Welcome to Local Music 'Mericans , where we meet some of the people behind the local music scene -- those who aren't necessarily members of local bands, but more the people who make the scene move.
KPWR-89.7 FM Power FM jock Adrian Hummel holds a lot of noble titles in our local music scene. The most important, perhaps, is this one: "Really Good Guy."
But Hummel's more than that. He also hosts a daily show on a radio station that flies a tad low on the local radar -- and yet he still delivers conviction, content and consistency during his shift.
Best of all is the fact that much of what he plays on the air is local music. Better yet, from a listener's standpoint, you can't really tell. He's just got a knack for blending locals in amongst the Christian rock that Power FM holds in its playlists.
And it all seems to come very naturally for him. The fact that he has a genuine interest (and that he's a legitimate participant) in our local music scene apparently makes the rest easy.
Growing up in the northeast Dallas 'burbs, Hummel started out the same way that a lot of us did -- as a kid that loved records, and doled over his collection of them. Eventually, he decided that he wanted to break into music radio so badly that he initially even donated his time at some of the smaller, non-profit signals. Now, in addition to his own show on KPWR, he does part-time shifts at KHKS-106.1 Kiss FM.
After the jump, he explains how he worked his way up the ladder.
So what ignited your interest in music?
I grew up in Rowlett, and have lived in Dallas my whole life. I think my interest in music became pretty obsessive when I was at Sellers Middle School in Garland. I switched from listening to pop and started listening to rock and fell in love with a ton of alt-rock bands during the time. The band that changed the way I listen to music was Nirvana. One of my first jobs was at Sam Goody in Town East Mall. I quit because I spent all my money on CDs. Shortly after that, I switched over to working at Target in Rockwall -- where I still spent all my money on CDs! Today, I work in radio so I don't make much money. But I still get CDs.
What are the major differences you miss in the way we consume music now versus then?
I loved always knowing about music before my friends did and getting the CDs the day they were released. It was huge then because music wasn't as easily shared as it is now. There was a build up and anticipation to a release day. I miss that -- and secret songs on albums. The secret song on Green Day's Dookie album still makes me laugh. I had pretty much everything from the mid- to late-'80's and early-'90s in rock and alt-rock, and carried around a huge 500 CD wallet, displaying them all to my friends.
What got you interested in radio?
Listening to The Edge on 94.5 back in the mid-'90s. It was the only alt-rock station that I listened to. Also, during the time, I felt it was the easiest and fastest way to stay connected to music. I'd listen to the DJs and think to myself "I want to do that." I loved the mystery, the exclusivity, the fact the DJs were in the know and I wasn't. My senior year in at Rowlett High School, I actually was in a co-op class where I got to leave part of the day to work at a business of my choice. I tried to get an internship at The Edge, but was denied. Later on, while enrolled at UNT, I got a part-time gig working for The Ticket. I also volunteered at KNTU, worked for 92.1 KXEZ, 95.3 The Range, Wild 100.3 and Jack FM. At one time, I worked for three different radio stations -- and none of my other PDs knew! Now, I work for Power FM and KISS FM. And, The Edge is right down the hall! I could easily pop in there and do a shift. Let's make it happen!
What was your first real experience that interested you in the local music scene?
Eisenbergs in Plano had to be one of the first places I went for a local show. I went to a show at Eisenbergs recently, and it reminded me of one of the first shows I went to in high school with a pop-punk band called Attention Deficit. Then, also going to shows in Deep Ellum and being a part of that scene. Going to Curtain Club and paying 10 bucks and seeing a crap load of bands I didn't know of but wanted to check out. I miss those days with Gypsy and Deep Ellum Live. I still go to a lot of shows, but it seems like The Door/Prophet Bar and Trees is still the only place really active. Thankfully, there is still some local music in Dallas.
It seems like Power FM has a pretty laid back approach and lets you be liberal with plenty of local content.
Yeah, I think a lot of people don't know about Power FM, or know that they have a locally run and programmed station playing really great music right here in Dallas. For those that don't know, Power FM is a locally owned, programmed and operated, and has been for nearly 12 years. In an age where radio stations flip formats on a dime, I think its pretty impressive we have a station like Power FM that has survived for as long as it has. The music we play spans anything from Flyleaf, Switchfoot, RED, The Almost, The Rocket Summer, Needtobreathe, Relient K, Ed Kowalczyk, and Skillet to name a few. Since the station is locally programmed and non-commercial, we can do a ton of local stuff. We have a bulletin board that people post on that hosts local shows, events, community-oriented stuff. We have a local/indie show, IndieGround, that airs Sunday nights, which features local and independent music. Also, since we are listener-supported, we can get away with a little more than a commercial station because we don't measure our success and failures through a rating system. There are limitations to being non-commercial, but there is also freedom. Typically, if I find something local or community-related that is of value to my audience, I can share it with them. If I want to bring a band in to perform on air in the middle of drive-time, I can do that.
What's one of the more recent local music items you've gotten onto your show?
I recently had a guy on my show who started up a non-profit called Hello Somebody. This was a vision he had after visiting a third world country and he saw how poverty-stricken they were and how they go without meals on a day to day basis. Anyway, Hello Somebody put out a compilation EP with some local artists and I wanted to help promote it so I invited him on my show. Bryce Avery from The Rocket Summer is on the EP, plus Kari Jobe, Matt Shelton from The Wedding, Ryan Edgar and a few others. Each EP feeds 100 kids and, to date, Hello Somebody has fed over 900,000 people. I'll feature local content like that on my show all day long. Another significant thing was finding out that Power FM was the first radio station to spin Flyleaf, although back when they were known as Passerby. I had the chance to interview [Flyleaf singer] Lacey Mosely, and she brought that up in our interview. My reaction was like, "You're kidding me, right?"
Got some local favorites?
Oh, wow. There are so many. Flickerstick, The Feds, Chomsky, Edgewater, Toadies, Bowling for Soup, Eli Young Band, The Afters, Jonathan Tyler and The Northern Lights, Oh Sleeper, Don't Wake Aislin, Unveiled, Dustin Cavazos, and, if I can claim some favorites right outside of Dallas, it'd be Eisley, Ivoryline and Flyleaf, even though they technically are from Temple.
What's your advice for local artists that want DFW radio play?
Ah, the question that every band is trying to find the answer to! My main advice would be to not spend a ton of money recording a 13-song CD that will sound like crap. Instead, record a 3-, 4- or 5-song EP that is solid and is ready for radio. Research a good producer and get in the studio with them. Geoff Rockwell has done some local stuff, and Biz Morris is on his way up. Get in some quality studio time. Make some quality music. If the songs don't have the production value of what is currently being played on the radio, then chances are it won't be played. If it does, your song will sound like garbage next to the ones that really shine. Chances are, if you end up getting signed by a label, you will go back into the studio to re-record, so why spend a ton of money on a 13-song album just to redo it? Above all else, as much as I might get crap from my peers for this, radio doesn't define your success anymore. I know and have seen plenty of bands make careers out of making music and playing full time without the support of radio. Having a song on the radio helps, but if it doesn't get played, it's not the end of the world. Get active, get aggressive, and go back to the old-school DIY ways, which have never really failed.