10 Questions with ... TJ Taormina
July 24, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I called countless colleges at the end of my sophomore year of high school and asked if I could do anything to get in the door at their campus radio stations. All of them said no, except for WFDU on the campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ. Carl Kraus and Barry Sheffield took me under their wing to show me the ropes of the industry. All through my junior and senior year of high school, I spent every minute possible at the station. I was hired as an intern on Elvis' show in the summer of 2002 just before my first official semester at FDU. I was eventually hired part-time as a phone op at Z100, and then a part-time producer on Elvis' show. In 2004, Elvis hired me as a full-time producer. In late 2010, Elvis made me a co-host.
1) What led you to a career in radio?
When I was 13 years old, a friend and I found Howard Stern's movie "Private Parts" sitting in his parents' basement. I told him we should watch it because it probably has boobs in it. We secretly put it on and were about to fast forward through to the good parts, but the opening lines of the movie were so funny that we just started watching it. With every passing minute, I was more and more captivated by talk radio. By the end of the movie, it was clear to me that I wanted to entertain people for a living.
2) How would you describe your role on the "Elvis Duran And The Morning Show" team?
I'm one of Elvis' co-hosts and I also manage his audio production team.
3) Give us a rundown of your typical morning. What time are you up and in to the station?
I wake up around 4:15a, watch the early morning news while I eat my oatmeal, hop in a cab, and get to work around 5 or 5:15a. Before 6a, I go through the newspapers, skimming through for stories that jump out at me. Sometimes I have audio to edit from a bit I went out and recorded. I also talk with our producers, Josh Kolodny and Loren Raye, to touch base on any immediate production needs we may have for the day. The show goes on the air at 6 and I'm in the studio until 10a. After 10, I go back to my production studio and start working on whatever projects I have on my plate for the day.
4) What is your favorite part of the job?
The connection we have with our audience. I know exactly what it feels like to love a radio show and look forward to turning it on as soon as you get up. I'm a super-fan of radio. That connection is what drew me into the business. When I receive an e-mail from a listener saying that I'm a part of what they love to hear every morning, it's one of the very best and most rewarding feelings. It warms my entire heart. It's such an honor and a privilege to be able to do that for people. It's also a full circle moment for me.
5) What is the most challenging part of the job?
I know it's the cliche morning show answer, but it's definitely the hours. For me, waking up early hasn't bothered me yet. It's just hard to get to bed early at night. Then, if for some reason you miss a full night's sleep, you feel dead.
6) What's your philosophy on the proper use of social media?
As long as you don't overload your followers with tons of messages every second, it's the perfect way to deepen your relationship with your audience. Just ask yourself if you would be engaged or entertained by what you're posting.
7) Who would be a "dream guest" to have on your show?
Selfishly, I would love to have Jim Breuer in the studio. When I was 15 years old, I met him at one of his comedy shows and he took 10 minutes to talk with me about what I wanted to do when I grew up. I told him I wanted to be on the radio and I was shocked when he didn't say I was crazy. He just acknowledged it by nodding his head yes. Then he signed a little yellow note pad and wrote: "To: TJ -- Hear you on the radio! Jim Breuer." Something that probably seemed so silly to him at the time meant the world to me as a kid. Aside from Jim always being a hilarious guest on the air, I would just love to say thanks to him from behind a microphone. Fortunately, a few years ago, I went to another one of his comedy shows and had the opportunity to thank him off the air.
8) What other air talents do you respect?
There are too many to list, but I'll start with Elvis. I promise that I'm not just saying this to be a kiss-ass. Aside from giving me my shot and consistently giving me great advice and guidance, Elvis does a brilliant job hosting the show every day. I'm so lucky to work for him, but I'm also a massive fan of what he does.
When Elvis made me one of his co-hosts, one of the guys I really looked up to was Artie Lange. Aside from being a brilliant comic, when he was in a co-host seat on Howard's show, his timing was impeccable. He knew exactly when to chime in and when to back off. It was the perfect balance. He's still on fire and I'm so happy to hear him back on the air with the Nick and Artie Show.
As a part of Elvis' show these past 10 years, I've had the honor of working with Christine Nagy and Carolina Bermudez. Christine is one of the very best the industry has to offer. She knows how to connect with her audience perfectly and she's so smooth on the air. Carolina is one of the funniest people I've met. She was fantastic on the show and I'm happy for her that she went for her dream in TV.
And of course, Howard, Robin, and Fred!
9) What does the future hold? What do you wanna be when you "grow up?"
Every day, since I was 13 and discovered talk radio, my biggest dream has been to host my own morning show. That's what I want. I'm so passionate about radio and I've been hyper-focused on working towards that goal every day. Elvis has always encouraged me to do it and I'm so grateful for that. If I don't get run over by a bus before I get my shot, I'm excited by the prospect of someday hosting my own show.
10) Do you have a favorite hobby outside of radio?
I just started one, actually. Growing produce in my apartment. I'm starting with basil and so far it's working. What a magnificent breakthrough. I don't want to brag ... but it wasn't even a transferred plant. I grew it from a seed.
What ringtone do you have on your cell?
I'm always on vibrate.