Hits and Breakouts
WHTZ (Z100) New York PD Sharon Dastur took the path of many, arriving in the Big Apple early in her career with a dream, ambition and talent. It was 17 years ago when she took a job as program coordinator at WHTZ. Unlike most, however, she’s reached the top of her field, rising through the ranks to become the station’s first female PD.
| My Mentor: Tom Poleman, president of national programming platforms, Clear Channel Media and Entertainment. “When we worked together in Houston, he was the one who first offered me the New York job and helped start my career. Once we were here, he helped nurture me and let me fly. Next year will be 20 years we worked together. One thing’ll always remember is when I told him, year two, that I wanted to be a program director. He said, ‘OK. In order to lead a staff of on-air DJs, you’re going to have to start learning how to do that and get on the air and learn what they go through and how to deliver the content and how to run a board and do all that stuff.’ I was doing overnight shifts in Houston. When I moved here, I was doing overnight shifts. Then we created a Saturday night show that became a huge hit here for eight years, The Pajama Party. “I’ll always remember that he guided me in that direction, to know that you have to know how to speak with experience if you’re going to guide a staff of on-air DJs and what they need to be doing when they’re on the air.”
Dastur has since helped make WHTZ one of the premier top 40 stations in the country, touting an average of 5 million listeners, according to Arbitron. In the past year, her oversight has boosted ratings by 20%-25% over that of 2011 thanks to a balance of established and fresh artists in rotation.
“First and foremost, we play the hits. We have such a large audience in the tri-state area that listens to us, and we always want to make sure that we’re playing the biggest hits and the music they want to hear,” Dastur says. “We feel like we help break a lot of artists, which is hard to do in market No. 1.” Additionally, Dastur has nurtured the station’s annual Jingle Ball concert, previously headlined by Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and One Direction. Most recently, an auction of eight tickets for Rosie’s Theater Kids pulled in $150,000. “It’s gotten to the point where artists are actually begging to be on the lineup just because they want the attention that we and the world give it,” she says. “We’re very proud of what we’ve been able to do musically as a station.”