10 Questions with ... AJ McCloud
October 7, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
First radio job was in Fort Knox, KY. Then after a couple of jobs in Louisville, KY I got on part-time at WHAS-AM and then moved over to sister station WAMZ. First full-time was at WQXK/K105 in Youngstown, OH where I earned 2 nominations for CMA Personality of the Year. After 12 years I transferred to Lexington, KY. The headed to Sweet Home Alabama and have been with WDRM for 6 years.
1) What's new and exciting at WDRM AJ? What kinds of things do you have planned for 4th quarter?
We have a promotion with Talladega Super Speedway to give away tickets for the fifth race of NASCAR's Chase. Plus, I will be going to Talladega to parachute at the speedway with the Golden Knights U.S. Army Program. We also host a Wounded Warriors week, which includes a full week of activities for the soldiers and their families. They are included in the cities Veterans Day parade and WDRM always host their farewell party. We provide them with a catered dinner and a private concert with a Nashville recording artist.
2) Alabama is huge college football country. How does the station take advantage of that?
We incorporate that into contests when possible. For instance, we've had an online contest where parents submit a photo of their child in Alabama or Auburn attire and we post those on our website for listeners to vote on. We also give away a few tickets to go to the games. College football is a big part of our show prep on the air. The morning show will interview former coaches and people connected with the schools on the air. I record the weekly SEC coaches teleconference call and post that on my blog, plus I use soundbites on my show (and during my Pigskin Preview report on Friday). We incorporate Roll Tide and War Eagle into liners, imaging, etc. Also, the week that Alabama plays Auburn is always a big week. I also host a high school football scoreboard show on Friday night.
3) You started doing radio in college correct? What attracted you to it originally?
I grew up listening to personality radio stations like Top 40 WALY and WKLO, plus Country WINN. I designed my own radio station on paper during a class project in high school. I wanted to be a sports broadcaster, but I loved the idea of entertaining.
4) It's interesting that you were Sports Director of your high school newspaper. Are you still doing any writing?
Over the years I have written for some magazines and publications. I host a high school football scoreboard show on Friday nights but most of my writing now is for show prep, TV scripts, promotions, liners, blog, Sunday school lessons, etc.
5) It looks like you are still way into sports at your stations- tell us about that?
I have hosted a high school football scoreboard show on Friday nights since the Fall of 2007. I pick several games of the week and give updates on those from 7-9pm, then from 9pm- midnight I give final scores on all of the schools in the metro and about 12 counties in north Alabama. I also have several newspaper reporters and play-by-play announcers call in with recaps on the games they covered, plus I talk to coaches. I also post that on the station website with scores, schedules, standings, polls, interviews, etc. I'm also connected with the SEC office in Birmingham and participate in the weekly coaches conference calls. I'm also public address announcer and sideline reporter for some local semi-professional sports teams in the Tennessee Valley.
6) Tell us about your first job in commercial radio in Fort Knox- and is that THE Fort Knox where we stash all the cash?
YES, it is the same Fort Knox where all the gold is, but I never saw any of it! I lived in Louisville and knew a guy who was leaving his part-time job in Fort Knox, so I basically got the job because I bothered to drive there for the interview. I also knew I wouldn't have a job long because the owner had just sold the station, but I worked there with someone who knew a guy in Louisville and that led to a job there. I did weekends on an AOR station there in 1982. I would do 6pm- midnight on Saturday, sleep at the station (to save money on gas), work on Sunday and then go home. The station actually signed off at midnight but I would stay on the air until 2am or so, just for the experience and as long as the requests kept coming in. The owner said that was fine as long I properly kept the transmitter readings and realized that I was only getting paid until midnight! I also helped in the News department for the AM station. The News director went AWOL once and I had to cover the news. I was still in college and had to attend a class, so I pre-recorded a newscast on cart. I thought I would be fancy and include a time check, but the guy on the air said the time check was the best part of the newscast. So, I stuck with entertaining instead of news.
7) With all of the duties that you have, when do you have time to listen to new music?
Most of the time I listen to new music while I'm working at my desk. After I listen, I often take cd's home and leave them for my wife and say, "Tell me what you like."
8) Speaking of new music- there's a lot of great stuff out there isn't there? What are you high on, in particular?
A safe answer, for music calls, is-- nothing.
9) Who have been some of your mentors along your path in life- both in and out of radio?
Wow, I don't want to leave anyone out, but early in my career Duke Meyer and Coyote Calhoun helped teach me so much. Then Chuck Stevens molded me for years, Charlie Cook was a big encouragement. Now, there are just too many to even think about naming, I would certainly forget someone. My dad has been gone for 10 years but he's still a huge influence on me, as is my mom, a couple of former pastors and a couple of church friends in Alabama.
10) What do you and your family love to do in Huntsville?
Not just Huntsville, but there's Decatur, Athens and many other surrounding places. We have Huntsville Havoc hockey, Alabama Hammers arena football, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Point Mallard Water Park and camping, Bankhead Forest is incredible, our dog Rocky enjoys the beautiful parks, there's plenty of lakes to enjoy and fish in. Big Bob Gibson's BBQ in Decatur has delicious ribs, salad and the biggest baked potato you will ever "attempt" to eat. Just ask Nathan Cruise. The Tennessee Valley is THE place for Ribs. It is a big enough place to live and it doesn't take me an hour to drive to work.
1) Pizza or Sushi?
Pizza. I could not stand the taste of pizza as a child. My best friend's dad made homemade pizza when we were kids and I would not eat it. I would not even eat the olives he put on it. Oh how I would love to have one of his pizzas now. My wife actually got me started on pizza while we were dating (we married in 1985).
2) The obvious question we forgot to ask-what does A.J. stand for?
Nothing, just initials. (It's a stage name that Coyote helped me come up with).
3) Are you going to vote this November?
Absolutely (unless I'm in the grave).