10 Questions with ... Hartzell Gray
April 5, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
2013- "The Fielder's Choice" Weekends on KCOU 88.1 (University Of Missouri); 2013-2015 - Weekends With Hartzell on KRBZ (96.5 The Buzz); and 2015-present: "Hartzell After Dark" Monday thru Friday on 96.5 The Buzz.
1. How did you become interested in radio?
As long as I can remember, I've always been drawn to radio. When I was a kid my mom bought me and my brother a pretend DJ kit. It would let us record our voices and play music, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. When I got to high school, and really got a chance to try this whole broadcasting thing out, I started to really feel like radio might be something I could see myself doing the rest of my life.
2. Who is your favorite air personality not on your staff and why do you like them?
Radio oddly fascinates me, so I'm always trying to learn as much as I can, and I honestly really enjoy the history aspect of it all. Obviously, you want to learn from the best in the industry (i.e.: the Howard Sterns and Marc Maron's of the world), but I'm also a fan of people who are able to tell a story. So, to answer your question, I'm not sure I have one particular favorite on-air personality, because I try to consume as many different perspectives of the business as possible.
3. How did you get your current gig at The Buzz?
Long story short, I began interning at The Buzz in 2013 in our promotion's department. I was a sports-management major at The University Of Missouri, and remembered how much I really enjoyed doing radio in high school, so I thought I'd give it a shot, and if nothing materialized after the internship was over, at least I'd gotten to see some concerts for free. One of our morning show hosts, Dannyboi, offered to help me put together a demo tape, and coincidentally, the same day he offered to help me put together my tape, our weekend DJ had to call in sick, so Danny told me, "Hartzell, you're going live. See ya, on Saturday." I never had a chance to say no, which was great because I was terrified. At the risk of sounding cheesy, the rest is history, and I've been very lucky and fortunate to have been on-air ever since that day.
4. Tell us about Hartzell After Dark from 7-midnight on The Buzz.
I like to think of my show as a cool place that you and I can hang out at for a few hours. The Buzz is the place to get new music in Kansas City, and at night, I play LOTS of new music. Let's be honest, we've all got iPods, Spotify, Apple Music...whatever, but I still think personality matters.
5. What sort of things makes your night show unique?
Talking to, and about your city matters. I try to be as open as possible with anyone that wants to listen to me. Some nights I'll ask, "What's going on tonight?" or "Who wants to grab drinks after the show?" For me, even in a faceless medium like radio, I try to make my show as transparent to my actual life as possible, so that when I open my show by saying, "Let's do this," anyone listening can honestly say to themselves, "Yeah lets freakin' do this!"
6. How would you describe your on-air style?
I try to keep it as conversational as possible. If I've done my job right, you should feel as if we just went through something together. Even if that just means that we hung out for a few hours and played some songs together
7. What is your show prep routine?
I try to stay as current as possible, be that, making sure I've heard all of our new music to making sure I'm up to date with current events or things going on around the city. I also try to get in a couple push-up reps, because festival season is right around the corner and I need my pecks to be in tip top shape.
8. What is it like working for Lazlo?
At the risk of sounding like I'm blowing smoke, I honestly don't think there's any other boss I'd rather have, especially in my first big gig, than Lazlo. He's the ultimate big picture guy, but doesn't mind helping you out with the little things. He gives us the platform to go and be great, and what we do with that time is up to us. I can't tell you how many times I've been approached by people in the industry who have told me how special it is to work with Lazlo, and in all honesty, I couldn't agree more. The fact that I listened to Lazlo as I was growing up, and now I get to work for him, is pretty surreal and a tremendous honor.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without _________?
10. What may surprise people about you?
Let's see...I have a twin brother who does video and photography in Nashville. I used to be a Division 1 athlete, and I've dabbled in professional wrestling.
What are your hobbies?
I love staying busy. I'm the PA announcer for Children's Mercy Park, the home of our MLS soccer team Sporting Kansas City, and I coach track at my old high school. I love to read, and have a bit of an obsession with '90s professional wrestling and Star Wars. When I'm not doing that, I enjoy naps, and to be honest, I'm pretty good at it.
Last non-industry job?
Chuck E. Cheese, and yes, I wore the costume.
First record ever purchased?
Space Jam soundtrack on cassette.