10 Questions with ... Intern John
November 3, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started off as an intern on The Dave Ryan Show on KDWB in Minneapolis in 2007. That's where "Intern John" came from. I was on the show for four years before taking an APD/MD/Imaging Dir./nights gig with Greg Chance at KKDM/Des Moines. Elvis Duran is the morning show in Des Moines, and they were coming to the Iowa State Fair in August 2012. I decided to e-mail one of Elvis' producers, David Brody, my aircheck just in case I didn't see him in Des Moines. Long story short, Brody e-mailed my audio to Kane. Someone in Kane's house heard it and said, "Who's that d-bag." I got a call that Saturday from Kane about doing an audition, and got a call from then-PD Mark Medina the next day. I did the test run over ISDN when I was in Des Moines with Kane in DC, and I couldn't see him. After some help from Bethany from The Elvis Duran Show, I got the gig. About two weeks later, I met Kane in the parking lot of the radio station on my first day, and haven't looked back!
1) How would you describe your first radio gig?
My first radio gig was as a morning show intern for Dave Ryan on KDWB. I quite literally started off by making coffee and copies, the bottom of the barrel. I got my first break on-air when I made my own "Intern John" trading cards to give out at events. While on location, Dave put me on to talk about them. After that, I made stupid videos and parodies ... anything I could. I'd send them to Dave for him to listen. Plenty of it never made the light of day, but some of it did. I later started sending my aircheck to our MD, Lucas, who was the first to put me on the overnights, and gave me my first shot at my own shift. I owe a lot do Dave, as well as Steve and Bethany.
2) What are you doing social media-wise?
Everything. During the show I run the Facebook pages for eight of our stations. I do one Facebook post an hour for each page linking back to the show's blog on that station's page. It's extremely important because it keeps us connected to the listeners in each market. I also try to Periscope to give listeners the behind-the-scenes look and answer questions they might have.
3) What are your favorite show prep sources?
Facebook, hands down. There is so much drama on there ... everything and anything you could possibly imagine. The other cool thing is that people post stories they find interesting on their own timelines, which allows me to see what's important to them.
4) What is your favorite part of the job?
As corny as it sounds, it's really the connection with the listener. I like the idea that people use us as an escape in their lives. We've had so many people tell us that they were going through a tough time, but our show helped them get through it. For me, it helps keep things in perspective; as tough as things may seem on my end, there's someone dealing with way more than me, and in a way they look for us as an escape
5) What is the most challenging part of the job?
Turning it off. Kane always jokes that one day he wants to work in a job like construction where you can't bring work home with you. My girlfriend would agree with that statement. It's hard for all of us to turn it off especially when social media is a big part of the job. The other side of that is when I meet people in public at a non-work event, they're surprised that I'm not as annoying as I am on the air.
6) What's the coolest promotion you've been involved with recently?
It wasn't a promotion, but it was the coolest experience of my career. Last April a teacher sent me a direct message on Twitter. She told me about a student she had who LOVED Adam Levine. This student happened to have Down Syndrome, so Adam and Maroon 5 were always used as rewards in the classroom for him. If Christopher finished his work, he was able to listen to Maroon 5. The band was coming to DC, and she was wondering if we could get him tickets. I sent an e-mail to our PD, Tommy Chuck, to see if we could do anything. Tommy went above and beyond and got Chris to a meet-and-greets with Adam. When the meet-and-greet started, Chris was a little nervous and laid on the floor. Without hesitation, Adam laid down next to him, the photo of all of us on the floor went viral. It's one of my favorite memories because it shows radio still matters, and it allows us to do very cool things like that.
7) Who is your favorite air personality not on your staff and why do you like them?
That's really hard. I would say Big D. I started listening to Big D when we were at KDWB. Now it's cool because I can catch D's main show via iHeartRadio on 931 The Party in Las Vegas from 3-7, AND I can listen to his other shows on KJ97 and Z104. Big D is one of the funniest people I know, and listeners love him, so I listen and try to learn from how he interacts with listeners. I also do some jock work still, so I like to listen to how he gets in and out of breaks.
8) Who were your mentors? Who would you say has influenced your career the most?
I've been so lucky to have so many mentors at every step of my journey. In Minneapolis it was the entire Dave Ryan Show. Dave is an absolute legend, and him taking me under his wing was an absolute honor. Dave has dominated Minneapolis airwaves for 20 years, and learning from him was amazing. Steve and Bethany also acted like my big siblings during that time. Big D from KDWB, as well as Lucas, helped me with my jock work. They would both spend hours listening to my stuff and that really, really helped. When I was in Des Moines, KKDM PD Greg Chance taught me everything I needed to know about how radio really works. Greg is one of the most brilliant programming minds I've ever met. I learned a lot just from watching Greg and seeing how much he puts into it. I've also learned a tremendous amount from Kane. I looked up to Kane even before I started on the show. Working with him now, I really appreciate his genius. One thing that everyone knows about Kane is that he preps for the show constantly, literally a hundred pages of ideas, and it has made me step my game up.
9) What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
Dave Ryan once told me that you always need to work hard. He said there are so many lazy people, but if you work hard, you will be rewarded. I can honestly say in my career I've found that to be very true. I literally started out making copies and coffee, I did the stuff no one else wanted to do, and now I've been blessed with being able to do this for a living.
10) What advice you would give people new to the business?
Be a sponge. Do everything, even things you're not asked or expected to do. Do the things you think that no one notices. Even if they DON'T notice, it will make you better. Also, you need to listen to your peers. I would constantly bug other jocks about how they do things and ask them to listen to my audio. No one is going to hand you anything. You need to make yourself better.
What's the best sweeper/liner you've ever heard?
Darrin Marshall does our imaging in DC, and the man is an absolute genius. He always keeps it topical, but the best recently was when the Pope was in town. He had a sweeper, and I don't remember exactly, but the voice was in the Pope's accent talking about the show and me. My catchphrase on the show if you will is "My Man" and at the end of the promo the "Pope" says "My Man."