“I think that was the first time Jay really took me seriously, and I learned I could do this radio thing in a real world setting, not just a classroom.” – Matt Evans
We ask Specs Grad Matt Evans to share his path on becoming “Easy E” an on-air personality in Peru, Illinois.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a sports nut. I grew up loving Detroit sports and the University of Michigan. However, once I was done growing it was apparent that I would not end up achieving my dream of playing in the NFL; as for some reason very few teams are interested in a kid who is short and skinny and not a kicker. I figured since nobody would pay me to play sports, maybe they’d pay me to talk about them. So I went to Specs, learned a ton about the business of radio, and was able to get a job as a disc jockey in Peru, IL. Now I am still a sports nut, but I’m also a country music junky (something I never thought would happen).
What are some things people associate with you?
This is a toughie. I'd say humor, energy, positivity. Those are the vibes I try to send out. Hopefully it's what people associate with me.
Where do you work and what do you do there?
I work for Studstill Media in Peru, IL. It's pretty much exactly 5 hours from Detroit. An hour and a half from Chicago. I am an on-air personality. I have my own show during the afternoon drive time slot on a country station, and am also in charge of liners and station imaging for our Top 40 station. In addition to daily commercial production.
What drew you to this profession?
Who wouldn't want to work in radio? It's fun and the people you meet are awesome. But one of the best things is that when you go to a station event you are treated like a celebrity, but when you go to the grocery store nobody recognizes you.
What do you feel separates Specs Howard from other schools?
I attended three colleges before Specs (rather unsuccessfully). What makes Specs different is you start working hands on almost right away. You are taught not only what you will need to know after school, but how to market yourself to employers after graduation.
What were your instructors like?
Experienced. They've been there and done that. They all worked in the business. So they know what it takes to succeed. I also felt like they really wanted to see me succeed. I continue to stay in touch with many, and they seem to take as much pride in my accomplishments as I do. This speaks to how much they truly care.
What was your favorite class at Specs?
I'd have to say there was a tie between my radio performance classes with Bob Palmateer and Eric Braun. Those guys made me feel so confident with the equipment (which feels really intimidating early on) and in my delivery. They gave me my voice. And I can't thank them enough for that.
Describe your most memorable Specs Howard moment.
One moment? What a cruel question. All I can think about right now is how much I laughed with my classmates. Everyday every person came to school ready to work and with a positive attitude. I still think that's really cool.
Did you participate in any internships or volunteer programs?
I had an internship with Fresh 100.3 and the Jay Towers Morning show. Watching Jay was amazing, because he made everything look so easy. It made me want to be able to do what he did. Plus, meeting Specs grad Renee Vitale gave me a great reference for future employers.
Describe a life changing moment related to attending Specs Howard.
I took an internship with the Jay Towers Morning Show for Fresh 100.3 while I was still in school. One week our audio engineer (another Specs grad) was sick, and I stepped in to do what he normally did. I think that was the first time Jay really took me seriously, and I learned I could do this radio thing in a real world setting, not just a classroom.
How did you get started working where you are now?
Brent Carey in the Career Services Department tipped me off about an opening here in Peru. I was actually interviewing for a position in Lansing when I got the call from this group of stations. After a Skype interview and a 10 hour round trip to and from Peru for an interview, I was offered the job and packing away my life in Michigan.
If you hadn’t attended Specs Howard, what do you think you would be doing?
I don't like to think about it. Probably still serving people food in restaurants.
Have you encountered other Specs grads in the workplace?
Even in Peru, IL yes. One of my former co-workers is a Specs grad who now works in Indiana. Specs grads rule the world, didn't you know that?
What was it like your first day on the job after graduating?
A lot of weather reads. I got really good at reading weather. It was pretty awesome, though, to hear my voice on-air for the first time. Immediately I felt like all the work was totally worth it.
What are the perks to working in the radio industry?
Well first off, it's a cool job. When you tell someone you're a DJ they always say “Oh how cool!” Also there's the free concert tickets and stuff like that. Notice though that I didn't say the money. I get paid enough, but if you want to be a millionaire, be a banker.
What has been your biggest accomplishment in the radio business so far?
Well, in my first year in the business I took a #3 rated country afternoon show and it took it to #1 in the market in just two ratings books. That feels pretty awesome.
What has been your coolest on-air moment?
Best moment would definitely be giving away $1,100 in a giveaway. It was just really cool to hear how much I was able to make someone's day.
What has been your biggest mistake you’ve made in your job so far?
I'll put it this way, ALWAYS ASSUME THE MICROPHONE IS HOT!
What is the craziest thing you’ve ever had to do for the job?
Hmmm... I haven't had to do anything too crazy yet. Except weather. When sevre weather comes, people rely on you. So when a series of tornadoes came screaming through the area I had to run to the station instead of running for cover.
What other ways do you connect with fans?
We do a lot on Facebook here. I am also fortunate enough to have a live request hour during my show which gives me a chance to interact with fans on a daily basis. I try to involve people in the show as often as I can. Remember, you hear your voice on the radio everyday. For the average person, it's really cool to get to hear their voice on air.
What are some common misconceptions about the business?
That what we do is easy. The best make it look easy. But it isn't. Being average at radio is really easy. Being good takes hard work every single day.
What is one thing you want to learn?
I want to learn more about the programming side of this business. As a DJ, your job is just to be friendly and excited. Program Directors have a really tough job, and I'd kind of like to see that side of things. Eventually. I'm happy where I am right now. Really happy.
Every Specs Howard School of Media Arts graduate has a story to tell. We collect new life lessons from the field as often as we can. If you are a graduate and have a story to share, visit our website, and drop the Career Services department a note to let them know what you are doing. We always love hearing from our graduates.
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