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Lisa Miller - "How I Got Into Radio"

Dave Kaelin

1-18-2013

Back in the 80s my husband did nights at WLS AM/FM in Chicago. It was a rock radio war and his competitor was Dave Robbins. Although neither of these talented individuals considered themselves competitors, they followed each others careers and with time became friends. Soon there were children and Dave moved to Columbus. From his on-air success he moved over to the management side and became the general manager of the juggernaut known as WNCI. Dave worked with a morning show that was, in his words, the best Ive ever heard. When Dave left Columbus and moved back to Chicago, he asked me to take very good care of his boys, Dave and Jimmy.

The Dave & Jimmy Show was an outstanding morning show that had taken Columbus by storm and kept WNCI in the #1 position in every key demo. There was the dulcet toned Dave Kaelin and the energy ridden Jimmy Jam; two guys who couldnt be more the polar opposites. Dave was married with kids, Jimmy was single and dating every young lady in the state of Ohio. It was an honor for me to work with two such talented pros; but better was the opportunity to become friends with my clients. Dave is 24/7; he lives his job every minute of every day. Radio comes first, second, and third; and his family supports his love for the craft and gives him the freedom to deliver one of the best shows in radio. If you havent heard The Dave & Jimmy Show, you havent experienced radios best.

But let's hear from the man himself. Dave, how did you get into radio?....


Drawing, of course!

I drew all my life, was an editorial cartoonist for a couple newspapers, won some awards for animation, and just assumed I would study graphic arts in college. But my "arts" college, Edinboro University, also had a fantastic college station. It didn't take long for a friend of mine to invite me to watch him on his shift and, immediately, I wanted to give radio a try. Several months later, I switched majors and never looked back.

My first paid job was babysitting the overnight Larry King radio show; and by babysitting, I mean pressing an ID twice an hour. I made $60 a week. Eventually I was promoted to a shift at WSEG in Erie, which ran Top 40 music off four giant reel-to-reel machines (that was like trying to drive a car with three wheels). Even with the low pay and lower tech, I absolutely loved the job!

My father was a steelworker, and he thought eventually I'd get this radio thing out of my system and come back to Pittsburgh to learn "the craft." What was the craft you ask? Welding at 1200 feet in the air. Pass!

WSEG was eventually sold and we were all let go. I wasn't bummed because I had a job waiting for me in Central PA., on the top of a mountain with 97KYN. This new drop-in station couldn't afford a studio away from the transmitter, so our studio was in the trailer beneath the transmitter. 97KYN had the highest transmitter site in all of PA. Getting up and down the mountain was done on dirt roads which were covered in heavy snow in winter; and there were no living opportunities besides hunting cabins. My "neighbors" were deer and bears, and my off-road vehicle was a Chevette. I lived in this cabin where the only heat was the fire and if it went out, you froze. I learned the foibles of green wood and morning drive. Even with the mountain living and mountain audience, I absolutely loved the job!

Shortly after my time on WSEG, I was called back up to the "majors" of Erie and WJET. I said it then and I'll say it now: JET-FM was fantastic, 100 percent personality radio. They wanted it, they nurtured it, and they paid great salaries to back it up. This industry could still learn a lesson from owner Myron Jones and Program Director Jim Cook; any signal can carry music, but the real relationships are made by talented people and the management that supports them. I absolutely loved the job!

In 1990, I lucked into WNCI (I say "lucked" because Columbus and Nationwide Broadcasting was much better than I even realized when I took the job). I met a wide-eyed intern about my age named Jimmy Jam, and we're still at it to this day and fortunate to have an amazing streak at #1. WNCI offers us all the big boy toys and creative space, and Columbus has been VERY good to us; its an amazing city. Personally, having all of my kids go through just one school district K-12 means a lot to me, considering the suitcase nature of radio. By syndicating the show we have had the opportunity to explore the country and the great radio stations which serve its people. It has given us a broader perspective, without the need to weld at 1200 feet. Ill never get this radio thing out of my system.

I absolutely love my job!

Lisa Miller is the President of Miller Broadcast Management in Chicago. She's also one of Radio Ink's Most Influential Women in Radio. Miller can be reached at Lisa@millerbroadcast.com or 312-454-1111. So, how did you get into radio? We'd love to hear the story about why you're passionate about radio.

Read more "How I Got Into Radio Feature's" HERE




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