Women to Watch: Julie Slater, The SoCal Sound


(By Charese Fruge’) Julie Slater is the new Music Director at 88.5 The SoCal Sound (KCSN) in LA where she’s been the Midday Host since March of 2022. Before that, she hosted Afternoons at 100.3 the Sound (KSWD) in LA for 8+ years, while hosting a weekend specialty show “Out on a Limb” on 88.5 FM for 6+ years. Before her West Coast venture, Slater was Midday Host following Howard Stern at the late 92.3 K-Rock (WXRK) in NYC for 10+ years. Pretty solid call letters for a radio resume. 

“Music. Music. Music. I’ve always been obsessed with music,” says Slater. Which is what got her into the business in the first place. “Learning song lyrics. Playing guitar. That was my thing. When I was a kid, and someone quizzed me about who the artist was that was playing on the radio – I would be so psyched when I got it right! As far as radio as a career, in my teens, my friend Tina was volunteering at a local A.M. country station. I went in with her one day and caught the radio bug.”

“Snagging this Music Director spot tops the list of major accomplishments for me in both the LA and NYC markets. Continuing to have a relevant spot in the new music landscape is literally living my dream,” says Slater.

In a market the size of LA with the influence KCSN has in the community, the station has a significant role in driving diverse pop culture and musical trends that reflect and engage the population of the city. “We have won ‘Non-comm Station of the Year’ in the U.S. the last two years in a row,” explains Slater. “We are a public radio station that is member and artist-driven – with at least three times the playlist of commercial stations. We are also a voice for the LA local music scene – with an hourly local music spotlight, making sure we connect with the locals on every level.”

“The business changes every day, as does the release and discovery of new music. Where to find it is endless,” says Slater. “I get a billion emails with new music from labels, managers, random musicians, and musician’s girlfriends. I also check out streaming sites, friends’ recommendations, haphazard Google searches, busking performers, opening acts, social media trending songs, Shazam, YouTube, movies, TV shows…I also keep an ear on other public radio stations across the country. We all can’t listen to everything, so it’s great to see what others have discovered.”

“As far as where the industry is headed – I can only speak to what we are naturally doing – what the corporate entities simply don’t do anymore: being hyper-focused on localism. We’re real community members on the radio. Real people just like you. And if labels are slashing budgets or becoming less focused on the Triple-A format, we can withstand that by providing something real. Music is always going to be there. And we have a billion ways to find it.”

“Public radio provides a unique human connection for music discovery. One that you can’t get on a streaming service or corporate radio. We don’t have someone in a big corporate office making decisions for a whole cluster. We have local DJs on air. Our playlists are humanly crafted. It doesn’t get any better than that,” says Slater. “If you want to get into the industry, I highly suggest interning or volunteering at a radio station. And also – just go for it. Find a station you want to work for and make it your goal to get in the door.”

As far as the use of AI in the radio industry, Slater says she is “Old School.” “I think AI should help us go through emails, make appointments, and summarize projects. But I want humans to make and pick music. I want humans to tell me why a song makes their hearts squish. But I am ALL IN for an AI robot cleaning my apartment.”

We continue to see not only a stagnant percentage but a decrease in the number of Female Programmers in the industry. Despite that, Slater is optimistic about the future for Women. “The music industry has always been so male-dominated. But things are shifting. Look at this year’s Grammy wins (boygenius, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Victoria Monét, SZA, etc.). Women are taking over. Look at the business power of artists like Taylor Swift and Beyonce.” 

“My advice? YOU are the one who can lead the charge. YOU are the one that creates change. When YOU believe in YOU, so will they. I’m super proud of being the first woman in the Music Director spot during 88.5’s Triple-A format. We now have two women (Jet on the morning show and me in Middays) in two out of the three big dayparts at the SoCal Sound. Our Directors of Underwriting (Karen Haze), Marketing/Promotions/ Engagement (Hillary Gordon), and Membership (Laura Kelly) are all women. ‘If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.’ – Shirley Chisholm.”

What keeps Slater up at night? “Wondering if Radiohead will ever put out another record,” she says. She finds balance in going for long walks, weekends away, and snuggling with Jason Friday, who also co-hosts an hour of her show on Fridays called ‘Friday on Friday.’

Her binging pleasures are deep dark Cabernets, Adrianne Lenker’s (Big Thief) new solo album “Bright Future,” and “Love on the Spectrum” (US and Australia).

As for what’s ahead for Slater, “I’ll be listening to a whole heck of a lot of music…attending great live music shows…and living my dream job, eagerly influencing the music in one of the biggest radio markets in the country.”

Follow Julie Slater on Instagram @thevoiceofjulieslater @cuzihavetopodcast @thesocalsound

Charese Fruge’ is an award-winning Content, Broadcast, and Marketing executive with over 20 years of experience in markets like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, San Diego, and Las Vegas. As the owner of MC Media, she works with radio brands and individual talents, especially young women, helping them grow their brands and negotiate on their own behalf. Find her at @MCMediaOnline. See more Women to Watch here.


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