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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

MOVERS and SHAKERS: Ed LaComb, Owner of Daytona’s Surf Internet Radio and Digital Sound and Video Our Coverage Sponsored by Paul Mayer Attitudes

Ed LaComb

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Paul Mayer is a Mover and Shaker: 


Edward LaComb is the owner of Daytona’s Surf, an internet-only radio station based in Daytona Beach, Florida with a global audience in 192 countries. It’s the culmination of a journey that began almost 40 years ago when he landed his first radio job while in 11th grade at the local high school in Ogdensburg, NY. It was an odd chance meeting between him and the program and music directors of the local radio station in town that led him to become a part-time disc jockey during the weekends. It was during his Junior and Senior years in high school that the “radio bug” bit him and the career of choice was made.

Ed attended Syracuse University, where he majored in Telecommunications Management with a minor in Military History. He credits his strategic sense with the lessons learned within that minor degree of study. While at Syracuse, he worked at a local AM powerhouse radio station, 62 WHEN. While honing his craft on the commercial side of the business, he was also a member of the senior staff of a small, upstart carrier current radio station owned by the students of Syracuse University, WJPZ. The staff decided it was time to make WJPZ legitimate and applied for funding from the Student Government of Syracuse University and applied for a non-commercial broadcast license from the FCC to take WJPZ “on-the-air.” Those efforts were met with success in the Spring of his Senior year at Syracuse and today, WJPZ is widely recognized as the premiere college radio station for teaching the art of radio.

After graduating from Syracuse, Ed worked in a couple of Upstate New York radio stations as an afternoon drive personality: WYBG in Massena, New York and WTNY in Watertown, New York. Soon however, the desire for warmer temperatures and a new challenge took over and Ed headed South to Daytona Beach, Florida where he became a sales rep at WNFI in Daytona Beach. Within a year of becoming a sales rep, his desire for the programming side of radio took over once again and he became the Production Director of the station. Within a couple of years of that, a brand new opportunity opened for him…in of all places, Syracuse. So Ed traveled back North to become the Production Director at WKFM in Syracuse, where he remained as such for 5 years. Upon the sale of that station, WNFI called him once again where he joined the station as Program and Production Manager. 

About a year later, a new opportunity became available at WTKS in Orlando, where Ed became the Imaging Director of the station. Shortly after that, NewCity Communications hired him back to….you guessed it, Syracuse. He joined as Marketing Director of WYYY and 2 years after that became the Director of NewCity Production Services. Once the company merged with Cox Radio, Ed became the Program Director of WWHT in Syracuse where he remained in that role until the Spring of 1998. 

That Spring, he made the leap of faith as he calls it, to open his own production company…Digital Sound & Video. While the company was formed and spent its first years in Syracuse, it ultimately returned to the land of sunshine in Daytona Beach in the Summer of 2005, where it remains to this day. 

One of Ed’s side projects was to start an internet radio station…and he did just that in 2012 when he signed on Daytona’s Surf. A pop music station that plays hits from the 70’s through today, Daytona’s Surf quickly gained an impressive worldwide audience. Today, you can hear “The Surf” in a variety of online venues including their own app in Apple’s App Store,,,, their website and many other locations.  We are so excited to present Edward LaComb as our newest Mover and Shaker!  Peachy Deegan interviewed Ed for Whom You Know.
Peachy Deegan: Please tell us your first memory of listening to the radio. 
Ed LaComb: 
My very first memory of it making an impression on me was one day when I was in first or second grade, riding with my mom in the car. She had the radio on. A song was playing…and then suddenly the record skipped. It blew me away. I thought the band was singing live all that time. Then I started to think, if they are playing records…that must be a cool place to work. It was that day that my interest in radio began.

Please tell us your first memory of being on the radio.
Ha! That’s an easy one as I’ll never forget it. It was at a local radio station in my hometown of Ogdensburg, New York. WSLB. I had to read a newscast before I even played the first record. My heart was pounding through my chest. Once I finished the newscast, I hit the start button on the turntable and everything sounded seamless. That’s when I began to relax and knew that “I had this.”

What would surprise many people about being on-air if they have not been on-air before?
Probably the amount of things that happen while the music is playing. There are so many details to attend to…and if you do it right, you’re rarely just sitting there listening to the music.

Do you miss the golden era of radio, and why or why not?
I don’t know a “true” radio person who doesn’t miss it. It was magical. It was respected. Now, I don’t think people think of it to any degree more than they think about their toothpaste. It’s a shame. But…having said that, there are still a few great radio stations out there that inspire and entertain. They keep the hope alive.

Please tell us about Digital Sound and Video.
DSV was created as an answer to and industry-wide shortage of great imaging production talent in the radio industry. I was a Program Director, doing all of my own imaging, in between everything else that I had to do. I knew I wasn’t the only one going through this. If you were lucky, you had a budget for a great imaging producer. But then you’d have to have the budget for music and sound effects libraries…and…an extra studio that they could play in all day to get you that sound you’re looking for. That was a rare trifecta in the age of consolidation of radio. Most production people were kept very busy just producing the station’s commercials for their clients with rare occasions to work on imaging.

Please tell us about Daytona’s Surf.
Once a radio Program Director, always a radio Program Director. That was my inspiration for creating the station. First, as a hobby…then all of a sudden, it started growing an audience. Now, we are heard in 192 countries and have over 20,000 unique listeners every week in almost 65000 listening sessions. The station is Top 40, but not just “current” Top 40. We play all the hits from the 70s through today.

How are Digital Sound and Video and Daytona’s Surf related, if at all?
Both are in the same physical facility. And DSV provides the production and imaging for the station.

Do you surf and if so what model of surfboard do you prefer?
LOL, I don’t. But I enjoy watching those who do, especially some of the amazing footage caught on Go Pro cams.

If you do surf do you agree that Ponce Inlet has the best waves for surfing, and have you ever had a little shark biting on your toes out there like Peachy once did (she was fine and survived to be a successful shoe critic)?
Yes, the Inlet and even most of New Smyrna Beach provide probably the best surf conditions on the East Coast. While not a surfer, I am a boater…and have seen lots of marine life, including sharks, dolphin, rays, sea turtles and more in the Inlet.

What are the most challenging aspects of your profession?
We are a deadline-oriented business. Everything we do has deadline pressure. We try to balance our client load with the work load that they submit so that we take no longer than 24 hours to turn around a project. At certain times of the year, that becomes a real challenge. Fortunately, I have an amazing team here, including a couple of guys that have been with me since the beginning in 1998. 

Please explain how the internet has changed radio in general and the differences between traditional AM/FM stations and internet stations.
The internet, satellite radio, YouTube, all have had an impact on traditional AM/FM radio. The total share of the listener pie has been decreasing in the traditional forms of media as the newer, niche options roll out. The only “real” difference between AM/FM and internet radio is the delivery method: IP vs Transmitters and Towers. Content is content. I’d like to think that, as a group, internet radio broadcasters are willing to take more chances and offer up some truly entertaining radio. Larger corporate stations have to play it safe because there is a lot of advertising money on the line, but I think they’ve gone too far with the play it safe model, losing some of what made them legendary to begin with. Hopefully the success that will come from internet radio will inspire AM/FM to look more closely at what we’re doing and “re-learn” from us.

What and where do you think the growth of internet radio will be?
The KEY to getting internet radio in the mainstream is to have an actual preset and affordable bandwidth available in the car. The technology is there. It just needs a little “shove” to get it where it needs to be.

What did you love the most about Syracuse and why?
Syracuse is a great city…in the Summer. There is so much to do and the people are great. You’re only a few hours drive from the Finger Lakes Wine Region, The 1000 Islands, the Adirondacks…and even NYC. And this will sound silly…but living in Florida, the thing I miss most about Upstate New York is Wegmans Super Market. Amazing place! Oh…and the Dinosaur BBQ. (See a theme here?)

We loved being on the college radio at UCC in Cork, Ireland with a sports show, Poc Off with Irishman Des Curran, who now is on air for EIR sport and at Boston College, with our friends who had us on as hockey color commentators. How did your college radio on-air experience affect your life and career, do you still stay touch with the people you worked with and what were the lasting effects of such an experience?
My college radio experience was quite simply, fantastic. I was on the senior staff of a small, Syracuse University student-owned carrier current station called WJPZ. You could only hear us in the dorms. The university had their own radio station WAER. At WJPZ, we had always dreamed to have a “real radio station” broadcasting on an FM frequency…a dream that seemed very unlikely. Then, all of a sudden, things began to happen which made it seem possible. The university announced that they were making their station an NPR affiliate, eliminating much of the student input on the station. It created quite the uproar. At WJPZ, we seized on the opportunity to approach the Student Government Association about taking on the financial responsibility and ownership of the station. A station owned by, managed by and run by the students. Long story short, they agreed and WJPZ was born in 1985, just before I graduated. Today, the station is one of the premiere college radio stations in the country with a huge alumni network. I was inducted into the station’s Hall of Fame a few years ago and we still work with the station, providing imaging production through Digital Sound & Video.

How have you successfully increased your global audience?
The secret sauce isn’t that secret. Provide a quality product, don’t over-commercialize it and RESPOND to your listeners. It’s really just about being brilliant at the basics…and we do that every day.

What are your favorite eras of military history and have you ever combined your love of that discipline with radio?
I enjoy military history primarily because of the way it teaches strategic thinking, but also how it teaches you to learn from your mistakes. Both of those disciplines directly help with radio programming. 

When you are down south, what do you miss about the north (of the USA)?
I miss the mountains. Love being out in Adirondacks, on a lake, knowing there’s no marine life ready to have me for lunch. I miss the vibe of New York City….but definitely visit as often as possible. Still, I LOVE where I live in Florida. I live in Ormond Beach, a Northern suburb of Daytona Beach. It’s small town life, but close to everything big. I have an 8 year old son, he loves the theme parks that are nearby and we visit there often. And of course, our weather is the best.

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?
I’ll proudly say that Richard Ferguson, former CEO of NewCity Communications was the guy in this biz that I admired most. He encouraged his employees to THINK, take risks, learn from failures and to stretch every day. He had a corporate culture that wanted to create a win for each “client” of the station: Listeners, Advertisers, and Employees alike. Much of that culture is in the DSV culture today.

What are you proudest of and why?
The fact that our company has not only managed to survive the economic downturn of 2008, but actually thrive after it. It’s not easy keeping things afloat when all around you is collapsing, but it’s been a testament to our product, people and clients. We are lucky…but preparation and solid business sense, combined with luck are what make you successful. 

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do?
I’ve been an air talent, Program Director, Production Director, Marketing Director, Consultant, Sales Rep and have done quite a bit of engineering in my radio profession. I can’t think of anything else that I’d want to do other than what I’m doing now. It’s great being able to work with radio pros all over the world each and every day…and providing insight to some of the newer folks in the biz. They really seem to appreciate having my years of experience when it comes time to create the right message for their stations. I love working with consultants too, who understand we are their partner in success. So, I think I’m doing exactly what I want to do.

What honors and awards have you received in your profession?
We have achieved several Silver Microphones, Mercury Awards and I have a couple of Professional awards such as 40 Under 40, etc. To be honest with you though, I’m not driven by awards. The preparation that goes into most awards takes away from our core business of providing killer imaging and production for our clients. I’d rather take that time and spend it on making a great product for our client rather than creating a package for an awards committee to review.

What one word best describes you and why?
TeamBuilder. Ok, maybe that’s actually two words, but it truly does describe me. I have a knack for seeing what talents lie in others and how to combine those people with other people that bring their own unique talents to the table. Then, giving the team a purpose, a goal, and a fun environment in which to achieve those goals. That’s me.

What do you take your sense of identity from?
I lead two very different lives: Work and Family. I try to keep the line between the two well defined. But first in line is my family. My wife is one of the kindest, funniest, most generous people I know. My son ALWAYS has a laugh and a smile. There’s no better way to start the day than to see them and know I have them when I come home. On the work front, I’m known in the business, but try not to flaunt it to excess. It helps when bringing on a new client for them to know that I’ve got the chops to help make them successful, but I don’t define myself that way.

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan? 
Can’t visit Manhattan without a visit to Ferrara’s in Little Italy. I love the shops and restaurants in Little Italy and it’s always a must on any visit. We really enjoy finding the nooks and crannies with each visit that we haven’t found before. Serendipity is one such place.

And Syracuse, New York? 
One word: Dinosaur BBQ. You have one in Harlem. Check it out. Best BBQ anywhere. Period. I also love Destiny USA Mall in Syracuse. For a city with crappy Winters, this is a real jewel. I also love the lakes and Fall Foliage there.

And Volusia County, Florida? 
 Right where I am, in Ormond Beach. I live 5 minutes from one of the nicest beaches anywhere. 2 minutes from the intercostal waterway. 45 minutes from Orlando, 40 minutes from St Augustine. I can see space shots from Cape Kennedy out my office window…it’s all great.

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan? I’m an Apple geek. Love the Apple store there. Besides, I used to love hitting FAO afterward. Sorry to see it go.

And Syracuse, New York? 
Wegmans. Hands down.

And Volusia County, Florida?
 Hull’s Seafood. Caught off the boat that day. Doesn’t get any fresher.

If you could hire anybody who would it be and why?
Rich Boerner. Rich and I worked together in Orlando at WTKS many years ago. He and I had the discussion about DSV even before it existed. Career paths took us to opposite sides of the country so we never got to collaborate on what eventually became DSV. But if he was interested, I’d certainly entertain having him be on the team. He’s one of the most twisted, creative types I know. He always inspires me with his creations.

What is your favorite drink? 
 Jack and Coke, following closely by a REAL Mojito.

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you at a cocktail party?
Being totally mistaken for someone else and I completely went along with it. Was fun while it lasted.

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan?
 Napoli Cafe, Little Italy, Ferrara’s for dessert.

And Syracuse, New York? 
Dinosaur BBQ, following closely by Joey’s.

And Volusia County, Florida? 
Hyde Park Steakhouse

What is your favorite Manhattan book or favorite character in Manhattan literature? 
 As a purveyor of electronic media, I confess that I don’t do much reading these days other than newspaper/magazines. But over history, I’d have to say that the city itself. I mean, look how many times the city has provided the backdrop for stories both fiction and non fiction. The city is uniquely qualified to be it’s own character.

And Syracuse, New York? 
 Syracuse has frequent cameo roles in film and literature, but nothing really stands out to me as a favorite unique to the city.

And Volusia County, Florida?
I’m fascinated by the gilded age folks who had settled here such as the Flaglers and Rockefellers and the literature that was created as a result of it. No one specific piece, just the topic.

Who would you like to be for a day and why?
President of the USA. Lots of fixes are needed. ASAP.

If you could have anything in Manhattan named after you what would it be and why? 
Central Park. A bit of calm in a very busy world. Brought to you by Ed.

And Syracuse, New York? 
Syracuse University. Feels like I spent enough there to own it. lol. Seriously, I think maybe a Lake. Lake Ed, has a nice ring, doesn’t it?

And Volusia County, Florida?
Ponce Inlet Lighthouse. How cool would that be? It’s like I’m the guiding light for mariners coming to the area.

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience? 
Ha! Walking around town. I put on miles every day I’m there.

And Syracuse, New York? 
Horseback riding in Highland Forest. It’s awesome.

And Volusia County, Florida? 
Anything with the water. Beach, boating, etc.

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else? 
5th Ave Shopping. Nothing else like it.

And Syracuse, New York? 
Visit friends. Honestly. I have so many there and so little time to see them all with each visit.

And Volusia County, Florida? 
Taking a Sunday morning motorcycle ride along A1A in Ormond By The Sea area. It’s great for the soul. Following closely by visiting our world famous theme parks in the area.

If you could have dinner with any person living or passed, who would it be and why?
Donald Trump. He needs some campaign advice. Desperately.

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience? 
Dave Matthews Band at MSG during my wife’s and my anniversary. She’s a huge fan and it was a great experience to be in the city in the Fall and enjoy the show.

And Syracuse, New York? 
Rolling Stones, Carrier Dome.

And Volusia County, Florida? 
London Symphony Orchestra. Amazing hearing them live.

What do you personally do or what have you done to give back to the world?
I volunteer a lot. In the past, I have volunteered in a number of roles for AFS (American Field Service), an Inter-Cultural Student Exchange Program. I’ve had the opportunity to work with and make friends all over the world as a result. I also volunteer for my son’s Cub Scout pack as a leader. Working with the boys is enormously fulfilling.

What do you think is most underrated and overrated in Manhattan? 
Underrated: Subways. Without them, getting around would suck.
Overrated: Radio. Haven’t heard much inspiring in the radio there, other than Broadway Bill Lee on CBS FM. He’s still got it.

And Syracuse, New York? 
Underrated: The food scene. There are some great gems around the area.
Overrated: SU Sports. I mean c’mon….whatever happened to a REAL football team. And you can only lean on basketball so much. Time to get some real recruiting going on up on the “Hill.”

And Volusia County, Florida?
Underrated: Quality of life. Sure, there are areas in the county that are seedy and downright dangerous. But there are also gems like Ormond Beach where life is pretty darned nice.
Overrated: The major events such as Races, Bike Weeks, etc. The area leans too much on those events to define itself. 

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite WhomYouKnow​.com​ column and what do you like about it?
Oh Peachy, the way to me is through my stomach….Cuisine and Drinks for me ma’am: I love it all: Terrific Takeout, Peachy's Picks, Champagne Wishes. I’m a foodie and love to find out about new/unique places to dine or go out.

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
I’m fascinated by nitrogen flash frozen ice cream shops. Thinking about opening one.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?
Email is best:

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