Straight From the Mouth
The Morning Mouth's February interview with Mojo
(Reprinted by permission; Copyright © 2010 Talentmasters Inc.)
This interview is taking place on the heels of your show's return,
via syndication, to Tucson, a place where you once ruled as The Mojo & Betsy
Show. What's it feel like to be talking again to a city you once
Mojo: "I vowed to myself if I was ever going to come back to Arizona I
would come back to a station that can only be heard in the station parking
lot and that is why we are on HOT 98.3."
Clear Channel seems to be in the syndication mode. Johnjay & Rich
expanding out west, Paul & Young Ron covering Florida; Elvis Duran covering
the east and, oh yeah, that Seacrest guy, just to name a few. Were you
surprised that your first foray into syndication was out west? Are more
markets planned soon?
Mojo: "We hope this is just the start; we don't look at geography as
much as our show fits into the puzzle of our station's format. Our show is
Since the days of Mojo & Betsy, how would you say the show has
Mojo: "The show has become less bit oriented and more real-life
oriented. We deliver our entertainment for an audience with a short attention
span and want to respect the time our listeners give to our show."
Aside from you (Mojo) there's Producer Rachel, Shannon Murphy,
Spike and Rob the Web Guy. How would each of describe your complete
driver. Maybe that's because I'm an shitty driver. I'd say that I'm the air
traffic controller. I have so many talented people surrounding me my main
goal is to let them shine without crashing.
Spike: The "S" in "Spike" stands for sarcastic, smart-ass, shit-starter.
Shannon: I guess I would call myself the "ultimate girly-girl." (To
radio dorks, I would be the "female voice of reason.") I love shopping, going
to concerts, makeup, hanging with my girlfriends, traveling, reading trashy
magazines, and watching TONS of TV ... Especially if it's E Bravo. I'm also
the pop-culture junkie and Hollywood know-it-all on the show ... I do an
hourly segment called the Dirty on the 30.
Producer Rachel: I think I am the glue that holds it all together and or
"The Firefighter" as Rob calls me because I put out all of the fires.
Rob: MacGyver, I fix things that are broken. I make things happen when
people say it can't be done. That being said, I don't even know my job title?
Seriously. Mojo's youngest calls me a "Power Fixer" because I came over with
a generator when the lights went out. I used that as my email signature until
I started getting real mail that said "Power Fixer" on it.
Rob, are you the one that handles all the Facebook & Twitter
Rob: I am, but it's not just those, it's other sites like YouTube, we're
even "LinkedIn." As for Facebook, we all have our own accounts and interact,
rather than just posting stuff about how cool we are or pointless links to
our website. If we wouldn't care, why would we expect a listener to? That's
why we have 26,000+ fans on the page. Other shows that are in 10+ cities have
half that. You can't just 'have a myspace' you HAVE to interact!
Just between you and me (wink, wink), Does Mojo lay out your job
descriptions for you, or are you able to modify in a way that best fits your
Mojo: It is always changing. I have a horrible problem of being a
control freak. I rely on Producer Rachel, Mike McCoy (PD) and Steve Reynolds
(Our Show Coach) to keep evolving us.
Spike: We occasionally revisit our roles on the air but know what's
expected of us and how listeners perceive us.
Shannon: We're all pretty comfortable in knowing where we fit on the
show, and how we're supposed to manage that role. Since I'm still the newbie
(August 2009), I get a little more behind-the-scenes coaching than all of the
"old folks" with whom I work. (Sorry guys. Had to!)
Rob: We are a baseball team. We all know where we are supposed to be,
and when. But that doesn't stop us from running around the field. If
someone's closer to the ball, they don't just watch it fly by.
Producer Rachel: It was pretty clear to me what he needed from a
Producer, someone who is aggressive when it comes to booking guests and
tracking down people in the news, keeping him organized and on point. I don't
think he expected that I would be as much of a bulldog as I am but it gives
him the chance to be the pussycat. It's a good balance.
Let's talk content: give us 5 of the coolest things you've done on
the air over the past year or two? Plus, the one thing that got you the most
Interviewing President Obama and using him in a Phone Scam was very
cool. Busting Kate Gosselin holding hands with her security guard got us
national attention. We also caught our Mayor cheating on his wife and weaved
ourselves into the sex scandal as it made national news when we sent a moving
van to the Mayor's house to help get him out of town.
How about planning: Do you walk into each day's show with a
complete outline, or is there constant updating?
Spike: We create an outline each morning but the sign of a good show is
when we drive off the track and set fire to our schedule. It's live radio so
it would be foolish to not go with the flow.
Obviously, no city has been harder hit by the recession than Detroit.
How much, if any, does this effect the content of your show? Are there
certain types of bits you avoid right now?
Spike: We are very tuned in to the struggles of our listeners because we
are Michiganders. I've lived in Detroit for 14 years and our show has been on
the air for a decade. Our listeners are also our neighbors, friends and
coworkers. We don't avoid any topics... if anything, we like to dive in head
first and get our hands dirty with topics others are avoiding. Honesty has
become our hallmark and we were careful to step into the world of syndication
only if we were able to continue focusing on local Detroit issues. We
accomplish this by reserving time each hour for local breaks while our
network stations are hearing music.
Mojo: As you know Don growing up in Detroit..We may be a little fat but
we aren't lazy. Detroiter's are always working whether its at the plants or
to give back. This past year we started a program called Time Team Detroit.
It's a volunteer initiative that encourages each listener to give 1 hour of
time over the year to different charities. Its been huge! We've done 3-4
projects a month and have given back thousands of hours to well needed local
organizations. As important as it's been...It's the single most proud thing
we do on our show!
Rob: Time Team Detroit: We started an organization that matches up
listeners with volunteer events through our website. From groups of 5 to 100+
listeners, we've helped people give back to the city they love. So many times
you hear people say they want to help, but don't know how, or how they want
to do something more than write a check, or simply don't have any money to
give. A logistical nightmare, but we pull it off, thanks to Producer Rachel!
It's not because we had to, or needed to, we want to. "We don't want your
money, just your time." - Time Team Detroit.
In the PPM Path, a lot of shows were/are being urged to carry more
music content. Has that been the case for you? Do you think programmers
over-reacted? Spike: Our Programming team of Michael McCoy, Todd Thomas, Tom
Poleman and Jon Zellner have been extremely supportive of our show and its
content. They believe that control lies in our hands to judge when and where
music is needed. If the content is strong, it will hold people as well as
music. Typically, we play about three songs per hour in order to keep a good
flow and reset topics. I'm confident it's a good balance of hit music and
compelling, entertaining conversation.
Mojo: We've always played a fair amount of music on the show. I love
this format because it's all about pop culture. Our show has relied on the
most talked about music and artist and I think that's been a big reason why
our #'s are very similar in PPM as they were in diary.
You and other top shows haven't missed a beat in the PPM World.
What's your secret?
Mojo: I believe one of the biggest helps has been Steve Reynolds. Steve
was working with PPM morning shows for over a year before PPM started in
Detroit. He constantly talked to us about the theory he made famous at boot
camp..."Cut out the foreplay and get to the fucking!!!"
Rob: Focus on the game, not the points.
One of the aspects of Morning Show Boot Camp which is most
gratifying is when a young up and coming morning host walks up to a Mojo,
Bert Weiss, Paul Castronovo or Dave Ryan and ask for advice. What are some of
your top tips for jocks who want to be successful in mornings?
Mojo: I still remember being a first-time morning show host and walking
up to Jeff and Jer at Boot camp asking for advice. We must have talked for 2
hours about morning radio. That's why I love boot camp. There's no other
place where a young smaller market talent can get drunk with a radio legend.
I would not be in the place I am know if boot camp wasn't available to me.
That's why I still to this day pay for myself so I can keep networking. It is
Speaking of Paul, he and Young Ron just celebrated their 20th
anniversary. In an interview, he said the reason he first got into radio was
to meet girls. What was the basis of each of your entree into radio?
Mojo: I grew up in Chicago and listened to Johnny B, Alan Cable and
George McFly. Those guys to a Chicagoan are like Brad Pitt and George Clooney
to Hollywood. I also knew I wasn't smart enough to follow in my Father's
footsteps as a doctor.
Spike: I wanted to be an entertainer but I couldn't play an instrument
and I couldn't memorize scripts. I was always a class clown so I figured
radio was one way to get paid for being myself. And I wanted free concert
Shannon: I was literally just in the right place at the right time! I've
always wanted to do TV, but did radio internships for fun throughout college.
When my first PD (Chris Edge) heard me talking in the hallways while I was in
the sales department one day, he asked why I wasn't on the air. I shrugged
... He told me to buy a pair of headphones: I started in 2 weeks!
Rob: This is really a crazy story, but I am a high school and college
drop out who started a towing company, towed a DJ's car, which turned into
"come by and check out the studio some time." Two years later, I got hired.
Beats towing cars, right?
Producer Rachel: My favorite part of working at "The View" was producing
Hot Topics but the worst part was knowing people watching at home were
screaming at their TVs and wanted to be a part of the conversation Radio
breaks that fourth wall and allows the listener to be a major part of what we
do every day; it was exactly what I was looking for.
In that same interview, Paul said his Parents wanted him to become
a lawyer. If you weren't in radio, what do you suppose you'd each be
Mojo: I'd be a High School history teacher and basketball coach. Have
you seen these high school girls these days!!!
Spike: I'd be doing time.
Shannon: I'd be acting in soap operas. For real. (OK, so I'd probably
still be waiting tables at this point!)
Rob: Mom always said she thought I'd be good at helping people, like a
Doctor, Firefighter, etc. I don't think she knows how therapeutic the radio
can be some people.
Producer Rachel: I'd be producing a reality TV show.
This interview is being done two weeks prior to the Super Bowl.
Who wants to predict the final score between the 'Ain'ts and The
Mojo: I'm rooting for the Saint's but think the Colts will win!
Spike: My prediction is Bud Light and GoDaddy will win with the best
ads. Is there a football game?
Shannon: Ugh. I HATE football!
Rob: I don't do sports, never have. I can replace a water heater with my
eyes closed, but have no idea even what their color sceme is. My girlfriend
just punched me in the arm and said "Saints" so I'll go with Saints.
Producer Rachel: I'm not a sports person so the Superbowl is an excuse
to sneak off to the bedroom and have sex with my husband because nobody is
paying attention so I predict I will win that day
Editor's Note: Mojo in The Morning Celebrates it's 10th
Anniversary in Detroit on February 21.
Read previous Morning Mouth interviews.