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Eavesdropping: K&C Masterpiece, 105.3 The Fan

“It felt like [Boston was] on NBA Jam and all of them were on fire, and [the Mavericks] were just that team that couldn’t figure out how to beat them. We were the computer last night.”

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Graphic for and Eavesdropping feature on K&C Masterpiece

Dallas has had a lot to be excited about when it comes to its sports teams recently. Both the Mavericks and the Stars played in their conference championship series and the Mavericks season is still going on as they advanced to the NBA Finals. Game 1 did not go as planned as the Boston Celtics got out to a big lead and ended up with a 107-89 victory. With all of the celebrating and positive talk on the Dallas sports radio airwaves over the last month or so, I wanted to see how the city would handle the blowout loss and so I tuned in and eavesdropped in on K&C Masterpiece on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas.

The show is hosted by Kevin Hageland, Cory Mageors and former Major League pitcher Mike Bacsik along with producer Reginald Adetula. On this particular show, Bacsik had to duck out a little early to get ready for his other duties as an analyst for the Texas Rangers television broadcasts on Bally Sports Southwest. Bacsik played for the Rangers as well as the Indians, Mets and Washington Nationals. He is perhaps best known as the pitcher who surrendered Barry Bonds’ record breaking 756th home run.

I’ve never been a big fan of four hour shows as I think it asks hosts to keep their energy level up for a little too long. This show, however, flew by and none of the talent seemed to ever lose any of the energy they started out the show with.

Obviously, the Mavericks-Celtics game was going to dominate the discussion on this day and the show came out of the box firing. Strong opinions came out from everyone on the show about what they had seen but also, and most importantly to Mavericks fans, how the team could bounce back or if they even thought they could bounce back at all.

I knew this would be a show I could get into when Mageors gave this description about his feelings on the game. “My overaction to this is you know how when you played NBA Jam where a guy would get on fire, and you would literally see the fire on the ball…that’s what it felt like,” he said “It felt like [Boston was] on NBA Jam and all of them were on fire, and [the Mavericks] were just that team that couldn’t figure out how to beat them. We were the computer last night.”

They all agreed the Mavericks had their work cut out for them but continuously pointed out things that would give fans hope about the rest of the series and the obvious point that it was one game and should the Mavericks be able to come back in Game 2, they would’ve accomplished what they wanted, which was to at least win one of the first two games in Boston.

“This is the toughest opponent, by far and probably the most complete team…they have faced so far,” Hageland pointed out while also noting the Mavericks 1-6 record in Game 1’s under Jason Kidd.

Mageors added he believed a reason the team could feel optimistic was, “That wasn’t my best team, they can only get better because they were miserably bad.”

Bacsik is not one to hold back and while he can go long, he backs up a lot of what he says with good facts and statistics. No matter what he is saying, you can tell he is just a passionate Dallas sports fan. He can both give his perspective having been a professional athlete and talk like a fan who just wants the local teams to do well.

Bacsik added some humor as well with a story about jumping in his pool at halftime of the game to get his mind off what he had just seen. He said he then got on his Peloton and all of a sudden, the Mavericks made a little run, so like any good fan, he thought he needed to stay on the Peloton to keep the rally going. Unfortunately for the Mavericks, the comeback was short lived.

In addition to the Mavericks talk, the show had ‘Friday Shoutouts’ going on where listeners and those watching on YouTube or Twitch could send in messages for the hosts to read on the air. There were a lot of birthday wishes, wishes to wives who were about to give birth, someone who had quit smoking and there was even one from someone who said it was their 44th birthday and four years ago they had considered suicide, but ended up with the best four years of their life. Hageland did a good job of mixing in the shoutouts with the rest of the discussion.

Sometimes it is difficult to work in regular segments on days like this where you could really make a case for talking about nothing but the NBA Finals. For the most part, the show handled it well, although there were a few times, such as a sponsored baseball segment that turned into a lot of talk about baseball cards, where a listener tuning in might not have gotten what they wanted on this particular day if that was all they heard.

Getting back to the Mavericks-Celtics talk, the show brought on Mike Procopio, the former Director of Player Development for the Mavericks and later had former Maverick Sam Perkins on. Both guests were really good and added solid opinions about the series. Perkins was on mainly to promote a signing he was doing the next day, but he was great talking about the current Mavericks and also the 1988 team that took the Lakers to 7 games in the Western Conference Finals. I did not have ‘Detlef Schrempf injury discussion’ on my bingo card for that day, but I love sports nostalgia and really liked Perkins talking about playing Len Bias and explaining how good of a player he was, even going as far as saying he was more athletically gifted than Michael Jordan.

The guys on K&C Masterpiece are super comfortable together and you can tell they’ve worked together for a long time. The three hosts have been together since Bacsik joined in February 2020, with Hageland and Mageors being together as a duo for much longer. With four voices, you’d expect there to be more talking over one another, but even when they’re all trying to jump in, they do a really good job of waiting until the other person finishes their point. Adetula seems to know just when to crack open his mic from the other side of the glass, either to add an opinion, drop a fact or give a correction when needed.

They aren’t afraid to wander off-topic for a bit, but never seemed to do it too long. On this episode you had times where conversation would drift off about Mageors struggles with the in-studio television which he couldn’t get to change from the 1984 Super Bowl to the College World Series and there was time spent trying to figure out if Boston Market restaurants still existed in the Dallas area. All of it was done in a way that was entertaining, you felt like you were, literally, eavesdropping in on friends having a conversation. They mentioned their wives and kids and you even learned that Bacsik didn’t know until this very day that doughnut holes are not actually taken from the middle of a doughnut.

I always appreciate when a show is doing a lot of sponsor reads and the sales team at 105.3 The Fan should be commended as there were several sponsored elements to the show, including a read done prior to each segment. The hosts also did a good job with their live endorsement reads.

The show didn’t take any phone calls but read several text messages and social posts throughout to get the take of the fans. They even had a clever ‘Combo Platter’ segment where listeners had to give a Mavericks opinion but also name either their favorite doughnut or doughnut shop for National Doughnut Day.

In the last hour, Mageors did a ‘C-Block’ segment where he talked about his daughter’s meal requests for her birthday weekend and he also talked about the United States upsetting Pakistan in cricket. It was a fun segment and later they did a ‘Masterpiece of the Week’ bit where they played clips of things they had said earlier that week, generally leading to someone on the show getting laughed at. This edition of the segment even included a much-appreciated BSM Top 20 mention.

The best thing you can say about a show is that you left it wanting more. In this case, K&C Masterpiece delivered. It was easy to see why the show does consistently well in the ratings and was the top midday sports show in the demo in BSM’s most recent ratings report.

The opinions were strong, the analysis was smart, and the group was entertaining. There was a clear direction for each segment and most of the teases were a good pitch to keep listening further.

I did wish the old-fashioned sour cream doughnut, the clear champion of all doughnuts, got a little more love, but it’s hard for a show to get everything right.

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Charles Barkley Is Simply Irreplaceable

Needed: One former NBA Hall of Fame player. Need to have a personality that is larger than life. Can’t be afraid to laugh at himself or have fun with his fellow panelists.

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Screengrab of Charles Barkley on Inside the NBA
Screengrab: Inside the NBA/TNT

Hopefully we find out it’s not true. Maybe it’s a business decision or an attempt to get a better deal elsewhere. Let’s hope that’s the case, because there will be an emptiness on my television screen if there’s no Charles Barkley to entertain. The “Round Mound of Rebound” shocked us all last week by saying after next season, “No matter what happens, next year is going to be my last year on television.” It can’t be real.

Barkley hinted at this a couple of years ago at the All-Star Game, when he spoke on a conference call. Via the Dallas Morning News’ Brad Townsend, Barkley said he has 2 years left on his contract “and that’s probably going to be it for me.” Barkley continued, “It’s been a great, great thing. I love Ernie, Kenny, Shaq and everybody we work with. But I just don’t feel the need to work until the day I die. I don’t, man. I’ll be 61 years old if I finish out my contract. And I don’t want to die on TV. I want to die on the golf course or somewhere fishing. I don’t want to be sitting inside over [by] fat-ass Shaq [waiting] to drop dead.”

After signing a 10-year contract extension, that included an opt-out if TV lost the NBA, Barkley seemed ready to continue to work. He told SiriusXM NBA Radio last month, “I don’t know what’s going to happen with Amazon, ESPN or if we lose it to NBC, so I’m not sure how to answer that question,” Barley said. “I just don’t know. Ernie would not go to another network – I’m damn sure about that. But I would listen; I would listen before I made any decisions.”

Could it be that the other networks involved in NBA coverage made their offers and Barkley wasn’t pleased with any of them? Or as I mentioned at the beginning, is he looking to cash in on ‘low’ offers from the others that may or may not want his services? It’s depressing to think that the boisterous Barkley won’t be part of it all going forward.

We, however, should be prepared if this is the truth and a decision that’s already been made by “Sir Charles”. So let me begin the process of properly saluting Barkley for nearly three decades of a job well done. Let’s coronate the King of the NBA studio shows and give him his due.

Barkley was one hell of a basketball player, he’s a Hall of Famer after all. He won the MVP in 1993. He went to the All-Star Game 11 times and had his #34 retired by the 76’ers and Suns. My point? As good as he was on the court, he’s even better off it. There aren’t many athletes of his caliber that fared as well if not better as an analyst than as a player. I’m sure there’s a young generation of fans who had to be told by a dad, older brother or uncle that Barkley was a great player in his day. It’s actually a compliment, because it means he’s transcending generations with his basketball knowledge and personality.

Let’s pick up on the personality that makes him one of the best to ever analyze. He’s ready, willing and able to be silly, outlandish and outside the box. The man is so confident in all that he does, he doesn’t care what it looks like, he goes with the flow. He can take it but can also dish it out with the best of them.  He has personality and its genuine. That makes him likable whether you agree with him or not. His humor is some of my favorite kind. Unintentional.

Barkley is probably the most honest analyst to ever analyze. He makes a point without tip toeing around things. If a play was bad, he tells you about it. If Charles disagrees with one of his fellow panelists on Inside the NBA, he lets them know about it. Not in the way someone like Stephen A. Smith would, because instead of screaming and carrying on, Barkley just makes his point. He may add some humor to the cause, to lighten the mood, but you know where he’s coming from. His credibility affords him the opportunity to drive something home, in a less combative way than most of the screaming heads on television these days.  

He’s probably one of the best teammates on a television show in history as well. Barkley is likely the most popular and well known of the group, yet he continues to ‘get along’ with everyone. As much as he ‘roasts’ his fellow panelists, you get the sense that there’s a great respect among the former players, who all played different positions in the pros. It’s a rare quality. I think Barkley realizes that the show is greater than the sum of its parts. That’s what makes the show so great. The consistency and respect make it work. 

The problem now is if in fact Barkley follows through on his retirement, his replacements are in a daunting position. It’s hard to be the guy to replace ‘the man’. They can’t be Barkley and if they try, it won’t work out all that well for them. I really haven’t seen anyone out there that can match what Barkley brings to a show or broadcast. Don’t get me wrong there are some very capable former NBA players that show some promise, but not to the extent of replacing Sir Charles. Jamaal Crawford, Vince Carter, Dennis Scott and Richard Jefferson are among the ‘next’ wave of quality analysts, but none are Barkley. JJ Redick is more suited to the game analyst chair than the studio analyst role in my opinion. Basically, what I’m saying here is, Barkley is not replaceable. He brings so much to the table and if anyone tried to copy or tried to be like him, they’d fail. Badly.

What would it take to actually replace him if you don’t believe he’s irreplaceable? Oh, not much. I can just see the ‘want ad’ now:

Needed: One former NBA Hall of Fame player. Need to have a personality that is larger than life. Can’t be afraid to laugh at himself or have fun with his fellow panelists. Must offer ‘takes’ that make people think and have opinions that you will stick with no matter what. Need to have a warm, inviting, non-broadcaster style that will sit well with all audiences, whether they agree with you or not.

Still don’t believe that he’s not replaceable? If you won’t take my word for it, how about that of a well-known and respected broadcaster? In a recent interview on Nothing Personal with David Samson, released earlier in the week, Bob Costas explained why he believes Barkley has the upper hand with TNT management in their ongoing dispute, which was punctuated by Barkley announcing his pending retirement over last weekend.

“Barkley, on a national basis, is as close to indispensable as anyone I can think of. And he knows that if he wants to, wherever basketball ends up, he can go,” Costas said. “Everyone will want him. It might not be the same as Inside the NBA … but he can go wherever he wants to go, and he will be welcome. And if somehow TNT retains the NBA, no one there is going to say, ‘screw him, we don’t like what he said, screw him.’”

I’m going to take it a step further. If they built the Mt. Rushmore of sports analysts, Barkley’s face would be in the George Washington spot. He’s that good. That means he’s a top four guy, keeping some good company. Also on that famous mountain in South Dakota would be Howard Cosell, John Madden and Dick Vitale. All were crucial in growing the sports they covered and becoming more famous in their ‘second’ lives than the first.

Cosell was a lawyer, journalist and radio show host before becoming extremely well known for his ‘hot takes’ on Monday Night Football. Madden of course was an NFL coach for the Raiders, and won a Superbowl title, before becoming an analyst on CBS, NBC and later Fox. He was best known as part of the duo of “Summerall and Madden”, along with Pat Summerall they called national games on CBS and Fox. Vitale was a former NCAA Basketball coach at Detroit-Mercy before hitting it big with his catchphrases and up beat analysis on ESPN.

I’m hoping that Barkley was only speaking out of frustration and that he will not follow through with his threat to retire after next season.  That would be terrible.

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Barrett Media Hires Jeff Lynn to Spearhead Music Radio Coverage

“Adding Jeff to our editorial team to spearhead our music radio coverage is important for building brand identity and trust across the industry.”

Jason Barrett

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Barrett Media is expanding its content focus starting on Monday July 15, 2024. I announced these plans on May 6, 2024. Since then, I’ve had many conversations to identify the right person to bring our vision to life. Music radio will be our first addition. Coverage of tech and podcasting will come next.

Making sure we’ve got our finger on the pulse of the music radio business is the first step. With over 11,000 stations nationwide playing music, and entertaining listeners, there’s no shortage of stories to tell. I maintain that coverage of the music radio industry isn’t sufficient. We’re not going to solve every problem and nail every story but we’re going to work our tails off to try and make things better.

So, how can you help us? Email [email protected] so we’re aware of your success, career related news, and how to reach you for future feature stories. Sharing our content on social media and telling folks about the website once it’s live is another easy way to offer support.

To avoid any confusion, we will not be writing daily news on artists and record label activity. It’s why I’ve continued to mention ‘music radio’ each time I promote this expansion. We’re looking to focus our coverage on broadcasters, brands, companies, ratings, content, etc.. Artists and music labels may become part of our coverage down the road, but that’s not our immediate focus.

Which leads me to today’s announcement regarding our Editor. I spoke with a lot of smart, talented people for this role. Adding someone with management experience, who has a passion to write, a can-do attitude, a love for the industry, and relationships across formats is very important. I’ve found that person, and hope you’ll join me in welcoming Jeff Lynn as Barrett Media’s first ever Music Radio Editor.

Jeff’s experience in the music radio business spans nearly 25 years. He’s been a program director for iHeart, Townsquare Media, NRG Media, and Rubber City Radio Group. Those opportunities led him to Milwaukee/Madison, WI, Cleveland/Akron, OH, Des Moines/Quad Cities, IA and Omaha, NE. All Access then hired him in 2022 to leave the programing world and serve as a Country Format Editor, and manager of the outlet’s Nashville Record promotions. He remained in that role until August 2023 when the outlet shut down.

“I am honored to join the team at Barrett Media to guide the brand’s Music Radio coverage”, said Jeff Lynn. “Radio has been a lifelong passion and pursuit of mine. To be able to tell stories of the great work being done by radio pros and broadcast groups is very exciting. They are stories that need to be told. I can’t wait to get started.”

Jeff Lynn with Jelly Roll

I added Ron Harrell, Robby Bridges, and Kevin Robinson as columnists two weeks ago. Bob Lawrence and Keith Berman then joined us this past Monday. We’re quickly assembling a talented stable of writers, and with Jeff on board as our Editor, we’re almost ready for prime time. The only thing left to do is hire a few features reporters. I’m planning to finalize those decisions next week.

Building this brand and making it a daily destination for music radio professionals will take time. It starts with adding talented people, covering the news, and creating interesting content consistently. If we do things right, I’m confident the industry’s support will follow. Time will tell if my instincts are right or wrong.

Jeff begins his new role with Barrett Media on July 1st. Adding him to our editorial team to spearhead our music radio coverage is important for both building brand identity and trust across the industry. I’m eager to work with him, and hope you’ll take a moment to say hello and offer your congratulations. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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Greg Hill is Turning the Tables in Morning Drive on WEEI

“I think this business is slowly moving farther and farther away from dollars being dependent on being the #1 station or where you’re ranked when it comes to Nielsen.”

Derek Futterman

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Greg Hill
Courtesy: Audacy

Earlier in the week, the Boston Celtics secured their 18th NBA championship. Across a variety of sports radio stations, especially those in the Boston-Manchester designated market area, the triumph was a subject of discussion on Tuesday morning. Within morning drive on WEEI, host Greg Hill provided his thoughts on the team and its achievement.

Akin to the Celtics, Hill aims to position his weekday program to thrive and sustain success. After working in the industry for many years, some professionals can exhibit a sense of apathy, but for Hill, it is quite the opposite, exhibiting congeniality and authenticity to the audience as a whole amid this quest.

Although Hill broadcasts on a sports talk station, the morning show spans beyond comprehensive sports discussion while implementing a variety of other topics into its daily discussion. In fact, Hill defines the breadth of topics into two distinctive categories, one of which is sports while the other covers an assortment of miscellaneous subjects mentioned on the show.

“I think it’s more beneficial if you are a radio person and you know what you think works when it comes to doing radio,” Hill said. “If you can find a way to keep the audience entertained and engaged and try, if you can, to present content that’s different than [what] they might find somewhere else, then that’s more important than necessarily a vast X’s and O’s knowledge when it comes to sports from my perspective.”

Sports teams in the city of Boston have established a tradition of grandeur and excellence, making a habit of remaining in contention for championships every year. In fact, the Celtics championship ended the city’s title drought that spanned just over five years. During that time, the media ecosystem has changed with a prioritization on digital distribution in addition to more niche content offerings. As a long-tenured radio host, Hill has been able to successfully adapt by optimizing the idiosyncrasies of the medium while also being open to innovation.

“The old adage about, and I think it still remains a unique advantage when it comes to this medium, is that when you wake up in the morning, you want to know, ‘What happened? What happened last night?,’ and you want to hear people give you their slant on it,” Hill said. “My function, I think, is to give everybody the opportunity to share their opinions on stuff.”

While Hill has become a respected sports radio host, he initially started working in another sector of the industry. During his time as a middle school student, he worked a paper route and saved his money to buy two turntables and several 45-rpm records. Hill would then go to the garage of his parents’ house and host a radio show with no audience, working to master the craft in his nascence. As he grew older, he started to bring his records to his high school radio station and take the air.

The passion and verve he possessed for the medium, along with his talent in the craft, helped him land a job at WAAF as a promotion coordinator. As he began to showcase his abilities, he earned chances to go on the air over the weekends and overnight. Morning show host Drew Lane later asked Hill if he wanted to do sports on the program, and he continued to grow from there.

When Hill was named the host of the new Hill-Man Morning Show on WAAF a few years later, he needed to find a way to stand out in the marketplace. After all, he was facing competition from Charles Laquidara on WBCN and a variety of other media outlets, and it took time for the program to eventually break through. Hill took the opposite approach of other stations in the area to render the show distinct from those on other media outlets.

“WBCN at the time was an older-targeted station, so we targeted the station towards Men 18-34 and figured that we could grow as they grew,” Hill said. “So we were just going out attending every single possible event where somebody might be, going out before concerts and shaking hands, and doing all that stuff that I think you have to do in order to try to get people to try your show and try your station.”

Hill’s program catapulted to the top of the marketplace, and he signed a lifetime contract after 26 years on the air to stay at WAAF. In signing the deal, he never thought he would work anywhere else, but things changed three years later when Gerry Callahan hosted his last show in morning drive on WEEI. Then-Entercom announced that it was adding Hill to the daypart to host a new morning drive program and retained co-host Danielle Murr in the process, commencing a new era for the outlet. Shortly thereafter, WAAF was sold to the Educational Media Foundation and re-formatted with contemporary Christian programming.

“I never thought [W]AAF would go away,” Hill said. “It was a legendary rock station, and I still to this day will flip by that station and hear Christian rock music and sit there in silence for a couple of minutes for that great radio station, but being the same company and the same market manager at the time [in] Mark Hannon, when that opportunity came up [to] try something different and to make a change, I was really excited about it.”

In moving formats, Hill and his colleagues evaluated the program and determined how they could grow their audience on WEEI while staying true to the essence of the show. The program, however, was going up against Toucher & Rich, the hit morning show on 98.5 The Sports Hub, and others.

“I think this business is slowly moving farther and farther away from dollars being dependent on being the #1 station or where you’re ranked when it comes to Nielsen,” Hill said. “To me, the most important thing is that we’re doing what we should do to get partners for the radio station on the business side of things and delivering results for them.”

Hill is cognizant of the success of 98.5 The Sports Hub but articulated that the ranking does not matter to those spending money on radio. Instead, he claims that it is about the level of engagement and patronization of the product that facilitates interest in the brand.

“From a differentiator point of view, we’re up against, on the sports side of things, an incredible radio station that has done an amazing job of being #1 in this market for a long time with really compelling personalities,” Hill said. “I think it’s incumbent upon us to try to find ways to be different when it comes to our choice on content and the way in which we present it, and then outwork them when it comes to going out and meeting people who might listen to the show.”

Whereas Hill was originally a solo host during his early days on WAAF, he is now joined by Jermaine Wiggins and Courtney Cox, both of whom bring unique aspects that enhance the program. Wiggins, a former tight end for the New England Patriots, provides his knowledge of football and the perspective of a professional athlete. Cox is the youngest person on the program and has a unique approach from her time covering sports at NESN while embracing the humor and repartee on the show. Show producer Chris Curtis, who worked with Hill at WAAF, also contributes to the conversation as well and has helped maintain synergy.

“Whether it’s the co-hosts on the show or callers, I love when they are having fun at my expense, and I think that self-deprecating humor to me is the best,” shared Hill. “If we have a show in which I end up being the punchline or end up, whether it’s my age or lack of technological skill or my frugality – whatever it is – that to me is my favorite part of what we do and that personality coming through, I guess.”

Hill uses his platform to benefit the community through The Greg Hill Foundation, a nonprofit organization he founded to provide families affected by tragedy with immediate needs. He created the foundation in 2010 to celebrate two decades on the air at WAAF before the advent of crowdfunding in a quest to give back. The foundation has donated over $20 million to more than 9,000 beneficiaries during its 14 years.

“We’re lucky in radio because we have this incredible tradition of public service, and I think everybody in radio feels this obligation – this great obligation to use the airwaves to help others,” Hill said. “We’re granted the incredible platform in which we can actually get people to respond when help is needed, and so I wanted to be able to use that microphone and the radio station on those days to be able to help the beneficiaries in our area who needed it.”

Hill recently signed a multiyear contract extension with Audacy-owned WEEI to continue hosting The Greg Hill Show. Part of what compelled him to remain at the station was working with Ken Laird, the brand manager of the outlet who used to be his producer at WAAF. Moreover, he has known Audacy Boston market manager Mike Thomas for over two decades as he leads the cluster of stations in an environment with many entities looking to garner shares of attention.

“To be able to have the opportunity to work with those guys, know what they are, what I need them to do to keep them happy and to have the opportunity for us to, from a team perspective, that we have one clear mission in mind, and that is to be No. 1,” Hill said. “No. 1 in revenue and No. 1 when it comes to ratings, so to be able to sit there and go, ‘Alright, since I came here five years ago, we definitely have some wins, but there’s still a lot that we have to do,’ and to be able to do it with them together was way more interesting to me than any other opportunity.”

Even though Hill has worked in the sports media business for many years, he remains energized by the prospect of achieving goals and having the privilege to host his radio program. In the past, he has stated that he would like to slow down in his career, yet he is unsure what he would do without working in radio.

“That being said, I’ve been getting up at the crack of dawn for 30-something years, and I’m definitely feeling it more than I used to,” Hill said. “But sometimes I think it would be fun to go and do one more radio show where I play seven great songs an hour, as long as I get to pick whatever I play and there’s no research and there’s no computer programming the music. I sometimes think about that, but I just love doing this.”

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