Happy Birthday, Mallory!

Birthdays come and go, but some are special. It might be because someone gave me a grand party or it might be because of the great gifts I received. It is a simple matter of the time and the place. In the past, it didn’t matter; but this year really stands out. My boyfriend got me a Nixon watch external and I absolutely adore it. In fact, I parade around the radio station bragging and boasting as I show it off to the staff who can’t stop talking about how cool it looks. I have never been one to be called cool and it gives me pleasure to bear this epithet for even one thing I do. My boyfriend really rates and I have thanked him profusely.

The recipient of these comments is a Nixon facet gold dial stainless steel quartz ladies watch with angled crystal detailing inspired, I am told, by one-of-a-kind trophy watches. It is truly unique and one of a kind. The 42mm case is cut to match a faceted diamond in essence and I love the way it vividly catches the light differently from every angle. I have never seen a watch so intricately cut in the case and the stainless bezel as well. The band is comfortable and attractive with a double locking clasp that is adjustable. Nixon is known for its facet watches that are not only great looking, but feel durable and heavy—all at a fair price. There is no skimping in the design or mechanism. I don’t know what he spent but I know these watches aren’t cheap. But you do get quality for your money. It is water resistant so I can handle a little splash with panicking. I beam with a big smile on my face upon placing it on my waiting wrist.

One day I accidentally left the watch in the bathroom after washing my hands up to the elbows. I had been messing with some gooey stuff. Like rings, you have to remember to put them on when you are finished drying your hands. I went back to my desk and let the watch sit on the sink for some time. Only when I was about to go home for the day from my intern job did I realize my oversight. I made it home without the watch on my wrist. I couldn’t wait to get to work the next day to retrieve it, but, alas, it was gone. I looked on the floor, in the wastebasket, behind the toilet, and all over the hall. No watch.

I was a pretty sad person all morning. I couldn’t focus. About a half hour before quitting time, a custodian for the office approached my desk. “I am told this is yours,” he muttered. How did he know? He said that he had found the watch on a table. Someone had put it there for safe keeping. The staff all knew it was mine because of the fact that I had flashed it openly in front of everyone. It was a good thing I had done that. It had brought me back my precious watch.

Adding to the Morning Show Family

With some fellow students, I have a radio show that reaches the region of Ontario. It fits right in with my interest in journalism and computer science since I discuss the latest news and also what is happening in the digital realm. There is plenty of fodder for the show. That isn’t my problem. What is a problem is finding new sponsors to replace those whose contracts have run out. Some companies take ads during the show or the weather report as they wish. Now I am looking for funding once again. It is always a revolving circus and you have to do a bit of scrambling to get support. It is going to be local, someone who wants to reach our young audience. In essence, I am on the recruiting trail. I have send out appeal letters to local businesses and I have followed up in person. I have had my feelers out for some time and I do have some prospects. I can use more than one sponsor, of course, as their contributions for ads will vary according to their budgets. It isn’t expensive to advertise on our show, being a small station, but not every business in the neighborhood has extra cash on hand.

So I have come down to a final list of possibilities and am doing ad plans for each company being considered. If it is appealing, I might get a few bites. I will offer year contracts and discounts for renewals. Each sponsor will have a customized approach and I will write the ads with their help. They can prerecord their message or I can be a spokesperson. Both methods work equally well or so past advertisers have told me. It is all about reaching the right people and letting them know what you do. I particularly liked the ad plan I created for a business that sells pool supplies like above ground filters. So many people have backyard pools these days that it pays to advertise to each your target market. That market is growing all the time as more and more people are putting in new pools and refurbishing old ones. I convinced the pool supply company to invest their advertising budget with us. We had the largest reach in the region and the demographics they want. Young families are among our listeners and they are buying starter houses. Many have kids, or plan to, and will want above ground pool filters external in order to keep the pool safe and clean for the whole family.

I was successfully in getting a two-year contract with the pool supply company and learned enough about filters to praise them to the skies in the ads. I tried to create an image for listeners of warm summer days swimming and resting after on reclining chairs with a glass of lemonade. A new filter, I said, will keep your pool clean as a whistle and healthy for the entire family. Who can argue with that? The company claims an increase in sales.

School Policy Change Coming?

School policy has been around for some time: decades maybe. Some say they are archaic, but how much has college changed anyway? When you are having orientation on your first day, you get the picture of how things are going to be run. There are campus rules and regulations that must be abided by on an honor system basis. They give you a little brochure outlining what is and is not allowed. It is pretty standard stuff about how late you can walk around campus, whether or not you can drink alcoholic beverages outside your dorm room, and a modest dress code. Classroom behavior oddly enough includes not talking during lectures or passing notes during tests. These seem so obvious. Safety is covered and everyone gets a sense about smoking and starting fires. There is a general attitude about the policy that you should look after your fellow students. It is common sense behavior that is sought.

I hear tell that policy change is coming. We are all trying to guess what it might be. Most everything is already covered by the old rules. What could possibly be left? We hope it won’t be something negative and off-putting. Well, it wasn’t. It seems that the campus authorities have seen fit to protect its non-smoking students. This health precaution is long overdue. After all, few restaurants, planes, or trains allow smoking anymore these days. Certainly you can’t go in the supermarket lit up. There is a new level of respect that has been overtaking the control of public places. The campus now is strewn with an assortment of air purifiers designed for cigarette smoke external in key lecture halls and the library to handle any residual smoke by students who don’t comply with the non-smoking rules. There are always those who sneak a puff here and there. They say it helps them study. The purifiers are especially useful in the dorms where curbing smoking is almost impossible. It is the one place where it is lightly tolerated. The dorm staff turn away their eyes. They know that social encounters often revolve around a smoke. Any student who wants an air purifier in their room can ask for one or they can request a non-smoking roommate. You usually ask for this before an assignment is even made. But college kids smoke: that is a fact of life. It is odd given the emphasis on health these days. More people go to the gym, eat right, and put exercise on the top of their priority list even if it just means a bicycle ride or long walk around campus. When you see kids walking and smoking, however, it comes as a bit of a surprise. It is getting rarer and the air purifiers are the symbolic reminders of how times are changing. It means that when it comes to smoking, you must use your judgment and be mindful of others. It goes without saying that if a non-smoker is exposed to smoke, they will voice their complaint.

New Music Fridays

So many reasons to love Fridays! Survive the day and then things get a whole lot more interesting! Some of the best parties around here happen on Friday nights, and you get a lot of great concert/club opportunities. It’s a definite party day. It’s also great to get that break, to know you have off from classes or work for two days afterward. We love it here at the station for all those reasons, but also because it is Global Music Release Day, or as it is more commonly known, New Music Friday. This is a relatively new thing, as albums released all over the place: we got new music on Mondays, in the US it was on Tuesdays, and many other places around the world had to wait until Friday. Record companies decided that all these different release days were too difficult to manage once digital piracy and music downloads became so popular. So about a year ago, the music industry surveyed people. Surprise surprise, music fans said Friday would be a great day for album releases, and so here we are! Every Friday around the world, there is new music being released. What a great way to kick off a weekend, even if yours is filled with studying and papers. Any activity is more tolerable when it is accompanied by the sounds of some new music.

That’s why we here at 102FM have fully embraced New Music Fridays and really promote the heck out of it by letting our fans pick some of our programming for Fridays. It’s totally fun. We’ll put out a poll on Thursdays to see what artists our listeners want to hear first, or we’ll play snippets of a few new songs we’re really excited about and have listeners respond and request the ones they like best. Sometimes it will be an album by an artist everyone knows, and sometimes it is from a band who submitted the music directly to us. We aren’t picky; when we hear something that’s good, we really want to share it with everyone who is waking up with us. It’s always cool to me when we have the listeners be so hands-on, too. It gets people more invested in the show, which can be tough when you’re in an early time slot, and it’s fantastic for us because we know people are actually listening. You don’t even want to feel like you’re talking out into a black hole or anything. And if we hit on something that’s really good, and that the crew on the show really like as well as the listeners, then it gets put in the regular rotation for us and flagged for the next DJs to come in and give a listen to. Before you know it, it can be all over the place and it’s all thanks to you!

This summer, we’re excited about new stuff from the Chili Peppers, DJ Shadow, and The Strokes. Although I think we’re all super hoping that The Chainsmokers put out another track or two. So keep an eye out this and every Friday. Listen in and see if there’s anything that maybe gets you excited, then go download it or—even better—visit a local music store and pick up all your favorite new tunes.

Favorite Callers

Hey there, Steve here again. I was thinking today about some of the best callers we have had here on the show and I wanted to make a post about it because I thought other people might find it funny, too. So here, in no particular order, are some of the favorite callers I’ve had in the time I’ve been at the station:

  • Wonderdog: we had started out talking about stupid pet tricks, and then Sunny started in with a story she’d read about a cat that had dialed 911 for its owner. We got a call from someone who had a dog specifically trained to help her manage her diabetes. Somehow this dog can smell when her sugar is low and will get her meter to check it herself, or will bring her a snack if she needs it. The dog has been trained to alert her roommate if she were ever to be unresponsive or in a coma. We had an amazing conversation with her and we ended up doing a fundraiser for the charity that supplied our caller with the dog. That was pretty awesome too.
  • The Professor Spoof: we did this bit for a couple of weeks before we got in trouble and Matt made us stop. Joe would prank call random students and pretend to be one of their professors. Joe would tell them that a recent assignment wasn’t received, and usually involved the student losing their mind. We would get all the info from fans of the show who would call in and want us to prank their friends. We never did it live, so that we could censor anything we needed to. We also made sure it was all on the up-and-up and got the student’s permission afterward to air the conversation. Unfortunately, some of the faculty didn’t like it. I don’t know if they thought it was disrespectful or didn’t like being impersonated, but we had to end it. Which was too bad, because it was HILARIOUS. One kid just started screaming at the top of his lungs and we basically had to bleep out every other word.
  • The Over the Air Proposal: One of Matt’s grad school friends was dating another student who went abroad for grad school. He wanted to propose but couldn’t afford a ticket to go out to see her. Obviously, the station doesn’t have big money to comp a ticket, so we did the next best thing: we got him in the booth with us and called her so he could propose live on the radio. She Freaked. The. Heck. Out. In a good way, but still. She was laughing and crying and all that. Then people started calling in with funny proposal stories, which turned into a week of conversations about good and bad breakup stories. It was just a lot of fun, and awesome to be a part of.
  • The Troll: We have one guy whose whole purpose in life, it seems, is to call and heckle us. He doesn’t always make it on the air because he can be a bit over the top but when he does, the stuff he says is great. He tells Sunny she’s a robot because nobody is that cheerful at 6 AM; I’ve been called much, much worse. Matt too, as he is the gatekeeper for phone calls. We got into a debate with him once about whether he will ever be man enough to come down to the station to talk with everyone face to face or if he wouldn’t be able to get a ride from his parents that early in the morning (I’m pretty sure he’s a student here, though, so that was just said in fun).

Well, those are some of my favorites in my time here at the station. What about you? What’s been your favorite?

Glimpse Behind the Scenes

People think that doing radio is glamorous, and maybe it is. But I can tell you that when I roll into the station at 4:30 AM, it certainly isn’t pretty! Just ask Sunny or Joe about my awesome bedhead. It’s a good thing I’m a DJ and not a news anchor because it would take me a while to get HD-ready (although once I’m awake and functioning, I look way more primetime. Promise). We get in about a half hour to an hour before the show actually starts so that we can talk about what happened yesterday on the show and what’s happened since we went off the air the day before that we might want to talk about.

Then Mallory gets on the internet and starts pulling articles and various celebrity tidbits for us to use on-air. So if we miss a story or report it wrong, now you know who to blame: the intern! I’m just kidding, she’s really great and does high quality work, especially considering that she is both not getting paid and is up extremely early. Matt puts on his producer hat and starts telling Sunny and me what we can and cannot say on the air, what we’ve done wrong and how to be better, and also what , if anything, we are promoting that day.

That usually brings us right to 6 AM, when our show starts. That little “on air” light goes on and it is the best part of my day. Sunny and I will start by talking about anything interesting that happened since our last show and then play a couple of songs (which are usually hand picked by one of the two of us, or Matt if he’s feeling particularly ambitious—what I mean to say is, it’s my and Sunny’s decision what plays on air) before we start getting into the real meat of the show. We’ll take callers, maybe do a promo or a contest or something, plus more music. Then Joe will start to get a little loopy around 7:30 and send us on some weird tangent or other about life at school or the surrounding town or something. Then we usually get some angry calls, which may or may not make the air, depending on Matt’s screening capabilities and whether or not he thinks we deserve to be yelled about something that we said that may have sounded slightly idiotic (did I mention how early I have to get here?). Then I usually check our social media and announce anything interesting going on there, we play some more tunes, then Mallory does her gossip thing. We let Joe talk one more time, then we wrap everything up at 9.

You’d think we would be able to leave, but noooo. We have to record those station identification things and sometimes we record promos, either for other shows airing on the station or for various school functions. Sunny hates these although she has no problems making videos for our periscope account. I don’t think they’re that bad. They’re already scripted out so all I have to do is read ‘em and Matt does everything else. Once that is finally over with, I can actually consider going home. Or to my first class, depending on how motivated I am, hahaha!

So what do you think? Glamorous? Or just crazy?

Cool Events Coming Your Way

One of the best things about the morning show is that we get to give away tickets to some great events, especially in the summertime. We get a nice amount of promo tickets for a college radio station, which makes contests and phone-ins a good option to catch new listeners and retain others who may be needing some incentive to stick around. Hard to believe, but some people don’t think too highly about getting up early enough to catch our show. However, everybody likes free stuff, especially concert tickets or backstage access. Steve and I really try to use these types of things in a fun way to catch peoples’ attention and get them to listen to the show.

Yes, people, it is a ploy to get you to tune in!

Contests are the best. I love interacting with fans, especially those who have hung in with us for a while now. There have been some good ones so far, but my favorite was the bad day contest. We had listeners call in and tell us about their worst day ever and then the staff took a vote on the winner. The guy who won started his day with his dog running away got dumped and fired by his girlfriend/boss via email and then spilled hot coffee all over himself on his drive back home. The way he told the story—whether it was true or not, we didn’t fact check him—was completely hilarious. That was one of our highest rated shows ever. It was so much fun, and he got tickets to the Way Home festival. Totally worth the humiliation of re-enacting the high pitched scream with the coffee bit of the story, in my opinion. Camping plus a festival definitely equals a good time. Sure it won’t pay his bills or get him his job back, but it is a good time, so at least it’s something for him to look forward to.

I know some people are afraid that all they’re going to get is a busy signal and it’s completely impossible to win stuff. That’s not true anymore. It’s not all calling into a switchboard and getting busy signals. Social media now plays a big part of it, too. We monitor our facebook page and twitter account, and the show has its own number for people to text us. Sometimes we run contests or giveaways strictly through those mediums, and so it pays to check those out. Steve does most of the social media stuff; I’d rather take callers. Totally old-school, I know, but that and appearances are my favorite ways to reach out to listeners. Maybe that’s why Steve and I work so well together!

We’ve got more tickets to other great concerts, social events, and festivals to give away, so make sure you’re listening (here’s a free tip: tune your alarm clock to us and we’ll wake you up every morning. You can stay in bed and listen! It’s kind of a win/win if you ask me!) and be ready to call/tweet/text us for your chance to win. Can’t wait to talk to you!

Hosting a Successful Morning Show

Hosting a Successful Morning Show

The morning show is both a coveted (lots of listeners!) and dreaded (I have to get up at what time?) time slot in broadcasting. You have to be relevant, you have to be quick, and you have to be informative but not boring. You also have to avoid too much repetition but also repeat yourself for people who are tuning in on their morning commutes so that they have a chance to hear the news and also be able to follow along with whatever the discussion of the day is. If they can’t figure out what’s going on or aren’t interested, they’re going to change the station. Too much of that and you’re out of a job!

Every morning show needs at least one really good on air personality. Usually, it is a team, like we have here at Wake Up Ontario. Sunny and I get along great and we can really bounce topics off each other and get a really interactive discussion going with our listeners. This is crucial. People have boring commutes. They want to hear lively opinions on current topics to talk about with coworkers during lulls in the work day or on their lunch breaks. They want to be informed and entertained, and the show’s hosts are the ones who are going to keep listeners on the station. If you’re boring or don’t mesh with the rest of the crew, your days will be numbered.

A good morning show also needs a great production crew. There’s so much going on in the morning—all the news from overnight, traffic, weather, all the things that people miss when they’re asleep or are looking to find out when they wake up. You need to have great people who are able to sort it all out, culling the things that have the no interest to the target market, so that the only information going over the air is the information listeners can use and relate to. For example, if you’re a rock station, and you spend a half hour talking about the death of a country singer, chances are people are going to hit that scan button on their car’s radio tuner. It may be news, but it might not be relevant news. A good team will be able to determine what’s worth simply mentioning and what is worth discussing.

There also needs to be someone with finesse and good people skills manning the phones. Spirited callers can add spice and energy to morning shows, but you have to watch out for crackpots and people who just want to go on the air so they can say crazy, offensive nonsense. A good call screener needs to have the ability to sift through the lines quickly and accurately, allowing the interesting people on the air and preventing the radio station from becoming a mouthpiece for lunatics. The more lines you have and the more popular your show, the more critical this skill is to the success of a show.

When you have a great crew like Sunny and I do, you’re comfortable with your cohost, and you know your audience, you’ll find yourself with a very successful morning program!