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In the spotlight....

Bill Whyte & Amanda Orlando
WUBE
Cincinnati
http://www.wube.com 

Interviewed by Steve Harmon

Before Bitboard, there was Bill Whyte ... matter of fact before fire there was Bill Whyte ... A fun Bit Family Member for years ... a true friend of all of our shows for years.  It's great to have him back on the radio and back on Bitboard..

 

Harmon:  Tell me how you found each other and came together on air.  

Bill:  Amanda was already in place from the previous morning show with Dr. Don.  I was told by Tim Closson … the PD at the time that we would be a great fit and fortunately, he wasn’t lying.  We have great rhythm and chemistry and the show almost immediately felt like you were listening to friends.  That’s become our hook … ”Waking Up With Friends”, Bill and Amanda on B105.     

Amanda:  I found him face first in a three way at a Skyline Chili parlor across the river in Covington.  I had to take him to work or burp him.

Harmon: What time do you get to the studio?

Bill:  4 am…shows at 5.

Amanda: 4:45 … ummm okay…before the show starts… ummm… usually.  My computer is broke so I work VERY hard at home before coming in.  Did Bill buy that?

 
 
Harmon:  Tell us a little about you and your cast.

Bill:  I’ve been in the format for over 25 years now.  Originally from Missouri,  my major market career started in Cincinnati at B105 so it’s coming back home for me.  My wife is from here, my daughter who is now a vocal major at Belmont in Nashville was born in Cincinnati.   In fact, during my first tour of duty here we did “live” breaks during her birth.   I’ve done mornings at WMIL in Milwaukee, WFMS in Indy and WSM-FM in Nashville.   When I first came to Cincinnati I was singing with my band, so a lot of people knew me long before I went on the air here.  We’re still able to take advantage of that musical background from time to time.

Amanda is an Air Force brat.  Born in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida,  she graduated from UK.  So we have fun fights about the Wildcats and Bearcats during basketball season.  Amanda has a four year old daughter that we talk about.  With my daughter being 19 and hers being just four, it makes for some great parenting conversations and phone starters on air.

Statt Man our producer is from Cincinnati.  He’s 25 or 26 and every other word is “Dude”… which makes for great generational differences that we play off.  Statt also will stunt for us… recently winning a car roll over competition.  He’s single, which also comes into play.  Girls love him, and Mom’s want to adopt him.


Harmon:  What's your biggest challenge?   

Bill:  Not getting stuck in a rut and keeping things fresh.

Amanda:  Bill!


Harmon:  How do you know if it was a great show?   

Bill:  Listener feedback, gut reaction, and our own laughter.  I still think if we’re laughing…so is the audience.

Amanda:  Ditto on the gut reaction, although Bill’s GUT reaction is much bigger than mine.  When listeners play along I know that we’re not just entertaining ourselves.


Harmon:  How far in advance do you plan a show?

Bill:  Forever and one day at a time.   Constantly thinking about what’s coming up in the future, and what’s possible for the next morning.  I have learned to leave plenty of room for play and non-structure.  Those moments give the show “realness” and are often the best part of the show.  If you get the audience to love the folks on the show … they’ll love the show too.

Harmon:  First week on the air in a new town you would... ?   

Bill:  Well…I have done that a few times.  Through trial and error I know not to try and be too funny too quickly.  It works better if the audience likes you as a person first.  Now, because I have been here before, I was able to move quicker in Cincinnati.  Things like “Bring Me Your Company Coffee Cup” and I’ll drink from your cup and mention the company” help break the ice.  In Milwaukee my then very young daughter and I took Girl Scout cookie orders on air together and then took the station van and delivered the cookies that were stacked up to the ceiling in my house.  It was a great way to meet the listeners and help get over replacing a personality they had been listening to for quite a few years.


Harmon:  Real tense showroom...how do you stop that?    

Bill:  God, what a great question.  I’m by nature a laid back person but have had to dissolve a partnership at least once because of attitude and tension.  I guess some personalities can fake it, but I think that for the most part the listeners can tell if you like the people you work with.  We get that response a lot here.  The only thing you can do is approach it head on and be honest with each other.  If that doesn’t work, your PD or GM has to have your back and do whatever it takes.  Best case scenario is that you find someone you love working with and marry them on air … even if it means a market move.  I’ve never been able to do that, but I’m envious of those who can.  It just makes sense that your show will be up and running much quicker if you don’t have to spend a ton of time getting to know your “on air” family.  Getting to know a new market takes enough time.

Amanda:  Find a safe place, find a safe place, find a safe place.  (credit: “Finding Nemo”)


Harmon:  What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? 

Bill:  Gas station attendant.  The owner was a blind man and he fired me.  Even he knew how much I sucked!  

Amanda:  Working in the Men’s section at a Department Store.  It was boring and the men couldn’t be bought. 


Harmon:  Best part of your job?  

Bill:  The four hours behind the microphone.  Radio has been like a drug for me.  I love writing and creating something from a blank page and making it pay off on air.  And being in a position to make a difference in lives is wonderful too.   I was on air 18 hours on 9-11 and our recent fundraiser here for Katrina and it  was an amazing reminder of how good listeners are and how powerful radio can be.    

Amanda:  Every day is completely different.  You can have an impact. Sometimes I really can’t believe that my job is to be on the radio and have fun.  In our lives when something goes wrong we can call it “show material.”


Harmon:  What do you think was the best BitBoard bit you have used?

BillThree Eyed Turtle from Castronovo…. hysterical.    


Harmon:  What was "the day you owned the market"?

Bill:  9-11 at WSM-FM Nashville.  We had a Songwriters Corner scheduled that day and Bruce Robinson who (ironically) penned “Traveling Soldier” walked in right as we looked up and saw the planes hitting the Twin Towers on our TV monitor.  He put his guitar back in his case, and left… and we hardly talked.  I was on the air for 18 hours or so of non stop coverage and it was extremely emotional.  But, by staying on and incorporating the rest of the staff and providing a familiar voice all day, I like to think it made a difference.  And I believe we were the only LOCAL show to do that.   Everyone else cut to network coverage.   


Harmon:  Wish more people on Bitboard would....?

Bill:  Not cut and paste articles that we’ve all seen through the papers or our prep services.


Harmon:  Radio Pet Peeve 

Bill:  Pumped up voices that have as much reality as Pam Anderson’s chest.

Amanda:  Phonies and pretenders.


Harmon:  How do you find time to do your songwriting and charity work?

Bill:  Well, I couldn’t stop writing if I wanted to.  It’s a passion.  I do a lot of parody writing for the show, but still find time to write original songs.  Getting one cut by another artist is a great rush of adrenaline and that inspires you to do more of it.  While in Nashville I got to co-write with some great folks that I hope will pay dividends down the road.  Billy Dean and I were writing one day and I played some original comedy songs and he told me something that made a great impact for me.  “Don’t ignore your funny side.”  So, I’ve taken his advice and will have my own comedy-song album out in weeks.  It’s titled “Off The Wall” and was recorded “live” at the Bluebird in Nashville.  Thanks for giving me a chance to plug it.  As far as charity work, that’s something you just have to make time for.  I’ve been extremely blessed in my personal life and professional life so it’s a pleasure to give something back.


Harmon:  Website for your latest work?

Bill:  Not totally done but getting there at www.billwhytecomedy.com 
 


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