Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

December 26, 2019

Radio 101: One Year as a Morning Show Host Q&A!

     One year ago today was a day that I will never forget and a highlight of my career: my first day as a morning show host! It was the best belated Christmas gift ever last year, and a dream come true. I finished undergrad in 2016 and broadcasting school in 2017- I never would have thought that just a year and a half after starting my first full-time radio job I'd get to have my dream time slot of doing mornings!

     A couple years ago, I used to love sharing fairly frequent blog posts about working radio, in a blog series that I call Radio 101. However, I think today's post might be my first and only directly about my job in 2019! I really wanted this year to be a time to settle in to my new job and focus first and foremost of getting used to my new schedule, and being the best morning show host I could be.  Being so immersed each day at work meant that I didn't really feel like diving into work related topics on the blog in my free time! But now that the first year is behind me, I'm ready to get back into it on Southern Belle in Training in 2020. I consider it a great honor to get to share my career with y'all!

      I thought the best way to celebrate our show's birthday today and to get back into my Radio 101 posts was to do a morning radio themed Q&A! Y'all sent me great questions via Instagram- I'm answering them all today.


     Is radio in real life the way it's depicted in movies and TV? Hmmm, this is a tough one! I can only answer it of course based off of the TV and movies I've seen where radio is depicted, which probably isn't a ton of things to go off of. I would say overall no though? Don't get me wrong, getting to be an on-air radio host is a really fun job, but also kind of no-frills most of the time. We all work really hard, and there aren't as many job perks as people sometimes think (like I don't automatically get concert tickets to every show in Charlottesville!). So it's probably not as exciting day-to-day as movie or TV would depict. But I still love it!

     Do you get recognized in public by your voice? I have been recognized a few times out and about in Charlottesville over the last year! One of my good friends that I made this year, Caroline, is a morning TV reporter. When Caroline and I go out together, she usually gets noticed more than I do because people are familiar with her face as well, and for me it's just voice! But it does happen from time to time. The first time I was noticed was last winter in a nail salon, haha!

     Do you have a say in the music your station plays? Nope! That's something a lot of people don't realize about radio. Music selections are determined by the station's Music Director and/or Program Director (radio term for manager), and if the station is corporately owned then people from corporate or a hired music consulting firm will also offer input on what should be played for the station format. I've never been in a Music Director role, so that's something that's still kinda foreign to me.
     I work for an AC (adult contemporary) station, so our music is focused on songs from years past. I think we only play maybe 4-5 songs released in 2019? The majority of what we play is soft pop from the 80s to the mid 2000s, so our music isn't switched around as much as like a Top 40 or current country station would be.

     What has been the most difficult thing to adjust to with the morning show work schedule? Having to get really good at saying no to things on weeknights that are too late for me to go to with my bedtime! I hate FOMO, and sadly that's something I've had to embrace this year for weeknights whether I like it or not. I had to leave the women's bible study that I was in last year as it met too late at night for me to continue going, and I frequently say no to weeknight plans or events happening. I'm very regimented and strict on my weeknight bedtimes, but it still doesn't always make it easy!

     Are your weekends different now with waking up so early on weekdays? Somewhat? Amazingly I can still sleep in a bit on weekends- I've heard from other morning radio hosts that they still wake up in the middle of the night naturally even on their days off. Of course, by "sleeping in" I mean 7-8am... my days of sleeping until 11am or later are long behind me, haha! The one thing that's been really different about my weekends now is that Friday nights are very hit or miss for me as far as my energy levels. Friday of course is my 5th day in a row of waking up at 3:30am, so I'm usually pretty exhausted by dinner time. If I am able to take an afternoon nap, I can usually get a second burst of energy and stay up pretty late Fridays. But if I don't nap, I'm kind of screwed. I've made the mistake several times this year or making fun Friday night plans with friends and not napping, and then having to cancel them at the last minute since I don't feel great. I'm hoping in 2020 that if I am doing stuff on Fridays to be really diligent about getting a nap first!

     What is your weekday schedule? I shared a blog post all about my daily routine last spring on the blog, which you can read here! My afternoon schedule changes a bit now day by day- Mondays I usually try and do blog work, Tuesdays I have a volunteer commitment, etc. But I'd say for the most part that weekday schedule is still accurate for times on stuff.

     How do you and Marc decide which phone calls to take for Impossible Trivia? This is a great question, and clearly from a local listener!! Marc and I play a morning show game called Impossible Trivia each weekday at 7:35am. This is something that Sherry, the previous morning show host, started before us! We've continued her tradition since it's so popular. Marc and I will read a random trivia question, and then we take phone calls for guesses until someone gets it right. You can check out our past questions here on the Z95.1 website.
     We don't air any type of phone calls live on-air ever (for liability in case someone said bad language live on air!), so I take the trivia phone calls while songs are playing. I'm the one that edits the calls and gets them ready for air, and I like to have at least one minute of a song left playing so I can finish the edits in time for the next talk break. So if the phone is still blowing up with only 60 or so seconds to spare, I stop taking new calls and just edit the ones we have already gotten. We don't have caller ID- it's totally random which calls we will answer!

     Do you like working with a co-host or did you prefer your solo shows? Words can't properly say how much I adore working with Marc! It is incredibly fun to have him as a co-host, and also a great learning experience working so closely with one person. I tell some of my friends that working with Marc is the closest thing to being married that I've ever experienced. Not because of any romantic feelings (Lol- the opposite of that! Marc is like my brother.), but because of how close we have to be. We make each other laugh and are there for so many highlights in each other's lives, but we also still have to work together and be in close proximity on days when one of us doesn't feel like being there or talking to someone else. We've also had to learn how navigate through conflict and bad moods in a healthy way, since we don't have a choice not to. The show must go on!
    With all that said, if I didn't get along well with Marc or a co-host, I'm sure my job would be miserable. We spend several hours for five days a week in a small room together. It would be super easy to get sick of the wrong person!

     Do you want to continue doing mornings in the future or do you miss afternoons? Super content in doing mornings for now! Morning radio is just so fun and unique. I really enjoy working for Z95.1 with Marc and getting to wake Charlottesville up each morning- I hope to keep doing that for years to come! But it would also be super cool to be a morning show host in a larger city as well someday. Open to whatever career plans God has for me!
     With that said, if I do meet my person and get married/start a family in the next few years to come, I have wondered how the morning lifestyle would work with that. I never want to leave radio completely, but should my life change a lot, it might be wise to stop doing mornings for a bit. Time will tell!
     What causes a long silence in the middle of commercials or a song? That could be for a couple things! Usually silence is for an EAS test. These are required both weekly and monthly by the government, plus there are weather and Amber Alert EAS tests that run unschedule as needed. EAS tests are the weird silence and beeping you hear at random times that are either a test of the alert system, or a real alert! Sometimes it takes a moment or two for the test to begin and there is silence. The other reason is accidental dead air! That could be the fault of someone in the studio- accidentally pressing a wrong button or turning off the radio for a bit. I once did it for a good few minutes at my first job in Vermont- I was so embarrassed when some of the management came running into my studio, haha! Or dead air sometimes isn't a fault of the studio, but means the radio tower for the station is down or having maintenance performed. If that's the case, that's in the hands of engineers to fix!

     What kind of music do you listen to outside of work? Do you get sick of the radio? Generally speaking I like a lot of the songs that Z95.1 plays (especially our 90s music!), but of course I do get tired of some of it from time to time. I have very varied music tastes- I love Top 40, country, hip-hop, Christian music, and a lot of international music!
    I do mainly listen to local radio in my car around town, partly because I'm a radio nerd and like to hear what other stations around here are doing, and partly because my car is old and my iPhone doesn't connect via Bluetooth to play music, so for short drives I don't usually take the time to hook my phone up! But at home I'm definitely a Spotify girl. I love Spotify since I get to listen to every music genre under the sun there, especially my favorite international music! I truly believe that there's a time and place for both traditional radio and streaming services- maybe an unpopular opinion in my industry but oh well.

     How do you stand working with me? HAHA this question was from Marc! 😂I could ask you the same thing about me.

    Thanks so much for reading, and thanks to all of you who support my radio career from near and far! I'm hoping to bring you along for even more of it in 2020. Happy 1st Birthday to the Z95.1 Morning Show!!

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese



  1. Happy Anniversary - I know you love this show!

  2. Happy anniversary! This was so interesting to read! I've always thought that the hosts were the ones who picked the songs and didn't realize there is a director that does that. Thank you for sharing this with us! I've always had respect for radio hosts, but this has opened my eyes to so much more!

  3. Congrats on your 1 year Radio Show anniversary!!! So proud of you killing the game friend! Cheers to another amazing year!

  4. Ahh congrats on 1 year! What a HUGE accomplish. Your q&a was so fun! This sounds like such an exciting job.


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