Career Capsule: In 1993, I was pregnant with my first child. I was working for an orchestra in Columbus, Ohio as their financial manager. (What else do you do with a Music Business degree?) We were listening to the local AC station in the office and they had a contest to win $1000. One day, I won and I was so excited…I was what I now know is a “great winner”! I squealed and laughed and joked about going into labor. They made a promo out of me and I had so many friends tell me “you should be in radio” after they heard it. I laughed, then went into a recording studio and made a demo tape. I took it to the local Christian radio station and they hired me. I worked in promotions, in the traffic department, even in management. At the same time, I took a part time on-air shift for RadioU when they signed on. After that, I did news and traffic for Metro Networks then was hired from that into my first morning show gig. From then on, that’s all I did and all I wanted to do. I’ve worked for both secular and Christian radio stations. When I was co-hosting mornings on WaYfm in Kalamazoo, their sister station WCSG hired me away to do mornings in 2004. That’s where I teamed up with my current co-host, Tommy Dylan. We went from there to Star 105.7, an iHeartRadio AC station in town for 10 years until my job was “eliminated”. Tommy left shortly after that we were hired on at Joy99 on 1-8-18. We’ve been Tommy and Brook for 17 years now. (The longest duo in the market) Many listeners followed us from the secular station to our current Christian station. I only say that because as only God can do, so many of those listeners have now begun to follow Christ which is FAR more important. With this move, I also took on the roll of Music Director which I can now say puts my Music Business degree to full use! 😊
Brooke, tell us what’s new at WJQK… news, changes, & with new with YOU… etc?
Well, the biggest thing for us has been the re-branding. For years, there wasn’t really a brand at all. It was JQ99 or WJQ, etc. With the decision to become Joy99, we now have an identity. It’s not a name, it’s a lifestyle. It’s a theme. It’s a filter we use for every decision we make as a radio station. This is not just us spreading Joy, but how we encourage our listeners to choose it, feel it, and spread it.
You work as a morning show co-host, what ingredients are important to make that work with a partner?
I think it was Tommy Kramer years ago in an air-check that said “your job is to make your partner look good…to help people want to hang out with them”. One of the stations we worked for actually wanted the opposite. They wanted us to fight, have conflict, and literally pitted us against each other to be more interesting. It was awful. I never had a brother and Tommy’s sister died just before we started working together. I think God put us together for that relationship. We’re honestly like siblings.
What is the best show/programming advice you’ve been given?
I think it was a former co-host of mine that said “be fun, not funny”. I’ve never forgotten that. It’s not about punchlines, it’s about enjoying what’s going on. If I’m not having fun, the listener is not having fun either.
The worst? I think I referenced it in the question above about “make sure there’s conflict between the two of you”. I don’t think moms driving their kiddos to school need to hear two more people bickering and arguing, do they? They already have that in the back seat. Now, do we have the same opinion about everything? No. Do we rib each other when Tommy talks about folding laundry and I have to take away his man card? Yes. I think there’s a difference in that vs. sounding like you just don’t get along at all.
What’s something you’ve learned due to the pandemic, about Christian Radio, that you didn’t know before?
That people desperately need hope. I think people need to see the light at the end of the tunnel…or even if they can’t see it, they want to feel like it’s coming. The songs we play have taken on a whole new identity. They (and we) listen to them differently than we did pre-pandemic. Watching the news is such a downer. We don’t do any news on the station. News breeds fear. We want to embody hope.
What is your opinion of podcasts for stations & air talent, are they necessary, must have one, etc?… Please explain…
We’ve actually had this discussion a few times. Should we, shouldn’t we? I do believe there’s some value there if you have something more to say? Since we’re music intensive, we’ve considered taking certain topics that we just don’t have time to go so deep on, to a podcast. We just haven’t finished that discussion yet. Stand-by.
Where will new up and coming air talent for Christian Radio come from?
Oh, I hope from passionate people. People that want to make a difference and be “influencers” for God. You can train people how to turn on a mic and edit a commercial, but we need fire-starters, encouragers, scarred and bruised transformed story-tellers.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian air talent?
Vulnerability. Christian radio (sometimes…okay, more-often than not) has this fake aura of perfection. I believe it’s because the air-talent feels they have to come across as perfect. Like they have their lives together. Buttoned up. That if you become a Christian, your life is automatically less messy. I don’t think that serves our listeners well. We have shared the ugly, the gut-wrenching, the failures, etc. and how God got us through. The redemption. If we present as perfect, the listener can’t grasp Grace.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
I’ve learned something from every co-host I’ve ever had. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. Sometimes you don’t know which until much later. My 2nd co-host was Jason Addams at Z101.7 in Lansing and he pushed me. I didn’t like it. He taught me SO MUCH, though. I had never run a board or done production. I didn’t know what I was doing. (remember, I went from a radio station prize-winner to an on-air personality) He taught me how to communicate with listeners instead of just talking at them. That was a huge lesson.