Job: Nationally Syndicated Radio Host, Taste Of Country Nights
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Evan and I were connected through McKinzie, an interview from earlier this fall who is also in the radio business. Hovering close to the young professional line, Evan gives us a taste of life in radio, what it takes to stay in the industry, and how it is possible to never feel like you're working a day in your life. Spoiler alert: Evan talks about who his favorite celebrities to interview are, and you won't want to miss it!
Give us a brief background.
So I started college in 1998 when I graduated high school as a 17-year-old, but I had no idea what I was doing or why I was doing it. I just knew that I wanted to be on the radio. I thought it was cool that I could be myself but that no one could see me at the same time. After my sophomore year, I was offered a full-time on-air position in my hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. I told my parents that this was what I wanted to do for a living and these opportunities aren't going to just pop up. In 2000, I left college and took this full-time radio job and it has been 19 years since then. I've been fortunate enough to have some really big jobs and really feel like I haven’t worked a day in my life.
What do you like about being in the radio world?
I mean, everything. Anything from just the connection that you get to make with listeners and how much you can affect someone’s day in a positive or negative or sad way. It’s a really intimate medium where you can draw a lot of emotions and I like that a lot. I like getting to meet all of the artists that make the music. It is also a perk that I don't have to work and sit at a desk all day!
What are you currently up to right now?
So now I'm in Nashville and I host a syndicated radio show which was my ultimate goal.
I come in around 9:00 in the morning and if we have interviews that are in Nashville, I'll do a country radio night show that's all on one hundred five radio stations. Usually, I’m done every day by 2:00 P.M., but we are constantly working even after we leave because you’re always looking for topics and seeing what the artists are talking about. Obviously, we are in Nashville because it's the country music capital, so most of the artists we talk to live here. Yesterday we had Luke Combs come in, and I just feel like I have come to know these people really well.
So you get to meet celebrities on a pretty regular basis?
Yeah, I would say about one to two times a week. We have Dan + Shay coming in tomorrow, and as I said earlier, Luke Combs was in here earlier in the week. Some weeks we have bigger artists come in but we will wait to play their interview until one of their albums comes out, or something like that.
Why did you choose country music in the first place, or did it choose you?
In 2012 I was working in New York City at a Top 40 station and they essentially canceled the whole station and I had a few months to figure out what I wanted to do next. I was approached by some program director in country radio and he told me that the direction country is heading is new, and they are looking for people that are more like me, and less Rhinestone shirts and cowboy hats. Country used to be “if you like country, you didn’t like anything else”, and that was frowned upon in the radio world. He was looking to hire me to do a morning show in 2012, but I actually didn’t take it. I ended up taking a job in Philadelphia for three years doing a Top 40 morning show, but the country opportunity circled back to me three years later. A guy from Portland called me and told me they needed someone like me in the mornings on the country side, so I went for it. And once I started doing country, I was like, I don't want to do any other format! The artists are beyond nice and just make you feel like you’re friends with them. I couldn't see any other format after that because it's just so genuine. I also think I just kind of got burned out on the Justin Bieber type of stuff. As you get older too, you don’t really want to be talking about Ariana Grande anymore, you know?
It's the hottest format in radio currently with the most stations across America. It kind of chose me, but I also had an open mind. I have only been doing it for three years now, but it feels like it has been much longer.
What would you tell somebody looking to get their start in radio?
I would say that the industry is shifting into more syndication. If you want to be an on-air personality in radio, now might be the best time. I’m not going to lie and say that it isn’t hard getting your foot in the door, but if you never get a chance to get put in the game, no one knows how good you could be. Once you get your foot in the door, and I’m talking about being the secretary or street promotion person, you have a better chance. Then, once you’re in the building, get in front of the right people and just spend time with the program director. It can happen just like that. I have rarely seen someone with a broadcasting degree that just jumped right on the air. It takes time and is about who you know.
What has been a challenge in your young professional years? How did you grow from it?
I think the hardest part, at the beginning, was getting respect from co-workers, mostly the salespeople who had been in the field for a long time. On-air talent, especially when you're young, can kind of come off as naive. I started as full-time when I was 20, so I thought it was hard to get respect from older professionals at that point. The way I overcame it was just being myself and being able to be a chameleon to the best of my ability. I could sit in a big meeting with corporate suits who are all 20 years older than me, while also making sure that I had the personality as on-air talent.
Who is the best person you've interviewed?
There are a lot of people, but I think the most inspiring is Eminem because it is crazy to hear his story of how he got to the top. Snoop Dogg is probably the most entertaining because, well, he’s Snoop Dogg.
What is next for you in this industry?
I finally feel like I have the radio career I've always reached for. I just want to be in this role for a long time and just try to work my way into the country music television scene one day. But, I am truly happy with where I am in radio and could see myself doing this forever.
The YoPro Know's Takeaways:
– If you never get a chance to get in the game, no one knows how good you can be
– In radio, you need to get your foot in the door
– Opportunities can circle back around to you
– Get to the point where you feel like you haven't worked a day in your life
Check it out: Nashville, Taste of Country Nights, Dan + Shay, Luke Combs
You can also follow Evan on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter