It doesn’t matter who you are and what sort of music you play, for people to know who you are someone has to give you a chance to be heard.
– Bruce Leperre
MM: What’s the story behind your role at CKDM? How did you get your start in radio?
BL: I’m the director of Programming and Music here at CKDM. We are one of the few independent radio stations left in this country and because of that we do things a little bit differently with a focus on local information and a broader range of genres within our musical framework.
Oddly enough I got my start right here at CKDM in 1979. I grew up in the area listening to the station (as well as CKY and CKRC in Winnipeg). As a kid of 12 or so I used to do radio shows in my bedroom with a $2 thrift store turntable and a Realistic cassette recorder! I went to the National Institute of Broadcasting out of high school and after a few short months I was in the biz!
MM: CKDM is one of the few remaining independent radio stations. What are some of the pros and cons of having that independence?
BL: Well, we don’t have the budgets other stations have for staff and promotions but at the same time we have more control over what we do. We LIVE in the community we serve and often know our listeners personally. They’re not shy to let us know what is or isn’t working.
MM: You have the freedom to play whatever you want. What kinds of things do you look for in a record that you want to spin?
BL: Well, obviously we play a lot of popular music but I got into this business primarily for the music and the opportunity to share great music I discovered with other music fans. Personally I look for something different in my own musical listening and sometimes I hear something that can go beyond my own listening and work on radio.
Over the past few years CKDM has been one of the first, if not THE first commercial station to play songs like ‘Little Lion Man’ by Mumford and Sons, ‘Rolling in the Deep’ by Adele and more recently ‘Hey Ho’ by the Lumineers!
More so, though we’ve delivered a wealth of great independent Canadian acts (in regular rotation) that deserve the attention of the masses … Whitehorse, Elliot Brood, The Swiftys, Great Bloomers, Amelia Curran, Jenn Grant, Kayla Luky, Cara Luft, Poor Young Things, The Stanfields, Mike Lynch and so many more.
MM: Do you have any tips for artists when submitting their music to radio stations?
BL: Make sure the music and YOU are ready! That means it should be well produced yet real. You should be ready to promote it with touring and it should be available somewhere for listeners to purchase whether it’s on i-Tunes, CD Baby or your website. You must have a web and social media presence that is updated DAILY!
MM: Are there any surefire ways to get your record submission ignored? Things bands should avoid doing?
BL: Artists should avoid promoting themselves. Hire someone else to tell me how great you are. If you do it yourself there is the risk of coming off as egotistical. Don’t tell me how good it is. I’m paid to know if it’s good enough or in many cases it is but it may not fit the station’s format.
MM: How important is audio quality in terms of an album getting radio play? Do you have a standard that you look for?
BL: A song should be properly recorded, mixed and definitely mastered for radio.
MM: Has the digital evolution of music and radio changed your role as a Program and Music Director?
BL: Yes. It’s made it tougher to find the time to listen to all the great music out there. It’s also opened the doors for a lot of poorly recorded, poorly written and poorly performed songs that take time away from the good stuff being produced.
MM: You’ve had a successful career wearing a number of different hats in the industry. What’s the number one piece of advice you’d give to up-and-coming musicians?
BL: Be true to yourself. You decide the music you want to play that represents what and who you are. DON’T play a certain style of music because that is what is “IN” this week and you might make more money. Sometimes it works financially but it is rare that it works artistically.