10 Questions with ... Otis Day
May 24, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started in 1990 as an intern when I was in high school for Z104 in Madison, WI. They eventually paid me to dress up in a gorilla suit and go to parades. That sweaty smelly suit clued me into what I wanted to do with my life. But since Chuck E Cheese wasn't hiring, I moved to Lawton, OK to do nights at KKRX from 1992-1995. Then I moved across town to do mornings at KZCD. Finally got hired on at WIXX in 1997 for nights and have been here ever since. Switched to 9a-1p spring of 2010 and added MD duties.
1) How would you describe your first radio gig?
It was a blast. I remember editing calls on reel-to-reel machines and placing little pieces of paper as "saver" spots. But then when I'd rewind to them you'd lose calls along the way as the pieces would fly out ... so I eventually started to cut the entire call out and tape it to the wall. So you'd come into the studio during my shift and I'd have all these calls taped up to the wall. It was the early version of how we save them now on a computer in little folders ... just way less efficient.
2) What led you to a career in radio?
My mom and my Uncle Tim. Mom was outgoing and funny and told me to do something where I talked or was in front of people. I totally ripped off everything her brother (Uncle Tim) did and said growing up. Every time I crack the mic now I feel like should pay him royalties or something. And, of course, sitting at home in Lake Mills, WI listening to the incredible sound that came out of WZEE/Madison. I played radio for years in my bedroom.
When I heard Johnny Danger doing nights on Z when I was in high school ... I knew. He let me hang out for a year pretending to be his intern and I learned I could get paid a small amount of money to play Madonna and Poison on the radio and decided it was time.
3) What is your favorite part of the job? The most challenging part?
That it's fun. Every day I get to come in and work with funny people who are (almost) always smiling. What the heck could be better than that? Plus, people bring in food a lot. So there's that.
The most challenging? Admitting when you're wrong. I've gotten very good at it .... uh, pretty good at it. Very good would imply I'm wrong a lot, and of course that's not true at all.
5) What artist would we be surprised to find on your iPod?
I don't own an iPod. My phone (Droid) has tons on it, but the one that throws people off when it's on shuffle is Laurie Berkner. She's a children's musician who sings songs about bees, spaghetti, toys, flowers and more. I have a nine and six-year-old, so it's cool. That's not why she's on my phone, but it makes it okay.
6) If you could add one full-time position to your budget right now, what would it be?
Promotions Director. Please?
7) Who is your favorite air personality not on your staff and why do you like them?
Java Joel. He tells it like it is. Every single time. Remember when radio was fun and you never knew what they were going to say or do? Yeah, me too ... it's still around. His name is Java Joel.
8) What was your favorite station to listen to when you were a kid?
Z104 in Madison. I used to tape the commercials and sweepers, so when I played radio with my mom's turntable I could take commercial breaks (yeah, remember turntables? They came before cassettes. What are cassettes? Shut up ... you're making us all feel old). I remember having my mom take me to remotes before I had any idea what a remote was so I could meet JD Barber, Fletcher Keys, Judy Newman, Mad Dog Hudson, and Jonathan Little -- and getting all their autographs. I still have them in a box somewhere.
9) What music do you listen to when you're not working?
Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Black Crowes, 311 ("Music" and "Grassroots"), and Billy Joel (pre-1980).
10) What would you like to do to save radio from its "dying-industry" image?
Go live and local. You can't compete with an iPod if that's all you are. A damn iPod. When the weather goes bad, I can't be waiting 15 minutes for the part-time news guy to drive to the station to interrupt the voicetracks to maybe get the weather on. That's why I love WIXX. We're live 24/7. Even Christmas morning at 4a we have someone on live (sorry, Tom). And program to your market. Find out what your listeners want, and give it to them.
Which character on a current TV series most reflects your personality?
Larry David on "Curb Your Enthusiasm." He says all the things you're not allowed to say to people but want to. It's the greatest TV show ever. And I don't even have HBO. I wait every year to buy the new season on DVD.