10 Questions with ... Justin Brown
March 7, 2016
1. Brief history / synopsis
I was born and raised in Anniston, Alabama. Legend has it that is where Jennifer Aniston got the idea for her "Hollywood" last name. I went to Jacksonville State University and received two art degrees, but that is where I got my start in radio. I will be celebrating my fifth anniversary this year with my wife Sherri, and we have a little tornado of a girl named Abbey who will be two years old in June.
2. What was it that made you "catch the bug" for radio? When did you realize that it was what you wanted to do for a living?
I first caught the bug for radio when I was a kid doing my homework at the kitchen table listening to the radio while my mother cooked dinner. It was then that I made up a game of trying to name the song by title and artist before they started singing. When I turned 16 and got my first car, I didn't sing along with songs. I imitated the disc jockeys.
3. What's the most successful on-air bit/break you've ever been part of? ?
Wow, that would make me rethink every break over the last 24 years. Since I have never worked for a non-com in my professional career, "successful" would have to take on a different meaning. If it weren't getting a child sponsored for Compassion, it would probably have to be a long-form break I did during the "Blizzard of '93". I accepted a collect call from a guy on a pay phone outside a motel. Crossing the highway getting to the motel, he had fallen into a ditch up to his waist in water and was freezing and turning blue. He had been banging on the door of the motel and nobody was answering the door. I told him to hang on and not worry. The National Guard was listening and someone would be by soon to pick him up and take him to the hospital. We were the only station on the air at the time, including radio and TV. Sure enough, he called me later and thanked me for saving his life.
4. With the advent of "instant everything".....what do you do to show prep?
I show prep constantly while I'm on the air. I scour local websites for news and traffic updates. I really try to capitalize on being the only live and local music host in town during my daypart.
5. What would you categorize as your greatest personal challenge in radio? What are you doing to overcome that?
I suppose the greatest personal challenge is to keep fresh and not get burned out. I once had a GM that told me to take a full week off every six months instead of taking a day off here and there. You really can't get rested and recharged during a three day weekend. When my little girl was born, it was really hard to stay focused when you are sleep deprived and are getting up every two hours for a feeding. I'm not as good as I should be on taking full weeks off during the year, but when I do I really can feel the difference.
6. Who is someone that you look to as a mentor/leader? What is it about them that grabs & keeps your attention?
One is Joe Langston. He was a TV legend in Birmingham for around 25 years. After he retired from television, he taught me radio and announcing in college.
7. What do you believe is the single greatest factor in building audience share/cume? Why do you believe it's that important?
I believe it is living your life out on the air. I spent many years early in my career as a "liner jock". It wasn't until I started living my life out on the radio that my connection with the listener went to the next level. When they get invested in your life, you become part of their family. Some people who call me on a regular basis doesn't have any other family, so you become their best friend.
8. Most successful station promotion ever?
I went to work for a secular CHR station in Texas in 1999. I arrived in March, right before the Spring book started to do mornings for the first time, with a partner that was already established in the market. The GM said, "you need to make an impact and everyone needs to know who you are. How you feel about living on a roof for 2 1/2 days?". We lived in a tent on the top of a car dealership in 19 degree weather, 70 mile per hour winds, and a couple of inches of rain that eventually turned into snow. We had sky tracker lights, live bands, and local TV weather people doing live shots from our rooftop. We went from a 7.9 to a 19.1 that book.
9. What's the last book you read? How did it impact you?
It was "Boys Life" by Rick McCammon. He lives here in Birmingham, and my wife used to work with his wife. One night we went over to his house for dinner, and he came down the stairs in a robe. He was working on another book at the time. I think it was a book about vampires. He introduced us to Nutella, and it changed my life! ;) To this day, I keep a jar of Nutella in the kitchen.
10. Radio 101....in 101 words or less, how would you guide/instruct/advise a radio programmer/air talent who wants to get better at their craft?
My biggest Radio 101 tip is to remember that the rules for radio change every time you work for a different boss. Sometimes the Radio 101 stuff is only 10%, and the opinion of who is in charge makes up the other 90%. Pick which battle hill you want to die on. I argued my way out of a couple of jobs before I learned that lesson the hard way.
1. Most embarrassing moment on air?
Years before I ever got into radio, I had my radio name picked out. That was, until a guy came on the radio when I was about 16 with the same name. I vividly remember screaming "NOOOO" at the radio. When I finally had the chance to be on the air at the college radio station and had my new radio name picked out, I kept forgetting it and used my real name. I eventually dropped the fake name and used my real name for the majority of my career. The only time I went by a fake name is when a new boss changed it for me. I currently have been using my real name for the last 12 years.
2. Favorite cereal, favorite cartoon character and favorite fast food choice?
Coco Pebbles. Super Man, Chick-Fil-A.
3. You've got one last live break on air....and then the radio will go silent. What do you say, and why?
Romans 10:9. If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.