Straight From the Mouth
The Morning Mouth's November interview with Fitz in the Morning
(Reprinted by permission; Copyright © 2009 Talentmasters Inc.)
Quick Background check: where you started and all the steps to
getting to Seattle.
I was 17 years old and I started doing a weekend shift in market 3000 at
92.9 KNIN in Wichita Falls, TX. I was playing college basketball, doing a TV
internship, and a radio internship. I was doing the weather on the weekends
at the NBC affiliate, but I wanted to be a reporter. They thought I was too
young, I disagreed so I quit the TV internship and focused all my attention
on radio. During that time, a guy named Bruce Holberg that once worked at
WNBC in New York, bought the station and heard one of my weekend shows. He
said he liked my sound and wanted me to be a part of the morning show there.
After a year of working with the morning show at KNIN, I was asked to be the
host of the show. I was 18 years old and Fitz In The Morning was born. I
finally figured out what an aircheck was, sent my stuff to 93Q KKBQ in
Houston, TX, and got a call from JohnJay of JohnJay and Rich. They said I was
exactly what they needed on the show so I was off to Houston to be a part of
the JohnJay Morning Show. After about a year, I was 19 and I got the itch to
have my own thing. Against the advice of many, I took a massive pay cut and
moved to Oklahoma City to do the night show at KJYO KJ103. Within a year, my
show had a 29 share and it wasn’t long before I got a call from Todd Shannon
who was the PD at KHKS 106.1 KISS FM in Dallas, TX. He called me on the
hotline and said he wanted me to tape that night’s show to send to him later
in the week. I recorded that night’s show but decided to hand deliver the
aircheck myself. I drove all night from Oklahoma City to Dallas and was
sitting outside the KISS FM studios with coffee and doughnuts when Todd
Shannon arrived the next day for work. I was hired to do nights at KISS FM in
Dallas and then graduated to mornings when John Cook hired me at KRBV WILD
100.3. I had great success at WILD but the problem was that the station had
no identity. They had changed the name of the station something like five
times within a six year period. The station changed again, this time to JACK
Wolf in Dallas, TX. They already had an established morning show in place so
I continued searching for my next opportunity. Within a few months, I felt
like I had flown all over the country talking with different consultants and
stations. I met so many great programmers and talent during that time. Scott
Mahalick called in October of 2005 and after all was said and done I was in
Seattle, WA launching a brand new morning show on KKWF 100.7 The Wolf. It was
the perfect fit.
The Name Fitz: your idea or someone else?
Even though I have two brothers, I have been “FITZ,” which is part of my
last name, since I was five years old. Growing up playing sports, soccer,
basketball, etc, people always called me FITZ and it’s stuck.
Your height: aren't you like 7' tall? Center or guard on the
I was a WWF wrestler for 3 years before blowing out a knee. Kidding! I
played basketball for Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, TX. I was
a forward. I’m 6’7” but I love to shoot the “three pointer” and they hated
that about me. They wanted me down below, posting up...LOL.
Love your show. And you were just voted Seattle's Best. Seems like
you're a different brand of country morning radio. You describe it?
Wow... what an honor. I go head to head every morning with some of the
greatest heritage morning shows in the country. Bob Rivers, BJ Shea, Kent and
Alan, and Ichabod...NBC has presented me with the award two years straight.
Certainly someone miscounted the votes somewhere...LOL.
Although I am on a country station, I strive to make my show as mass
appeal as possible. From relationships, to family, to my custody battle...we
live our lives on the air. I believe that so many people love Rascall Flatts
and Keith Urban but they wouldn’t be caught dead in cowboy boots or a cowboy
hat. A Fitz In The Morning P-1 can’t wait to crank up Kenny on their way to
work and they’ll buy their US magazine at the grocery store on their way home
to watch Oprah. After Oprah, they log on to TMZ!!
Video is a big part of your show. Is there a TV angle
Aaaahhhh...all I can say is, absolutely! Let’s just say we’ve had
several conversations with CMT and GAC. You’re not gettin’ any more outta me!
How about syndication? Is it in the works?
Right now I host the weekend show, Fitz on FOX All Access USA which
combines the biggest country hits with the happenings in Hollywood. It can be
heard on a station near you.
I am fortunate to work for one of the greatest radio companies in the
industry, Entercom, and their have been talks of distributing “Fitz In The
Morning” in a variety of ways. I am really psyched about an upcoming project
that will bring change the way you think of your standard country countdown
show. Dang it...I’ve said too much again.
How do you and your crew plan for each show? Who does
I have to admit that I am a bit of a control freak. I do all of the prep
and I am lucky to have amazing cast members who can just bounce off of me
during the show. I walk in, throw something out, and they react. They are
complete professionals and we have such a great chemistry. We simply bring
our lives to the air and do our best to come up with creative and funny bits
daily. I have been working with my co-host Tony Russell for almost 10 years
and we can improv well together. Tony does a lot of crazy and wacky voices so
he has been everything from a 70 year old woman who was stuck in a tree to a
beached whale! Tony also does our comedy writing and stupid news bit. He may
be one of the most creative and unbelievable writers in the country. We are
all so different and it makes for such a compelling and unique cast. I am 31,
a single father of three, with a really hot girlfriend, struggling with
adulthood. My side kick Tony, is 42 and a pastor who loves to drink beer.
Mary White is the female side kick. She is a twenty year Seattle radio
veteran, who is 56 years old, with purple and pink hair. She is a tree
hugging liberal meets Mother Earth. I ask for a daily one sheet from each of
them so I can pull things that are happening in their lives to incorporate in
the show. Other than that, I handle all the prep. My life is
prep...seriously, the greatest show prep is LIFE. A day I haven’t spent
prepping is a day I hand over to the competition.
Sorry, have to ask. Being an Entercom station in the north west,
I'm sure the whole Wee for Wii thing has been discussed. Have you been given
new guidelines for contests since that whole thing came down?
I haven’t been given “guidelines” necessarily but any promotion that I
try to execute now has to be approved by legal. Fortunately, Entercom still
believes in great radio and if it makes sense, we’ll find a way for it to be
done. They just don’t want me to lose the lisense...LOL.
Let's go back to Dallas for a moment. You're always pictured with
a Texas Baseball Cap. I realize that's home, but is there a special
God bless Texas! When you are born and raised in Texas it is always
home. It is hard to explain to you lesser mortals, but I love the lone star
state! My heart is there and I will always love Texas. It’s really tough
being in Seattle with the Seahawks and I’m the biggest Cowboys fan there is.
Go Cowboys! All my family, my Mom, Dad, brothers, sister, nieces and nephews
live in Texas and I try to get back home to Dallas at least every other
month. Matter of fact, I just bought some land there. Did I mention, Go
Who do you give credit for discovering you?
I have so many people to thank. I gotta say a big thank you to JohnJay
from the JohnJay and Rich show because I was 19 years old when he called me
to be a part of his show in Houston TX. Mike McCoy, from KJ103 in Oklahoma
City, is one of the greatest program directors ever. John Cook, for giving me
my first morning show at the age of 23 in Dallas, TX going against Kidd
Kraddick. Dan Kieley, for teaching me the TRUE formula of morning radio. I
was very fortunate to spend time with this incredible program director who
took me under his wing when I needed help most. His knowledge of morning
radio was immeasurable and I can still hear him saying every morning
“Fitzy...consistency breeds content.” I love you Dan. I miss you everyday
and I hope I have made you proud. AND last but definitely not least, Scott
Mahalick, who chose me as his morning guy to launch The Wolf in Seattle WA.
He taught me to think big and to be predictably unpredictable. He is “The
Godfather” of the country format.
Who's show's inspired you?
Wow, there are so many! Scott Shannon, Kidd Kraddick, Jeff and Jer,
Johnson and Johnson in Salt Lake City. They are all fantastic and reinvented
the wheel in so many ways.
Name someone (in the business) you'd love to get to know, but
So many people with so much talent in the industry today. Rick Dees,
I’ve talked to him on the phone several times but have never met him in
person. I would love to have lunch with Ed Hill from KBULL in Salt Lake City
to pick his brain for a day.
If I got them to call you, would you send me a Fitz
Definitely! You can also get the Fitz Happens speedo! Wait a second, the
station is out of t-shirts right now...you know, the recession and
everything. What about a CD from the Wolftastic prize closet? LOL
We've been honored to have you as a regular for our Morning Show
Boot Camp. Who are some of the shows you look forward to hanging out with
There are so many. I always look forward to seeing Ace and TJ, Kevin
Rolston, my buddy Atom Smasher, Eric Rowe, and Roula and Ryan. I love seeing
the people that I’ve worked with in the past like my old side kick Big Gay
Steven, who is now Randy Spears on WBLI Long Island. Of course I can’t forget
about my Seattle peeps..love ya BJ and crew.
What would an interview be without a PPM question? What are doing
differently in the PPM world?
I haven’t really changed a whole lot between the hours of 6 and 9.
Content is always KING and as far as morning radio is concerned, I feel it’s
the stuff between the records that matters. Between 6 and 9 , I completely
focus on teasing and breathing. TEASE, TEASE, TEASE, TEASE, TEASE! Sometimes
the first part of my break will be teasing what is coming up in the next
couple of minutes. I have also been focused on my interviews. You know, we’re
told that interviews don’t matter in the PPM world, but I disagree,
especially if you make the interview COMPELLING. Ask a question that no one
has ever asked before. When I stump an artist with a question then I know
that I’ve done something right. After 9, the music rules, and I have just
bought into that. My ego wants to talk the entire 9 oclock hour but we all
must understand that the majority of our listeners are at work and it is our
job to make the radio as consumable as possible.
Okay, back to the show: "Best thing you've ever done on the
Tough question. I have been a part of so many great promotions over the
years. Recently, I obtained full custody of my children, I talked about
everything on the air, so my listeners were there every step of the way. It
brought a closeness between me and my listeners that I’ve never experienced
before. Living my life on the air and letting my listeners know me on a
personal level has created a bond with my audience that has taken my show to
the next level.
Most surprising answer an on-air guest ever gave you.
I interviewed the Black Eyed Peas at WILD 100.3 in Dallas, TX and they
came in drunk from the night before. Apparently, they had been out all night,
they still wreaked of alcohol, every answer they gave me was surprising and
was followed by a tribal chant that I joined in from time to time. Then there
was Rascall Flatts who had WAAAAY too much knowledge about Canadian massage
Female celebrity who hit on you.
Jessica Simpson, Mary J Blige, and Jo Dee Messina. I have
witnesses...call me for the details. Jessica’s dog, DAISY would have never
been ripped to shreds under my watch!
Most shocking thing that ever happened in your studio.
The most shocking for me, was when I was in the process of getting a
life insurance policy and I had to get a physical. Now, there are lots of
practical jokes that go on in our hallways and I was long over due for the
joke to be on me. I had just had extensive blood tests done earlier in the
week. My side kick Tony and the midday host, Lola, had someone call me on the
air to tell me that I had to get to the doctor’s office immediately after the
show to discuss the outcome of my blood work. I started to panic. It was
literally the most frightening moment of my life. LOL I still plan on getting
Mike Preston just became your new PD. What's the best advice any
PD reading this should know about coming in a working with an
established/successful morning show? What would be the biggest mistake they
Today we just got our numbers!! Fitz in the Morning was #1 Women 18-34,
#1 Persons 18-34, #1 Persons 18-49, and #1 Women 18-49! To any new programmer
going in to a station with an established, winning morning show, I would say
that just because you are the new guy doesn’t mean that you have to start
changing things. I would ask any new programmer to study the history of the
radio station, from annual promotions to jingle packages. I think so many
programmers feel the need to put their “blueprint” on a radio station that
they have just taken over. Sometimes the best strategy is not change, but
consistency. I can’t wait for Mike Preston to arrive. He has an amazing
Programming mind and is a STREET WARRIOR!! Plus, I hear he is an amazing
person and great Dad.
Read previous Morning Mouth interviews.