KPRS-FM and KPRT-AM Kansas City are owned and operated by the Carter Broadcast Group, headed, since 1987, by President Michael Carter, grandson of Andrew Skip Carter, an engineer who founded America’s first black radio station west of the Mississippi. Sam Weaver is OM of KPRS and KPRT, but doesn’t fit the stereotype of an urban programmer. The 20-year broadcasting veteran has programmed formats ranging from country and Top 40 to oldies and urban. Committed to serving his core audience, Weaver solidified KPRS’s positioning and strengthened its presence in the most current Arbitrends, in which the station maintained its #1 position. JAMZ VP “Ben & Jerry” Boulding talked to both Weaver and Carter about booking them on “Hee-Haw,” before realizing his head was in some wheatfield way over the rainbow.
Sam, what shape was KPRS in when you arrived?
When I got here, KPRS was doing well. It was a straight ahead, urban radio station. My job was to go in and give it a little bit of life, some stationality and street sense. Between our consultant Tony Gray and me, we accomplished that. You get away with a wider demo than most markets. Kansas City has a high saturation of cable, and that might have some influence for a lot of crossover artist we play.
In a recent play list, you had several records with seven plays or less. Can you get an accurate read on a track’s potential with so few plays-per-week?
We do several specialty shows, and we’re constantly testing a lot different music. If you really look at our play list, there are about 22 to 25 songs that get the majority of play. This is a very reactive market. There’s a great deal of disposable income for people to go out and buy the things they like. So, even if we’re not playing something more than seven or eight times a week, if the audience likes it, they’ll let us know.
You go to Arbitron to analyze diaries after every book. How important is that?
It’s very important. I’ve been going since 1988. It’s information that gives you an instant snapshot of what’s going on. I can do mechanicals or the programmer’s package, but there’s nothing like going there to check your file and meet the people who are grading your report card. You also get a chance to network with various other programmers and research specialists who can share information with you.
Describe your relationship with consultant Tony Gray.
Tony’s a very knowledgeable consultant. He works with each individual programmer based on that person’s background. He deals with music very well. He knows what not to play. What I really love about him is he’s a consultant, not a dictator.