Interview With:

Shil K. Patel

Tiger Bomb Promo

Tell us a bit about the career path that led to where you are now.

I started as a DJ at Radio UTD, the station at the University of Texas at Dallas (WHOOSH!), in 2003. Shortly after, I took the position of music director. That’s when I started to get a bigger picture of the music industry. After a year and a half as music director, I became the station manager, and kept that position for another year and a half. I represented the station at CMJ and SXSW over those years and I got to meet a lot of artists as well as people from other stations, from record labels, and from radio promotion companies. At CMJ Music Marathon in 2006, Helen Charles, a radio promoter at Team Clermont in Athens GA, told me that she was moving back to the UK and that I should consider applying for her job. I did, and a couple months later I was moving from Texas to Georgia. I worked in the radio promotion department at Team Clermont from 2007 until 2016, becoming the head of the radio promotion department in 2009. In September 2016 I launched a radio promotion company called Tiger Bomb Promo, and have been working on it, with the help of my friend JJ Posway, ever since.

Why does college/community radio matter in today’s fragmented environment?

College and community radio stations are important in many different ways. They’re often among the earliest public supporters of an artist, especially new artists who are just starting to make a name for themselves. Many college and community stations are much more open minded when it comes to programming new music, and are willing to take a chance on an artist that isn’t yet established. Aside from the airplay, interviews, and in-studio sessions that stations provide for artists, I’ve also noticed that the music directors and other station staff are active and are very vocal in their local music communities. I’ve found that a lot the music directors who are programming the music we send them will also go on to work at venues, booking agencies, labels, PR firms and in general remain active in the music industry, and will many times want to work with the artists they discovered while at their radio stations.

What is your favorite experience you’ve had in your career?  Perhaps a musical idol you got to meet?  A festival you were able to attend?  A project you were involved with promoting?

There have been been so many! I helped with radio promotion for David Byrne and Brian Eno’s Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, and when the album went to #1 I got a response from David Byrne. He just said “I’m truly in shock”, but that was such a cool moment for me. I think the experience that always stands out to me was a trip to Philly in 2010. I was there to attend the Non-Commvention hosted by WXPN that year, and I was also on a panel alongside Bob Boilen of NPR, Jim McGuinn of The Current, and Brian McTear of Weathervane Music. It was an honor being on a panel with such amazing people. On the last day of my trip I got to be a guest of the Philly band Pattern Is Movement at the Roots Picnic, an annual festival The Roots put together. The line-up that year included The Roots, Clipse, Method Man/Ghostface Killah/Raekwon, Das Racist, Vampire Weekend, John Legend and more. I met Das Racist in the parking lot and we took a picture together, stumbled over myself trying to talk to Ghostface, had dinner with Pattern Is Movement and Merrill Garbus of Tune-Yards, and at the end of the night I talked to Questlove. I told him it was my first trip to Philly and he stretched his arm out, waved it across the heavens, and said “Welcome to Philadelphia!” It was such a surreal moment, one I’ll never forget. And there have been so many great artists that I’ve gotten to work with and meet like Caribou, Destroyer, Sufjan Stevens, and more.

What band/artist outside the realm of college/community radio would people be surprised to hear you love?

It’s a tough question, most of what I enjoy is played on college or community radio. I really like Wu-Tang Clan and the solo albums they released. My favorites are probably most people’s favorites, I like GZA’s Liquid Swords, Ghostface’s Supreme Clientele, and Raekwon’s Only Built For Cuban Linx. I also recognize that a lot of college/community stations play their music, so this might not be the best answer. 

What job do you think you would you be doing if you weren’t a promoter?

I was actually working at PepsiCo (I think technically it was Frito Lay North America) in Plano, TX as an Information Security User Management Analyst at the time when I accepted the radio promoter job in Athens. I had a few other friends working at PepsiCo at the time, and it was a solid job. Who knows, I might have continued working there? At that time I was also getting more interested in putting shows together, and was considering reaching out to show promoters in the DFW area to see if they needed help. I feel like once you work at a station, especially as a music director, it pulls you in and makes you want to continue working in the music industry.

Do you think college/community radio will ever actually be an all-digital format?  And if so, when?

I would love for that to happen, it would save so much time and money and be better for the environment. I think many stations don’t have the infrastructure or funding for an all digital library, and a lot of stations are worried about budget cuts or even worse, having license sold. Each year more and more stations tell us that they no longer want to receive CDs, which is a good sign. But I’d say the stations that have requested all digital/no physical is at about 5%-10% of our overall panel of stations, so I think it will many more years before college and community radio go all digital.

You just won a million dollars.  What are you going to do with it?

We might sell our current place and move into a slightly larger house, or maybe build a pool and stay where we are? I would love to do some traveling. A few years ago we started trying to visit all the state parks in Georgia. We’re only about 1/3 of the way through that, and it’s also turned into wanting to visit all the US National Parks as well. And for sure I’d get a fresh coat of paint and install a bed liner on my 2007 Ford F-150.

What TV show are you obsessed with atm?  Or are you one of ‘those people’ that doesn’t watch TV?

Oh I watch TV! I’ve been burning through several HBO shows lately. I just finished entirety of The Wire and season one of True Detective. Now I’m watching a show called The Sopranos, I’m about 3 episodes in. Have you ever heard of it? Of course, Lauren and I watch The Office obsessively, at least 2 or 3 episodes a day. I think we’ve probably watched seasons 1-6 about 30 or 40 times.

If someone came to town, what is your favorite restaurant you’d take them to? 

My favorite restaurant in Athens is a Cuban/Caribbean/Peruvian restaurant called Cali N Tito’s. It’s in a weird building with a lot of outdoor seating. It’s cash only and BYOB. The food is delicious, I suggest the fish burrito (no lettuce), side of habanero sauce, and tostones. I’ve probably eaten there once a week since moving to Athens, which means I’ve eaten there at least 567 times but probably more like 700 times.

You’re stranded on a desert island.  What five well known people (dead or alive) would you like to have there with you?

– Les Stroud aka Survivorman
– Matthew Belcher and Aphrodite Zegers, ranked #1 in the world at sailing
– Dr. Martin Arostegui, #1 on Outdoor Life’s 20 best anglers in the world
– Jiro Ono, world’s best sushi chef