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  • Writer's pictureSarah Scott

Industry Feature Friday: Jacklyn Wills (Radio Host, Music & Creative Director, Singer-Songwriter)

Welcome to Industry Feature Friday, putting the spotlight on the people behind the music! From producers, radio DJ's and radio trackers, to photographers, managers and everything in between. These are the music business professionals who work hard to help put your favourite artists (emerging, independent and hit makers) on the charts, DSP's, radio and on the map through their work behind the scenes!

Ladies and gents - let me introduce you to the one and only Jacklyn Wills! I met her for the first time (after following her on socials for awhile!) at Canadian Country Music Week (CCMA) and immediately was like, she's the coolest person!

I also interacted with Jacklyn over email a few times before that weekend when I did a little stint Radio Tracking in 2021. She was one of the only radio people to give me real responses/feedback about the singles I sent her for possible play on The Ranch 100.1FM. Instant respect! Instant HELL YEAH! SHE'S GREAT!

Although Jacklyn is a very talented sing-songwriter herself, I'm focusing on her as an industry today!

Jacklyn Wills: Radio Host, Music & Creative Director At 100.1 FM The Ranch, Perth County's HOTTEST Country. (Ontario).

Thank you so much for being a part of IFF, Jacklyn!

"An independent singer-songwriter and country musician herself, Jackie fits in perfectly here at The Ranch. Jackie began her work in radio as a co-op student at our sister station in Wallaceburg (99.1 FM CKXS). Jackie has since become a summer intern mainstay and has played a significant role in helping build the music landscape of 100.1 FM." - The Ranch 100 Website.

Anyone can call themselves a presenter these days. But it takes skill and heaps of talent to captivate an audience. I haven't heard Jacklyn on-air before, but just from meeting her at a bar, I know she is one the best personalities. She has a genuine upbeat, welcoming and friendly personality - and it's followed by a true passion for sharing music and a love for the Canadian country community.

Embracing Canadian Country whole heartedly, she's an incredible supporter of all levels of country artists and has become a very prominent figure for our indie and emerging country acts. Jacklyn gives their music a chance to intertwine with the "big wigs" on a regular bases. Love it!

Jacklyn Wills is a well respected staple in our country music scene, not only as woman in radio and as an artist herself, but as an industry professional. I am very proud to introduce you her on IFF and for you to get to know her better here.

Get to know more about Jacklyn Wills:

Sarah Scott (SS): Although you are also known as a very talented emerging singer-songwriter, we are here to talk about your position as Radio Host, Music & Creative Director (MD/CD) At 100.1 FM The Ranch for IFF! So, tell us more about yourself! How did you get into the music/radio industry?

Jacklyn Wills (JW): Music’s always been a big part of my life. Like many in the industry, I was fortunate to grow up in a pretty musical family where jamming around the campfire and having music on 24/7 was the norm. I started exploring the world of songwriting and performing live at a young age but it was when I was in high school that my career in radio began. Not being a big fan of school I knew I wanted to take a co-op term during my senior year, and music being one of my only interests I knew I wanted it to be something in a similar field. (Even if my guidance councillor revised against it, follow your dreams folks!)

Unfortunately, being from a super small town there wasn’t a ton of options, but there was a radio station in the next town over that had taken on students in the past. 99.1 CKXS. I went through the placement process, was approved and that’s where it all began! I spent every afternoon of 2nd semester senior year doing odd and end tasks for the radio station, and come the end of my term they liked having me around enough to hire me on as their summer student! I held that position through my first 2 years of College (Music Industry Arts @ Fanshawe College), and come the end of my 3rd summer with them the company was getting ready to expand and I was fortunate to get a job offer as an announcer, MD & CD at their brand new station, 100.1FM The Ranch.

The next 2 years after The Ranch launched were definitely busy, between wearing multiple hats at the new station, finishing up 2 more college programs (Audio Post Production & Music Business), and an Internship at Sony Music Canada, I learned so much and found that radio was where I needed to be.

SS: If I have any aspiring radio personalities or artist readers who may want to go down the radio path in future, what skills do you think radio personalities need to be successful?

JW: I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying, “hard work pays off.” Radio is no different. Be dedicated, be willing to work, put yourself out there and jump on any opportunity that comes your way. In the beginning you may not be doing the exact job you want or hoped for, but put the effort in, show up everyday and give it your 110%, this won’t go unnoticed and you’ll be moving up the ladder before you know it.

Something I was told while in college is that when an opportunity presents itself to you, always say yes and worry about all the other factors later.

Also network, network, network. If it’s not what you know, it’s who you know! Make genuine connections and just be a good person and good will come. And of course the obvious one, communication.

Communication is the name of the game. Learn how to analyze information and then share it with your listeners in an engaging way. Always be eager to learn new things, knowledge is power and can always help. As well as being creative, be yourself, do things that nobody else is doing, this will help you stand out amongst others.

SS: As an MD/CD, how do you stay up to date with the latest music trends and trending tracks?

JW: Being an independent artist myself, I know how hard it can be to get your music heard and any kind of attention on air. That’s why as a music director, I like to try and listen to everything that comes across my desk. You never know what kind of hidden gems you might find! This includes all new releases from both DMDS and Play MPE. I also keep an eye on the Media Base, TRAX Report and iTunes Charts for any popular tracks we may have missed! I love searching for and finding new music!

SS: As a singer-songwriter and radio personality, what is your take on Radio Trackers for indie/emerging artists? What are the pros and cons?

JW: When it comes to radio trackers, I do believe that they can be a great asset to your team. However, some radio trackers definitely are a lot stronger than others. I would recommend doing your research to make sure you find a tracker that’s really going to work for you and work your song.

The nice part about radio trackers is that they might have more contacts then you do personally, they’ll also potentially be able to soften the blow when it comes to feedback, or get better feedback then if you were to try and track your own song.

The hopes with radio trackers is that they’ll be able to give your song the little extra push it may need to be on MD/PD radars, and hopefully they’ll lend an ear or bring it into a music meeting. At the end of the day it will all depend on if it’s a great song, but a strong radio tracker with a good reputation can definitely help!

SS: Radio is still a useful tool for artists. Though it's an area of the music industry that is more controlled (than ever) by gatekeepers like big record companies, media conglomerates and music directors, it can still be a tool for artists to promote their music. A lot of artists are now wondering, "now what?" What can artists do to stand out and grab your attention (as a music & creative director) to have you at least listen to their song and consider them for airplay even before you hear their song? What is going to make you listen to their song?

JW: This is a great question! I know I'm part of the small group that does their best to try and listen to all songs I’m sent for fair consideration, however there are definitely things you can do to stand out and grab the gatekeepers attentions.

My advice would be to try and make all aspects of your release as professional as possible. This includes high quality production, mix & master of the song, single artwork, tracking, etc. It is assumed that if all other aspects of the release are poorly executed then the song itself is more than likely of poor quality and not worth a listen.

Whether you decide to go with a tracker or track yourself, I think it's important to be as personable as possible when reaching out. Being friendly and getting to know the individuals you’re trying to work with goes a long way.

You can follow her and listen to her here:

Listen to her on-air here:

Instagram: @jacklynwills

Twitter: @jacklynwills

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