10 Questions with ... Dana DiDonato
July 10, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
My career started my senior year of college at Virginia Tech when I randomly drove 45 minutes to "the big city" of Roanoke, VA, walked into K92's lobby and asked, "How do I get to be on the radio?" For some reason the fabulous PD (Kevin Scott) decided to give me an interview! A year later I was a co-host on Danny and Zack's Mornin' Thang.
I moved further south in 2004 to Greensboro, North Carolina. There, I was part of The Wicker Show on WSMW. Being born and raised in NJ, two years after being in NC, I was thrilled to go back up north to be with "my people" in Long Island. For the last seven years I've been hosting the morning show on WBLI and now in Richmond!
1) For the uninitiated, describe your show.
It's truly like happy hour in the morning. We're a girl talk radio forum featuring conversations normally saved for a sleepover with your closet friends.
2) You've been able to take the local angle against your nationally syndicated competition. Now, you're syndicated too! How will this change things?
The beauty of launching in Richmond is that it truly didn't change anything for us! Our goal has always been to get more and more women to join our party in the morning. We were thrilled with the opportunity to expand and continue to deliver female-targeted content. We were actually instructed by our management team: "Change nothing!"
3) Will you be spending some time in Richmond?
Absolutely, we can't wait to party in "The Fan" and do special events with our Hot listeners.
4) Who were some of the most memorable guests on your show, and what made them memorable?
One of our absolute faves was Lady Gaga. We were told we had six minutes with her, which as we all know is like the quickest, most awkward length of time to attempt to establish any sort of chemistry with anyone, let alone one of the biggest pop stars in the world. Well, we would up having so much fun that we spoke with her for over an hour, which we edited into a 16-minute interview. I remember she was wearing a ripped black T-shirt and her underwear, talking to us from her hotel room bed. We felt like BFFs after an hour of pure bonding.
I also enjoyed when Peter Facinelli motor-boated with us.
5) Who would be a "dream guest" to have on your show?
I've realized my "dream guests" are anyone I lusted after in the '80s. Who knew I would lose my mind over being able to speak with Ralph Macchio, Preppy from Saved By the Bell, and Donnie Walberg!? Jennifer Love Hewitt excited me beyond belief. So, I guess my dream is any washed-up has-been with either a receding hair line or massive boobs.
6) What led you to a career in radio?
Like most children of the '80s, I grew up making mix-tapes on my Fisher Price Tape Recorder, but unlike other children, I would talk before every single song. Topics on my tapes would range from my latest crush and the pain of my broken 14-year-old heart, to high school gossip, or my thoughts on the latest episode of My So Called Life. It was clear early on that with some minor tweaking to these topics, morning radio would be a fabulous venue for me.
7) What is your favorite part of the job?
Can I tell you ... during the hours of 5:30-9a ... it literally is my happy hour. We lose our minds in the morning. I love coming in every single day knowing that I get to do a show with someone who is not only a truly gifted performer, but someone who is truly a partner in every possible sense. I'm Jeffrey's biggest fan.
8) Who is your favorite air personality not on your staff and why do you like them?
I had the opportunity to sit across from the person in this business that I admire most, Danny Meyers (host of the K92 Mornin' Thang on WXLK). I truly could write an unauthorized biography on Danny. It would have to be unauthorized because he's far too humble to allow a person to say as many nice things about him as I have to say. He just gets it. People who get it know what I mean. His gift of story-telling, creative energy, insane work ethic, and his ability to create laugh-till-you-can't-talk-or-breathe-moments out of truth and pain are all ways that he inspires me. Now hosting, when I'm trying to figure out how to present something on the air or how to respond to certain situations, I often use my "What Would Danny Do?" filter.
9) What is the best advice you've received from someone in the industry?
While he never actually articulated it to me, one of the most valuable things that I learned from working with/watching Danny, is that a good host sets up the rest of the team and gives the show members constant opportunities to shine. That selfless attitude Danny has as a host fosters an environment where team members feel confident and trust the person leading. I work to create the same atmosphere on our show.
10) What artist would we be surprised to find on your iPod?
Jeremy Camp, Third Day, Hillsong United. I absolutely love Christian Rock. Casting Crowns = Best. Concert. Ev. Maybe one day I'll get to do a shift on K-LOVE.
What's the biggest gaffe you've made on-air?
I'd like to begin by saying, I'm Italian, therefore I talk with my hands. One morning while working in Greensboro, NC, I was recording a spot (yes, I even talk with my hands during spots), when all of a sudden my hand knocked about a LITER of ICE WATER DIRECTLY INTO THE BOARD, which oddly remained ON. Until we had to go live at 5:30a, at which point it shorted out. I block most of that experience out of my mind.
All I remember is broadcasting from a closet the rest of that morning and engineer Larry standing there with massive hair dryers drying out my mess. Thank you, Michael Bryan (PD at the time), for allowing me to keep my job.