10 Questions with ... Abby Zellmer
July 8, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I actually started part-time weekend overnights on Z104 (WZEE-Madison). I've been a morning show producer, midday traffic announcer, web content director, promotions director, on air personality, and music director - which is where I'm at today. I worked on Z104, I now work on Star, but in between there somewhere, I also worked for 101.5 WIBA-FM. I've been lucky enough to work in a building that has so many formats to choose from. When Mike Ferris (my wonderful boss) asked me to join Star Country less than two years ago, it was a no-brainer. Out loud I said, "Yes, Mike, I would love to work on Star Country" and in my head I was saying "Hells to the yeah!"
1) What did you listen to growing up? Were you always a Country fan or what were your biggest musical influences?
Country for as long as I can remember. We always had it playing on the kitchen radio and I don't think my dad had any other genre of music on the presets in his truck. The first cassette tape I ever owned was Joe Diffie's "Third Rock From the Sun." You can still catch me jamming out to that once in a while. Mary Chapin Carpenter, Alan Jackson, and Reba McEntire really shaped my musical taste growing up, though. I can actually remember exactly where I was when I heard certain songs from those artists.
2) What attracted you to radio and how did you get your first gig?
I like the creativity of it. There are so many things you can do: On air, online, imaging-- the list goes on and on. Luckily, I've been able to do a lot of different things just in this building, so it never gets boring.
I got my first job in radio when I was still in college. I had been interning at Z104 and the PD at the time needed someone to do overnights on the weekend. I was asked if I'd be interested, I applied, and I got it. For the year that I did that, I didn't have much of a social life, but it was totally worth it.
3) You have been doing MD duties at WMAD for close to a year now- what has been your favorite part about you new programming duties?
Definitely listening to new music. I had never had the opportunity to hear new country music before it was played on the radio. I absolutely love listening to new songs. It's probably the most fun, yet most relaxing, part of my job.
4) What is the best advice you have been given in your career?
"Do it fast. Do it sloppy. Just get it done." Just kidding, but that it one of my favorite quotes and it is actual advice given to me by my mom. The best career advice I've ever gotten is "Get a life!" I don't know if that's an exact quote, but I've been lucky enough to have some great bosses, both past and present, that think a personal life is very important. I think we all get caught up in "everything-must-be-done-now" mindset that we forget to take a step back and realize that our sanity is sometimes a little more important. And we should all have lives outside of work.
5) You're a music lover yourself but how do you feel is the best way to stay in tune with what your listeners really want to hear?
Social media. I love Facebook. Who doesn't?! People post about EVERYTHING on Facebook, including the music they like. And they'll even post what they wanna hear on the Star Country Facebook page. Same with Twitter - listeners tag their favorite artists all the time and ask us to play their songs. I think social media is a great tool to keep in touch and keep in tune with our listeners.
6) Tell us what is coming up with Summer at WMAD that you are most excited about!
With summer, there are plenty of country festivals around Wisconsin. Plus we have some county fairs that we work with too. I'd have to say the county fairs are my favorite. I'm from a small town so I like the small town feel. Plus - the animal barns are the best. Those baby animals are so cute! Every year I wish I had the balls to steal a baby goat.
7) Who are your top three favorite Country artists to interview so far and why?
Because my time on-air with Star Country has only been a little longer than my time as MD, I haven't had the pleasure to interview a lot of country artists. However, I've been lucky enough to spend some time with them and I have a few favorite moments: spooning with Jerrod Niemann, making a complete ass of myself in front of Faith Hill (I won't tell the story here, but let's just say I have a unique vocabulary.), and hanging with Thompson Square...I think those two should win cutest couple of the year award. Do they give those out at the CMAs? They should.
8) How about your dream celebrity to interview, in Country or not- who would it be and why?
I'm a huge country fan and always will be, but Britney Spears draws me in like a moth to a flame. I love her music, her videos, her live shows, she seems pretty frickin' neat. I would love to interview her simply to tell her how awesome she is.
9) You're a Madison expert of course so tell us what we have to do if we visit there!
Come during the fall and come to a Badger tailgate. It's awesome. People head downtown and are tailgating by 8am - beer, brats, Badgers! It's a great time, and you're lucky if you're actually sober enough to make it to the game.
10) You've spent your radio career in Madison so far but if you had to pick another market which one would it be any why?
I've never really had a specific market in mind. I very much enjoy my time here. However, if an opportunity arose, I wouldn't snub it, it would just have to be the right opportunity for me.
1) So cheese curds- worth all the hype?
Yes. I could live without the regular ones you buy in the grocery store, but if they banned deep-fried cheese curds, I don't think I'd go on living anymore. What would be the point?
2) What job would you love to do outside of radio?
Reality TV star
3) Name a couple of your favorite TV shows and tell us why we should watch.
Mad Men - The storylines are great and I love the references to pop culture. Plus it reminds me of a better time when we could all smoke in our offices and drink constantly at work.
Modern Marvels - It's on the History Channel. They basically take one thing, like glue or something, and break down its history and uses- it's amazing. If you ever see the "Bathroom Tech" episode, WATCH IT!
Real Housewives - Any of them, I love 'em. I gotta give credit to my bestie, Katie Sommers, for getting me hooked on these shows. Katie obviously knows what's best for me.