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Cary Pahigian


There are a lot of nice guys in radio, but when it comes to Cary Pahigian it's totally true to say, Hes one of the nicest guys in radio. I first met Cary back in the mid 80s via the telephone, which is where we initially meet most of our business contacts. He was programming a station on the east coast and was in need of a morning host. We started chatting and I realized that any on-air personality who had the opportunity to work with Cary would benefit from his guidance and personal touch. He truly cares about the people who work for him, and in return he provides a great work environment for everyone. I then met Cary at an NAB convention, and quickly realized he was the real deal. Years later when he started his own company, I thought, Who wouldnt hire Cary to consult their station? It would be wonderful if everyone was as kind, compassionate, and effective as Cary.

Now, in his own words, here is how Cary Pahigian got into radio

I used to get a special laugh out of the Mary Tyler Moore Show episode where Ted Baxter accepted an award by saying, It all started at a 1,000-watt radio station. Thats exactly how I started in the broadcast industry, at 1,000-watt WCCM-AM in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

My journey began as a 14-year-old high school freshman who thought all I had to do was show up at the local station, present myself as an enthusiastic wanna-be, and get to work. And that is just about how it went.

I met first with WCCMs Sports Director Roy Reiss, the first of several wonderful mentors. Roy was kind, welcoming, and generous with his time. He invited me to shadow him during the stations twice-weekly local sports shows and football broadcasts. My duties were those of every intern: rip the wires, keep statistics, get coffee, set up and clean the studio, etc.

But Roy went a step further. He demanded that I learn how to write and communicate. He stressed the need to prepare thoroughly for any assignment I might ever take on. I was required to regularly write copy, stories, and scripts that Roy would edit in red pen and send back for a re-write.

That unofficial internship led to work in every facet of the operation through my high school and college years, including sales, on-air, programming, engineering, and of course, my two favorites, community ascertainments (anyone remember those?) and snow shoveling.

Snow wasnt the only thing you had to shovel. One boss seemed to think it was perfectly okay to call up a co-worker during a Christmas Eve snowstorm and demand that he collect several pies the boss had left in the station fridge and deliver them to a remote traffic rotary. The boss pulled up in his Cadillac, directed my colleague to put the pies on the floor of the back seat, and drove away without so much as a cursory Merry Christmas.

Bah, humbug.

Eventually, I became the afternoon DJ, and one week in February drove home Roys teaching on the need to be prepared and the seriousness of our business.

In the winter of 1978, a vicious and unexpected blizzard walloped our area. Most communities were caught off guard. With travel impossible, afternoon newsman Jon Keller and I found ourselves the only two people on duty for close to 48 hours. Our station became a critical lifeline for the community, providing emergency and in some cases, lifesaving information, comfort, and a unifying forum. We broadcast pleas for help for people in need of insulin, medication, or emergency hospitalization, as well as snowmobile transportation. We were also the one and only option for the Red Cross and emergency agencies to communicate with the community. The fun and games of radio turned into vitally important work in the blink of an eye. But we still had a laugh when a manager finally made it in after 48 hours and announced to his exhausted staffers that everything was fine now that Im here.

Egomania aside, that week made me understand that while fun, this broadcast thing was also deadly serious business. The memories and lessons learned that week are seared into my mind and serve me to this day.
And while the industry has certainly changed, it still feels the same to me 35 years later: a mix of fun, serious business, more than a few memorable characters, a handful of brilliant mentors, daily energy and excitement, and enough stories to fill a hundred issues of Radio Ink.

Contact Cary at

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 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.

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