Diary of an Overnight DJ: Venturing into Daylight Hours

Last week I had the privilege of taking a night off from The Overnight and filling in for Marty Lennartz, for the afternoon shift from 1-4 pm. For some context, I’ve been at XRT since 2011. I interned straight out of college, worked in Promotions for 3 years and now I’ve been hosting the Overnight for just over 3 years. To be on-air on a Wednesday afternoon from 1-4 was a call up to the Big Leagues.

I know what you’re thinking – it’s the same thing as The Overnight, right? I’m just talking into a microphone in a room, alone. Wrong. Radio (for me, at least) is a crazy mind game of trying to speak normally while imagining that embarrassing thing you did 10 years ago and wondering if anyone remembers you for it, not to mention trying not to nose breathe into the microphone. For this shift in particular, my flight or fight tendencies said, “Go jump in Lake Michigan!” but my logic said, “No! It’s too cold!” It was rough. But it worked out – enter XRT Legends, Terri Hemmert and Lin Brehmer, and for the purposes of this story, my heroes.

At approximately 12:56 pm, legendary Chicago radio personality, musicologist, Beatles expert and the first female drive time host for a rock music station in the Chicago radio market, not to mention fantastic human being, Terri Hemmert signed off. That’s a tough act to follow. Terri could sense my nervousness and cracked a few jokes to take the pressure off. “Just make sure you turn the mic on when you talk.”

Soon after that, word of my nerves made it down the hall to the XRT Morning Show Host of 25 years, your best friend in the whole world, and lover of foie gras, Lin Brehmer, who took a different approach. “WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO BE NERVOUS ABOUT!?” he yelled as I sobbed quietly. Just kidding, I never sob quietly. Lin did not make me cry but he did make me realize I’m building this up too much in my head. Talking on the radio is a very strange job. But as I’m the luckiest kid in the world, I have some of the best people in the industry cheering me on.

I would also like to thank Morning Show Producer Chris Cwiak, Production Extraordinaire Bill Cochran, and my uber driver Dave (5 stars) for their pre-show support.

The shift ended up a success. It always gets easier once I’m in the chair and I start picking songs. Thanks to you guys for supporting this station through thick and thin, and for taking it easy on the new guys who have some very big shoes to fill.

-Emma

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