Radio Insights With Cullen Kehoe...

Me, Joe and Cullen with his furry sidekick

On a recent radio station visit to Knoxville I had the chance to meet Cullen Kehoe, Programmer/Production DirectorAmericana Nights, WFIV 105.3 FM. For those of you who may not know, My i105 a AAA station with stellar Americana programming too. When I started to find out more about all of the industry experience Cullen has (as an artist, a songwriter, you name it), I couldn't resist the chance to pick his brain a little about radio and get his take on what artists should really know.

So, here goes the unfiltered, unedited truth according to Cullen...

What are some of the things that artists who want to have radio airplay should be doing?

Firstly, artists need to have an idea where they fit musically. Each station has a different identity. Although a station might be reporting to a specific chart it is still a good idea that an artist research the station format before submitting music. Also, artists may not realize that programmers receive packages from 20 different sources a day - and that does not include Radio Promotion people calling on the phone. If an artist can afford to they should hire a promoter who knows the ins and outs of the formats.

What are you listening for as a program director?

Program directors listen for the same thing an A&R person might - the song has to grab you somehow. Getting right into the lyrics is a big plus. Long drawn out intros are never good. You have to catch someones attention immediately. We don't want people turning the dial because it takes too long to get into the song.

What's a typical day like for you?

Our station is different than most. The station manager programs for day, is on air, and takes care of the general business that we need to operate. I program for night, I am also on air, and I take care of all of the Traffic needs of the station. Traffic is Commercials. I make sure that a spot is produced and available to be broadcast as well as loading in all of the music picked by me or the station manager.

In all of your experience in the music industry, what should artists be thinking about when it comes to building a career?

The best thing I can say to an artist is understand that this business is about rejection. The songwriter gets rejected by the artist, the artist gets rejected by the label, the label gets rejected by the producer, the producer gets rejected by the label, the label gets rejected by the promoter, the promoter gets rejected by the station, the station gets rejected by the listener . . . more than 99% of music is rejection. Once you understand that hearing NO isn't a big deal. The big deal is hearing YES! Get to the YES! Oh, and introduce yourself to each and every person that comes to your shows!

To become of fan of WFIV, click here. and hear Cullen, listen streaming online at