September 11, 2014
Who gave you your first break in the business and what were the circumstances?
Alex Tear, Y100: Andy MacDonald of MacDonald Broadcasting Company in Michigan. I did overnights on Lakes FM Top 40, and eventually Production Director. Honorable mentions also include Jerry Noble, who really gave me a shot to stop reading liner cards as a night talent, then Mike McVay in the early years who believed in my programming skills. There have been many, but these were EARLY in my twenty-seven year career.

Mike “OD” O’Donnell, WKRZ: Al Makkay and he ran Makkay Group Broadcasting out of Cape Cod. He was an older gentleman, very military type of guy, and he always use to tell me that I got my first job because of my mother. I sent my resume in and he called me and my mother answered the phone and struck up a conversation with him and he liked her. That was the only reason why he hired me and he reminded me of that all the time. The station was WRZE (The Rose).

Marissa, WFLY: First break would be between Brian Cody (now WFLY mornings) and John Foxx (who is now programming in NYC). Brian was teaching mornings at the radio school I attended while on the air at FLY and I was a part of the afternoon class. I happened to go back to the classroom while he was still there only a month after starting and my teacher called him over to listen to my demos. He liked them and passed them along and next thing I know I’m getting a call from John Foxx to come in. I was one of the lucky few to skip the internship process and am very thankful for that!

Lee Leipsner, Columbia Records: David Leach and Brenda Romano in 1989. I was hired to work at Mercury Records in DC. They took a shot on a kid coming out of the mailroom of Capitol/EMI without a lot of experience. I wore a wool hounds-tooth jacket to the interview in mid August and they STILL hired me.

Tommy Chuck, WFLZ/WMTX: My dad, when I was 7. It was a day in the middle of the summer and he needed someone to run a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game. It was either him or me. He had other stuff to do.

Valentine, Y100: Going back, there is one guy who gave me that shot to get in the door of a radio station, but the first real “break” was provided by Chris Marino. He needed a night guy in West Palm Beach, and I needed to get far away from the cold and snow of the Northeast.

Jeremy Rice, WBLI: Tom Mitchell put me on the air at 98 PXY Rochester in 1986. I sucked on air, but that’s where I also started doing programming asst. work.

Brett Andrews, KSLZ: Brian Kelly at Kiss Fm Milwaukee. I was an intern, usual story: overnight guy call in sick, hey...that intern, what's his name...he'll do it. That led to part time swing for 4 years while I was in college and later 3 years as the night guy at Kiss.

Kobi, KWNW: Chris Edge (OM/PD Raleigh). He heard me doing a fake air check as an intern/promotions part timer back in 99 and offered me a spot on G105 doing overnights on Sat into Sun. I turned that foot in the door to a 15 yr radio itch that will not go away. I LOVE IT!

Brodie, KCHZ: Kato Keller got me started in the business as an intern in promotions and for the Hawk-n-Tom morning show at WFBC in Greenville back in 2001. Nikki Nite game me my start on-air at WFBC a very long time ago and it was the wonderful Saturday and Sunday 2am-6am shift. Owe a lot to them for getting me started!

Derrick Cole, WLAN: Mike Merlin/WILI hired me for my first night show! I’d like to think he saw something in me but I’m guessing it was more the fact that I’d work for pretty much nothing. We’ve all had those gigs!

Big Rob, KSME: First break in radio was with Wingnut (Brian DeGrasse), Nerf and Therese Campanelli at CC in Denver in the promotions department. I started at the bottom (just like Drake) in promotions in Aug 2003. My first shot on the air came in April 2004 from Gerry Dixon and Jim Lawson at KFMD in Denver as a young 18 year-old kid doing overnights. Remember those days? My first full time break came from Chris Kelly at KSME where I'm currently the PD and he's my mid-day guy. Funny how that all worked out, huh? A decade with the same company, does that even happen anymore? So proud of that!

Chuck Damico, WBEN/WMMR: Donna Bailey and Ed Sciaky… I was desperate… and so were they.

Mase, WKZQ: I had moved to Myrtle Beach with no job thinking "how hard could it be to find a job at the beach the day before Thanksgiving?" While out looking for any job a lady told me (In a VERY southern accent) that I sound like a guy who could be on the radio and that there was a station right around the corner. At the time I was driving an old BMW convertible, so when I pulled into the parking lot here the PD of our AC was walking out of the building and commented on my car and then asked what I was doing there. I told him I was dropping off a resume to do anything. He ended up hooking me up with the PD of our News/Talk station and they needed a board op for Myrtle Beach Pelicans games. Eleven years later I'm still here.

Fishboy, WKRZ: There are multiple people who gave me a chance from JJ Pedo and Tias Schuster to OD.

Skip Dixxon, WZBH/WKHI: JJ Hitman McKay...he simply got tired of me bugging him! He crumbled!

Will Calder, WPOW: Big shout out to Jeffrey T Mason, Joey V, Harry Legg and Chris Shebel of the old Energy 92-7 & 5 Chicago crew for believing in me from production/imaging work to my first airshift on a Thanksgiving overnight when no one else was available. Also, gotta give thanks to Rob Wagman and Dom Theodore of the old 92-3 Now NYC for investing interest in my programming abilities. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of amazing talented people to come up under. #Blessed

Jon Zellner, Clear Channel: Randy Rahe and Adam Cook at 92X Columbus who brought me in to do overnights in 1988.

JB King, KLUC: Chuck Field, too many stories, statute of limitations still pending on a few. But he gave me my first shot on the air and allowed me to attend music meetings as a part-timer.

Haze, KHTS: Mark Shands hired me away from The McDonalds drive thru to do weekends on Hot 1015 In Jacksonville.


John Mayer, WRVW: First break came out of KC101 in New Haven. I was interning and doing some part time stuff and I would hang out with Jagger until all hours of the night in the studio. He was the one who pushed the PD back then and got me on the air.

Randi West, WFLZ/WMTX: Craig Stevens gave me my internship but Bryan Jeffries gave me my first part-time job and eventually fulltime. The circumstances were I got passed up five times for a FULL TIME job. I was nights on the AOR Rock station near my hometown of Springfield, IL WYMG.

Otis, WNKS: The amazing programmer that is Tony Travatto! He taught me so much as a young pup and gave me the drive to be a Programmer one day!

Eric Powers, KUBE & KBKS: My first real break was Kevin McCarthy who at the age of 18 let me go on a HOT A/C station in Seattle and taught me a ton. He really gave me a chance to learn and grow.

Reid, WAEV: Randi West. I was a promo intern at CC Raleigh and walked by her office one afternoon, she called me in, and 2 weeks later I was the board op for Brody's live club gig and OHP when Kane hosted the Sunday show. Eventually I ended up on overnights/Weekends, and came in during the week to be the stunt guy on Geller's night show.

Java Joel Murphy, WAKS: Jim Hill & Derry Loucks of 99 Hits FM/WSNN-FM in Potsdam NY. My college radio tape was (barely) good enough to get me part time there. Few months later I was upped to nights. My hometown station. My 1st paying radio gig!

Rich Davis, KDWB: Pat Case at WHVR/Hanover. Board op and then a shift on Saturday and Sunday.

Willobee Carlan, Shamrock Communications-Reno: My first real break into commercial radio was being recruited at the infamous WLIR in Long Island, NY by PD Denis McNamara. At the time, I was producing and voicing radio spots for a night club that I was a partner in. Apparently he loved the spots and sought me out via one of my college radio buddies and asked me if I wanted a job. Denis put me on weekend overnights to start, then I became part of the morning show. He coached me and believed in me enough to eventually give me he mid-day slot. Denis was very good at finding new talent and bringing them up the ranks. I owe him a lot for giving me my shot.

Twisted Todd, WTPT: Zakk Tyler. After trying on numerous occasions to get an internship at the very station I am now the Music Director of, I was asked to help out with a Listener Appreciation show back in the summer of '98. I showed up at 7 am, helped set up, registered grand prize qualifiers at the gate, served beer and helped clean up and break down at the end of the event before finally leaving at 1 am. I worked 18 straight hours, got sunburned, stung by a wasp twice on the same arm and wasn't paid a dime. Zakk was genuinely impressed with my work ethic and gave me my first on air gig as a result upon my graduation the following semester. The rest, as they say, is history.

Sean "The Rabbi" Tyszler, WMMR: I was an intern at K-Rock in NY and Program Director Steve Kingston saw I had a knowledge of music and gave me a shot.

Kobe, 100.7 STAR: Mike Danger let me do stupid stuff on the air with him at PXY when he did nights. Bob Quick was first to hire me for full time. I think Danger traded me for a six-pack.

Patrick "Cooper" Olsen, KKDO: Dave Hamilton at KQRS, followed by Wade Linder at KXXR. Both were instrumental in my success. Dave for believing in me, Wade for giving me a shot on-air doing overnight weekends.

Dan Pearson, Think Say Records: Brad Davidson and Todd Glassman at Columbia Records 10+ years ago. They were looking to hire someone with two years experience in the industry but took a shot on me right out of college instead. It’s a decision that changed my life, opened so many doors, and I am forever grateful!

Brody, WLDI: Gordon Smith at WILI (I98)/Wilimantic, CT doing Saturday mornings. Also Danny Ocean, doing overnights at KC101/New Haven.

Chris Payne, KRZQ: Daniel Cook, former PD of KRZQ, 25 years ago. He called me at 12:40am: "May I speak to Chris Payne, please." This is. "It’s Daniel Cook from KRZQ. I need someone to work for me right now. My overnight guy is out and he…" (as I cut him off) Hold up. This is The Sarge. From 96 Rock! (sounding annoyed while half asleep) "Mmhmm" YES! I can be there ….ooohhh…. (annoyed again) “"What?” Well, my car is broke down and I’ll have to take the bus. “How long will that take?" About 40 minutes? "I can go to the next name in my book, nevermind." (me, panicked) F**k the bus, I’ll take a taxi and be there in 10 minutes! "That’s what I needed to hear. See ya in the morning (click, hangs up the phone)" Twelve minutes later, after having called the cab co., I was on the air.

Chris P, KRQQ: Mark Medina hired me as intern at KKRQ and R. Dub gave a shot sitting in on his night show.

Skywalker, WSPK: Al Levine and Doc Medek at WBLI/Long Island. The end of an internship turned into a board op job.

Bob Patrick, WXLK: Tommy Frank at WAYV/Atlantic City. A friend told they needed a part-timer. I gave him my tape. He asked me if I wanted a job. Tommy always did right by me.

Jill Strada, WFLC: Carlos Pedraza at WJHM/102 JAMZ in Orlando – brought me in as a college intern. This is where I fell in love with radio! Phil Michaels in Orlando at WPYO/95.3 PARTY – for giving me my first full time gig in radio as Marketing Director at a startup station! Rich Reis at WPYO/ 95.3 PARTY and then POWER 95.3 in Orlando – for giving me my first PD stripes! Ebro Darden at WQHT/HOT 97 in New York – for taking me to that next level! My battle skills were mastered here! Alex Cameron at WQHT/HOT 97 and WRKS/98.7 KISS-fm – for making me a PD in the #1 market at legendary heritage Urban AC, 98.7 KISS-FM! I credit ALL of these people for giving me a “first break” in the business in some way. They all believed in me!

Jared Banks, KUDD: I was an intern at KUUU and got coffee, washed cars, picked up dry cleaning and anything else I could do just to be in the studio and look over the jocks shoulders to learn what I could. One day someone quit (or got fired depending on who is telling the story) and a Saturday night show was available. Kayvon Motiee (who works in the building as a sales manager with me now) was the OM and Zac Davis (WDGC Raleigh) was PD and they were talking about what to do. I was sitting in a chair behind them, they turned around and just said, “He knows how to run everything, give him a shot.” That was over twelve years ago and I will be forever grateful. Two men I consider friends as well as mentors in our industry.

Jeff Hurley, Clear Channel/PA: Ray Ross gave me a job at WEHH-AM in Elmira NY playing standards off a reel-to-reel and back-timing the news every hour. My first time on the air was saying “W-E-H-H NEWS TIME IS NOW 6AM…” Every single paycheck bounced, the place smelled like stale coffee and flooded all the time…Best job ever!

Brian Mack, WXXL: Jarad Broadcasting at 92.7 WLIR in Long Island. Dave Fox and Jeff Berlin gave me an internship that eventually developed into a full time job.

Chase Murphy, KXXM: JJ Morgan at KIXY/San Angelo. Started doing nights and within 4 months I was MD.

Jonathan Reed, KHFI & KPEZ: I believe when Michael St. John hired me at then-WKBQ St. Louis changed my life. If it wasn’t for Michael hiring me, I would not have been able to meet Jimmy Steele (the now in Columbus, OH Jimmy) and Wayne Coy that led to opportunities that helped me get to where I am today.

Mike Rossi, WSTW: Fresh off a high school internship at WAMS/Wilmington, Rich McGuire convinced the folks at WNRK/Newark to give me a shot.

Lenny Diana, WLZX/WAQY: Tom Calderone when he was at WDRE. And every day I hope he comes back to radio and brings his vision to one of the visionless companies that are currently exist. Sad part, I'm not even calling one company out. There are at least five companies that could use his vision. Maybe six.

Roxy Myzal, Hard Drive: John Luongo…The Godfather of Disco in Boston. I was working as a waitress in an Italian restaurant in the North End of Boston. John hired me to help him run an organization of disco DJ’s (The Boston Record Pool) in the mid -70’s. I knew Tommy Mottola when he lived on the road. Anyhow, I became friendly with the MD at WRKO in town and would mention tunes that were getting popular reaction on the dance floor from my DJ’s. She recommended me for the MD job at the RKO owned sister station in NYC (99X- WXLO) where we rocked the apple in stereo. (Kal Rudman once wrote about me landing on my “soft cat paws.”) I brought disco music to the top 40 airwaves in NYC and our station was the Most Listened to FM Station in the Nation. We played Chic and Van Halen on the same station! The rest is history.

Max Volume, KOZZ: Daniel Cook, I was in the building as an intern, and one night nobody showed up for the overnight shift. Thanksgiving 1981. I knew the equipment and went on the air and did everything wrong. I was a fan with a microphone! Four months later I had the overnight shift. Six months later I was promoted to the 7p to midnight shift. As a child of KROQ (grew up in Pasadena area) I was the anti DJ. No liner reading, no temp and time. just bits and chaos!

Brian Michel, Clear Channel Atlanta: Bill Campbell at WJQI, Norfolk. He needed someone for weekends and holiday overnights.

Mike Miller, WHKF: Pat Kain from WLAN FM97. He made it very clear that he needs a hard worker that will learn the ropes of all areas before cracking the mic. He gave the best advice and was an amazing mentor to me. Once I learned all areas of production, equipment, programming, promotions, even tips for sales…he'd look at me and say "now let's have some fun" and throw me on air. I was 16 and it was an incredible experience.

Phil Kukawinski, 89X: My current boss: Jay Hudson. I started out interning in the studio with Jay in 2009. I learned more and more as the months turned to years, slowly working my way up the ladder until he finally gave me a paying job in 2013.

Jason Squires, KFRR: My father, Chris Squires. Needed interns/board-ops, so learned to run a board at age 13-14, though likely knew how earlier. :)

Slacker, WDZH: Clay Church at WRCL/Flint. He was hosting a club night that I just happened to be at. I was making fun him and he was making fun of me and he asked me if I wanted a job.

R Dub! Z90: This one is really special to me. I pitched an idea to Bruce St. James for a Rhythmic love songs and dedications show called Sunday Night Slow Jams. The year was 1994, and the station was KJYK-Power 1490, in Tucson, Arizona. I remember typing up a fancy (so I thought) four-sheet proposal about the show and how it would bring massive ratings. I was just a kid with a dream. He said yes. Today, Sunday Night Slow Jams is heard in over 80 markets around the world, was featured on ABC's Shark Tank, has its own iHeart Radio channel, and is partnered with our digital assets, including Thank you Bruce! (see: Bruce’s note to me here)

Next Week's Question Of The Week:
What favorite quote or movie line do you use to inspire your staff?
e-Mail your responses to: or


Marissa Lanchak


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