Advice for aspiring radio students

My radio show runs on 97.7 the Beach in my home of Wasaga Beach, and on a high school station in Middlebourne, West Virginia.

WRSG. Knight’s Radio.

The adult volunteer who oversees the operation (and the guy who added my show) is a wonderful human being named Greg Goodfellow. He posted this on the WRSG Facebook page and was looking for advice to pass along to his senior class.

Many of us who are still in radio would say with a touch of cynicism and a dose of reality…

Choose another career.

It’s so easy to get discouraged when the bean counters and consultants  fail to recognize that we are in the entertainment business and not bank employees. It’s soul crushing to resign yourself to bottom line thinking even though many of those in charge love telling stories about the colourful characters they worked with. 


News readers trying to finish their casts after co-workers have set their scripts on fire with a cigarette lighter…or urinated in metal trash cans a few feet from a live microphone.

Now, to my young friends in West Virginia. Don’t do either one. You could set off the smoke alarm or get arrested.

In the ’70s that might have landed you a job and made the program director smile. They saw you as a personality and someone who could boost ratings. But personalities are hard to manage and that PD who drinks the copororate Koolaid views you as a line on a budget.

In the name of Homer Simpson’s Jeebus, I hope I’m wrong about that.

My advice to Greg and his students was to read. A lot. Anything. Blogs, music biographies, newspapers, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling and radio sites like Ramsay Media, Jacob’s Media, and Dan O’Day (the greatest consultant of them all. Common sense advice on all things radio).

Google radio legends like Alan Freed, Wolfman Jack, and Murray the K.


Freed is the patron saint of my show. Mister Rock and Roll, and the scapegoat for the payola scandal of the ’60s. Many of them took money or favours for playing certain records. Somehow Dick Clark got away with it while Freed saw his radio career destroyed, and died from alcoholism at the age of 43.

Bummer, I know. But Freed remains an inspiration, as do the Canadian deejays of my formative years. I grew up listening to 1050 CHUM. I lay in bed, earplug connected to my transistor radio as they counted down the TOP 100 songs of the year. Q107 launched when I was in high school and I spent every weekday morning listening to this guy, Scruff Connors.

And, as a young adult, I was captivated by this radio program.

Thanks, Alan. The Rock and Roll Riot features stories about the aritsts and songs in part because the Ongoing History of New Music kept me listening even when I wasn’t that familiar with the band or singer profiled in a particular episode.


Telling stories is a major element in great radio. Sharing experiences and opinions. Speaking to the listener as your radio friend and making them feel glad they tuned in, in a way that has them looking forward to your next shift. 
That is why you choose a radio career and suffer though the non-creative types whose only concern is how to save money and please the higher ups.

A few weeks ago, I spent a few hours in the 97.7 the Beach booth at the Wasaga Home Show. I wore my name tag and this year, as in many years past, I encountered people who said, “Oh, YOU’RE Johnny Maraca. I listen to you every week!”

That’s the best part of working in radio, and it can happen, my Tyler County friends, if you read, learn from the greats and say more than, “That was…this is…and checking the weather forecast…”

About johnnymaraca

sole proprietor of Maraca Media, former radio host (Johnny Maraca's Rock & Roll Riot), copywriter and producer and a print journalism grad.
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2 Responses to Advice for aspiring radio students

  1. William Goodfellow says:

    Thank you for all the advice, John, as well as the kind words! You create an exceptional show, and other stations need to do themselves a HUGE favor and air it; their listeners would certainly appreciate it!

    • johnnymaraca says:

      Thanks. It’s odd that something I put a lot of effort into doesn’t earn me a penny (used to get paid for it but it was cut for budget reasons and brought back but with no cash for me). Would love to find a paid gig but the show is a bit of a hybrid…oldies and newer rock and roll…a mix of rock and roll, rockabilly and R&B…so it probably works best on stations that don’t have rigid formats. Eg, an AM oldies station would not want to play the Ramones or modern, non-hit rockabilly. And, even though I play plenty of ’50s hits I was determined from day one for the show to not be a sock hop for seniors.

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