September 19, 2017

TRAVEL GUIDE: 24 Hours in Lake Placid.

     A couple weekends ago, one of my new friends and I decided to go on an impromptu overnight trip to the village of Lake Placid, NY! This Adirondack Mountains village is the former home to two Winter Olympic Games, and is just two hours away from Burlington, Vermont. The village itself has a small main street district, and is located right on scenic Mirror Lake. While it could easily be a day trip, if you are able to spend one night then you will definitely be able to see most things that the area has to offer. Due to a large sporting event that we didn't know the town was hosting, our trip plans ended up taking a different turn than we expected, but we still enjoyed a delightful weekend away in the Adirondacks! This was a trip where I decided to take a break for being in "blogger mode" and I left both my laptop and DSLR at home- so this post is iPhone photography only. 😊 Read on for my Lake Placid recommendations:

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      Lake Placid might be in the same state as New York City, but fashion-wise this little town could not be more different! This little village is very rustic, quiet, and outdoorsy focused, so this isn't the type of trip to pack your super trendy clothes for. 😉 The weather was in the 60s and chillier at night when Anna and I were there, so I packed a pair of older dark skinny jeans that I've had for awhile, sneakers for hiking, a favorite flannel {similar here}, and this favorite sweater, which is from last year but still in stock


      My friend Anna and I stayed at the Best Western Adirondack Inn. Since we booked this trip only a few days in advance, and the early fall season can be a peak time to visit Upstate NY, a lot of the other hotel properties located right in the Village of Lake Placid were already booked or had very high rates for the weekend that we were able to visit. The Best Western Adirondack Inn had a rate that was pretty affordable to be split between the two of us, and the location of the hotel ended up being just ideal! This hotel is located directly on Main Street in Lake Placid, and it's across the street from the Olympic Museum and Ice Arena. Just about everything in town is in walking distance (restaurants, souvenir shops, bars, etc). Due to the fact that the roads were closed in town for the sporting event on Sunday while we were there, Anna and I spent most of the day walking and exploring town, and we were able to do so easily from the hotel location! The hotel had clean rooms, comfortable beds, and a decent breakfast buffet. There was also a nice looking indoor pool, however we weren't able to take advantage of that on this trip. While this isn't a "luxury" hotel, I would definitely consider staying at this Best Western again if I'm back in Lake Placid!


     This ended up being the best surprise about the weekend. The food in Lake Placid was WONDERFUL! After the fantastic meals that we had, I was kind of sad that we only had the chance to try a couple restaurants since it was such a short trip. Here are the places that we enjoyed eating at:

    Dancing Bears (2404 Main Street): Dancing Bears Restaurant is located right on Main Street and has nice views of Mirror Lake. It had great Trip Advisor ratings, so Anna and I decided to give it a try, and we were not disappointed! Their menu offers a variety of standard American favorites as well as a few local options. I tried a few things from the appetizer menu for dinner: the local cheese plate and the chili. (If you know me well you know that I can never resist a cheese plate, especially when I travel!) I enjoyed both very much, and the cheese plate was so big that I actually couldn't finish it- always the best problem to have! We both ended up being too full for dessert- and I'm rarely one to pass up dessert so that was a good sign.

     Stewart's Shops (2711 Main Street #1): Stewart's Shops is a popular regional gas station chain in Upstate New York (I heard they have some locations in VT as well- however there aren't any in the Burlington area). My best friend from high school, Jules, vacations each summer in the Adirondacks not too far from Lake Placid, and has told me about Stewart's Shops and the following that it has by those from this part of NY. The Stewart's convenience stores have ice cream shops inside of them. In Lake Placid, I knew I had to get my first taste of their ice cream when there was one in walking distance of our hotel! The inside of the convenience store reminded me a little bit of a small version of Cook-Out or Steak and Shake from the south. 😊 I ordered my go-to, a chocolate malt shake, and it was the best milkshake I've had since moving up North! Stewart's Shops could be a fun quick stop for a frozen treat!

      Coff E Bean (2527 Main Street, inside Alpine Mall): We needed a pick-me-up before our drive home on Sunday, so we decided to go to local favorite Coff E Bean instead of Starbucks! This cute little coffee bar is super tiny, but located right on the lake, with a gorgeous back porch that customers can enjoy their beverages out on. We both ordered chai lattes and enjoyed them almost as much as the beautiful Mirror Lake views!

     Lisa G's (6125 Sentinel Road): Lisa G's had been recommended to both Anna and I separately about the Lake Placid area, so we knew this was a must-visit for us! And it was fantastic! Lisa G's describes their menu as "creative American fare with global twists," and I think this was a fair description! I ordered one of the more creative lunch options and went with the Korean beef and rice bowl. It was absolutely incredible, and I think I had cleaned my plate completely bare in less than 10 minutes. I know I'll be eating at Lisa G's again if I'm back in Lake Placid!


      Take in the Olympic Games Attractions: Lake Placid is most famous for hosting the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Winter Games! Many of the locations where various sports held their competitions are still maintained and in-use today, and used for things like figure skating or skiing competitions. Other sights have become part of the Olympic Museum in the area. The most affordable way to see all of the Olympic sights in the Lake Placid region is the purchase the Olympic Sights Passport- which allows admission into all of sights, and 20% off select activities. Anna and I debated between doing this pass or just doing the Olympic Museum (which was across the street from our hotel).... however we didn't realize when we planned our trip that all of the Olympic sights were closed the weekend that we visited, due to a huge Ironman Triathlon that was happening through the town of Lake Placid all-day Sunday (it was so huge that all of the main roads in town were closed as well!). So sadly we didn't get a chance to see any of the Olympic sights on this trip. But I think it is cool that so many of them are well maintained and normally available for visits!

     Adirondack Scenic Railroad: There is a scenic railroad with stops through many towns in the Adirondacks, including one in Lake Placid! Anna and I found the website for it, and considered doing this for our Sunday activity when we found out about the Olympic sights closures. However- this must not have been our weekend... we next found out that the Adirondack Scenic Railroad is closed for the 2017 season due to a legal situation! Hopefully that will be resolved for future years as it did sound like a really fun activity, but of course we didn't get to do that either- haha!

      Hiking: THIS is the activity that we ended up doing with our Sunday! 😊 Since Lake Placid is located smack in the gorgeous Adirondack mountains, there is tons of hiking around for all skill levels. Anna and I did a local hike in the neighboring town of North Elba called Cobble Hill, which was about one mile each way. It ended up being a bit steeper and a bigger workout than we anticipated, so it was a great hike! The views at the top were wonderful. Giant Mountain and Whiteface Mountain in neighboring towns are larger mountains which are recommended for more experienced hikers!

      Kayak Rentals: There are lots of opportunities to rent kayaks and explore Mirror Lake (the lake in Lake Placid) or the nearby Saranac Lake. This probably wouldn't be a good winter activity, but would be great for a visit in summer/fall! Trip Advisor had several forums all about the different rental and guide companies in the towns in this area.

    Stop, slow down.... and breath: Lake Placid has a real rustic charm and slow pace to it. It's quite different from anywhere that I've visited before! Both Anna and I have been to Gatlinburg, TN before, and agreed that is probably the most similar (since both are small mountain vacation towns), however we also agreed that Gatlinburg is very touristy and almost a little "fake" seeming compared to a place like Lake Placid. Lake Placid has a very old-school feel to it, and a calming, rustic feel. It's the type of place to escape to when you want to slow down and disconnect. Even though we weren't able to go through with our original plans of seeing the Olympic sights, we still had a great time of walking around, eating, and hanging out. And this was the perfect place to do that!

Still had to get a picture in front of the Olympic Arena! (I grew up as a competitive figure skater so this was very cool for me!)

Cobble Hill hike views.

      I hope that you enjoyed my 24 Hours in Lake Placid Travel Guide! Earlier this summer I wrote a 24 Hours in Montreal Travel Guide. Being a newbie in the radio industry, I don't get much time off in my first year of work (and work a 6 day a week schedule currently), so 24 hour mini-road trips are kind of the majority of the traveling that I'll be doing for the time being, but I think these guides are fun to put together. I hope to do more of them in coming months for new-to-me destinations around Burlington! 

     God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese (or Charlotte XO on-air!)

September 18, 2017

Styling a Cozy Sweater.

     Like it or not, New England's frigid winter temperatures will be here before long! They often arrive well before the formal start of the winter season, so I'm already doing some inventory in my closet for winter fashion pieces that I'll need, and ways to restyle things that I already have. I recently got this cozy sweater that I'm wearing in today's post, and I know this outfit will be great for any early chilly days that head to Vermont! 

Photography by Amanda Rose Photography 

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      I had scheduled this blog post for today a few weeks ago... but it is ironic that I'm publishing it on this Monday as Northern Vermont is coming off of a gorgeous weekend filled not only with sunshine, but also 80 degree temperatures!! Let me repeat- two days of 80 degree temps in mid September! That is warmer than it was for a lot of summer here... what a glorious weekend it was! I'll be sharing a bit about what I did to enjoy it in this week's Midweek Ramblings post on Wednesday. Anyways- onto this outfit, which I know sadly I will be wearing sooner rather than later with the way weather changes here! 

       In the winter or cool end of fall, it can be easy to start to get lazy with fashion. Gone are adorable sundresses and fun summer patterned dress pants, and it's onto what can seem like an endless cycle of sweaters. My job is so casual attire-wise that I want to make sure not to fall into the boring 6+ months trap of wearing an oversized sweater, jeans, and snow boots to work everyday! That wouldn't be very fashion blogger of me. I know that the long cold season up here will be a challenge to my fashion sense- but I'm up for it! 😉 My hope is to wear a lot of outfits like this one- looks that are still warm and cozy, but also trendy and cute.

      This grey sweater is one of the warmest things in my closet right now!! I was pretty hot when shooting this, but I know I'll be so thankful for this once the snow arrives. I highly recommend it if you live in a cold state, or have a ski vacation planned for this winter! My mom surprised me with this pretty plaid scarf this summer which is on sale now!! If you're looking for a great scarf for the upcoming months- grab this one now while it's marked down. And I love these faux leather leggings! I bought them last season and they're back for this year too and fully in stock.

    Are you already thinking about your cold weather wardrobe like I am? What's on your must-buy list?

     I'm excited for the rest of the month's posts on Southern Belle in Training! Stay tuned for some fun ones on the way, starting tomorrow!

      God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese (or Charlotte XO on-air!)

September 15, 2017

Radio 101: Why Do I Hear The Same Songs Over and Over On The Radio?

      Since beginning my career in radio, there is one question that I've been asked far more than others. "Why does the radio play the same 5/10/15/20 songs OVER and OVER and OVER?" And then that question is usually followed up with ones like "Don't they know there's other good music? Don't the radio personalities get sick of the same songs? Are you the one picking the same songs?" For this month's Radio 101 blog post, I'm going to be breaking down the mystery surrounding airplay, especially in the Top 40 (technical term being Contemporary Hit Radio, or "CHR") format. I work mainly in CHR radio, so my perspective is best on this format, but some of the things that I'll be explaining in today's post could definitely be applied to other formats of "current" radio, like Contemporary Christian or Country Hits radio.

      I think there is a huge misconception in radio that DJs like myself pick all the songs that play! That couldn't be further from the truth. (Just like you probably were... I was also quite tired this summer of hearing Despacito and I'm The One every 30 mins!) Just about all radio stations these days use computer software that communicates with the broadcasting equipment, and then plays the songs in the day's playlist over the air. To start at the beginning, I'll explain a bit about how music is played on the radio these days. My company uses a music software called NextGen, which is a popular one. This is the same software that I learned how to use in broadcasting school in their studios, so I found this convenient when I began my job! Anyways, NextGen is the program on our station computers that our commercials, songs, and talk breaks are loaded into. It then produces a visual log, and a countdown clock, so that I when I'm live at work I can see the songs and commercials that are up next, what time my talk breaks are at, and how long I have to talk (sometimes it's just a few seconds!).

      Now you're probably wondering how the music gets into our NextGen program! That's the job of the station's Program Director, which is the radio term for a manager/supervisor/boss. (In larger radio stations or markets, there will also be an Assistant Program Director, or a Music Director, for each station who might be more in charge of music scheduling. But in smaller markets like where I am in Vermont, the Program Director wears a lot of hats!) The PD's job is to schedule each week's music into NextGen or whichever type of software the station uses, and to do so according to industry standards for the type of station that it is. This probably varies from radio station to radio station, but music gets loaded anywhere from a few days to over a week in advance. That means when I come into the studio for work each day, I can have access to seeing the whole log (playlist) for that day, or even upcoming days in advance, as in when which songs will play at what times!

     DJs can override NextGen's prescheduling to some extent. When I get listener requests, I can move songs around or delete songs so that listeners can hear their requests within the hour. Generally speaking, we aren't supposed to mess with the log of songs that much though.... because of what I'm about to talk about next!

     So now that you know how music plays at the radio station, let's talk about the actual music! So often in CHR radio (or other formats with their top songs), it seems like only the same 10 songs play over and over and over, with little variety. Radio playlists are made up primarily by what songs are charting high nationally on the song charts in the genre of the radio station, but how do those songs make up the charts and gain popularity in the first place? The charts and brand new music are both influenced directly be record labels, and their reps. Each major artist today that is getting a lot of radio airplay is represented by a huge record label. You might recognize some of the names of the top record labels: Columbia, Def Jam, Interscope, RCA... the list goes on! These record companies (and many more smaller ones) represent the top musicians in the country right now. Selling music and selling an artist is a type of sales job, so the record labels employ reps that work as traveling salespeople, and visit with radio station Program Directors around the country, trying to get them to pick up new songs from their artists that fit the genre of the radio station.

       The Program Directors for both stations that I work for are visited frequently by reps of the record labels. Considering that I work in a small market all the way in Northern Vermont... I can only imagine that Program Directors in large city markets get visited even more frequently, and that there's even more pressure to play the songs that the labels are pushing! If an artist with the immense popularity of someone like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber or Rihanna releases new music, you can almost guarantee it will get Top 40 airplay immediately, as artists like these have an enormous presence in the industry and a huge fan base. Songs by established artists like these often don't take long to shoot to the top of the charts. However, it's with newer and up and coming artists where radio airplay can vary regionally. A record label might focus a lot on getting a new artist into certain markets where they think that person would appeal first. For example, Aaron Carter had a comeback album that came out this winter. My boss played the first hit single from the album for a good few months on the main station that I work for, as did a few other CHR stations across the country. However, this song didn't quite chart nationally (although it was a very good song!). There were also a few up and coming artists who you would hear on Charlotte's radio stations- often people who would be brought in to do concerts or meet and greets since that's a larger market. But those artists have since faded and I've never heard them played once in Vermont. It probably means that their record label was heavily targeting Charlotte.

       Now as far as how often songs are played on the radio- that varies as you can expect by what's big on the charts! The Program Director will schedule music for that day and week by putting what's at the top of the charts in heavy rotation. The top songs in the country (on the radio charts- different from the Spotify/streaming charts) you will be hearing in heavy rotation in CHR radio, usually once an hour with the top five songs. Throughout the day, older, formally popular songs will also play to mix things up, which are either "Recurrents" or "Golds" - depending on their age. A recurrent is a song that was at the top of the charts in the last 1-2 years, so it's something that people are still recently very familiar with. Two recurrents on my station right now are from early 2017- "Let Me Love You" by Justin Bieber and "Rockabye" by Clean Bandit. A "Gold" is a song that's a few years old or even older, a "classic" if you will that everyone knows when it comes on, and that was at the top in its heyday. A few popular Golds in CHR radio are "Yeah!" by Usher, "Toxic" by Britney Spears and "Umbrella" by Rihanna.

      How often Recurrents and Golds play each day depends on the Program Director and radio company, and the flavor of the station. Before my station relaunched in August, we were playing a lot of brand new music and more recurents, but less golds. Now with our rhythmic hip hop lean, we play two golds an hour! I don't remember the station that I interned for in Charlotte playing that many golds at all, but they were a large market.

     Sorry if this post is a bit wordy- but I hope that it helped you to understand a bit about the mysteries of why some songs play more than others in certain genres of radio! Even though I went to broadcasting school last year and had radio internships, a lot of the record label politics and such were things I didn't learn about until starting my job this spring. I hope most of all what comes across through these monthly Radio 101 posts is how much I love the field of radio and love sharing what I know  and work with everyday with others!

      Feel free to send any radio related questions for next month's Radio 101 post! Have a wonderful weekend!

      God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese (aka Charlotte XO on-air!)