By Gary Susalis
What drove you to get into the music business, specifically radio?
My interest in music began in the late 70’s. It was a combination of a young boy listening to the WLS morning show with John Landecker, and visiting a local radio station that was in a mall in Cherryville, Ill. Then, when I was eight years old, “WKRP in Cincinnati” premiered, and I decided my fate that night.
What is your programming philosophy and how did it come to be?
My programming philosophy began way back in 1988. When other stations were starting to adopt “PD only” music log scheduling, and the musical taste of the jocks was beginning to be drained from radio, I was lucky enough to work for a man that wanted to keep the personality/listener connection. He taught each jock the reasoning behind categories, positioning, and the clock placement of sweepers/jingles/mentions. As I climbed the ladder through terrestrial stations, and two channels at XM Satellite Radio, I decided that I was tired of the major market atmosphere. All the reasons I had loved radio were gone, so I decided that a move back down to a smaller market would be a better idea. I landed in Madison, Wisconsin, and found myself surrounded by many of the things that attracted me to radio in the first place.
What makes your station unique/different in your market?
Being a DB (Digital Broadcast) station, KSHP reaches into multiple markets. After one year of programming, specifically for the continental United States we decided to go worldwide, and changed our programming theory to match. US charts are heavily represented, but listeners from other countries can enjoy a little quality rock and metal from their own artists as well. KSHP-DB is more about the relationship between listener and artist than many of the stations that have come before it. New rock is the absolute foundation of this relationship. Artists deserve the worldwide exposure, and listeners appreciate having a station that adds new music every week.
Tell me your three most ‘rock and roll’ moments so far!
I am not sure how “rock-n-roll” any of my moments are, but some have been memorable.
- My PD at my first station had scheduled an interview during my 6a-10a show, and forgot to let me know. The year was 1989, and the elevator doors outside the studio opened about 6:30a. Two guys walked out, and scared the hell out of me because we were in a secure bank building. One was about 6’2”; well probably 6’6” with the hair, and he had black eyes. As he got closer I could see it was smeared make-up from the night before. He just laughed at me, and told me, “Hey I’m Tom here for the interview.” Then I recognized a small guy behind him. It was Freddy Coury. I put two and two together, and realized Tom Keifer looks pretty bad without make-up.
- I did a short stint at a classic rock station, and they had a show featuring Jackyl. Like I said, I don’t know how “rock and roll” my moments are, but they are memorable, and this one was a bit surreal. After my last break they asked me to hang with them. I sat and traded recipes, and cooking tips, with Roman of Jackyl. Weird, I know.
- Just a few weeks after I began working in Madison Wisconsin, I was working a concert post-show party. Elias, from Nonpoint, and I were two of the last to leave. Instead of letting me get in my vehicle, he pushed me in a limo. Elias and I rode around Madison with 6 female fans for the next few hours.
What song/record do you have playing on repeat?
This actually changes from day to day. I have a wide variety of tastes, and people can easily catch me listening to A7X one week, Stitched Up Heart the next, or even busting out Billy Joel. With the recent passing of John Geils, I decided to pull out some of my old cassettes and relive some memories.