10 Questions with ... Jim Denny
October 20, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
In 1986, Jim got his break in Country radio when he was added to the morning line up and became Program Director of WIRE/Indianapolis. In 1988, he was lured across town to WFMS where he first hosted afternoons. He eventually co-hosted mornings with Charlie Morgan as "The Jim and Charlie Show." In 1996, Jim teamed with longtime news anchor Kevin Freeman to form "The Jim and Kevin show." Currently, Jim co- hosts the WFMS Morning Show with Kevin Freeman and Deborah Honeycutt and celebrates his 25th anniversary at the station this year. Earlier this month, Denny was selected for induction into the Country Radio Hall of Fame.
1. Jim congratulations on your upcoming induction to the Country Radio Hall of Fame. Can you share with us the first thing that went through your mind when you were notified?
My wife and I were on a little get away to Daytona Beach when I got the call. When told I was being inducted into the Country Radio Hall of Fame I was speechless and actually teared up. I got the call from Charlie Morgan, who I was teamed up with for six years from 1990-1996 on the WFMS morning show. That certainly made it special as well. I remember being in shock for a while and so humbled.
2. And how does it compare to winning a CMA or ACM personality of the Year Award? As many know, you have won both during your time with WFMS.
Winning the 2006 ACM and the 2007 and 2009 CMA with my co-hosts Deborah Honeycutt and Kevin Freeman was an absolute thrill because it signified success as a team. That is what you strive for as a morning show is the team factor. We have a great relationship because we are all friends and this carries on to the air. The CMA and the ACM is an honor for the work done in a specific year. The Hall of Fame induction is based on your career in country radio as an individual. I don't think one honor is better than the other but the emotions are a bit different.
3. You've done mornings at WFMS since 1990 and the show has had a number of different players, yet you have been the constant. What do you attribute your longevity to?
I wish I could put my finger on it, but I really don't know. Maybe I'm a comfortable voice, maybe it's because I am country, I just don't know. I have worked with some of the most talented people in the business and have been blessed with that. From Charlie Morgan, Bill Whyte, Trapper John Morris and of course 23 years with Kevin Freeman and 11 years with Deborah Honeycutt. Let's face it, I am a lucky lucky man.
4. As the show has evolved, were there ever growing pains as new cast members joined or moved on?
I can honestly say No. Every member that has been on the show I knew previously. Charlie and I were friends before working together. Kevin Freeman and I had already worked together for 6 years when we teamed up, Bill Whyte was a friend, The same with Trapper John and Deborah Honeycutt. Everyone was a friend before teaming up together. Makes it a pretty easy transition.
5. And during the past 23 years, you've witnessed a lot of different eras for Country music. How does the current environment stack up against say, the early 90's or "Garth Brooks" era?
I have been a country music fan since the late 1960's. Glen Campbell is a huge reason why I picked up the guitar. Being a fan through the 70's, 80's and 90's til now, I can see why the popularity of country music continues to grow. Country music's umbrella keeps getting bigger and bigger. Look under the umbrella. If you like Bluegrass, it's there. If you like Texas swing...it's there. If you like today's country music, it's there. Garth Brooks brought the excitement of a big show to the stage. Kenny Chesney turned that big show into an all day event. Country music has something for everyone. Pretty cool!!!
6. You are the anchor of the show; it's central character. All roads lead to and through you. Can you describe that responsibility and how you shoulder it?
Well I don't consider myself the central character. I am maybe the on air coordinator as I am usually the first into a break and the last out but we share a lot of on air time and responsibility's. It truly is a team, from prep to brainstorming it's a group effort.
7. In so many ways, morning shows are like arranged marriages and in fact, you may spend more time with the people on the show, at work then your actual significant other. In your opinion, what are the keys to making it all work?
Well I am lucky because I do spend time with my wife on the air every morning. Mimi Pearce, my wife, is a 27 year veteran of WFMS and WTHR Channel 13 as it's traffic reporter. So we have the same schedule of getting up together at 2:30am. That has clearly helped the real marriage. She is not in the studio but is at the TV station but I hear her every 10 minutes. As far as the marriage with Deb and Kevin, the whole secret is TRUST. I know we would never do anything to each other that would shed a bad light on the other. Even in disagreement, we know we have each other's back. As hokey as it may sound, it's family.
8. If you hadn't ended up in radio, what line of work do you think you would be in?
I studied psychology in college and if not for radio I might have pursued a career. I'm still trying to figure out how I can combine an on air shrink with country music.
9. You are unique in that you've done mornings for a long time and it's been the same station and market. How special is that?
I was born and mostly raised in Indianapolis. Went to Cathedral High School here...Marian University here. 34 years in radio mostly in Indiana. 27 years in country radio in my hometown. I had a chance back in 1987 to go to South Florida...instead I took the job in my hometown at WFMS. I am sooooo glad I made that decision
10. Have you ever come close to taking another job during the past 23 years?
There were a couple of things that came up in the early years but I always came to the same conclusion. I feel WFMS is one of the top stations in the country. Over the years from top to bottom. So I would ask myself...if you are on top, where else do you want to go?
1. I'll be in Indy this weekend. Give me three great ideas for something to do.
If you have time, take a tour around the Indy 500 track. If you haven't seen it, you'll be surprised at the size of it. Colts are in town Monday night against the Chargers. Great stadium also. Check out Broad Ripple for a little night life.
2. Exactly how hot is the Shrimp cocktail at St. Elmo's steakhouse?
It's not hot; it's invigorating! Your nostrils have never felt so clear!!
3. Ever driven the Indy 500 Pace car?
Not at the track but I got to bring one home a couple of times. It has that "look at me" effect. If you ever get the chance you must do the 2 seater Indy car. I got to do that once around the Indy 500 at 180 mph. WOW!!!!