Ten Questions with Zach La Cava

Former Publisher

Content planning meetings, social content brainstorms, promotional meetings, international travel and a few coffee and snack runs. It’s all part of a day’s work for Zach La Cava, executive producers of Nova’s popular night show, Smallzy’s Surgery.

– They say ‘radio needs to be in your blood’ to succeed – how did you catch the radio bug?

For as long as I can remember I’ve been listening to radio, it’s always been a part of my lifestyle.

I caught the ‘radio bug’ primarily through my love for music; I grew up listening to the radio to hear my favourite songs and find out the next big artist.

This career has allowed me to draw on this passion for music every day and create that same experience of breaking new artists and celebrity interviews for others listening to the radio like I did.

– What goes into producing a nationally syndicated night show, give us a rundown on a typical day?

No two days are the same working on Smallzy’s Surgery, which is part of what I love about the show and radio in general.

My day starts by checking emails, looking ahead at what’s on in my calendar and getting on top of news and social media, so I’m prepared to come into the office aware of the sense of the day.

Between getting into the office around 1pm and the show kicking off at 7pm, we have content planning meetings, interview and online content brainstorms, promotional meetings plus a lot of chatting and a few coffee and snack runs.

I also book the guests for the show, from musicians to actors and social media stars, then place them in the show rundown. Last year we aired over 288 interviews some live and some pre-recorded depending on guest’s availability which contributes to each day being different.

By 5pm we have solidified the nightly show plan including gossip stories we’re covering (subject to any additional breaking headlines) and phone topics. Then any pre-recorded interviews are edited, I check nightly production needed and we break at 6pm for dinner in the office before heading into the studio ready for 7pm.

– As EP, what are your best sources for content ideas and inspiration?

For the best content in 2017, you need to be across everything from what’s making newspaper headlines around the world to what Kim Kardashian has just snapchatted.

For me, there are key entertainment and music sources I read online every day to spark content ideas for the show. This combined with checking my Facebook and Instagram feeds, Twitter trends and Snapchat keeps me up to date and constantly aware of what our audience is responding to and therefore what is relevant to creating content for on the show.

In addition to this, I like to be aware of what content other radio shows around the globe are putting out from Ryan Seacrest in LA to the Capital FM and Radio 1 in the UK.

– There are must be some serious perks producing a #1 night show?

I am proud of the show I produce, and its success has led to the show travelling internationally to cover some of the biggest music and entertainment events around the world. If I had to pick a perk, it would be sitting in the Staples Centre at the Grammy Awards this year.

– Who are the radio people and radio stations you enjoy listening to away from work?

Aside from listening to Nova, I listen to a range of commercial radio shows here in Australia, as well as overseas including Nick Grimshaw on Radio 1, Roman Kemp on Capital FM and recently when I was working from the US listening to Howard Stern for a laugh at the content he gets away!

– Producing the Surgery, what are your thoughts on the current climate of Australian music when it comes to airplay?

In my opinion, the current climate of airplay of Australian music is quite healthy.

Over the last few months, there have been quality Australian releases from the likes of PNAU, Peking Duk, Sia, Illy, Starley, Amy Shark and Tash Sultana that we have supported in Smallzy’s Surgery.

These releases have not only deserved a place on Australia radio playlists but are earning airplay internationally. For example, Starley’s ‘Call On Me’ remix currently receiving airplay on KIIS 102.7 in LA and Flume competing on an international level and winning a Grammy Award and being nominated against The Chainsmokers.

There is nothing I love more than supporting a local act on Smallzy’s Surgery and seeing them crack it internationally.

– What local and international artists do you love right now?

Locally, I’m enjoying Illy’s latest album, Will Singe’s debut as a solo artist and PNAU; I’m glad to see them receiving some well-earned chart success.

Internationally – I love the songwriters who’ve turned singers this year from Julia Michaels to Jon Bellion. I’m also enjoying listening and watching Zara Larsson, Anne Marie and Dua Lipa grow from being 2015/2016 break out artists to releasing their debut albums. Plus as I’m sure any pop music fan is, I’m excited to see what Katy Perry does next with her upcoming album.

– If you weren’t in radio, where would you be?

A huge part of my passion for radio is playing hit records, working with artists and pop culture. If I weren’t in radio I would still be working in a role focused on these, I imagine either producing music/entertainment TV or at a record label or managing artists.

– Having worked in the industry for some years now, what would you say to others entering into the industry?

Believe in yourself but don’t get ahead of yourself. Be patient, never be afraid to ask questions and soak up skills and knowledge from those around you with more experience to help you excel to your goal role.

– How do you un-wind and escape the work pressure?

My mind is constantly turning with ideas and thoughts for the show, but turning on a good series on Netflix when I get home late at night after the show or relaxing with friends and a few drinks, or family on the weekend keeps my life feeling balanced.

Listen to Smallzy’s Surgery on the Nova Network, 7pm to 10pm weeknights.

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