10 Questions with ... Lauren Karcz
January 12, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Well, up to this point my career has been a wild ride! This wonderful world of radio has opened my eyes to a career that makes me enjoy life to the fullest, and I wouldn't change a minute of my journey.
I started my collegiate education at Eastern Illinois University where I studied communications and journalism while also working for the school's station, HitMix 88.9, as an on-air personality. Deciding to transfer to the Illinois Center for Broadcasting two years later, I received a diploma in radio and TV broadcasting.
Although I loved the early exposure to the industry, I felt compelled to achieve my goal of being a college graduate. So I enrolled and later finished my schooling at Columbia College Chicago. In May 2012, I earned my bachelor's degree in radio and marketing. Through all of this, I have had the privilege to intern for well-known Chicago-based radio such as Mancow Muller, 97.9 The Loop, 97.1 The Drive, and 103.5 Kiss-FM.
That was all great, but I needed to fill a void. I wanted to do bigger and better things, beyond Illinois. So this past January, I packed up my bags and left Chicago to move to Hernando, Florida where I now work as a production assistant and on-air personality for WXCV. Initially I did not know anyone, but I have definitely made the best of this experience and met many great people along the way.
1) What Got You Interested In Radio?
I have known that I wanted to work in radio since I was a nine-years-old. My passion for music and making people laugh are what first made me realize that I not only wanted, but I needed to make a career out of this. In my "tween" years, I started going to concerts. I remember intently watching the DJs on stage introducing the bands in front of thousands of screaming fans, and thinking, "That will be me someday." Especially after being introduced to the world of live music, I knew for certain there was no turning back! This is what I would do. I had to, it was my calling! My passion for music brought me to the radio business and has created a dream within me that I get to live every day!
2) Who do you consider your radio mentors?
Our PD, Ryan Downs, has really shown me the ropes since I moved to Florida. I am a person who has never been afraid to ask questions and I am very eager to keep learning new things. Ryan has had the patience and knowledge to keep up with my eccentric personality while providing ways to better myself in not only production, but also for my on-air and on-site broadcasts.
When it comes to any tech issues, our Production Director, Joe Estrada, is my go-to guy. He's one of those people you need to watch the confusing movies with. You know those people who know the intricacies of everything? Joe has not just an answer, but a detailed explanation for everything which has helped me learn more about the technical side of radio.
As for Doug Groff, our Morning Show Host on WXOF, he has worked in both small and large markets and has given me the most advice of what I need to do to succeed in this industry. Co-hosting with him in the mornings has allowed me to become a more confident on-air personality. I have been blessed to work under such quality mentors, who have bestowed upon me an even deeper love for this profession.
3) How are you using social media to market your radio station and your show?
I am a social butterfly, both face-to-face and via social media. I am responsible (willingly) to post where we'll be on Facebook, as well as post pictures and interact with the listeners during all of our live remotes.
Each week I create a contest. Some fan favorites are "caption the photo" or our interactive online poll. Another thing I pride myself on is giving the people what they want, and PEOPLE LOVE ANYTHING FREE! For that, I turn to the prize closet which always gets the fans more involved. As for Twitter, I constantly post my blogs and I ask for opinions in regards to the content, along with future blogging suggestions. I also have a personal Instagram page where I post pictures of our remotes. Without a doubt, the hashtags have significantly increased the amount of viewers #doitforthefans. It truly amazes me how not only social media has taken over such a huge role in our daily lives, but has such a positive impact in this industry.
4) What do you like best about working in the Hot AC format compared to other genres?
I'm a sucker for the Hollywood stars and a reality TV junkie. On WXCV, I'm able to talk about both of them on my show and the latest gossip. I like to be in the know. To top even that, is that I can state my opinion and then write blogs that are then featured on our website.
5) What type of features do you run on the station?
Being from Chicago, I am beginning to understand why my co-workers tell me that Florida is known to house some idiotic people that do the most unusual things, earning her the nickname "Crazy State."
One of our features is "Florida's Finest" where we talk about the ludicrous morons who made the headlines that day, such as the "Three-breasted woman." We also have "Ask the Sheriff" on Wednesdays. The Sheriff of Citrus County comes into the studio to talk about upcoming events, the counties most wanted and tells stories that you would think couldn't possibly be true, in a segment called, "You can't make this up."
6) What type of features do you run on your show?
I have a few features I do on my show. During my all-request lunch hour, I do something called, "Fact or Fooey." Basically I read a question and the listener has to tell me if it's true or false. If they are correct, they receive a prize. I also do "Tech Talk" and talk about the latest in technology as well as "Florida's Morons" where a Florida story is featured during my show.
7) How do you market your radio station? How are you reaching the target demos?
We are very involved with the community, so we are constantly out doing on-site broadcasts. We are always interacting with listeners, grilling free food, giving away prizes, and just all around having a good time. I think between our on-air breaks and being on-site the energy and good vibes we give off give people the assumption they should make their way over to whatever location we are broadcasting from.
We also promote a lot of benefits and charities throughout our shows and commercials and I think that has really helped the station. Reaching our target demos, we attend a lot of the events that are going on in the community. Whether it's a remote or not, we are always promoting on-air and making appearances to help everyone in the community succeed.
8) Tell us what music we would find on your phone or MP3 player right now and what is it you enjoy about that particular selection?
I am a fan of alternative, classic rock and reggae. I have a huge collection of records that I have collected over the years, everything from The Beatles to Michael Jackson to The Bee Gees. If you were to go on my IPod, you'd find 311, Nine Inch Nails, Slightly Stoopid, Metallica and the list goes on and on. Anything I can dance or rock out to is my kind of music. I never understood how people could go to a concert and just stand still? If it's got a beat, it's for me!
9) What advice would you give people new to the business?
Look at the big picture and stay focused on what you want in life. Nobody lands their dream job right off the bat, but if you are willing to go the distance it will eventually come to you.
No matter how frustrated you get trying to land any kind of job, never give up! Good things take time and you will eventually find something. Also, no matter how long you've been in the business, always try to find ways to keep bettering yourself as well as the station. If you love what you do, you'll never have to work a day in your life!
10) What is the one truth that has held constant in your career?
Hard work pays off. After I graduated college, I knew I had school loans to pay back and I didn't want to have this degree sitting on the back burner as I bar tended. I made a goal to have my foot in the door within in the next year. Sending out resumes left and right and spending money on out of state interviews, I was determined to make this happen. I did what I had to and I finally landed my first paid gig. If you want something, it's not going to just come to you. You have to make it happen!
What do you do in your spare time?
I love going to concerts and seeing live music whether I know who the band is or not. Living in an unfamiliar state I've been able to try a lot of new things that I would never have experienced in Chicago. I've always loved the outdoors and out here I've been able to go deep sea fishing, swim with the manatees, spend the day out on a boat and just enjoy the sunshine. I'm a person who craves adventure and I love trying new things, so I'm always looking for new places to go. Other than that, I enjoy traveling, writing and relaxing with a good craft beer!
Who is your best friend in the business?
Moving down to Florida not knowing a single soul, I was a bit nervous, obviously. Leaving all my friends and family behind to pursue a dream, I didn't know what to expect. I met Krystal Weedman who is one of our account executives and we hit it off right away. Besides the fact we both love to go out dancing, we have similar personalities as well as common interests. Between working in the office and doing remotes on the weekend, we basically see each other seven days a week, so thank goodness we get along! We definitely know how to get a party started and keep the audience entertained!
Do you have any good stalker stories? Misty requests? "Fatal Attractions?"
I have this one listener who used to call everyday and I would chat with him for a bit not thinking anything of it. Then he showed up to a remote, where we met face to face. That turned into him taking pictures and then showing up to our studios multiple times asking for me. I don't really like confrontation nor do I like being rude to people so I tried shooing him away in a professional manner. That didn't work. He showed up to our last concert we hosted and every time he would come try to talk to me, the police officers would point him in the other direction. He still calls here and there wanting to hear Ke$ha or Florida Georgia Line, but I think he's finally starting to get a clue!
Of all the skills you have gained through the years, is there an area you'd like to improve?
I realized that having my own show, being an on-air personality isn't as easy as everyone thinks! We have to speak within 20 seconds on each break we do and being on a time restraint can be a little difficult. I'm learning to talk as if I were just having a normal conversation and not sound so much like an announcer.
What career path would you be following had it not been for this industry?
Honestly, I don't know what I would be doing if it wasn't for radio? I served and bar tended my way through college, and yes the money was fantastic, but do I really want to be getting some mean old lady extra ranch dressing for the rest of my life? Um, no! I'll take the pay cut and do what I love to do instead.