Kevin Stapleford

kevin

Kevin Stapleford is the Senior Director of Programming at Slacker Radio. He accidentally got into radio way back in the last century, answering the request lines for a boring classic rock station that one day morphed into one of the most influential Alternative stations in the nation.

He worked his way up from the phone room to the Program Director’s office, and went on to program and consult stations in far flung places like Seattle, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Las Vegas and Minneapolis.

Kevin now oversees the radio and content development at Slacker, where he gets to boss people around.

Favorite Interview: Joey Ramone

Favorite Band: The Beatles, of course

First Concert: ELO!

Best Concert: Roxy Music, The High Road Tour

First Album Ever Purchased: Elton John, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

3 Things I Can't Live Without: My Family, my dogs and cognac

Slacker Goes to Eleven

anthrax kallao

Here at Slacker Radio, we’ve had the honor of building radio stations with some of our favorite artists. Along the way, we’ve noticed something…a lot of these people are insanely passionate about music. We’re talking inhuman levels of passion that can melt your face off. They tell amazing stories and jaw-dropping anecdotes about their favorite songs and the magical moments that have happened to them on stage and off. In doing so, on a scale of one to ten, their passion meter goes to eleven.

Eleven…as Spinal Tap pointed out, is as high as you can get.

Since we at Slacker are pretty passionate ourselves, we’ve realized that when this happens, we should not contain these artists at all. Thus, we’ve decided that when someone “goes to eleven,” we need to bypass the traditional limits of radio and create a new type of listening experience that is built on the pure power of storytelling.

And that’s why we’re launching a new show called “Goes to 11″.

“Goes to 11” will be driven by stories unfolding in the form of a real conversation. Artists on this show will go far beyond introducing their favorite songs, as they actually listen to these songs in real time and provide a narrative as to why they are important—much like the audio commentary layered over the director’s cut of a film. Then, when the song is played, listeners have the option to listen to it in its entirety or to skip ahead for the next part of the conversation.

The result is unlike any other radio show. “Goes to 11” will not be crammed into a thirty or sixty minute block of time, it’s run-time will be dictated by the length of the stories. If a listener gets bored (which we think is unlikely), they can simply jump ahead to the next topic. Also, guests on “Goes to 11” will not be the usual suspects. We’re not looking to automatically pull in the latest pop star, we’re going to invite artists with a definitive point of view.

The first guest on “Goes to 11” will be Scott Ian of Anthrax (pictured), a consummate musician’s musician with an impressive metal pedigree, who speaks with reverence and conviction about the music that he loves. Seriously, Scott does not mess around. Your host for this new series will be Slacker’s own Stephen Kallao (also pictured—he’s the guy without the awesome beard), who has so much passion for music that we sometimes need to tie him down to his studio chair.

“Goes to 11” joins the likes of “DNA“, “I Am The DJ”, and the weekly Slacker Top 40, Hip Hop and Country Countdowns in our suite of exclusive, hand-curated, episodic shows.

Check out the first episode here.

The Beatles are Coming

Beatles_Tease

Let’s Visit New York and Talk to Rick Ross!

©Melissa Phillips

©Melissa Phillips

Slacker was recently offered the chance to spend the day in a New York City studio with Rick Ross, one of the biggest names in hip hop (and a collaborator with everyone from Dre to Kanye to Lil Wayne). As luck would have it, I just happened be vacationing in the Big Apple on the chosen day…here’s what happened:

I tend to be nervous meeting artists.  Mainly due to the crippling social anxiety that comes with it. So when I agreed to be in the studio with Rick Ross, I mostly wasn’t thinking. He’s huge, literally and figuratively, and I wanted to make a good impression. By good impression, I mean that I did not want to annoy him.

How do these recording sessions work? Slacker rents a studio (in this case, Audio Engine, a lovely space in Manhattan), an engineer is present to record the session, and my only purpose is simply to make sure everything goes well. It’s a low stress affair, but you couldn’t tell by my demeanor. After being a fashionable five minutes behind schedule (he called ahead though!), Rick enters holding bottles of wine proclaiming, “The boss ALWAYS bring gifts!” So, the engineer, Melissa (my friend and photographer), and myself all received bottles of Rick Ross’ rosé. Isn’t that lovely?

©Melissa Phillips

©Melissa Phillips

For the next 30 minutes, Rick held court putting wide smiles across everyone’s faces in the studio, from his entourage to the record label representative. He’s a spellbindingly charismatic and electric guy. He had the entire room hanging on his responses. It was one of the most fun interviews I’ve ever been a part of, because it’s the best of what you hope for in these situations–an artist being comfortable and sharing a part of themselves you normally don’t get to see. Usually it’s up to the staff to make the artist feel comfortable, but in this situation the reverse was true. I was nervous: he made me feel relaxed. Maybe it was the secondhand smoke.

I learned a lot about Rick that day. What his favorite musical group was, who his first childhood crush was, and oh yeah, what he’d want for his last meal. He’d just want to eat one thing (you’ll have to listen to find out) and I completely agree with him.

© Melissa Phillips

© Melissa Phillips

After the session was over, Rick tried to keep a straight face as we posed for photos, but upon being called “adorable,” all bets were off. He even let me wear his gold chain, which I think actually weighs more than my brain. It was a great experience, and I have to mention that the rosé was pretty good. Boss, even.

Hear Rick Ross: I Am The DJ

 

 

Slacker’s Biggest Albums Ever

Remember albums?  Slacker’s Premium users do…and they listen to their favorite full-length releases on demand like crazy. This got us to wondering what the biggest albums in our universe are, so we dug into our data stretching all the way back to the beginning of Slacker and found that the Top 10 goes like this:

Top Albums on Slacker_v2_highR

What have we learned? For starters, good grief, Eminem is easily the most dominant artist on Planet Slacker, holding down half of our top 10 slots.  

With this in mind, we’ve decided to make Recovery our Album of the Week—giving all Slacker users the chance to listen to the classic in its entirety.

900 (4)

This means everyone can experience Recovery as many times as they want, on demand, just like our Premium subscribers have been doing.

LISTEN NOW

Meanwhile, since we’re nerds, we spent a lot of time analyzing this data. We found that, powered by Eminem, Hip Hop accounted for 21 of our top 50 albums—although these were all from artists that have crossed over into Pop (Wiz Khalifa, for example, at #24; Macklemore & Ryan Lewis at #25, Nicki Minaj at #27). 

There were four Country albums in the top 50, the highest ranked being Jason Aldean’s My Kinda Party at #11.  Rock/Alternative posted seven albums, the most surprising being AWOLNATION’s Megalithic Symphony at #39. EDM was represented by David Guetta’s Nothing But the Beat at #35. 

In terms of repeat artists, Eminem had 6 albums in the top 50, followed by Drake with four, and Jay Z, Katy Perry, Usher, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Bruno Mars, and Kanye West with two each.

Albums from the past five years dominate, but “gold” releases making the list included Greatest Hits by the Notorious B.I.G. (#21), 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (#38), Journey’s Greatest Hits (#45), Nickelback’s All the Right Reasons (#47), Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction (#48) and Sublime by Sublime (#50).

And where was Thriller? #244.

via GIPHY

Celebrating Those With Something to Say

Instagram Post Here at Slacker Radio, we love what we do–and we also like listening to what our competitors are up to. Recently, we’ve heard Spotify and Pandora talk about music curation and adding a “human touch.” Now we’re hearing the same thing from Apple. This is exciting stuff for us and, we think, for you too.

We’ve been human from day one. In fact, the Slacker team is dominated by folks who cut their teeth in the world of terrestrial radio. Quick backstory…in recent years, we feel that radio lost its way, essentially consolidating into a few mega-giant companies, dumbing down its approach and tightening its playlists. This left a lot of talented curators and DJs looking for a home that wasn’t a mega-giant company. And many of them found one at Slacker.

Just like you (group hug).

Our hosts understand that, while music is your number one passion point, it’s the stuff between the songs that often makes the magic happen…and this “stuff” is generated by thoughtful, creative and sometimes profoundly disturbed human beings who love music, love radio, and love connecting with you. As some of the big guns in our space seek to do the same thing, we’re really interested to see what they come up with–Apple in particular. After all, those guys have some amazing assets at their fingertips. Now we’ll see what they choose to do with them.

For our part, you have taught us that the element of surprise is really important. When we have the pleasure of working with artists that we’re fans of, we don’t just ask them to build playlists. Instead, we create three-dimensional listening experiences by getting them to talk about the artists that they are fans of, with stories that they’ve never told before. We know these artists have lots to say.

For example, on a station that we recently built around Josh Groban, he revealed that he once sang a private duet with Neil Young in a backstage dressing room—and you could literally hear the awe in his voice. Luke Bryan laughingly told us how his son prefers Kenny Chesney to his dad, and Nick Jonas shared his love for Led Zeppelin, while John Legend did the same for the Beatles, and Patrick Carney of The Black Keys admitted that his first crush was Jo from The Facts of Life.

We give our hosts on Team Slacker freedom, because they know how to work with artists in order to deliver this kind of “stuff” to you guys. We also encourage them to come up with their own amazing stations that literally can’t be found anywhere else. Counting down the 66 Songs That Changed Everything?

We’ve done that. An analysis of Classic Hip Hop in alphabetical order? Yes. A review of the Biggest Jerks in Music History? We’ve done that too. We celebrate what we love, and don’t pull punches on things we think are weak, or just plain silly.

We may be a bit different, but that’s because we understand that serious music listeners like you are often regarded as a bit different too. You love music and you want to know that the people picking the music share your love. This is why we’re also very serious about giving you a huge voice in the programming of your favorite stations (or handing you the keys to build your own from scratch). In addition, we’ve got a team of brilliant, self-proclaimed nerds who work tirelessly to offer new technological innovations, launching new apps, features and capabilities that allow you more control.

With all this in mind, we’re really excited to see what happens next. For our part? Slacker likes people who are passionate and authentic…and our aim is to reinvent radio with our listeners, marrying technology and curation to celebrate those with something to say. Voices with a point of view. Radio that stirs emotion and inspires dialogue and debate. That’s what we’re talking about.

Kevin Stapleford
Senior Director, Programming

Test.

Test.

Album OTW: Storyline from Hunter Hayes

AOTW HUNTERAt the ripe old age of 22, Louisiana-born Hunter Hayes has already become a powerful voice in country music. His 2011 debut album spawned two Country Number 1s and three Grammy nominations, all the more impressive considering he played every instrument and sang every vocal track himself. Now he’s back with his second album “Storyline,” and he’s allowed a few more musicians into the mix including guest vocalists and his touring band. Listen here as much as you want to “Storyline” from Hunter Hayes, it’s our Album of the Week.

Song Stuck In My Head: Tiësto – Wasted

png-1Few names in dance music are as influential and successful as Tiësto. The 45 year old Dutch DJ and producer helped popularize the big room “trance” sound, and continues to top lists of biggest earning DJs in the world. While he’s released countless singles and mix albums he’s hard at work on what will be only his fifth album release and we already have the first single it’s called “Wasted” and features Matthew Koma on vocals. Listen her to Tiësto and our Song Stuck In My Head.

1 2 3 7