10 Questions with ... AJ "Jennifer"
September 2, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started as an intern/promotions assistant for 103.7 KISS FM (WXSS) in 2005, when I was a senior at UW-Milwaukee. I started commuting to Appleton to do part-time at 95.9 KISS FM (WKSZ) as well as afternoons on Lake 98.1 (WLKN) in Sheboygan. Eventually, I got to stay in town and do weekends on 103.7 before I moved to Seattle. Did weekends on MOViN' 92.5 (KQMV), until I moved back to Appleton to do the night show at 95.9 KISS FM. Moved 7 months later to La Crosse, WI to do the morning show at Z93 (WIZM-FM) for 2 years. Moved to my current radio home in Wausau/Stevens Point, WI to do the morning show at Y106.5 (WYTE-FM) and middays on Hot 96.7 (WHTQ), where we've been for the past 2 1/2 years.
1) Hi there AJ-first question-why AJ and not Jennifer?
I originally went by Jen O'Dell (my grandmother's last name; no relation to Spike), until we moved to La Crosse. Our PD/midday host at Z93 had been going as Jen O'Brien for years, so I had to come up with a new on-air name. AJ was tongue in cheek for "and Jen." It ends up translating as "Pat and and Jen," but it's our little inside joke.
2) How did you get into radio in the first place?
It all started when I was a kid, and my cousin and I used to make radio shows on my double cassette boom box. Actually, I really had no intention of being in radio. I was double-majoring in theatre and broadcast journalism at UWM, and hoping to go into advertising. Makes sense, right? I needed an internship in my senior year, and I had been listening to 103.7 KISS FM since it went on the air in '98. I thought it'd be fun, but I never thought it'd lead to a career in radio.
3) You're married to your morning partner (Pat)-first of all, didn't your mom warn you not to marry a radio guy, and secondly, did you work together first? Is that how you met?
Ha! Typical radio building scandal (gasp): we met at work. I was doing web work for the night show, and as I was driving in to the station, I heard the new night jock. I thought he sounded old. When I walked in, he had an eyebrow piercing and tattoos. Not really my type, but his boyish charm won me over. We tried having separate solo jock careers, but it just wasn't going to work, so we decided to take a shot at doing a morning show. The rest is history.
4) What's it like being on the air with your spouse and then going home together to be a family?
After almost 5 years as a morning show, we've figured each other out. Don't get me wrong--it was rough for a while. Too much time spent together. We value our alone time, for sure. I'll take our son home to Milwaukee to visit my parents and he stays back for the weekend. We definitely respect each other's space, but we spend a lot of time together as a family.
5) You two have a 5 year old son, correct? So how's this whole thing work? Is it tough to juggle?
Yep! 5 1/2, and he's mildly Autistic. He's a handful, but it's worth it. He's super smart; he's great at memorization. I think he could be a great actor. It's tough to juggle, though. No naps during the day for us! We're pretty much on-the-go from sun up til sun down.
6) Do you and Pat talk radio at home?
You mean, does Pat talk radio at home? All day, every day. He's the bigger radio nerd out of the two of us. I try to turn off the work switch when we're at home, but it almost never happens. Always updating our radio show Facebook and Twitter. We don't like to shut off the show, just because we're off the air. Our listeners are still social networking all day. We actually find that we get a bigger response in the afternoons and on weekends from our audience. We want to be a 24/7 experience. We're constantly making notes during the day about what we could talk about on the show or post on the Facebook pages. It's actually kind of nice; we don't have to come into work at 3 AM to prep each other; we're doing it all day long already.
7) You also track middays for Hot 96.7-do you enjoy working solo or as a co-host better?
I think they both compliment each other. I'm glad that I get to track middays; it helps me to stay sharp as a solo jock. It was hard at first, to go from being a co-host back to a solo jock after 2 years. But it keeps me on my toes; it's important to remember how to rely on yourself as a jock and not on other people.
8) What's the story with the Irish Dance School?
I had been Irish dancing for quite a few years when I got into radio. It's something that I didn't want to lose, so I kept it as a second job. I really got to fine-tune my teaching skills when I taught in La Crosse. When we came to Wausau/Stevens Point, there weren't any dance schools that were interested in Irish dance. So I started my own school. Pat's convinced that my hardcore, suffering Irish work ethic won't allow me to just have ONE job, and that's probably true.
9) What do you do for fun when you're not on the air, or driving the 5 year old around or cooking dinner or tracking another shift- whew! So do you have time to shut it all down and watch TV?
Irish dance has definitely been my escape. It's great exercise, which is something you don't get in radio (unless you jog in place during commercial breaks). Gets me out of the house and keeps me active. I love taking our son swimming; it's something we both really enjoy, and he's really good at it. There's not a lot of time to shut it all down. Our son goes to bed around 8 PM, and we try to have a quick dinner and watch TV. We're always asleep on the couch before 10, though.
10) What's a great escape from reality TV show that you watch?
I used to be a Big Brother junkie, until I realized that it's a lot like a radio station. It's a little too much like work to watch at home. The show actually made me paranoid. I love The Real Housewives of Orange County. I've been watching it since it went on the air. I'm embarrassed that I watch it; I know it's rotting my brain. For some reason, I can't turn it off.
1) What's on your iPod right now that you're loving
I'm a big Mumford & Sons fan. Can't wait for their next album. I've been listening to Hugh Laurie recently. Yes, Dr. House is also a fantastic jazz/blues musician. I've actually never seen an episode of House, but his music is spot on. And he's wicked hot, so that's a plus.
2) What was the last book you read?
Per the above answers, I don't have time to read. I suppose I could read instead of watching Real Housewives.
3) What would you be doing if you weren't in radio?
I'm still fascinated with the world of advertising and marketing. I'd love to work with businesses and celebrities and help them market their social networking correctly. If there's one thing (and only one thing) that we know we'll be remembered for, it's our social networking. We've been honored by the Wisconsin Broadcaster's Association four times for having the best social networking in the state. We've actually had some major market stations copy & paste our tweets and Facebook posts. I cringe when I see celebs and organizations that don't know how to do it properly. I'd love to help people connect with their audience more efficiently. If that doesn't work, I can always Irish dance.