Deep Voices: Local radio holds true through the decades - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Deep Voices: Local radio holds true through the decades


In the age of Spotify and satellite radio, it would be easy to think that old-school radio is a thing of the past.

In fact, the Pew Research Center says the number of monthly online radio listeners have doubled since 2010.
But free, over-the-air radio isn't vintage just yet; and for the voices behind the mic, it's a passion.

Alan Reed's voice powered through morning shows for 40 years.

"I actually started at KAUS in Austin. It was June 1st, 1976. I was 18 years old, fresh out of radio school, cracking the mic, working midnight to six,” said Alan Reed, sitting in front of the audio board at the Townsquare Media studios in Rochester.

Reed's voice powered through morning shows for nearly 40 years. He hung up his headphones less than a week ago to pursue a career in home inspections. Until then, he was the voice behind many morning commutes and commercials.

Reed watched the industry change in his four decades. Radio has become much more digital than the Googlel and social media-free ways of the 80s and 90s.

Believe it or not, it's the technology - not the fashion - that's changed the most.

“With radio and technology, there's a lot of jobs that have been lost in the industry due to automation. They can voice track. People from other parts of the country can do a radio show from every market in the U.S.,” he said.

What those nationally syndicated shows can't do – if you ask Curt St. John – is provide the connection to your own back yard.

"That connection that somebody has when they hear you talking about something that's going on in your hometown. That's something that's still unique to radio and you can't get off the satellite or off a podcast,” said St. John.

St. John was in radio for a long time, then got out of “the biz” for a few years. In fact, he managed the website for KTTC at one time, but just couldn't stay away from the microphone.

He's now taking over mornings for Alan Reed on Quick Country.

"It is a drug, it draws you back. Once you're in it, it's in your blood. Once you're in it, you are a slave to the audio console at some point in time,” laughed St. John.

Like a moth to the flame, many unmistakable voices are drawn back to the studio.

When he's not tending to the shrub lot at Sargent's Gardens, “Train Wreck” is on the air at Z-Rock. He's known at Steven Richards at Quick Country on the weekends, too.

Richards been rocking airwaves since he won a free hour on the air in the early 90s.

"1430 WBEV: Dodge County, where Dodge county turns for news. Straight up, it's six o'clock,” Richards rattles off from his old station in Wisconsin.

Richards is a bit of a music encyclopedia. He's been to hundreds of concerts and does his research.

"That mystique, that thrill of when you’re ready go open up the mic for the very first time, still gets the heart pumping a little bit,” said Richards.

Richards is one of many radio hosts that balances his passion with another job. In fact, we interviewed him in 2007 as the manager at a gas station. His booming voice, then, made photographer Chuck Sibley raise an eyebrow.

"Chuck kind of gave me that look like, you're in radio, aren't you?" laughed Richards.

While the DJs can't stay away from radio for long, neither can listeners.

In fact, 91 percent of people surveyed by the Pew Research Center listen to the radio at least once a week, only down five points from the turn of the century.

No matter the shift or the type of music, those deep voices are unmistakable.

"You get noticed by your voice, way more than by your face, which is a good thing for me,” St. John laughed.

And what keeps you on the move at work every day, keeps these DJs on their toes as radio evolves.

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