10 Questions with ... Chris Cruise
June 28, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I attended the Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts in Detroit (my hometown) in 2003 and never looked back. It was the first time I was ever at a school and felt like "Hey, I'm good at this stuff. I should do this!" While at Specs, I landed an internship at Channel 955 under Michelle Taylor who taught me how to run a board, answer calls, and aspire to be quite possibly the best air talent in the entire industry. I then did nights for two years in West Lafayette, IN under Beau Derek at 96.5 WAZY. From there it was back to the murder mitten to Flint, MI at Club 93.7 to work under Nathan Reed and Clay Church, who I'm lucky to still call mentors to this day. Then I landed what I call my "Now it's real" gig under Phil Becker at HOT 107.9 in Fort Wayne, IN. Nights, afternoons, morning co-host, production director, and then PD of our new station Rewind 106.3. I learned pretty much everything I know from Phil, and I owe my success to him. A quick two-year stint in Seattle in Country at KMPS and then I jumped to mornings with Tawsha Box at 103.5 KISS FM here in Boise under Kekeluv, and I couldn't be happier.
1) What led you to a career in radio?
I loved high school, but didn't learn anything. Hated college and didn't learn anything. I was driving home from work one day and heard Carolyn Stone on WRIF in Detroit cut an endorsement for the Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts. I scheduled a tour the next day, fell in love, and here we are now.
2) How would you describe the radio landscape in your market?
Boise is fantastic. I love it here. It's the first market I've ever latched on to so quickly and felt like this is home for me. It still feels like radio is magical to the people in the Treasure Valley. When Kekeluv hosts "Live For 175" to raise awareness for child abuse, the entire county comes out in droves. I've been here only two months and people already know me as the guy who sucks on Tinder and can't land a girl. I mean, that's true, but hey, they know my name and I'll take it.
Also, people are obscenely nice here. They're too sweet.
3) Are you wearing more "hats" than you have in the past?
This is probably the least amount of hats I've worn in my entire career. I'm strictly doing mornings. But it's more work than I've ever done, and I love it. I love the pressure, the stress, and the "what's next" mentality after you've hit a total home run or completely sh*t the bed with a show/bit/event/etc.
4) What are your favorite show prep sources?
Everything Wise Brother. If you're not on Studio Think Tank, you're doing yourself a disservice. Also, real life. Stop watching so much TV and playing video games (My one true love so it breaks my heart to say that) and go do stuff. The best prep is real life. Also, get on Tinder. I could do bits for the next 10 years on Tinder. And yes, you ARE here for a hook up.
5) What artist would we be surprised to find on your personal playlist?-
Weird Al Yankovic. He's the reason I got into music as a kid. I didn't realize he was writing parodies, I simply thought he was a guy who makes some funny songs that both make me laugh and sound amazing. If you take the time to listen to the guy's production, he's on another level. It would behoove you to listen to any of his stuff with some 7506's on. He's a musical genius in every sense.
Also Ghost. Because I'm a Top 40 DJ who's a metal head and don't tell me how to live my life.
6) What's the most unbelievable on-air bit you were allowed to do?
If by "Allowed to do" you mean "Almost got you put on the sex offender's list," that honor goes to Buckhead back in the day on Channel 955 in Detroit.
I was the show stunt boy. They dressed me in a thong and sneakers (and a boy tie of course) and dropped me off at 12 mile and Novi. Everyone on the show thought it was hilarious. The Michigan State police did not. You ever seen a 20-year-old kid cry mostly nude in the back of a cop car? Would've been a great time for Facebook live to be around...
7) What was your favorite station to listen to when you were a kid?
WRIF in Detroit. I worshiped Drew & Mike. I may have been too young to understand what a "radio show" or "morning show" was, but I just knew I loved those guys and wanted to be them when I grew up. Also, Mike farting into the microphone is still funny to this day.
8) What advice would you give people new to the business?
The same advice I tell myself every day: Stay hungry, stay humble. You want to land a full-time on-air gig? Work your ass off. You want that promotion or raise? Work your ass off. Work hard on the clock and off the clock, when you're at the office and when nobody's looking. I've gotten as far as I have in radio because I worked really, really, really hard, not because I'm talented. I know I've earned this, but at the same time I know I ain't sh*t at the same time.
My all-time favorite quote comes from Will Smith. It's :47 seconds that will change your life:
"The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is I'm not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be out-worked, period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me, you might be all of those things you got it on me in nine categories. But if we get on the treadmill together, there's two things: You're getting off first, or I'm going to die. It's really that simple, right?"
9) What is the current state of the radio 'talent pool'?
If I hear one more person say something like "There's no talent out there," Imma smack someone. This might be the BEST time to be in radio in history. Let's go down the list just off the top of my head:
- Nathan Fast
- Ashley Elzinga
- Jason Spicoli
- Spencer Graves
- Brooke Taylor
- Sean McGroarty
- Matt Walling
- Christine George
- Jubal Flagg
- Amanda Habrowski
- Mikey & Frankie V
- Nathan Graham
- Gabe & Nikki
- Miguel & Holly
- The KVJ Show
- Rick Rumble
- Chet Buchanan
But please tell me Mr. PD man how there's no good talent out there.
10) What would you like to do to save radio from its "dying-industry" image?
Make every one of us in the industry stop being lame radio DJs. Stop wearing khakis and a collared shirt to remotes. We are STARS. SUPER STARS. SUPER STARS DON'T WEAR KHAKIS. Seriously. Is it a "Buy Here, Pay Here Carvaganza" or a radio station event? Sorry. I'm a wannabe fashionista.
What's the best sweeper/liner you've ever heard?
Can it be the best liner I never heard? At WAZY in Lafayette when Britney's "Toxic" was a smash, my PD Beau Derek and I tried to run an entire promotion around it:
"When you hear Britney get the Toxic Shock, be caller #9 to win tickets to see her in Indianapolis."
For some reason, corporate didn't like that. I don't get it.