I love radio. From the first time I saw my first episode of WKRP in Cincinnati I wanted to be on the airwaves, spinning records and reading the news wire copy.
Like most teenagers I spent gobs of time listening to the local djs. Back home in Birmingham I remember Joe Rumore playing country. As I got older it was Rick Sisk and Dennis Deason at Q-104 in Gadsden. I even met those guys at a softball game one night. At the time, they were the biggest celebrities I had ever met.
Years later I made it on the air at three or four radio stations. Even though they were small (some am in fact) stations, it was everything I dreamed it would be.
But the reason for this post is not my love-affair with the radio booth, but on the people behind the mics. I don’t know that I have ever met a radio dj personality who wasn’t as nice in person as they seem on the air.
I interviewed Gerry House this morning for a story. He’s the morning man at WSIX-98, the most popular dj in town and certainly one of the biggest names in the business. Gerry is as nice a guy as I’ve met in Nashville. I first met him back in ’91 or ’92 when I came to Nashville covering Fan Fair for WJSU-TV40 in Anniston.
I was a one-man band then too, covering fan fair for a couple of days and shooting and producing a 30 minute special on the growth of country music. I met Gerry backstage at one of the shows and asked if I could drop by his studio the next morning and talk to him about how country music was exploding in popularity. He didn’t hesitate, even though I must have looked just like a kid with a camera asking to do a story for the local high school paper.
Same goes for other dj’s I’ve met. Rick and Bubba in Birmingham are both great guys. I met Drake and Zeke from Memphis at a golf tournament. I heard one of them say something to somebody else and I said “hey…I recognize your voice”. Drake said “hey…I recognize your face”.
Maybe this goes to show that in the radio business, the popular djs are the ones who are the same on the air as they are off the air. They put in so many hours on their shows and so many hours at remotes, a phony would be called out quickly. I think it’d be tough for anyone to do like I’ve seen some tv people do, and be something they’re not when the red “on” light is illuminated.
Or, maybe these djs have found a way to be “on” anytime someone is listening.
Anyway, as media people go…the folks in radio seem to be more real than people who work in tv or newspapers. I’ve met some great folks who work for the daily papers in every market, but I’ve also met a number of jerks too. I’ve known some newspaper reporters who seem to despise tv people. Reporters who’ve angrily turned and told my photographer to turn off the camera while he was asking a question, accusing us of trying to steal his interview even though we had already completed our interview and were just getting b-roll.
But I’ve racked my head today trying to think of any radio personality who’s been a jerk and I can’t think of one. Not one!