Howard Kazuska: In the early ‘70s, while going to high school, I worked part-time at CKRC 630 in Winnipeg. Remember, in those years, AM radio was king as FM radio was just starting up and was finding its niche. Trying to learn everything to do with radio, two of many broadcasters at CKRC took me under their wings so to speak. One radio wizard was named Harry Taylor who was the Production Manager and the other was the mid-day deejay named Reg Johns (on-air name was Gary Roberts).

Harry showed me how to record with the various announcers to get the best delivery in 30 or 60 seconds, no matter how many takes. Harry also let me sit in when he was doing sessions with advertising agencies to see how the creative process worked at producing attention-getting radio spots. Harry was later lured to the competing radio station CKY and CITI-FM, at which he headed up production until retiring early due to health problems.

Reg (or Gary) was one of those guys that was just full of energy, who lived and breathed radio. His enthusiasm for radio rubbed off on me. Even though he was an on-air personality, Reg was so far ahead of his time when it came to production, whether it was doing station IDs, promos or ads. Reg used to get air-checks from Top-40 radio station KCBQ in San Diego. Just saying K-C-B-Q still sends a chill down my back as it just sounds tough yet sexy. Anyways, Reg would invite me to listen to those air-checks and then he would try to duplicate the sound for a promo (remember, this was still in the day on mono tape recorders, cart machines and early versions of a 4-track).

From Reg I learned a lot of tricks of the trade that I used in my career to impress fellow radio people and studio producers. Reg’s tricks allowed me to open up my own recording studio 10 years later specializing in radio production only (unheard of at the time) that kept my clients from ad agencies coming back for many many years to produce their radio and TV commercials (many that won local, national and international awards). Reg went on to become Station Manager for CKRC, before moving to CKOM in Montreal and then joining with his brother George Johns to head up a successful radio consulting firm based out of San Diego.

I am forever indebted to Harry Taylor and Reg Johns.

Andy Berkowitz, Forever Media, Altoona, PA: I've been fortunate enough to have had several mentors in my career across the academic and professional spectrum. At SUNY Geneseo I learned production from Dr. Steve Konick, a former air personality with an amazing passion for radio. He taught me everything about every piece of equipment in a studio. He taught me how to edit with razor & tape because he knew that's what I'd find at my first gigs... but made sure I learned digital (it was very new then) because that's where the industry was going. Prof. Jerry Engel, taught me how to write copy that was effective, and not just a comedy sketch. The brilliant Kurt "Boomer" Schenk, took me on as a Production Intern at the now-defunct 106.7 WMAX-FM in Rochester, NY and completely blew my mind. He opened my eyes to technique and style... introducing me to the use of vocal effects, characters, and how to craft a campaign. He showed me how to make spots that you couldn't get out of your head. As Assistant Production Director to Tom Jenkins at EAGLE 97.7 WAFL-FM in Milford, DE, I learned how to work faster, and more efficiently. He showed me the miracle of creating templates for spots and imaging with updates, which came in handy, since he must've produced about ten-thousand sweepers a week (at least, it seemed like he did).

As the Production Director of a very busy small market cluster, I know that my style may be my own, but without the patience, generosity, and endless hours of instruction these great talents shared with me, I wouldn't be the producer I am today.

Michaël Gendron: Thanks to Dave Foxx, for all that he did. I learn a lot by trying to do a promo like him. I listen to a lot of conferences that he did about production, and I found that we think approximately in the same way about radio.

I'm from Quebec, Canada. Pierre-Yves "Le P" Blais was a good coach for me when I started doing production. I went to his studio and I learned a lot about the job AND the passion to be a producer.

Now it's funny, because it's my turn to help new producers at my work. I try to do my best.

Wayne Fox: Jeff Thomas of Killer hertz fame. I worked with Thommo at 3UZ in Melbourne and again at Triple M in Sydney. And Simon Slash Hicks who I worked with at Triple M Sydney. Both these guys are production Gods.

Howard Hoffman: A very early distant influence was Stan Freberg who repeatedly demonstrated the power of imagination through sound in every radio endeavor he did. In my second radio job in Middletown, NY, I did the evening show, and the production director was a great guy named Jim Brownold. Jim went on to Detroit and a long stint at WPLJ in New York, but I learned an awful lot about writing and producing from him. We both were admirers of Dick Orkin, and there were a lot of his sensibilities in spots where we collaborated. We’re still best friends.

You’ll notice most of my mentors were comedic. I still love injecting all forms of humor – from dry to slapstick - into my work. It entertains the listeners, and it entertains the hell out of me.

Technically, I learned a lot from Rick Allen when we worked together at HOT 97 in New York. Nobody does sound design better. And of course while I was in L.A. I loved what John Frost did at KROQ… he set the bar in that market and kept me on my game.

I never stop learning from others, so I always feel I’m still being constantly mentored. Curiosity and learning curves are almost always easier with all those people on my shoulder.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., JJ McKay Productions: Thanks for the opportunity to share my mentors with you and your readers. So, here we go. JJ McKay “unearthed” or something along those lines. It’ll be a little history to go with mentoring, which I have actually been doing myself for a couple of newer jocks in the business.

 My father was a disc jockey. Although, he left when I was five, so I never really even heard him on the air. I know that he was on the air in Dover, DE and in the DC area as a country jock. I believe he worked at WPIK-AM in Virginia just outside of the district. I DO know that he did overnights for a number of years at KLAC-AM in Los Angeles. But, alas, he was no mentor.

I grew up in the Washington, DC area and my early “mentors” were heard on WPGC, a station I had always wanted to work at ever since I was about 9 and I discovered “Harv Moore, The Boy Next Door” who did mornings on ‘PGC. He and the “Redhead”, as he called her, was “can’t miss radio” each and every morning, and I would have to say was my earliest influence.

I have heard a couple of airchecks recently, which is what makes your question about what person or people most influenced your skills so timely. Hearing the airchecks of Harv this past week made me realize that he wasn’t a GREAT morning man like a Dr. Don Rose or a Charlie Tuna of the sixties and seventies. Hell, I never even heard those guys until I actually got ON the radio. But it was fun radio and probably the most fun in the morning I had heard as a nine year old kid.

Second would be Willard Scott and Ed Walker, the “Joy Boys of Radio” at WRC-AM in DC. They were flat out FUN & FUNNY. So that was a show that I probably wanted to kinda be like, although it was more of an “unconscious” thing. I never really tried to copy what they were doing.

Charlie Tuna! That was a guy that I listened to just after I got into radio and thought, “That is who I am going to be… Charlie Tuna!” So, I tried to imitate him to some extent. But Charlie said something in an interview that hit me HARD. He said, “I prepare an hour for each and every hour that I am on the air”. That became my motto. So, early influence was Charlie Tuna, for sure! (And he is still great to this day. I don’t think he has changed one iota!)

SO, 3 years after I got on the air I am working with the GREAT Dave Foxx (who just left Z100 in New York like last week to form his own business). The amazingly talented, Don Geronimo (who I worked WITH at WPGC and against when I was doing mornings at WRQX and he was doing mornings at WAVA in DC). And, of course, the genius of BOTH, Steve Kingston and Scott Shannon, who hired me at WPGC back in 1981. (I had the chance to work with Scott again when I was his voice guy for the satellite version of Pirate Radio in LA).

So, my early influences were all very solid. Then, in 1984, I was hired at KIIS in Los Angeles, and I was sandwiched between Rick Dees and Big Ron O’Brien. I was like a sponge listening and, of course, TALKING with them both on a daily basis for like two years. Rick taught me how to relate comically to the audience -- fine-tuning my showprep to pinpoint both the market and the target demographics. He taught me how to look at who you are relating to, finding the relatable subjects that connect you with the demo, writing the prep to specifically hit the target demo where they live, and delivering the final product in a fun, entertaining and relatable way, so they are entertained and deep down make a connection with you and the show in a way that they don’t even realize that they don’t want to miss a single minute of your broadcast. BAM! That was the most amazing comprehensive moment that I had ever had up until that point in my career. And that was how I approached each and every show from then on. From the late, GREAT, Big Ron O’Brien (RIP Ron), I learned a lot about comedic timing over the intros of songs -- quick, to the point, entertaining, and a forward motion flow that felt like, when you were doing it right, nonstop inertia on the radio. I’ll even toss in Howard Stern. I never met the man, but I do know that he also pinpoints his target audience to a gnat’s butt and then hits them right between the eyes with his show prep and his on-air delivery.

I was also pulled aside by Gannett Broadcasting’s “Entertainment Consultant”, Gary Owens. Yeah, the Laugh-In dude. Gary came into the studio the first week I was on the air at KIIS and told me to come to his office as soon as I hung up my headset. Gary and I talked comedy on the radio, and he worked with me on some creative ways to come from left field to hit the audience in a way that they didn’t even know they were being hit. Probably the greatest example I can give is, I heard Gary doing afternoons and he was doing a live spot for Metamucil. His tag line was, “I have never Met-A-Mucil that I didn’t like”. That was it! A live spot, the LINE, hit the rest of the commercials, jingle, song, bam. Pure entertainment!

So, those were my early influences, and what I got out of it was, from 1984 on, not only did I prep an hour for each hour I was on the air (Tuna), but I recorded each and every show; and after the show was over, I took the tape home and listened to the whole show, picking each and every break apart, looking at how I could make each break better than what I delivered on the air and had just heard in my living room. How I could make it flow better (Big Ron), how I could pin-point the listeners’ likes and dislikes so I can better target my prep dead center on the target demo (Dees) and to make it so the listener would go, “WTF?” at the creative way in which I hit them with my on-air content (Gary Owens).

What happened after that was two “Bobby Poe Medium Market Air Personality of the Year” Awards, multiple State “Air Personality of the Year” Awards in North Carolina and Colorado, and showing up in a competing CHR radio station’s market research for five straight years AFTER I LEFT THE MARKET in Charlotte, NC, as the “#1 Air Personality that you remember listening to” each week.

I am sure that there were some other GREAT Air Personalities I have heard over the years either live, or in aircheck form that I have learned something from just by listening. I have had some GREAT mentors in my career, but, learning how to be a better Air Personality, whether it be what you have learned from your mentors, or by applying what you have learned each and every day that you are on the air, is something that never stops. Always strive to be better tomorrow than what you were today.