Meet the people behind the voices you hear on local radio.
Admit it. You do it. You hear them on the radio and, based on the sounds of their voices and possibly the music they play or the topics they discuss, you conjure up images in your mind of what they look like: a lanky surfer dude; a Hollywood-starlet type; a soccer mom with short, brown hair and sensible shoes; a 250-pound guy with a shaggy beard. Is your mental picture dead-on—or couldn’t be more wrong? In the pages that follow, we reveal the faces behind the voices of some of your favorite Sacramento radio personalities, and get up close and personal with a bunch of them. You’ll learn who is introverted off the air, who craves the stage, who has won an Emmy, who is a new parent, who has saved a life, who’s a descendant of a famous figure in the American Revolution, who is related to a pro baseball player and who sees ghosts. Who knew? Now you will.
Hear Him: Monday–Friday 2–6 p.m. on 96.9 FM The Eagle
Tom Nakashima is somewhat of an anomaly in radio. Not only has he been on the air in Sacramento continuously for 32 years, he’s been with same company (now Entercom), almost unheard of in this day and age of sudden format and management changes. Nakashima started full time with K108 in 1975 and stayed during its metamorphosis into Arrow 108 in early ’90s. When Arrow became The End in 1998, Nakashima moved down the hall to The Eagle, where he’s stayed perched, taking classic-rock lovers home every weekday. His biggest coup: scoring an interview with Paul McCartney when the former Beatle played Arco Arena in 2002. “He could not have been more gracious,” Nakashima recalls.
Nakashima won a regional Emmy in 1984 for a TV documentary he co-produced with former KCRA 3 reporter Sandra Gin on the 1970s Chinatown murder case of Chol Soo Lee. “It validates all of the work you put into something,” Nakashima says.
Although technology in radio has changed during the past 30 years, Nakashima, who will become a first-time grandparent this month, says going live hasn’t: “When you turn that mike on, there’s nothing that substitutes for that. You don’t get a second chance.”
Hear Him: Monday–Friday 3–7 p.m. on KSFM 102.5 FM
Big Al fell in love with radio while working at a station in college. But he didn’t pursue an on-air career right away, working first in the financial world (“I was a total corporate, cubical guy”), then as director of the YMCA in Long Beach.
When his mom advised him to “do something you’re passionate about,” he switched gears—and careers. Big Al started as an intern at KSFM (then known as FM 102) in January 1997; by July, he was working the Sunday early morning (2–7 a.m.) shift, “but I was juiced!” he recalls. Ten years later, Big Al holds down the coveted “drive home” slot.
A newlywed as of last month, Big Al always has been big on giving back to the community, whether it’s through events with the radio station, charities he’s involved in or his church, Trinity Life Center. He also does his part to introduce local talent to the masses by co-hosting, along with Waynee Wayne and Derek DOA Allen, the “Future Flava Show,” which airs Sunday 8–10 p.m.
A Chicago native who went to high school in the Bay Area, Big Al used to be in the hip-hop band U.P.T.O.W.N. and has much praise for the music and artists he works with: “Hip-hop is not ghetto; it’s not hood. It’s a very viable music genre that has just really forged its place in Americana, and we need to celebrate that.”
Hear Her: Co-hosting “Rob, Arnie and Dawn” Monday–Friday 5–10 a.m. on 98 Rock FM KRXQ. (The trio also can be heard on 105.7 FM KOZZ in Reno, Nev.)
As the lone female of the morning-show trio “Rob, Arnie and Dawn,” Dawn Rossi has learned to hold her own. “It actually is dang fun,” she says of working with her outspoken co-hosts. “It’s empowering because you have to be a very strong woman to deal with them. You need to know how to give it back.” Having worked together since the early ’90s and as an on-air team since 1998, the three have become like family. “It’s like you’re arguing with your two brothers,” says Rossi, who grew up in Southern California with sisters.
Rossi attended both Sacramento City and American River colleges before falling in love with radio (“I fell in love with talking,” she says) and attending the now-defunct National Broadcasting School in Sacramento. She credits the school for providing instructors with real-world radio experience.
In her spare time, Rossi loves getting out of town with her husband. “We love the beach and the mountains, so we go there every chance we get.” And if she weren’t hanging with the guys five mornings a week, she says she’d most likely own her own business. “I’d want to own a boutique because I love clothes and I love the accessories, shoes and purses.”
Despite her Dolce & Gabbana dreams, Rossi is hard-pressed to think of a drawback to her job. “Seriously, I feel that we have it made,” she says.
Hear Her: Co-hosting “The Paul and Lori Show” Monday–Friday 5:30–9 a.m. on Y92.5 FM KGBY
Lori Sacco is just as comfortable introducing the music of others as she is playing it herself. When not on the air, she often can be found singing and playing keyboards for Mother Mayhem, a rock cover band that plays everything from Gwen Stefani/No Doubt to Lynyrd Skynyrd. (Catch the group about town, including a performance at the State Fair Sept. 1.)
Sacco got her start in radio in 1992 at KFBK and has been at the Y since 1994, first doing news for popular morning duo Paul Robins and Phil Cowan. She took a 2 1/2 year break starting in 2002, then came back to host the midday show. When “Paul and Phil” parted ways in 2006, Robins asked Sacco to be his morning-show partner. This past May, “The Paul and Lori Show” became official. According to Sacco, the best part about her job is Paul. “It’s just so great knowing when you wake up at 4:30 in the morning that, when you get to work, there’s this smiling face waiting for you,” she says.
The mother of three children ages 5 to 12, Sacco wears the hats of “real estate agent, room parent, field-trip driver, Girl Scouts leader and taxi driver.” Busy? Yes. Burned out? No.
“That’s just me,” she says. “I always have to be busy. The busier I am, the happier I am.”
Hear Him: Providing traffic reports Monday–Friday 5–9 a.m. on NewsTalk 1530 AM KFBK, K-Hits 92.1 FM and V101.1 FM
He may not fly in a helicopter over the streets of Sacramento, but Sheldon Orviss knows the local traffic scene. In addition to managing the traffic center at KFBK, Orviss, who’s been with the station since 2004, does 13 traffic reports per hour on weekday mornings for KFBK and two other stations. One thing he’s noticed: “People don’t seem to go to work at the same time, but they all seem to come home at once; 5 p.m. is always crowded.” The Oakland native has been doing radio since 1986, traffic since the mid-’90s.
Describing himself as a frustrated actor, Orviss dreams of being part of an all-black cast performing Shakespeare in Central Park and working with the likes of James Earl Jones. Something else close to Orviss’ heart: autism research. Orviss and his wife are the parents of three children, two who are on the autism spectrum. “We’ve recently done some testing with UC Davis’ M.I.N.D. Institute to assist with their research,” Orviss says, and he encourages other parents of children with autism to do the same. “We would very much like to find a cure, but we still don’t know what causes it.”
Hear Him: Monday–Friday 5:30–10 a.m. on K-Hits 92.1 FM
Longtime Sacramento radio listeners may remember Joey Mitchell from his record-setting 20-year run at the now-defunct KRAK. Many of these listeners followed him to stints at Cool 101.1, then Kool 101.9 and on to The Fish 103.9. Mitchell took a hiatus from radio in 2005 but is back attracting listeners ever since assuming the mike at oldies station K-Hits 92.1 this past April.
Mitchell, who won Billboard magazine’s Country Air Personality of the Year for Medium Markets award in 1981 (and was nominated again in 1988), doesn’t take his listeners for granted. Many have become friends, with whom he exchanges e-mails and Christmas cards and even takes vacations. He once had a listener call and tell him that his advice about giving a problem “24 hours and it will probably be better the next day” stopped her from committing suicide. “I just got this feeling to say that,” says Mitchell, still incredulous about the power of his words. (That listener is a friend now, too.)
Radio isn’t Mitchell’s only performance venue. He’s featured in the 1990 movie Dorf Goes Auto Racing with Tim Conway, has appeared in Music Circus productions and in 2006 was the backup announcer for the Sacramento River Cats. “I just had the greatest time,” says Mitchell, who originally hails from the Big Apple. When he’s not on the air, Mitchell runs an advertising agency that employs fellow K-Hits on-air personality and good friend Big Jim Hall as an ad executive.
Hear Her: Monday–Friday 5–9 a.m. on 100.5 FM The Zone
Hill Jordan was working toward a career in law when her University of Arizona roommate introduced her to radio. Soon, she had her own show and six months later, she was on a Tucson, Ariz. alternative-rock station. “I honestly say it should have been a lot harder for me,” Jordan admits. “I should have had to intern forever, but I didn’t.”
Jordan changed her degree to media arts with a minor in communications. She went on to work at stations in Colorado before ending up in Sacramento in 2005 at 106.5 FM KWOD. She’s been “in The Zone” since July.
A penchant for blogging about her life led Jordan to write her first (yet-to-be-published) book, How To Lose 225 Pounds, a “Sex and the City”-style memoir about going through her divorce and dating afterward. “The 200 pounds is the guy and the 25 pounds is what we as women lose in between our relationships,” Jordan says. Despite the title, Jordan remains best buds with her ex. “I love where my life is right now, and without my ex-husband and what we’ve gone through, I wouldn’t be here.”
As is to be expected from any word wrangler, Jordan is a big proponent of adjective diversity among on-air personalities’ vocabularies. “You don’t want to say ‘cool’ every time you’re describing something that you like,” says Jordan, who was named the 2001 Active Rock Airplay Leader of the Year by Airplay Monitor magazine. “You want to be like a human thesaurus.”
Hear Him: Hosting “The Jim Kozimor Showgram” Monday–Friday 7–9 p.m. on Sports 1140 AM KHTK
Sports consumes Jim Kozimor’s professional life. He talks about sports on KHTK, he reports live at Sacramento Kings games as a member of the Kings Broadcast Team, and he broadcasts numerous events for Comcast SportsNet. He smoothly transitions between radio and television, so one would think Kozimor (also known as Koz) is a pretty outgoing guy.
Not. At least according to the man himself. “I couldn’t be more incredibly introverted and shy, bordering on socially awkward,” admits Kozimor, who says his comfort level ends once he’s out of the broadcasting box. “Once I step out of that, man, is it awkward. I am tripping over verbal tables and chairs in every conversation.”
Still, he doesn’t have many complaints. “I’m kind of in the candy store of the broadcast industry,” says Kozimor, a Chicago native who graduated with a degree in communications from Michigan State University. Does the sports guy, who’s married to former local TV reporter Sandra Furlong-Kozimor, play sports? “I train for triathlons by chasing my three daughters around the house. It’s the big circus of being around the Big Three, as I call them,” he says affectionately of his 22-month-old twins and young daughter, who turns 4 in October.
Hear Her: Monday–Friday 10 a.m.–3 p.m. on 107.9 FM The End
Alecia wasted no time going from college to the real world. The Florida native graduated from the University of South Florida in 2004 with a degree in mass communications, then went to work at radio stations in Tampa, Fla. and Philadelphia before heading west in 2006 to work at The End.
After settling into her new job, Alecia quickly immersed herself in local charitable endeavors, participating in The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s 2007 Niello Man, Woman, Celebrity & Teens of the Year and Light the Night Walk events. She also started volunteering one day a week at UC Davis Children’s Hospital after she and fellow End personalities broadcasted live from the hospital in February. “It blew me away,” says Alecia. “I couldn’t just do it once a year in a broadcast. I wanted to do more.” She says volunteering helps put her own life in perspective. “It makes you grateful for what you have.”
Whether she’s combing the Internet for the latest Hollywood gossip to share on her show, researching the artists whose music she’s cueing, making appearances about town or responding to e-mails from listeners, Alecia says being an on-air personality is a full-time job—and then some. “People aren’t lying when they say radio is a lifestyle,” she says. “Just because we’re off the air doesn’t mean we’re off the job.”
Hear Her: Monday–Friday 10 a.m.–3 p.m. on KNTY 101.9 FM The Wolf
Michelle Morgan has worked in nearly every musical format at stations throughout the country, including the Air 1 Radio Network, a noncommercial Christian music station simulcast around the world. And while she’s soothed many a listener’s spirit by playing just the right ballad, at one time Morgan did even more to assist those with what ailed them: She’s trained as a physician’s assistant and has a degree in pharmacology from Portland State University. The Portland, Ore., native and single mother of two sons (Morgan lost her husband in a motorcycle accident) worked as pharmacist for 21/2 years in Oregon until radio drew her back. “Radio is just a passion for me,” she says. (For the record, Morgan also has a degree in radio/television communication from Central Texas College.)
Morgan’s other passion? Dancing, something she’s been doing since she was a child. “There’s always been a constant, rhythmic beat to my life,” she says. Morgan almost went pro with the Portland Trail Blazers BlazerDancers, but these days she shares her gift for groove by teaching country line dancing on occasion.
Hear Him: Monday–Friday 7 p.m.–midnight on 106.5 FM KWOD
Tenacious is one way to describe KWOD’s evening jock, Capone. He’s been with the alternative-rock station on and off since 1998 (this is his third round), enduring format and management changes.
Ambitious is another appropriate adjective. In exchange for keeping up his grades, Capone secured his first radio job, as an off-campus elective, while a freshman at Rocklin High School. At age 15, he was hosting his own show.
He may play the music of rock stars, but does he live like one? “We’re not pampered celebrities,” Capone says about being an on-air talent. “I’m a dad. I get up and do everyday things. I just go in and talk in a microphone every night.” Still, he says, the public sometimes has misconceptions about radio personalities’ lifestyles. “They think that we’re loaded, and that we’re all Dale Schornack and make a lot of money. Although I wouldn’t mind being Dale Schornack. I idolize Dale Schornack,” he says, launching into a pretty good impersonation of the News10 anchorman.
While he may not be a high-profile newscaster, Capone, who likes modern jazz and electronic music in addition to what he plays on-air, is doing OK. “I get to talk to listeners every night,” he says. “That’s what intrigued me about radio: building an audience and having a rapport with the audience.”
Hear Him: Hosting “The Smooth Ride Home” Monday–Friday 3–7 p.m. on 94.7 FM KSSJ Smooth Jazz
John McCorkle grew up surrounded by music. “My parents always had it on around the house,” says McCorkle, who was raised in Walnut Creek. Maybe that’s why he says one of the best parts of his job at KSSJ is being around all the music—from standards to the very latest. “I am always excited when something new comes out,” he says.
Another perk for McCorkle, who’s been with KSSJ since 2001 and also worked at San Francisco smooth jazz station KKSF 103.7, is meeting the musicians. “The smooth-jazz format just has the nicest musicians,” he says. He’s fond of the listeners, too, describing them as “the best audience of any format I’ve ever worked in. They’re like the musicians. There must be something in the water.”
In his spare time, McCorkle dabbles in photography, desires “a good aquarium, 30 or 40 gallons with very colorful fish” and dreams up home-remodeling projects. “I just bought a new place, so I come home and think about how nice it would be if this could be painted red or if I could replace this door.” How he’ll fare as a painter or a handyman, one can’t be sure. But he may have a knack for making curtains. After all, he is a descendant of our country’s most famous seamstress: Betsy Ross.
Mary Jane Popp
Hear Her: Hosting “PoppOff” Saturday 11 a.m.–noon on 1240 AM “Talk City” KSAC. Popp also hosts a syndicated version of “Popp Off” for CRN Digital Talk Radio. Hear it locally Wednesday at 11 a.m. on Auburn’s AM 950 KAHI and Saturday at 8 p.m. on KSAC.
Calling herself an “information junkie,” Mary Jane Popp enjoys the variety of topics—three per hour on everything from politics to travel—she presents on “PoppOff,” her weekly talk show. “You name it, we talk about it,” she says.
A Chicago native, Popp’s packed résumé includes experience as an actress, author, singer, television host and producer. A desire to connect with her community is what spurred her to do a local version of her magazine/variety show on Talk City, which she’s been hosting on and off since 2005. “I still try and give listeners the best and brightest from around the country, but with the local show, I’ll take something that is national and tie in something local.”
Popp says the influx of syndicated programming (of which she’s a part) is leading to the demise of local, variety-style talk shows. “The syndicated programs are wonderful, but there are less and less local, one-on-one programs with our people in our own backyards. And that’s not healthy,” says Popp, who lives in Sacramento with her husband and two dogs.
Criticism and job insecurity are two realities that Popp says anyone contemplating a career in radio must be prepared for. But for her, the payoff is worth it. “When I get up in the morning, it’s like, ‘Yes! I love this!’ It’s a joy to have that every day.”
Hear Her: Monday–Friday 10 a.m.– 2 p.m. on KBMB 103.5 FM The Bomb
The Bomb’s midday girl Nikia cut her teeth interning at San Francisco’s KMEL before making Sacramento—and The Bomb—her home.
Originally from Oakland, Nikia says what she likes about Sacramento is that she can get a little city and a little country within a few miles of each other. “It really kinda depends on my mood,” she says about what she likes best. “You don’t really have all that in the Bay Area; it’s pretty much all city.”
Nikia, who’s been with the hip-hop station since 2002, likes the kinetic atmosphere of her job. “Every day is something entertaining. You have to be a little bit crazy to work in radio. There’s never a dull moment.”
Crazy co-workers are one thing, but crazy callers? That’s another. “Sometimes they sound like they’ve been drinking bright and early in the morning,” she says. What does she do when that happens? “You pretty much have to deal with it with a smile and keep it moving.”
Nikia keeps her cool around celebrities, too. “After you’ve been in radio for so long, you really don’t care [about celebrities]; they’re just normal people.”
Nikia gave birth to her first child, daughter Jayda, in August and currently is on maternity leave. Listen for her return to the airwaves at the end of October.
Hear Her: Co-hosting “The Lee & Andrea Morning Show” Monday–Friday 5:30–10 a.m. on V101.1 FM
For Clarksburg native Andrea (Ahn-DRE’-a) Gomez, radio is a family affair. She met her husband, Henry Locs, while working at KSFM 102.5. “It’s great that he is in radio because he understands the demands that I have,” she says. (These days you can hear Gomez’s hubby on 103.5 The Bomb.) The couple has five children, ages 9 to 16, who occasionally get to accompany Mom when she reports from, say, the “American Idol” finale in Hollywood or Disneyland. A die-hard San Francisco Giants fan (“I bleed black and orange!”), Gomez had the opportunity to broadcast live from the Giants dugout during spring training in Arizona. Gomez’s nephew, Casey Weathers, was drafted No. 8 in the first round by the Colorado Rockies this past June. Will her loyalties be tested when his team comes to AT&T Park? Not a chance! “I’ll be rooting for him but not the Rockies,” she says.
Gomez, who celebrates her second year with the R&B and Old School station in October, digs the music she spins, but it’s not all she listens to. “I listen to hip-hop because I need to know what my kids are listening to,” she says. “It’s very important for me to know what exactly is going on in their lives, too. And you know, I’m not that old; I still like hip-hop.”
José de Jesús Cruz Rodríguez
Hear Him: Hosting “Chucho ‘El Perrón De La Mañana’” Monday–Friday 5–10 a.m. on Ke Buena 97.9 FM
It’s not unheard of for disc jockeys to hold down two radio jobs at once. But award-winning broadcaster José de Jesús Cruz Rodríguez took it a step further: He once worked at two stations on the air simultaneously, doing one show, then, at a commercial break, going next door to do the other. A native of Jalisco, México, Rodríguez has been hosting “Chucho ‘El Perrón De La Mañana’” since August 2006. The program offers listeners—primarily a Spanish-speaking audience—entertainment and a friendly voice. “I like to play with people and make people laugh,” he says.
In his spare time, Rodríguez reads books on parapsychology and the supernatural (he says he sees ghosts and tells ghost stories on his program every Friday), enjoys cooking (and eating) seafood and collects beers from around the world. His advice to those seeking careers in radio? Go to broadcasting school and learn about the world around them. “With a lot of eagerness, heart and honesty, you can get to be a good radio host. But preparation is key,” he says.
It seems hard work has paid off for Rodríguez. It also led him to love.
“Through this job, I met my wife; she is the best [thing] that has ever happened to me in my life,” he says. The couple is expecting a child in January. He broadcasted live, via phone, from the hospital during the birth of two of his children. Depending on when this next one is born, it could be a three-peat.
—Interview conducted and translated by Katina Barrera Downs
Hear Him: Co-hosting “Dave and Jacqui in the Morning” Monday–Friday 5–10 a.m. on 96.1 FM Mix 96
Dave Thompson has a way of handling his early-morning schedule (he’s up at 3:30 a.m.) while still going to bed as late as 10 every night: He takes a two-hour nap. “Morning people aren’t normal, we’re crazy,” says Thompson, whose been doing the early shift at Mix 96 since 1998. But a little lunacy is OK with him. He enjoys prepping and researching topics for his show (“it is excruciating some days and easy other days”), meeting the listeners and conducting good interviews. “Interviews get your juices up,” says Thompson, who has had the chance to chat with musical legends Elton John and Paul McCartney as well as comedians who pass through town for Mix 96’s annual Laughs 4 Life benefit show. A Philadelphia native, Thompson worked on the East Coast in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., New York City and other media markets before moving out West.
In his spare time, Thompson enjoys hanging out in Old Sacramento, traveling to Lake Tahoe and Yosemite and taking quick trips to Reno. He and his wife “like to go for little day trips, drop some coin and come back,” he says.
If he weren’t on the air, Thompson isn’t sure what he’d be going. “This is what I do,” he says. “Morning radio is what I do. It’s how I define myself.”
Hear Him: Hosting “The Phil Cowan Show” Monday–Friday 10 a.m.–noon on Talk 650 AM KSTE
For 18 years, Phil Cowan was half of one of the Sacramento area’s most popular radio duos, sharing morning-drive duties at Y92.5 (and, for a brief time, hosting a talk show on sister station KSTE) with Paul Robins. Although longtime listeners were sad to see the pair break up, Cowan is enjoying his (relatively) new gig as talk-show host. “I’ve just found that I really enjoy coming in and talking about whatever I feel like talking about,” says Cowan, although he admits it took him a while to “get into the rhythm of doing monologue instead of dialogue.”
To prepare for his show, Cowan, who describes himself as a “pretty conservative guy,” reads The Sacramento Bee and scans Internet sites including drudgereport.com, fark.com and huffingtonpost.com. He enjoys listening to other talk shows, including those hosted by Armstrong and Getty, Tom Sullivan and Michael Savage. “There are times when Savage is just brilliant and other times when I think he’s an absolute loon,” Cowan says.
Cowan eschews the celebrity lifestyle, preferring to spend his free time with his wife and their four children. He says people would be surprised to know just how unritzy radio is. “Radio is not a really glamorous medium,” he says. “On the entertainment food chain, we’re down there.”
Hear Her: Hosting “Good Morning Gina” Monday–Friday 5–10 a.m. on 103.9 FM The Fish
After 16 years in radio, Gina Miles thought she had left the industry for good in 2003. Then she saw an ad for a position at The Fish. “Something told me to apply,” she says. “I always listen when my gut tells me to do something, so I did.” After hearing nothing for months, Miles met with the station’s general manager and program director on a Tuesday and was on the air the following Monday, which happened the week of her 20th wedding anniversary.
Miles’ Sacramento radio background includes tenures at Mix 96, The Eagle and Y92.5. She even hosted her own talk show—“The Heart of the Night,” a love/relationship show (and Sacramento’s first FM radio talk show)—while at the Y. The perks of working in radio have changed for Miles throughout the years. “When I started, the best perk was a concert ticket or backstage pass. Today, the best perk of the job is that this is far from work,” she says.
In addition to radio, Miles, who was born in Sacramento and raised in Napa, is passionate about working with children, especially children with autism. She eventually would like to open a school. “I just have always known that I would work with children,” she says. “I just didn’t know how.”
Hear Him: Hosting “Excellence in Jazz” Wednesday 10 p.m.–1 a.m. and “Blue Dog Jam” Saturday 7–10 p.m. on 90.9 FM KXJZ, Capital Public Radio
If you listened to KSFM 102.5 back in the ’80s (then known as FM 102), you may remember Chris Oshiro, who donned the moniker Kevin Kei. Oshiro worked at the station four times between 1980 and 1991, both on the air and behind the scenes. “I kept leaving, and they allowed me back three different times,” he says. After he “started to fry” again in the early ’90s, Oshiro took a break from radio in 1995. But since 2006, he’s been spinning tunes for Capital Public Radio. “Here,” he says, “I get to go to work rather than have to go to work.”
A former competitive swimmer who was born and raised in Southern California, Oshiro went to Pepperdine University on swimming and water polo scholarships, graduating with a degree in communications with a broadcast emphasis. He swam competitively up until five years ago and now coaches youth swimming at Arden Hills Resort Club & Spa. “It helps me stay young,” he says.
Oshiro is happy being at a station where he can play jazz but has a special fondness for his Saturday night show. “From conception to execution to conclusion, ‘Blue Dog Jam’ is ultimately satisfying because it’s mine,” he says. “It’s overseen by the program director and he gives me direction, but ultimately, it’s mine.”
Jack of All Stations—JACK FM prides itself on “playing what we want,” pumping music from Def Leppard to The Fray locally on 93.7 FM. Who breaks up the music? Los Angeles-based Howard Cogan. His voice spans JACK formatted stations throughout the United States and Canada. Cogan, 42, also does voice-overs for TV and radio promos, commercials and movie trailers. As far as his work for JACK goes, Cogan says talking in short blurbs between songs is like being “the guy who did those talking Ken dolls.”—Nicole Small
Bloopers, Blunders and Other Not-So-Great Moments
To err is human. To err while on the air makes for a good story.
The Zone’s Hill Jordan was stuck between a rock and a hard place—make that an aging rock star and the hard, closed door leading to her studio—when a member of REO Speedwagon, visiting the classic-rock station with which the alternative-rock radio station she was working at shared a building, cornered the cute blonde in the hallway. “He said, ‘If you are going to keep walking back and forth in front of me, I have to know who you are,’” recalls Jordan, who had programmed a couple of songs to play while she made trips between the stations’ kitchen and her studio before settling into her midday shift. Trying to be polite, Jordan chatted with the man and then her boss who happened by; meanwhile, anywhere from three to 10 minutes of dead air had accumulated by the time she got back to the mike. Jordan came clean, fessing up to her listeners—most of whom probably didn’t know who REO Speedwagon was, she says—about what caused the delay.
Working the overnight shift is challenging, but V101.1’s Andrea Gomez thought she could handle it while working at a station in Stockton. But after four straight nights, the sandman came a calling. Gomez closed her eyes “just for a minute” and woke up five minutes later—to dead air. “I wake up and there’s this slobber line going from the board to my mouth. I have the imprint of the board on my face,” Gomez recalls. No one ever said anything to her about it, and, well, Gomez didn’t exactly confess. “That’s something you don’t ask, don’t tell,” she says.
It’s annoying to lock yourself out of a building; it’s anxiety producing to do it when you’re on the air and the building you lock yourself out of is the radio station. That’s just what happened to The Wolf’s Michelle Morgan when she went to retrieve something from her car. Sans cell phone, all Morgan could do was fret. The station’s program director, who had heard the dead air and became concerned, pulled up to find Morgan standing outside the building. Her boss made light of it, but the memory has stayed with Morgan. “I still have nightmares about that happening,” she says.
Poor Y92 morning gal Lori Sacco had morning sickness every day for four months while pregnant with her third child. It was so bad, she had a trash can right by her in the studio where she gave the news for Paul Robins’ and Phil Cowan’s show on Y92. One day, the inevitable happened. “I could hear [Paul and Phil] go to me on-air,” she recalls. “I could see Phil walking past my window trying to find me and then after he sees me, he gets back on the air and just says, ‘Well, Sacco’s puking in the garbage can again.’ They always made a joke of it, so it wasn’t nearly as humiliating as it could have been.”
Slip of the Tongue
Ke Buena’s José de Jesús Cruz Rodríguez was chagrined once when he forgot to turn off his microphone during a commercial break. He would not elaborate on what seeped out over the airwaves, but it wasn’t intended for his listeners.
98 Rock’s Dawn Rossi made quite an impression her first day on the air with co-hosts Rob and Arnie while the three were working in Reno, Nev. Rossi described guacamole as looking like baby excrement, only she did not use the word excrement. How did the guys react? “They said, ‘Super, now we need to get a delay,’” she recalls.
At least Rossi didn’t cue up a profanity-laden introduction, which is what K-Hits’ Joey Mitchell did the first day on the job at a station in Los Angeles. Mitchell says his fellow DJs were working on a “funny group introduction” for him, but by Take 26, no one was laughing—they were cursing. Take 27 was a keeper, but Mitchell mistakenly played No. 26 on his shift. “I thought it was a gag and that something else was really running on the air, so I let the whole thing air,” Mitchell says of the colorful welcome. “Wow, what a beginning that was. I almost didn’t make it to Day No. 2.”
Back in the day when he was known as Kevin Kei, KXJZ’s Chris Oshiro had fun turning phrases, calling Burger King “Booger King” and Black Angus “Black Anus.” One problem: Some of these restaurants were advertisers, and Oshiro recited the parodies while reading the last line of the commercials—still part of the paid advertisements. “When you’re young, what you think is irreverent is really sophomoric,” Oshiro reflects. “I thought it was cute, but looking back on it, that’s money. I am sure that while if I didn’t cost the station money, I probably could have.”
While working at an album-rock station in Fresno, KSSJ’s John McCorkle put on some Grateful Dead for his listeners and something else for office staff and himself in the studio. McCorkle grew tired of the song, so he pulled the record (yes, record; this was back in the days of vinyl) off the turntable and put it away. He estimates about a minute and a half went by before he realized he had pulled off the Grateful Dead song playing on the air, not the song he was playing in the studio. McCorkle hurriedly slapped the Dead record back on and placed the needle “in the middle of the same song that had been playing.” “I couldn’t start it over again,” McCorkle says. “I thought if I put [the needle] in the middle, maybe the audience would think that their radio freaked out and that it wasn’t me.”
Big Al once worked the overnight shift at KSFM 102.5 (then known as FM 102). He was living with his mother and brother at the time, when his brother turned off the alarm clock. Big Al woke up at 3:30 a.m.—his shift started at 2 a.m.—and panicked. “I don’t think I ever showered and got clothes on so fast in my life,” he says. Luckily, his steady track record at the station and the kindness of the DJ ahead of him, who covered his shift until he arrived, prevented Big Al from getting into Big Trouble. But it didn’t save him from getting razzed by fellow jocks at the station. “They gave me a medallion that said ‘rookie’ on it, and I had to wear that for a while,” he says.
Back when she was at Y92, The Fish’s Gina Miles experienced frequent laugh attacks while working with fellow on-air personality Dana Hess. Once, Miles was imitating Kathy Lee Gifford singing “If They Could See Me Now” and worked herself into such a state of hysterics she was unable to finish the song. “Dana started screaming ‘Kathy! Kathy!’ and I was laughing and screaming at the same time,” recalls Miles. Every show has blooper potential, she says. “You kind of have to laugh at it and go with it because you’re live and on the air.”
One wonders why anyone would scam Tom Nakashima, The Eagle’s affable weekday afternoon jock. Yet someone did just that to Nakashima and his then-production director Paul Fling back when both worked at K108. The duo created some radio spots for a new restaurateur in town. The new venture looked promising, Nakashima says. The food was high quality, the equipment top notch. But after two weeks of serving patrons, the owner skipped town (restaurant equipment in tow), leaving employees and the radio station unpaid. Turns out, he was on the lam from the police; Nakashima is not sure if he ever was found. “As horrible as this was, I was privileged to be in the front row of something so sophisticated,” he says, still impressed by the criminal’s craftiness.
The End’s Alecia was rendered red-faced (thank goodness it’s radio and no one could see!) when she mistakenly attributed a song to the wrong artist. “That was pretty embarrassing,” she says.
A perplexed caller tipped off KWOD’s Capone to his on-air gaffe 45 minutes into the first night of his overnight shift at a station in Stockton. “The caller was confused as to why I was calling ‘KWIN’ ‘KSFM.’ I immediately got sick to my stomach after realizing I had been calling the station by the wrong call letters,” says Capone, who had just finished a two-year stint at KSFM 102.5 in Sacramento.
Sports 1140’s Jim Kozimor was broadcasting live from the grand opening of the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. The place was dripping with celebrities, fans and media from throughout the country. Kozimor’s producer was to have set up an interview for Kozimor with Paul Stanley from the rock band KISS. A man Kozimor assumed was Stanley sat down next to him, and, on the air, Kozimor welcomed “Paul Stanley” to the show. “The guy goes, ‘I’m not Paul Stanley, I’m Kevin DuBrow from Quiet Riot,’” Kozimor remembers, still embarrassed by the incident.
Arbitron ratings show listening percentages (AQH shares) for radio stations. According to Arbitron’s Jessica Benbow, the AQH share is “the percentage of listening each station receives in the market.” Only commercial stations are listed, not publicly funded ones. The ratings (see below) are compiled every quarter based on diaries given to families, couples and individuals ages 12 and older who record their listening times (what stations they listen to and for how long) for 12 weeks: Monday through Sunday from 6 a.m. to midnight. In the Sacramento market, 2,847 diaries were analyzed for the spring 2007 quarter. Ratings for this period came out at the end of July.
RADIO FORMAT ARBITRON STATION RATING
KFBK 1530 AM News/Talk 7.4
KSFM 102.5 FM Contemporary Hit Rhythmic 5.3
KNCI 105.1 FM Country 5.2
KSSJ 94.7 FM Smooth Jazz 5.2
KDND 107.9 FM Top 40 4.8
KYMX 96.1 FM Adult Contemporary 4.6
KSEG 96.9 FM Classic Rock 4.3
KBMB 103.5 FM Hip-Hop 4.0
KRXQ 98.5 FM Rock 4.0
KHYL 101.1 FM R&B and Old School 3.2
KSTE 650 AM Talk/Opinion 3.1
KQJK 93.7 FM Adult Hits 2.8
KHTK 1140 AM Sports/Talk 2.7
KZZO 100.5 FM Adult Top 40 2.6
KGBY 92.5 FM Adult Contemporary 2.3
KWOD 106.5 FM Alternative 2.0
KNTY 101.9 FM Fresh Country 1.8
KRCX 99.9 FM Regional Mexican 1.7
KCCL 92.1 FM Oldies 1.4
KKFS 103.9 FM Contemporary Christian 1.4
KXSE 104.3 FM Spanish Contemporary 1.3
KGO 810 AM Talk/News 1.0
KSAC 1240 AM Talk/News 1.0
KTKZ 1380 AM News/Talk 1.0
KNBR 680/1050 AM Sports/Talk 0.9
KTTA 97.9 FM Regional Mexican 0.8
KLMG 94.3 FM Spanish Contemporary 0.7
KSTN 107.3 FM Mexican Regional 0.7
KFIA 710 AM Religious 0.6
KNCO 830 AM Talk/News 0.6
KCBS 740 AM News 0.5
KTKZ 105.5 FM News/Talk 0.5