By Brent Ramirez
Blog Content Contributor
At the heart of KTSW is a group of tightly knit people constantly putting in hours upon hours of hard work to run the San Marcos radio station. I had the opportunity of interviewing my former professor and KTSW’s general manager Dan Schumacher, who has been in charge of the station since August 2001. After working as a Blog Content Contributor for KTSW for a semester and being a student in Schumacher’s Audio Production class, I’ve gotten to know a bit about him, but after doing this interview, I’ve gotten the chance to know just a bit more about the beloved manager.
Brent Ramirez: First of all, how are you Dan?
Dan Schumacher: I’m okay! I’m awake. I didn’t sleep enough last night but that’s okay. I’ll be coherent I promise.
BR: [Laughs] Sounds good. So I know you’ve told me before that you’ve worked in radio. I was wondering how you got your start in radio and how that led you here to KTSW.
DS: Hmm… I got my first radio gig through a class I was taking when I was an undergraduate at Wayne State College, a small liberal arts college where I did my undergraduate work. It was my second year of full time studies at the university in 1988 and I was taking a broadcast management class, and they had a guy come in that was the station manager of a two-station cluster of an AM and an FM combo in Sioux City, Iowa. His name was George Pelletier and he came in and talked to the class. After class we hung out and talked a bit but then everyone went out for drinks and stuff and I don’t remember what I had going on, but I didn’t go with them. The next day I got a phone call from him; he said they had a part-time opening and that he wanted me to submit a demo tape because he was interested in seeing if I would be a good fit for the job. So I got hired doing overnights on the weekends 45 miles away. I did round trips basically, but then I got to know people on the staff and I did the sofa circuit. I would crash on their couches and hang around.
So I did that, and then the following year I got hired as the evening guy and within eight months I was doing full-time radio. My last year as an undergraduate I worked full time, I did part-time voice work for a local radio station, an ABC affiliate, then I traveled back and forth at least three days a week, round trip 90 miles to finish my undergraduate degree. After years of working full time there, I decided to go and get my masters degree. I went back and taught at Wayne State College, got my masters degree in December of ‘96, taught at the University of South Dakota while my fiance at the time was finishing her studies. May came around; May ‘97 I got married and moved to Texas. Now here I am.
BR: Dang! So obviously you’ve done a lot in radio throughout your career, but what do you love about KTSW specifically?
DS: I’ve done enough in radio; I haven’t done as much as I want to and I’m really itching to get back into it right now because I get to watch from the sidelines here and that’s fun! That’s the fun part of it. I get to watch you guys when you come in and you’re kind of rough around the edges and sometimes anxious, or sometimes comfortably slipping right into whatever you do here, but I get to see students go through the process and learn how to work in teams.
BR: [Laughs] Yeah kind of.
DS: Well I kid when I say that, but yeah I get to see you guys grow and mature and become whatever you want to be and that’s a lot of fun. It is!
There’s a ton of action going on here always, constantly something going on and constantly new people coming in and getting to see the enthusiasm in how much you guys really enjoy the radio station, that’s what drives me on a daily basis: making sure you guys have this. Sure, some days it’s hard for me to rouse myself out of bed to get going because it’s like, “Ugh I have so much to do,” but I can’t imagine doing anything else. I can’t imagine being any other place.
BR: You mentioned that there’s a lot of new faces constantly coming and going. Despite that, with my experience here at KTSW it’s seems like more so than anything, aside from being a radio station, it’s more like a family. Would you say the same?
DS: Oh yeah, I often refer to it as that. I mean “Welcome to the KTSW family,” is what I say you know? It’s not scripted but I often throw it in when we’re going through our first panel. “Welcome to the family.” Even the Audio Production class, I always tell them “Now you’re part of the family! You’re in.” Whether you want to be a part of the family for the semester or whether you want to stick around because you see something that’s of value to you, it’s really up to you. That was my experience when I was an undergraduate. Fewer than 30 students running a 24-7 radio station. It was a really tight group and I’m still in contact with many of those I worked with and that’s the kind of environment I want to have here. I want everyone to feel comfortable and I want them to feel that they’re appreciated and that they belong here and that they can contribute to what we all do here. That’s the kind of environment that I hope I’ve been able to help cultivate around here. I spend almost as much time with you guys than I spend with my regular family and I’m always anxious to get down here and get back to work and that’s a funny thing when I think about it. Dang I do spend a lot of time with you guys.
But I get used to guys and you guys are a lot of fun you know? You guys connect me to everything that’s happening right now. It’s crazy to think about but I do. I spend 40 hours a week with you guys and I love it.
BR: Alright last thing. Is there any advice you could give to those interested in joining the KTSW family?
DS: Well I often just tell students that KTSW is a resource for Texas State students. It’s not just journalism and mass comm students, it’s all students at Texas State University. Students come here for different things. Some students come looking for a group to belong to. Some students see this as an opportunity to get an early jump on doing whatever it is they’re interested in pursuing as a career. Here you don’t have to be a mass comm major to be involved with the station and many students get excited about the opportunity to work with a radio station.
So you need to get to it! That’s main thing I would say to students. If this is your interest, then let’s go! You should be involved with it right away. You should get in right away and we allow you to do that, but then beyond that I’d say that’s just the first step. Applying, interviewing and getting hired, that’s just the first step. You really need to come in here and work hard at it because these are opportunities. Working for a media organization opens up a whole big world to you. Once you get in the door, that’s only the beginning. Once you get in, you have to work for it. This last semester we had over 350 applications and we hired only half of those people so you have to show that you’re worthy of that. You want to work in news, you want to work in sports, you want to work in the media in general, it’s a limited opportunity field and you really need to be working hard now to show the people when you get out of here that you’re worth it. They’re looking for the best people out there and there are a lot of people that are good at what they do out there.
I guess that’s my advice. Get here as soon as you can if this is your interest and work hard at it. Have fun! Figure out what you want. Figure out what’s going to work best for you and then get to it and commit yourself. It’s going to benefit you in so many ways in the future so do it now. That’s it!
BR: Cool thank you Dan. I always appreciate it.
DS: You’re always welcome Brent.
Featured image by Brent Ramirez.