15 years.

Q: What advice would you give women thinking about a career in Radio Broadcasting?
LR: Be a 'utility player' - meaning, learn all the positions. On air, social media, promotions, sales. These days in radio everyone wears a lot of hats, so you need to be able to be good at everything. 

Q: Congrats on being a Member of the San Francisco Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame … can you tell us about the process to be included?
LR: Thank you! It is an incredible honor to be part of this great organization that includes many of those that influenced me early on. To be nominated, someone within the industry reaches out to BARHOF, and explains why you deserve to be nominated. Then the Hall of Fame members vote.

Q: Tell us about your nonprofit Days of Wine and Wet Noses.
LR: This goes back to the very beginning of why I love personality radio, and I believe it will be radio's savior. Doing good within the community. Making that one on one connection w/ the listener. When I started working in the Monterey/Santa Cruz/Salinas market, for Mapleton, they encourage that kind of radio. So, I figured, I've been doing this forever, let's take this thing out for a spin and see how she flies.... I know a lot of great musicians who like to help out a good cause, I know how to throw a good party, I know wineries, breweries, restaurants....and my passion is animal rescue. So, I put together this event to benefit the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter, Heading Home Animal Rescue, and Unconditional Love Animal Rescue. This year, April 21 at MacDorsa Park Scotts Valley, will be the 8th. Over the years we have raised $75,000.

Five Things About Laurie Roberts

1. Do you have any pets? Four total, all rescues, three cats and a dog.

2. When you were 10 would did you want to be when you grew up? At ten I had no clue. At 15 it was journalism. 

3. If they made a movie of you … who would play you? Older me - Jean Smart (Designing Women) Younger me - Jennifer Lawrence (hey, it's my movie! :)  

4. Who’s been the biggest influence in your life? My Mom.

5. Are you a sports fan? I bleed orange and black. Been a SF Giants fan since I was a kid. I listen to or watch every game. Also, their announcers, either tv - Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper - or radio - Jon Miller and Dave Fleming - are fantastic. I could listen to Jon Miller read the phone book. He is the best!

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