10 Questions with ... Special Ed
January 4, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started with multiple part-time gigs while in high school in Wausau, WI (WKQH/WSPT/WIFC), until my first full-time night position at WBIZ/Eau Claire, WI. I took my smokin' night talent to WHTF/Tallahassee, FL, then to WSSX/Charleston. After a few years at WSSX, I got the programming bug and became an MD. That led to APD/MD/afternoons ... and eventually mornings. After seven years in Charleston, I made a bittersweet move to Charlotte for a part-time gig at WIBT (I hated getting up at 3:30a ... lol). When a position opened up at my former competitor, WIHB/Charleston, I returned as APD/middays ... now officially covering every day part in the 843 area code. Bruce Logan called me about six months later to make an offer that would turn the U-Haul back to Charlotte ... now APD/MD/late-night personality at WIBT!
1) How would you describe your first radio gig?
Rebellious and persistent. I was hired at age 16 for on air/weekends at my hometown Classic Rock station, WKQH/Wausau, WI (thanks, Aunt Karen!). Wanting to work Top 40 and knowing the company had a sister station with the format, I broke all rules. Airing requests and phoners ... flirting with older women over the intros of songs from Blue Oyster Cult, Kenny Wayne Shepard and Fleetwood Mac ... instead of firing me, they took the hint, and moved me to the Top 40 within six weeks.
2) What led you to a career in radio?
Mr. Schmidt, and 6th grade science class! Being in an advanced curriculum and finishing before most students, he gave us two weeks to squeeze in a radio program. The class split into groups of four to five kids and we were responsible for a two-minute radio show over a "Mr. Microphone" to present to the class. I was hooked, saved my allowance, bought my own "mic" and used my basement radio station as my self-teaching until I could legally work at a real radio station.
3) Are you wearing more "hats" than you have in the past?
Ha! Hats, shoes and jackets. I'm certain that everybody left in this biz has picked up additional duties that they never thought they'd be a part of. We're in a digital world, but if we still used business cards, they'd be double-sided fo' sho'!
On top of the day-to-day programming/on-air duties for "The Beat," I'm also responsible for assisting in areas for all five stations within our cluster. As busy as things may get, and stress getting ahold of me, sitting back to realize how lucky I am pulls me back to reality.
4) What is your favorite part of the job?
The art. I always wished that I had the talent to paint and draw growing up as a kid. Programming radio is my audible artwork. Taking a blank canvas to every minute of every day, blending the colors of music, content and marketing. I'm competitive ... and creating art in a challenging environment with strategy is my favorite part of what I do.
5) What's one thing that would surprise many people to learn about you?
I took Mass Media as an elective in high school ... and failed it. Hey Mr. Blanchard, need me to come teach the class? I'm not bitter.
6) Could you give us a little insight into your on-air staff?
By far, the best team I've ever worked with! "Brotha' Fred" is an experienced jock from the Southwest who has turned morning superstar on the East Coast! Walking with him down the streets in Charlotte is like experiencing a Justin Bieber meet-&-greet ... better allow some extra time to get where you're going. He stays humble, is open to all ideas, and does what it takes to win!
The other three members of our "AM Mayhem" were hired as non-radio people. David L. is co-host of the show; he previously toured the country as an aspiring comic ... and he will make your spleen hurt for days! Cubby brings comic relief to the show as stunt-boy and a true YouTube sensation. You may have seen a larger man in a small black leotard, dancing to Beyonce's "Single Ladies?" Yep, that's our Cubby! Our most recent addition is Holly Robson, who WON the position in an on-air contest/audition process and joined us in late June. She's hit the ground running, and has been a fantastic addition to the team. These three members make the "Mayhem" more real than ever, as they bring their personal, everyday events to the show each morning.
After Seacrest, the second half of middays are graciously handled by Katie Sommers out of sister WFLZ/Tampa. She puts more preparation into a to-hour shift than most would in a week! She's fashion, pop culture, and simply addicting to listen to.
Our afternoon/night stud CJ has been with The Beat since 2005. With a smooth, confident and calm delivery, he's on point with his sarcastic cracks on celebs, knows the local scene like no other, and is ahead of the pack with his on air/web interaction with his audience.
Late-nights are held down by myself, "Special Ed." Not sure why he was even hired :)
7) What was your favorite station to listen to when you were a kid?
I grew up listening to WIFC/ Wausau, WI, where I eventually worked part-time. Hearing the greats, Duff "The Duffer" Damos, Bill Mitchell, Jammin' Jimmy Clark and eventually a mentor, Jeff Murray. Surprised I wasn't deaf by the age of 16 as I sat four inches away from the radio, turning up the breaks and turning down the music.
Honorable mention goes to KDWB/Minny. Playing high school sports, and travelling to Wisconsin's west side, I'd be tuning to 101.3, while my teammates were listening to their Discmans.
8) Looking back, which years hold the best musical memories for you and who were your favorite acts at that time?
My most memorable year of music was 2001-2002. This is when I packed up everything I had and moved to Tallahassee, FL from WI for my first full-time gig away from home. Driving across the country saying to myself, "This is it, there's no turning back."
Every time I hear the songs: "I'm Real," Jennifer Lopez; "How U Remind Me," Nickelback; "Izzo," Jay Z; it's like it all happened yesterday.
9) What is it about our industry that keeps you wanting to do it for a living?
My love for music, creative marketing, servicing the public ... I mean, you name it! The fundamentals haven't changed. The delivery in a digital world has. I'm competitive ... and will always find ways to reinvent. In fact, I'm honored to still be in a position as such. To be challenged day in, and day out keeps my wheels turning, and a smile on my face every day I wake up to go to work.
10) What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
You NEVER know who you'll eventually work with. The "don't burn bridges" line may seem cliché, but is ever so true. This doesn't mean you have to kiss ass, or act as somebody you're not. One word will always be true to maintaining relationships ... respect.
For someone vacationing in your market, what one thing would you say they "must see"?
The home of NASCAR, Lowe's Motor Speedway for a race (May or October)! Even being from the Midwest, I've never been a fan ... in fact, hated it! It's impressive, and is the ultimate people-watching experience.