Published on July 16th, 2016 | by Will Jones0
iHeart Media’s Chris Coleman Talks About His Beginnings, His Listeners, and Corporate Thuggin”
We catch up with Chris Coleman to talk about his career in radio, why he enjoys working in the industry, and what happens when corporate radio instills trust in their people.
“If I was going to make it in radio, I knew I had to leave Birmingham”, Coleman states as he tells about his transition from being a well-known street DJ throughout the city, to pursuing the airwaves.
Chris “Warm It Up Chris” Coleman is no stranger to the airwaves. The second-generation radio personality began earning his stripes as a party DJ in Birmingham, AL. He hungered to make a name for himself and did just that as he started out Dj’ing at skating rinks and bars. “I knew I was good at this once I was bringing home $500 a week before graduating high school”, he admits. That was when he realized he was developing a skill that would become his career. While in the army, Coleman won the respect of listeners in the Phillipines once he won a DJ battle and caught the attention of the base’s radio station. This began his transition as he rocked a 10pm – 12am Sunday night shift for a couple of years before returning home. Upon returning to the States, he did live mix shows throughout Alabama and landed various night positions in radio which included Columbus, GA and Mobile, AL. From his popularity and networking, Chris was offered the opportunity to work with comedian Rickey Smiley on his morning show and on BET’s Comic View. He later landed an afternoon spot in Cincinnati, OH in 2002 at Radio One’s WIZF. His longest tenure was spent at Cox Media (2005 – 2013), and afterwards he served as Program Director for WOSL back in Cincinnati (2013 – 2015). He now serves as SVP of iHeart Media’ s Montgomery, AL cluster.
When asked why he enjoys working in the industry, he proudly states, “I enjoy helping to make someone’s day.” He further says, “To hear someone call in and tell me they were going through something and after listening to my mixes uplifted them, makes my day as well.” He also loves interacting with his listeners. His most memorable and major accomplishments include interviewing activist/comedian Dick Gregory; producing the 2014 Cincinnati Old School 100.3 Jammin’ in the Park concert (that garnered an unexpected 8,000 in attendance); and raising his current station ratings to 1,2, and 3 respectively in his first book. Developing talent is another passion of his as he believes firmly in being a team player. He says some of the talent people should look out for making big moves in radio include personalities Lil Homie and Don Juan Fa’Sho.
“It’s kind of difficult to coach talent now since they really don’t have overnight shifts. There are challenges but you have to be very innovative as a PD,” he says in speaking of some of changes in the industry today. He expresses also that many companies don’t allow for PD’s to really program according to their market while attempting to lay cookie-cutter formulas across the board. Jokingly, Coleman admits coming from companies in which protocol and politics ruled the station, he was a bit shocked after stepping into his new role. Being used to politics and protocol, his higher ups gave him the opportunity to manage his cluster without always needing permission to get the job done. He adds that when companies allow and trust their people to do their jobs, they’ll achieve the best results. Some examples he tells included rebranding his stations for a day following the death of Prince and the Orlando club shootings, giving up-to-the-minute news.
Chris Coleman wants his jocks as well as his listeners to learn from him to never take shortcuts. “You take shortcuts, you get your ass cut short. Do it right the first time” he remarks when asked what he wants to leave in the game. He wants those around him to be team players and work hard for whatever goals they have. “When you do things like that, it just feels good.”
Chris’ Montgomery cluster consists of R&B/Old School WWMG 97.1 FM, Gospel Hits WHLW 104.3 FM and HipHop WZHT 105.7 FM stations.
You can like/follow:
Be sure to follow Will “Aryez” Jones on Twitter/Instagram/Snapchat @Aryeznow