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Meet Scarsdale's Rocker King Jimmy Fink

jimmyfinkMany of us are familiar with the voice of Scarsdale resident Jimmy Fink who is a perennial favorite on Westchester’s radio station 107.1 The Peak. In addition to his work as a D.J., Fink is the father of three, a lover of music and a very involved community resident. We thought you would like to know more about the man behind the voice and here is what he shared with us:

How long have you lived in Scarsdale? What attracted you to the area?

I am a life long resident of Westchester, My wife Debbie and I both went to Eastchester High School, had an apartment in the city and lived in the Wilmot Woods section of New Rochelle (Scarsdale PO) until we moved to Scarsdale in 1988, shortly before our first child was born.

As the father of three children who attended the Scarsdale Schools, what did you like about the system and would you like to see changed?

My children went through the Scarsdale School system from pre-school at the Little School, Quaker Ridge, Scarsdale Middle School and Scarsdale High School. I think the staff, both administrative and faculty is what makes the Scarsdale Schools so great. As the father of twins, the policy of keeping twins in separate classes throughout elementary and middle school is a good one, giving my twin girls the opportunity to grow as individuals and develop unique and independent interests and directions. All three of my children found most of their teachers to be engaging and their courses to be challenging which developed their work ethic and made them learn early on that hard work and diligence pay off. As far as change is concerned, I would like to see more emphasis on classical music, art and literature and I believe the AT vs. AP policy is not to the advantage of Scarsdale students. When applying to colleges they find themselves in competition with students from other schools who have multiple AP courses and credit on their transcripts. In addition a culture of legacy and privilege is rampant in Scarsdale and can be disheartening to students who do not have these advantages when applying to colleges. I think students should be rewarded for their own accomplishments and achievements, not because of their parents’ influence.

How is it to be an empty nester here?

I have three kids in college and have found that they love coming home to spend time in their familiar surroundings and have all kept up with their local friends. Once they are home, in a way it’s like they never left. This is especially true with my son’s friends of the SHS Class of 2008. They are a tightly knit group of boys who will be lifelong friends. My wife and I love our home and our friends in Scarsdale. Lately, we have been spending more time in the city, making weekend trips to museums and taking our dogs for long walks in and about Westchester’s great natural and scenic spots. Since my work is here in Westchester we don’t have plans to move at this time, but are always considering options such as an additional apartment in the city and shorter few-day vacation trips.

Have you always been the music business? How did you begin?

My connection with music goes back to high school when The Beatles burst on the scene and I developed a deep and intense love for music. My friend and I wrote songs and played in a band. We were avid concert goers, went to the Fillmore East almost every weekend, attended Woodstock, collected records and began a routine of playing, writing and recording songs. In the summer of 1970, I got my first radio job as a college student and subsequently got involved in college radio and developed an on air style and interview and voice techniques. My college major was Speech Arts/Communications. I worked for WPLJ and its parent company ABC for 14 years through the 70’s and 80’s and then went on to K-Rock for another 12 years through the 90’s. During that time I also worked at HBO and Cinemax and voiced, wrote and produced several nationally syndicated radio programs including one for Rolling Stone Magazine which led to hundreds of interviews with celebrities and well known people in the music, political, entertainment and sports worlds.

Did you start the Peak yourself or did you takeover an existing radio station?

Haha!! I don’t own The Peak and the frequency of 107.1 has a long history here in New York’s backyard. It was once a progressive rock radio station called WRNW and was then a breeding ground for many talented radio people. Howard Stern, Meg Griffin, Bruce Figler, Kerin McCue and others all worked for RNW back in the day and it was at one time owned by a Scarsdale resident, Fred Schrier. One of the constants of the radio business is change, and there have been many different music formats on 107.1 over the years including rock, soft rock, pop and country music. The Peak developed a unique radio format back in 2004 combining classic rock with more modern, new music and splashing in some reggae and blues as well as giving singer/songwriters and female artists a more prominent position on the radio dial. Unlike many radio stations around today, we are not owned by a giant conglomerate media company, rather The Peak is owned by an individual who runs about 30 radio stations, mostly in NY, Vermont and Florida. I joined The Peak at its onset, beginning in 2004 after I heard about a new radio station coming to Westchester. I wanted to be part of a new station that would play new music in addition to the classic rock I was known for presenting.

What is the Peak’s reach?

The Peak covers Westchester, Rockland and the North Shore of Long Island in New York, Fairfield County Connecticut and Bergen in New Jersey. The transmitter and broadcast tower of The Peak is near the Westchester Medical Center along the Sprain Brook Parkway so the signal is stronger on the Hudson side of the county. If you separate out our listening area from the larger NYC market, the Westchester radio market is the #39 ranked market in the US. The Peak has a weekly cume audience in excess of 200,000 listeners with the average quarter hour listenership between 25,000 and 35,000 depending on the time of day and not including those listening on the internet. Our audience is generally 60% men and 40% women. Almost 100% of The Peak's audience is in the target demographic age bracket of 25-64.

In actuality The Peak has a worldwide audience. Today’s technology enables us to broadcast on the web, so many people who may not be able to receive a quality broadcast signal can always hear us on www.1071thepeak.com. We get emails daily from all over America and even have regular listeners in distant places like Iraq, Brazil and the UK. Having said that, The Peak is a local radio station, in the shadow of the big NYC radio stations, and does not pretend to be anything else. In the NY Metropolitan area, the largest radio market in America, with conglomerate media companies owning and operation multiple radio stations it is important to note that The Peak remains local and dedicated to serving listeners in our specific broadcast area and local communities. Advertisers who may not be able to afford to run commercials on the larger NYC radio stations can find an audience in their target demographic at a reasonable cost on 107.1 The Peak.

What's your favorite part of your job?

From a personal standpoint, without a doubt, my favorite part of working at 107.1 The Peak is the personal camaraderie that we have among the staff at the radio station. We are a comparatively small group of people, a very tight team, and I love working with the broadcast professionals who are on the air, as well as those behind the scenes. From the broadcasting side, I love turning people on to new music and playing some of the older tunes that just don’t get played that much on the radio.. Many radio stations are steeped in playing nothing but older, proven hit songs, and while The Peak plays these classic rock tunes, we also recognize that there is an audience that likes some diversity in their music so I like to play some things from the past that people may not have heard for a while. Also, there is a ton of new, quality music out there and I like to be the one who introduces people to new music, something different and modern with the potential for becoming a future classic. I also like when I get a reaction to something I’ve said on the air….radio is a one on one relationship between the on air personality and the listener and when I get a response from my audience, it’s always a thrill.

When are you on the radio?

I am on the air Monday through Friday from 3PM till 7PM on 107.1 The Peak. I have several features during my show that may be of interest to your readers including live traffic reports from a dedicated traffic reporter twice an hour between 4PM and 7PM every day. The Peak Homestretch is a daily extra long set of commercial free music that largely sweeps through the 5 o’clock hour, providing a soundtrack to the afternoon activities of my listeners, many in their cars commuting at that time.

What are some of your favorite "old" bands and soundtracks?

Picking favorite songs is very tough for me since I love so many different kinds of music. The older rock bands that I favor would be The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Kinks, and Led Zeppelin…..I think everybody likes them. I also like the older solo stuff by the individual Beatles, Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits, Jeff Lynne and ELO, Steely Dan and Yes. My tastes in music are very varied….one interesting bit of trivia about my musical preferences Is that I am a major fan of show music, including all the classics like Oliver!, The Sound of Music and Oklahoma. I think Les Miserables is a masterpiece and have seen the show more than 10 times. I even went to London just to see it again!

What are some of your newer favorites?

There are so many new bands I like, some of them aren’t that new any more, like Death Cab for Cutie, Arcade Fire and Guster. Of the big current bands, I would have to say Coldplay is a favorite. Mumford and Sons had a great first CD, I think time will tell if they can sustain their popularity. Some of the newest groups I like with a lot of promise for the future include Scars on 45 and The Givers. I love the new breed of female singer songwriters like KT Tunstall and Ingrid Michaelson.

Have you ever had to stop the music to provide your listeners with emergency instructions?

Emergency situations are handled in America through the EAS (Emergency Alert System). A few times the system has kicked into action and interrupted our programming while I have been on the air to warn of impending storms or tornados etc. I often provide listeners with up to date information about local situations like fires, police activity, storm warnings or traffic and transit delays but generally speaking we leave the full time reporting of these events to the all news stations.

With the advent of new technology how can people buy others music for the holidays? How can they share their favorite music with others?

It’s no secret that music is available in so many different ways today. I have never let my kids download music illegally as I always thought (and still do) that it is the same as stealing from a store. Artists today have to think of other ways to make a living rather than through the sale of their music, whether it’s through live concert tours and performances, merchandising or getting their music featured in films, advertisements or on TV. If people are interested in giving music as a gift this holiday season, gift cards for iTunes are readily available. There are also several new CD compilations that have been released for the season, including some spectacular new live recordings of live Pink Floyd music as well as deluxe reissues of U2’s Achtung Baby CD and The Rolling Stones’ Some Girls album both of which have previously unreleased tracks. There is also an REM retrospective that also has 3 previously unreleased songs, their final music to be release as a band. For sharing music, Spotify is a digital service that offers millions of songs streaming on line and I know of a few new music sharing tech platforms in development that will enable people to share, review, create playlists and keep others up to date with the music they enjoy or new music that is still under the radar of the general public.

Anything else you would like to add?

After many years on the air at several radio stations in New York City, I am delighted to be able to continue to be on the air at the local level right here in the community where I live. Broadcasting on a station like The Peak is local radio at its best, enabling a very strong connection between on air personalities and their listeners. All the personalities on The Peak are always out in the community, making appearances on behalf of the station and our advertisers. I am also happy to be involved with a few local non-profits, including the Scarsdale Teen Center and The Pediatric Cancer Foundation. I sit on the Foundation Board of Open Door Family Medical centers, with medical facilities in five different Westchester locations serving the uninsured and under insured with quality, affordable health care. I have developed a way to incorporate music into fundraising by appearing on behalf of the Scarsdale Teen Center at their annual “Adult Night of Rock” event and have been instrumental in bringing World Class acts to perform locally on behalf of Open Door Family Medical Centers. In the past Elvis Costello and the B-52’s have performed in support of Open Door and we are in the planning stages for yet another big concert this spring.

 

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