Heart of Steel: Interviews

Interview With Fingers
Interview By Keith McDonald

As radio has changed so much since the early 80’s, one change has not over at Long Island’s premier radio station WBAB. That’s Finger’s ‘Metal Shop’, which just recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. Now, 20 years at doing anything is quite an accomplishment but the fact that it’s a radio show hosted by its founding DJ is an even bigger accomplishment. Most people that have worked in radio know how difficult it is to stay in the business for 20 years, let alone at the same station. I had the opportunity to speak with Fingers who gave some insight into his show and career. You can check out his website at www.wbab.com.


How did you get started in radio?

When I was young I was vaccinated with a phonograph needle. Music is in my blood and metal is my passion. So growing up I always played radio DJ with my close and play. After high school I went to NBS broadcasting to learn the ropes.



How did the name 'Fingers' come about?

While I was going to NBS I was a roadie for the band Whitefire. They thought I should have a nick name so at my first paying gig a bunch of names were called out but I did lights for the band on the keyboard setup and when they said Fingers a chick yelled yea Russian fingers and roman hands and everyone laughed and I was like that’s the one for me. Boring story but it stuck. Truth be told a girl I dated in high school told me that someday I would be known for my fingers. Who knew?



How did 'FMS' start?

It was a case of the station being harangued by me and then when they needed to focus the programming to more classic rock, I was there to fill the metal void. That was October 23rd 1983.



How strong is WBAB as far as listeners are concerned?

WBAB has always been The Long Island rock radio station it is community oriented and sworn to great rock and roll. The ratings prove this consistently works.



How competitive is the radio industry? It seems DJs don't have staying power?

It is very difficult to stay fresh, conversational, informed and employed. So many restrictions in today’s radio make it hard to swallow for many people that want to be jocks. The public can be very fickle and at the same time loyal.



How do you explain your longevity and the 20 years of FMS?

WBAB is Long Islands Home of Rock N Roll. I just never left home. I am pretty easy going and have worked with some great people over the years.



How much of a change has there been over the years, that you see, in metal?

All music is cyclical it rolls along picks up something here drops something there. It’s been very exciting and at times boring to watch the Fingers Metal Shop (FMS) play list over the past twenty years.



How important is radio in developing an artist's career?

I think it is still very important but it’s no longer the only tool around. But if you can get airplay you are way ahead of the game.



It seems radio is occupied mostly by pop, hip hop and nonmetal genres. How much harder does this make it for metal to get some airplay?

It depends on how you look at it. On one hand we are the bastard son’s of rock and not enough respect or airtime is given. On the other hand we are all connected and we know all the outlets like FMS to get our stuff to the people. We support each other.



I see you were spinning bands like Poison and Motley Crue before they broke into the mainstream. How did it feel to be a part of their success?

AMAZING! I interviewed Motley the first time just before Shout at the Devil and I just knew they would be huge. Poison was on Enigma when we met and they were truly the hair band for the chicks. It was cool to see girls getting into metal.



How much has radio changed over your years?

It has always been about the listener. However where it was about the music and the listener, it’s now about the money and the listener. Actually they all need each other. If the listener keeps listening the stations make more money so they better keep the most amount of listeners happy.



How do you decide on your playlist?

I try to play everything that comes across my desk at least once. Now understand I have 2 hours and 15 minutes each week to turn you on to what is brand new, what is hot, what is different, and give you a bit of the roots as well. Plus news and giveaways. In the end I have to go with my gut instinct. By the way we don’t play edits. We play it like they wrote it.



How many CDs do you receive in a month? How hard is it sifting through them all, if that's even possible?

Between 15 and 30 a month and it’s a bitch to find the time and place to check all of them. Some of them I can’t play in front of my 6 year old so it usually in the car or studio.



Do you also spin unsigned metal acts on your show?

Yes I even do the FMS metal exposure shows annually.



Any new metal acts that you feel may be breaking soon that you'd like to mention?

I like the Mars Volta, Between the Buried and me and Apartment 26. I also can’t wait for a new studio album from Life of Agony.



Are there any bands that you felt should have done much better than they did?

That’s kind of a loaded question because some bands do better in different markets. Like I always thought Manowar should have been huge here but it jus never happened yet they play stadiums in other parts of the globe. Same with Virgin Steele, huge in Europe, can’t fill a club in there own back yard. I wish Dream Theater got more airplay.



What's the future for FMS?

Well I am very blessed to be doing what I dreamed of as a kid for a living (I also host afternoon drive on BAB). The past twenty years have been interesting to say the least. I would like to produce a FMS CD series and maybe syndicate the show but the next dream sequence is FMS the Television show.


Station Website: www.wbab.com