Christina Fitzgerald Interview
June 20, 2012
We decided to meet for dinner at Rani's Curry and Roti Stop on Green Street in Halifax. Christina had never been there, and Patricia and I had, a few times. While the food was excellent, and the company even better, it was still a mistake to go there and conduct an interview. After all, it is difficult to speak through a mouthful of seared flesh.
Pull up a chair. Smoke 'em if you got 'em. Pop a cold one. And enjoy the latest Bevboy's Blog interview!
1. How did you get your start in radio?
Christina Fitzgerald: It’s funny. I didn’t ever think I was going to get into radio specifically. When I graduated high school, I took some time off. Did some travelling. I decided to go to King’s College here in Halifax.
Bevboy: For journalism.
CF: For journalism. Print journalism, actually, was exactly what I wanted to get into. I was taking one Journalism class a week; the rest of my classes were religion-based or Ancient History. I had remembered when I was high school that I’d looked at a Radio/Television program offered by the NSCC. I thought, "Hey, maybe I can go do that for two years, come back, finish my Journalism degree at King’s. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be a [print journalist] or on camera. Whatever."
I started the program. At the time, it was a brand-new campus over in Dartmouth.
BB: This was the first year for that program in that building?
CF: The very first year. The people at Newcap Halifax came over to check out our gear, because at the time, we had the newest gear in Halifax. They wanted to see it. The promo director was there; his name is JD Desrosiers. I introduced myself to him and said, "Hey, if you’ve got any free work for me to do, by all means, hook me up on your street team and I’ll do it."
So, I started doing that with him and started having a lot of fun in radio, especially in Promotions. Within the first month or two of school, I switched completely from wanting to do journalism to full-fledged radio.
BB: Had you had any aptitude for radio before that?
CF: No. I mean, I always enjoyed radio. I’d always been a radio fan, but had never really thought about it that way until I started working with them.
BB: Oddly enough, JD Desrosiers became your PD after a while, didn’t he?
CF: JD and I have had a long-standing professional relationship. He’s like my radio dad. I started there with him at Q; then, eventually, did stuff for Kool as well. I left for a stint in Newfoundland, still with Newcap. While I was there, he gave me a ring and said, "Hey, I’ve jumped ship. I’m over with the Evanov Radio Group. We’re starting this brand-new station. I’d love for you to come over and work with me. What do you think?" My bags were packed, and I was gone. So, we worked together again.
BB: Cub Carson told me that the morning co-host came down between you and Floyd.
BB: They chose Floyd. Were you disappointed by that at the time?
CF: I wasn’t. I was doing a radio gig over in Newfoundland. I was doing a morning show then. I hated getting up. I still hate getting up. I am not a morning person. It’s ungodly for a person to get up at 3:30, 4o’clock in the morning to go to work every day. I knew I would have more opportunities to expand myself outside of just doing on air if I wasn’t in the morning show, which I was very excited about. So I was like, "Yes. Let’s do it. Let’s get back into just being a single radio host and see what that’s like."
CF: Not right away. For not even quite a year, I think, I was just doing my show. Then, they approached me and said, "We need someone to help out with music. Would you like to get your hands dirty with that? See what it’s like? See if you like it?" So, I started helping out and volunteering my time. I really enjoyed it. They obviously thought I was doing a pretty decent job. They said, "We’ve got the Music Directing gig. If you want it, it’s yours." I’ve been doing it ever since.
BB: Is it a bit more money on top of your radio show?
CF: Yes. The salary went up. I’m working a 9-5, which is funny for someone in radio to say, "I have a 9-5 gig!" But, that’s essentially what I have. Obviously, when there’s more stuff going on, you work longer.
BB: We’ll get into what your duties are later on. I was discussing this with Patricia. I sent you an email. When I interviewed Gary Tredwell in 2009, there was this lady getting off shift at K-Rock in New Minas [as we arrived]. Gary told me that this woman was working for Newcap in the city and driving down to the Valley on weekends to do a shift. That turned out to be you. I didn’t make the connection until just a few days ago. How was that arranged, that you would work for K-Rock? Was it just Saturdays, or Saturdays and Sundays?
CF: Saturdays and Sundays.
BB: Working 7 days a week.
CF: When they say, "Pay your dues", that would be one of the times where I was definitely trying to "pay my dues". Monday to Friday I was in Halifax working as a Junior Co-Ordinator for Q104 and Kool FM.
BB: What does that mean?
CF: Basically, it was assisting JD, who was the Promotions Director with any task that he’d need on a daily basis and working Street Team stuff as well. Gary approached me -- because I was within Newcap already-- and said, "I know that you’ve essentially been doing Promotions. How do you feel about on air?" It was something I hadn’t really done outside of school and doing some co-ops. It terrified me at the time, but I’ve always been a person that, if you’re really bad at something, you should probably jump in full-force into that thing that you’re not very good at, and that terrifies you, to get better at it.
I was really thankful for the opportunity. I said, "Of course. I’ll do weekends." I am pretty sure it was 8 months that I did that. Something like that. Friday nights there would be gigs for Q or Kool that I would work. I’d drive back to the Valley and be on the air at noon. It was insane. But all things that have led me to where I’m at now.
BB: And, you would have followed Neil Spence. Right? And Julia Kirkey.
CF: Yes. Neil and I, and I know you’re going to ask me a question about Neil, always seem to find each other somehow. It’s weird. When I was in school, he was taking Recording. So, we were at school at the same time. Then we started working together at the same time. We got other jobs. Now, we’re working together again.
BB: Excellent. Is there anything else you want to say about your start in radio?
CF: I think that a good point to bring up for people who are getting into radio is: It’s an awesome job. It’s a fun job. But, it takes a lot of work, and I sometimes think that students just getting out of radio college, or who are still in radio college, think that they can just jump in full force in a medium market like Halifax and be on a morning show. It’s really not about that. It’s about working for free and getting any opportunity you can. Take an OP gig. Take a Street Team gig. Do Reception to fill in if you need to at the radio station. You want people to know you; that’s what this business is all about. It’s 50% the talent that you bring to the table. The other 50% is who remembered you, and wanted to hire you based on the fact that you’ll do absolutely anything.
BB: And don’t piss anybody off.
CF: Try your best not to piss anyone off, because you never know whom you’ll work with again.
2. What is the best piece of professional advice or criticism you have ever received, and who provided it?
CF: It’s funny that Gary Tredwell is now going to be my boss again. My first on air shift, he was my Program Director. One of the best pieces of advice that I ever got was when he did his first air check with me. He was telling me the do’s and the don’t’s. He took a listen to a couple of my breaks. He gave me some feedback.
Before he started doing that, he said to me, "Every single PD is different. They’re going to like different things. Everything I say to you, I want you to take with a grain of salt. No matter whom you’re working for, if it’s K-Rock under Newcap, under whatever, you’re always yourself. When I give you advice on how I’d like you to sound, obviously take that and respect that because I’m your boss. But, make sure that Christina comes through every single time." And, that was the best way for me to start doing an on air shift. I hadn’t really thought about it that way before. So, one of the best pieces of advice is from my soon-to-be boss again!
CF: While air checking me?
CF: It’s funny. I can’t wait to do my air check with him again. I was so new then. A lot of the stuff was basically how we could say things without saying so many words. Keeping things a lot shorter. And, better ways to approach a break. Instead of leading into this this way, or leading out this way, maybe you should switch it up and do something that’s a little slicker.
BB: By break, do you mean a commercial break?
CF: Well, when I stop the music and I talk about a certain subject.
BB: He wanted you to use an economy of words. Use as few words as possible.
CF: Yes. Use as few words as possible. Or, he would give me suggestions if I was talking about a funny story about a bank robbery or what have you. Maybe there would be a different way for me to lead into talking about it and to lead out from talking about it. "Oh, you took this approach. That was funny, but maybe you could have taken this approach. That would have been just as funny." Just suggestions on different ways of doing things.
BB: Would you follow all that advice to the best of your ability?
BB: Do you still try to do that?
CF: Yes. Yes. Any time I’m given an air check, I try to implement whatever my PD at the time has told me into my next day’s shift. They’re my boss!
It’s interesting, having different Program Directors. You get a different point of view. So, you’re always thinking about a couple of different ways that you could be approaching talking on the radio. Which is good!
BB: What advice did JD give you? Or Rob Johnson?
CF: Rob was gone before Live 105 launched. JD was great. He knows me really well, so he always wanted me to bring more of my personality through. He was really concerned about me sounding like myself on the radio. Which is always great, because you don’t want to sound too polished. You don’t want to sound too out there, either. But you always want to make sure that people know or feel like you’re talking to them in a conversation, instead of you being on the radio.
BB: All right. It wasn’t that radically different from...
CF: No. Most Program Directors want similar things from you.
BB: Are you looking forward to working with Gary again?
CF: Yes. I am very excited about working with Gary again. It’s going to be awesome.
BB: Maybe he’ll have a big Live 105/Energy 103 party at his house this summer.
CF: If you’re going to be the one who gives up his house for that, then I’ll be there with a case of beer.
3. The "Megan Edwards" question. You lose your iPod. I find it. What songs on it would surprise me the most? Are you a closet Country fan or something?
CF: No. Dubstep, though, which surprises a lot of people.
BB: What the hell is that?
CF: [laughs] It’s very dj, electronic...
CF: Yes. Deadmau5. Skrillex. Pretty Lights.
P: He didn’t know who Deadmau5 was until I told him.
CF: Ah! Nice! I listen to a lot of dubstep, actually. It surprises a lot of people
BB: Anything else?
CF: I have Classic Rock roots from growing up in the Valley. In the Valley, you pretty much listen to Classic Rock or Country. And, that’s it. My dad has a huge vinyl collection. He’s always been into music. He plays absolutely every instrument. I grew up on music. I’m a music lover.
I honestly don’t listen to Country. I definitely get into some songs in Top 40 that I can’t get out of my head. "Call Me Maybe". Everyone knows that song, right? It’s a core guilty pleasure.
CF: TLC is a guilty pleasure for me. "Jagged Little Pill". Pretty much any strong, female singer, I’ll either love them or they’re a guilty pleasure that I rock out with the comb on top of my bed, alone, or sometimes with people.
BB: Shania Twain?
CF: I never really got into Shania. Too Country for me.
CF: Well, I get there at 9. From 9 till 2, I’m focusing only on my on air, most of the time. I’m answering emails and all of that stuff. I get those all day for music. After 2o’clock, on a regular day, I will schedule the next day’s music. I go through each hour. People think, "Oh, you hand-select every single song." It doesn’t work that way. We have a program called Selector, that we give different rules to. "I’d like to start this hour off with a Gold tune, and then a current tune, and a Canadian tune." It does a lot of the work for you. It’s more of a finesse. You’re going through the log and making sure that it flows correctly afterwards.
That’s a normal day.
BB: Are you the one who schedules the same song for 7 o’clock in the morning? One thing I’ve noticed about Live 105 is that, 7 o’clock in the morning, several days in a row, the very same song will be played.
CF: You’re probably thinking that you’re hearing it at the same time. Our Currents, which we play the most of (they’re in different categories, so there’s a Heavy, Medium and Light rotation). So, when something’s in a Heavy Current rotation, like a song that’s charting that’s really popular, it’s playing throughout the week more than the other Currents are played. You’ll hear it more. But, there’s a chart that I look at which has all of the music [that we play]. We schedule it so that it doesn’t show up at the same time every single day. But you’ll hear it so much that you think you hear it all of the time.
P: Well, there was a while there we were hearing Gotye.
CF: Gotye still plays all the time.
P: Bev and I get into the car. The song comes on. I’m saying, "Oh, it must be 7 o’clock! Yep. It’s 7 o’clock."
BB: When Floyd and Jeff show up in the morning, and they’re presented with their playlist, that’s something that you would have devised, or the Selector software would have devised for you.
CF: Yes. Selector schedules, and I schedule over top of it. Then, my boss in Toronto and I (and Gary will now do that as my boss in house) will have a weekly music meeting. We’ll listen to a bunch of new music, new tracks, decide if we want to add them into our station. We move music around, so once something goes through Heavy Rotation, we might move it down to a Medium or out completely. We make those decisions based on charting, based on what we know works for our station.
BB: What journals do you follow for charting purposes?
CF: I look at Mediabase. I look at all of the Modern Rock stations across Canada. A couple in the States, but unless it’s some new song that everyone’s been adding in the States, it’s not something that I truly focus on. The Edge is a big one for us. Sonic. We’ll look at what they’re doing and base it around on what we should be doing. But, then again, it’s a different market, and people like different things.
Obviously, I work with music reps as well. They bring me music of their own. We work with bringing artists [to the station]. We have a Live Hive upstairs, this music room that’s amazing.
BB: I haven’t seen that yet. I’d love to see it.
CF: It’s very, very cool. We bring acts who come into town into our studios to do the interview and to do a couple song sets upstairs. It’s really fun. It’s a really cool job.
BB: You said music reps. Record companies knock on your door and say, "Can we have a conversation about this latest artist we’d love for you to consider playing?"
CF: Yes. And they’ll introduce me to new music. They’ll let me know when releases are going to happen. So, if there’s a big band like Foo Fighters or Red Hot Chili Peppers or Offspring, major bands for us, we’ll know ahead of time if they’re going to release a new single. We’ll get on top of it really quickly.
BB: I know that ... who does "Rope"?
CF: The Foo Fighters.
BB: You and the Q broke that song on the very same day, but you broke it one hour earlier than they did. You were at 8 o’clock, and they were at 9.
CF: It’s funny sometimes. It’s like a challenge for who can get it first, and who’s going to play it more. The funny competition in everything, right?
BB: Did you know they were playing at 9; therefore, you jumped them by an hour?
CF: We wouldn’t know. We would have no idea when they were going to play the song, if they were going to play it at all. Unless we had an inside mole, which we don’t. We’re in the dark.
BB: It was just happenstance that you guys played it the same day and you beat them by one hour?
BB: And, it was kinda cool.
CF: It was cool. We’ll own that one. We’ll have it.
BB: OK. Is there anything else you want to talk about your job as a music director role?
CF: I think we covered most of it.
BB: Is a music director a management position? I know that a Program Director is management. Your GM, Trevor Romkey, is management. I hear the word "director" and I think, "management". But, you have no hiring or firing power, do you?
CF: No. Technically, I’m in the management realm, but I’m on the bottom of the totem pole. I manage the music. That’s the only thing I have a say on. But, if different people at my station, different on air jocks, were putting in their own music in their own hours, as a music director I can say, "No. You can’t play that song. Don’t mess with the music I scheduled for you."
BB: People are professional. They wouldn’t do that.
CF: No. They don’t do that. They’re really great, actually. They’ll come to me with music that they are interested in or even ask me, "Hey, I wanna drop the song ‘The Hour’. There’s a good tune I can put in its place." They’re great.
CF: Yes. Absolutely. Because things happen in your show. Even though I’m timing each show out, you never know how much someone’s going to talk, or how little. They may have to change a song for time. And, they know what’s in the regular rotation as well, and what’s in the same categories and that sort of thing.
5. What is one thing about yourself, that you’re comfortable discussing, that would surprise your friends?
CF: This is a tough one.
BB: You read the questions over. Right?
CF: Yes. I don’t really know. I’m honestly an open book. I don’t think that anything, even if my friends didn’t know it, it wouldn’t surprise them that I did it. I think it would be weird for my friends to see me in a work environment, though my work is very fun and we have a lot of fun doing my job. There are some times when I mean business, which they don’t ever really see that part of me. I think they would be surprised that sometimes I’m professional. Sometimes I crack the whip a little. So, maybe that would be the only thing. But other than that, my friends really know everything about me.
6. Please say something about the following people:
CF: Floyd is awesome. Floyd really represents Live 105 in a really great way. You asked me earlier if I was disappointed in not getting the morning gig. I was definitely not disappointed for not having to get up any more. But, because Floyd was the person who got the gig. She’s perfect for that role. She’s got her own fan base that loved her anyway. It’s cliche to say that she’s a modern rock chick, but she really is. She’s really cool to work with. We have a lot of fun working together. If you ever hear them come on, between 9:30 and 10 o’clock, I’m usually in the studio with them. If they’re in full laughter mode when they pop the mic and you don’t know why, it’s probably because we’ve been cracking jokes in the song before, and we were in tears. We’re dying laughing about something. So, she’s awesome.
BB: This is stuff you can’t repeat on the air, sometimes?
BB: All right. How do you feel how Floyd handled the transition from Cub to Jeff?
CF: Excellent. It was flawless. If you listened to the departure of Cub... We were out doing "Catch A Ride", when Metro Transit was [on strike]. We were driving people around. I’d actually been out that morning doing that. It was really cool, because I was hearing radio at its purest form, in the car, like everyone else. I was listening to Cub say goodbye. She’s crying. I’m crying. It was great.
Again, Jeff just swooped in. They already had a relationship, which is so important for co-hosts to have that chemistry together. I think there are similarities to Cub and Floyd with Jeff and Floyd. But, it’s different, and it works. So, it’s been a good transition.
BB: How was the transition for you? Did you notice anything different?
CF: It doesn’t affect my show necessarily. But, again, it’s all been good. We have a really good family atmosphere there. We all loved Cub. We all loved Jeff. And, we all knew Jeff already, because of him being over at Z at the time. So, it wasn’t awkward, or getting to know someone, or the firsts of everything, because we already knew what we were getting into with him.
B. Kate Milton (K8)
CF: It’s funny. I obviously know K8 through the industry now. But, when I first moved to Halifax (I was going to Kings at the time), Z103 had just launched. I was like, "Oh, awesome! This new radio station." It was so cool to have a real Top 40 dance station in Halifax.
I used to start my evenings out, at 19, listening to Z103. K8 was on evenings then. I honestly thought she was the coolest person on the planet, forever. She was my idol back then. I was like, "Oh, I have to meet this girl! We have to party. We’re going to be best friends. She’s so awesome."
I guess, though I didn’t know I was going to get into radio then, in the back of my mind, when I started the Radio Television program I was like, "I want to be like K8! If I ever do on air, I want to be like K8!" Which is cool, to think about now.
BB: How about when you met her?
CF: She’s cool because what you hear is what you get when you meet her in person. She really opens herself up and lets people know who she is on the air. When I met her, she was exactly the same way. Which is really refreshing because sometimes, people are different. Radio is a funny industry where sometimes people can be really open when they’re on a microphone, because they don’t see the people whom they’re talking to; and can be really reserved when you actually meet them in person. She was just exactly who she was on the air.
CF: She’s got a really good energy.
CF: Yes. She is.
BB: "That bitch has balls!" [laughter all around]
Have you guys ever hung out?
CF: Not really. No. We’ve been at the same place before, but we’ve never really been like, "Hey, K8. Let’s get a shot of tequila somewhere. Maybe we will now!
C. JC Douglas (everyone knows him, right?)
CF: JC is part of my original radio family. As I said before, I started my career over at Q104 and KOOL, Newcap Halifax. So, JD [Desrosiers] was my boss. JC was JD’s boss, which was awesome because, if JD got mad at me for something, he’d huff about it for a second. Then, JC would come in and get mad at JD about something. It was like, "Ha ha ha!" It was awesome that way.
I love everyone over there, JC included. I was actually really upset when I left, because I felt like I was just this kid starting out who didn’t know anything. I still didn’t really know a lot when I left, but a heck of a lot more [than when I started]. They gave me amazing opportunities. I stayed in contact, still do with JC. He’s given me really great advice about what I should do with my career since leaving Halifax. When I was in Newfoundland, before I came back to Halifax to jump ship to go to Evanov, he was one of the people I wrote because I wanted to know his opinion. I wanted to know what he thought. What should I do?
BB: "Oh, they suck. Don’t work for them!"
CF: No. He wasn’t like that at all. He was really open-minded and really took where I was at in career into consideration and gave me some amazing advice. To this day, if I’m going to make a career move, he’d be one of the people I’d contact and ask, "Hey, is this a good idea? Do you think this will work out for me?"
BB: Really? If they offered you Drive on Live 105, if Scotty left for example [Bevboy Note: This interview was conducted before Scotty Mars left Live 105], would you touch base with JC and say, "What do you think about this?
CF: Well, maybe not in that circumstance because I’d be like, "Yep!" But maybe moving. "This person has offered me a job in BC. This is what it is. Do you think I should do this?" I would definitely email him and ask him.
D. Neil Spence. Your buddy. My buddy.
BB: He’s from Coldbrook, and you’re from Centreville.
CF: Yes. So, we went to different high schools. We didn’t really know each other, growing up. I don’t really remember Neil. I’m sure we were at the same parties, doing the same things at some point.
BB: You’re about the same age?
CF: We’re the same age.
BB: You’re 24-ish.
CF: 25. We’ve seemed to work at the same places, doing similar stuff. Maybe we’re related and we just don’t know. Maybe he’s my long-lost brother.
CF: Yes. He and Julia had a really awesome relationship when I worked with them at K-Rock. There was a lot of back and forth, but love beneath all of it.
BB: There’s an unpublished Julia Kirkey interview. She was saying that has a lot of affection for Neil, but they fight like brother and sister. He would play pranks on her when she was on the air.
P: They were challenging each other by fighting all the time. There’s that ingrained respect.
CF: Totally. And, Neil and I work well together, too. He does all of the local interviews. So, he does a bit of the music directing side of his job as well. Nobody else gets to do that. He gets to go through a bunch of demos from local bands. Each night there is a feature called Live Underground that we do. We talk about music a lot. We actually go to the same shows all the time together, because we’re both really into doing that. So, again, he’s my brother from another mother and father.
BB: Going back to your job as Music Director, I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet, but Wednesday nights at 11 o’clock, Scotty Mars does this show, this metal show.
CF: Yes. And Scotty does that all by himself.
BB: You’re not involved with that?
CF: No. That’s something he wanted to do and start. It’s called "Louder". It’s a heavy rock, heavy metal show. No one else around here would be playing...
BB: Playing Kittie.
BB: I like Kittie.
CF: And that’s Scotty’s main type of music. That’s something he’s really passionate about. It adheres to our audience. There’s a huge metal, hard rock fan base that listens to Live 105. Every Wednesday night from 11 until midnight. And it replays Saturdays from 12am to 1am.
BB: Do you offer any advice on the show?
CF: Music reps will bring me some songs that they suggest. I’ll suggest them to Scotty, but by no means am I ever like, "You have to play this." Every once in a while, I’ll put my 2 cents in. But, to be honest, that stuff is way over my head. I don’t listen to it. I don’t have a huge knowledge about it. So, it would make no sense for me to help him out with it, because I’d be like, "Well, there’s a lot of yelling in this song. I guess that works."
BB: Yeah. It’s not heavy metal like KISS. It’s metal where they’re screaming when they sing.
P: Scotty’s a metalhead.
BB: I have some albums by Kittie. I like them. But the way these women scream all the time. It’s like going to Frenchy’s.
CF: [laughs] That’s a good one.
BB: You can have that one.
CF: Thank you.
BB: And you’re a Valley girl. You know about Guy’s Frenchy’s. Of course you do.
E. Jeff Cogswell
CF: Me and Jeff together are two of the most inappropriate, disgusting people...
P: I’d love to be a fly on the wall for that one!
CF: ... ever! The things that we talk about! My mother would honestly take a bar of soap to my mouth. And, it’s not the way you would think. It’s not dirty. It’s just gross things. Like, we’d literally talk about poo and snot. It’s almost like 12 year old boys are talking to each other all the time. I don’t know why.
BB: He’s 39 years old.
P: But he talks like a 12 year old boy sometimes. You just scratch your head and say, "Oh, my God. Did he just say that?"
CF: If I had to compare my immaturity to anyone’s, it would probably be to Jeff Cogswell’s. We’re on the same playing field.
BB: Had you known that before you met him?
CF: Not until he started working for Live 105. When he worked over at Z, of course we would see each other at work and we would chat. But we were never really one-on-one. We didn’t have any lengthy conversations. But, it was immediate. As soon as he took over for Cub, the second or third conversation we had went disgusting. I’ve met my disgusting double.
P: You should tell her that story about the guy at work. He got robbed.
BB: A guy at work got robbed. They broke into his apartment and stole his big screen tv and all the good things. Adam was laughing. He goes, "And the best part of it was, the toilet was full of shit!" Apparently, when you break into someone’s house, you get this rush of adrenaline and it can make you go to the bathroom. The toilet was just piled up with shit.
CF: "Did you try to flush that?"
BB: Adam goes, "We threw out our toothbrushes." He didn’t know where they’d been.
CF: Good plan!
F. You supply a name of a person you want to discuss.
CF: I’ll talk about my roommate, Ruby Carr. She works over at Energy 103 [Bevboy Note: This interview was conducted before Ruby left Energy 103 and bounced over to The Bounce. She’s the Drive girl there. It’s just funny how radio works out sometimes. That’s why I’m going to talk about Ruby.
We started radio school together. That’s how we met. We became friends pretty much instantly. When I say that I worked for Newcap and KOOL, she was right there with me. We were the two together. We did the Summer program together. We did everything together. In radio, yes, you end up working with a lot of the same people over and over and over again. Similar to Neil, we seem to always end up in the same building as well.
We were at Newcap together. I left for Newfoundland. She got the job over at Z at the time. Started working part-time with them. I got the call to come back. And, we started working together again. Now, we live together. We work together; we live together; we’re really good friends. And, that’s sometimes how it works in radio. It’s funny that way that it all turns out that you pretty much spend you entire life with somebody in radio.
BB: Are you the kind of women who trade clothes?
CF: Oh, yeah. It’s like open business when you’re friends and girls. My closet is your closet and vice versa. If you get mad about it, then unless you’re going to wear it to an event, I don’t really care, because I’m going to steal your dress. You just have to get over it.
BB: Men don’t do that.
P: It’s a woman thing. Everyone should have a friend either named Ruby or Phyllis.
CF: Ruby is an awesome name. She gets compliments on her name all the time.
BB: Why "Phyllis"? What’s the big deal?
P: I don’t know. There’s just something about "Phyllis".
CF: Ruby and I have left a bit of a legacy, though we didn’t think it would be this way, at NSCC. To this day, Dave Bannerman still talks about a show that we did together. It was called "Afternoon Delight". We said, "Hey, Dave. We have this idea for a show. Can we do a show together outside of the shifts that [you give us when we’re in radio school]?"
It was supposed to be a dating/advice show, so you can only imagine where that went sometimes. Two of our part-timers at Live (Morgan and Dexter) who just got done the radio program. They say, "Oh, Dave still brings you guys up all the time. He talks about ‘Afternoon Delight’". We’re like, "Yeah!". We just got to really dick around on the radio together and got good grades. Sorry, Dave!
BB: Was it really racy radio?
CF: Sometimes, yes. It played in the cafeteria at our college university!
BB: OK. Give me an example. You can’t just leave me hanging like this.
CF: We would talk a lot about guys and girls and the pick up lines that they have, or ways that they approach each other to how they are in bed. Stuff like that. So, wherever your mind will take you, we either thought about it or said it on the radio. College radio, so it was fine.
BB: You can use cuss words there?
CF: We tried not to, just because we were in radio school. We were taught at the time, "Don’t swear in front of the microphone." Which is a good lesson. It happens.
7. Is there an underserved radio format in Halifax? What is it, and why?
CF: Well, there’s not enough polka music.
BB: I was going to say polka! Frank Yankovic can’t get the time of day.
CF: I think we’re doing a pretty good job now. You’ve got Country. You’ve got Top 40. You’ve got Modern Rock. You’ve got Classic Rock.
BB: Five years ago, it was a different story.
CF: Exactly. I think we’ve definitely evolved from that. I’m surprised that there’s only one Country station.
CF: If someone was smart, they would swoop in and attack that format. They’re just hanging there by themselves, doing awesome, because they’re the only Country station. Maybe not "underserved", but not competitive enough.
P: There used to be more than one, right?
BB: Well, 780 KIXX. But, it was an AM station playing much older Country music.
CF: It was Classic Country.
BB: But, if you talked to the people who voice tracked for it -- Bobby Mac, and all these other guys who worked for Q104, they say, "I had a great time voice tracking for them."
CF: What was Bobby’s name? It was hilarious.
BB: I don’t remember. [BB Note: Read the Bobby Mac interview for the answer to that question!]
It was astonishing to hear these guys on 780 KIXX. And, sometimes, it would be live. On a Saturday afternoon, they would give a current temperature or something.
8. Tell me about a couple of on air mistakes you’ve made.
CF: I haven’t said anything too bad. Never dropped the F-bomb, which is good.
Whenever I am talking to Street Teamers. When we have boot camps for Street Teamers, or when I talk to new radio students, I always tell this story, because it teaches you not to swear, ever. When I was a Q cop for Q104, during the summer program, we would have to do callbacks to the station.
We did a sponsorship with Tidal Bore Rafting in Shubenacadie. We went down and were doing callbacks. We weren’t doing one an hour or two an hour like you traditionally do. Every fifteen minutes, there was one. We pre-recorded them. We called into the jock who was on the air and did our callbacks.
At the time, it was Tom Bedell. I called back and said, "Hey, I’ve got one of these every fifteen minutes for this entire hour. Do you want me to hammer off four of them, in a row? That way, I don’t have to call back every fifteen minutes to you." He was like, "Yes. That would be perfect! You do that."
So, I go. I do my first one. I’m fine. I go to do my second one. I try to say "Shubenacadie". I’m like, "Hey, this is Q Cop Christina. I’m down at Tidal Bore Rafting in Shuba.... Shiva. Blah blah blah. Ok, Tom. I’m just going to start again." I just started talking again.
Tom obviously got himself distracted doing his job. When he went to edit mine, he just looked at the wave forms. I hadn’t stopped talking, so he didn’t see a break in the wave form. Fifteen minutes later, I hear on the air, "Hey, this is Q Cop Christina. I’m down at Tidal Bore Rafting in Shuba.... Shiva. Blah blah blah. "
I’m mortified. I’m so impressionable. This is the only thing I’ll ever do on the air, right? I ripped the radio off. I’m like, "Oh, Noooo!" It’s so sad. But then, in turn, my bosses at Q104 thanked me for not swearing after I messed up. Because, if I had said, "Shuba. Shuba. Oh, fuck!" and started over, that would have aired. That would have been really bad. It was good that I went, "blah blah blah", and that was it.
BB: Would it have been bad for you, or Tom?
CF: I think Tom was the one who got in trouble, if I remember correctly. I got praised for not swearing.
So, that’s my big mess up. Knock on wood. [she knocks on the wooden table]
P: That’s pretty mild compared with some of the ones who talk to us.
CF: You mess up every day. That’s what you do, right? No one talks perfectly, all the time. It would be incredible for me, it would be unbelievable for me to meet someone who said they’ve never messed up. And, it’s just a matter of picking up and keep going. If you mess up your words, or you say the wrong thing, who cares?
BB: If you call attention to it, it’s that much worse.
CF: Right. And people don’t notice if you mess up and just keep talking. They won’t say, "Well, she slurred that word". Well, maybe they do. I don’t know. Naive!
9. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
CF: I’m a very go-with-the-flow type. I’m also a firm believer in radio that you should never, ever be good at only one thing. I’m brand new to radio still, even though I’ve been doing it for a few years now. And, already, I have a background in Promotion, a background in on air, and now music directing as well.
BB: How long have you been music directing?
CF: Just over a year. About a year and a half.
So, now that I have those 3 things, in the next five years, how can I expand that? How can I do more in radio? So, going somewhere else wouldn’t just be about money for me. It’s more about, "Is this a better market for me to work in? Am I going to get more exposure? Is there something new I’m going to learn when I get to go to this job?" And, those would be the reasons that I’d do something else. So, in the next five years I hope that the "3 stack" that I have on my resume expands some. And, as long as I’m still doing radio, and I love it, it doesn’t really matter where I’m at in 5 years, as long as I’m still mentally where I’m at right now.
BB: OK. It’s considered to be the top of the line if you’re doing a morning show.
BB: And, I’m not sure how the salaries work, but I get the feeling that people who work on a morning show are paid somewhat more than people in other day parts.
BB: I’m not going to get into numbers, but would you ever want to get past your hatred of getting up at 3 o’clock in the morning to do a morning show, if that opportunity came up?
CF: It’s like when people ask you, "What would you do for X amount of money?" Right? If someone was going to offer me money that I couldn’t say no to, then I wouldn’t say no to it.
P: How many zeroes are going to be on the left side of that decimal point?
CF: And, it’s not horrible. If the worst thing about your job is getting up early, it’s pretty awesome. And, it was different for me when I was in Newfoundland. I actually worked an 8 hour shift. I wasn’t off the air. I wasn’t out of the station until 1 o’clock. Most morning show hosts get to leave around 10 o’clock.
BB: What would you do the last 3 hours?
CF: Well, it was a super small town, Corner Brook, Newfoundland. So, I did the morning show. They didn’t have a PD in house. They had a general manager. They had part-time staff. No Promotions at all. I’d just come from Promotions. They were like, "Oh, if you have any ideas...." So, for a few hours I would brainstorm with people there about promotional ideas and talk with the Sales rep. And, then, I voice tracked the Afternoon show. I did a live request show and then voice tracked the rest of the day. It was like "All Christina, All of the Time."
BB: People must have thought, "She must be so tired!"
CF: Exactly. But it was awesome for me because it was like, "Do a show. And, then, do another show." Every single day. I think I was there for 7 months before I got the job offer back in Halifax. So, in 7 months, I went from doing just 2 shifts on a weekend to doing 2 shows a day, for 7 months straight.
BB: Were you the only live jock at that station?
CF: Me, and my co-host in the morning. And, then, the weekend people were live as well.
BB: What station was this?
CF: It was the K-Rock.
BB: Very lightly staffed. So, the K-Rock in New Minas was comparatively heavily staffed.
CF: Yes. Two completely different [stations]. Most people start their radio careers working for a small market first, and then expanding. I sort of did it the opposite. Just from the location of my campus, volunteering for Newcap and getting involved, that I started my career with the glamour of Q104 and huge rock shows, and going to everything for free. It was awesome. Obviously, it is still amazing, but I think that going to Corner Brook was great for me, professionally, because I realized that it’s not always that way. And, it’s not always a big rock show and a big fun time. Sometimes it’s small, and you’re just there literally to get better at your craft. And, so that was my opportunity. That was the light in going to Corner Brook.
BB: In 5 years’ time, you hope to be building on this foundation that you’ve developed.
CF: Yes. I think so. People tell me I should be a Program Director a lot. I think that’s when I get bitchy. [laughter all around]
BB: There aren’t that many female Program Directors.
CF: No, there really aren’t. It’s definitely something that I’ve thought about. Right now, I think it’s important for me to really get into my craft and get better at what I do and get some knowledge behind me, because when you’re a Program Director, you’re giving guidance to other people. And, right now, almost everyone I’ve worked with has been in the industry longer than me. It’s not that they wouldn’t respect my opinion. We all talk openly, anyway. But, I think it’s important to have knowledge behind you in order to guide people working under you. Maybe in my thirties.
BB: It’s a long time for you. It’s in the past for me. Gee, thanks.
P: We all have to hit our stride sometime. Ours is behind us. So there!
BB: If you did want to become a Program Director, there’s no course to become a PD.
CF: It’s experience.
BB: You work your way into it somehow.
CF: Yes. You do. A job opens up. People look at your resume and say, "OK.". I’ve done this, this and this. Gary has Production under his belt. Again, he’s stacking his resume. The best Program Director is going to have knowledge in every single department because they know how it all works. It all has to work. It isn’t just about your on air jocks, or your Sales department, or your Promotions. It’s about all of those things coming together so that you can put the best product out as possible.
10. What are the kinds of questions a candidate for an on air position at a radio station can expect?
CF: I’m the worst person to be asked this question, because I’ve really lucked out in radio. I haven’t technically, really had a formal interview for any job.
BB: They just offered you the job?
CF: Well, Live 105, yes. It was JD. I had already known him; I had already worked with him. He didn’t need to go through the interview process with me because he knew exactly what I had to offer. So, he was, "Hey, I want you to do this job. It’s yours if you want it."
When I went to Newfoundland, I applied through our company. They flew me up and had a chat with me. But, it was really casual. It wasn’t anything too major. And, again, Gary contacted me about doing weekends because it opened up on K-Rock [New Minas]. We didn’t really have a formal interview process either.
The things that I guess I would ask someone if I were a PD in the future, I would ask a lot about their personalities. You have to be a big personality, so what are you going to bring into your show that makes you stand out from other people in the market? If it’s a Drive shift, how are you going to be different from Scotty Mars, from JAX, from Tom Bedell, from Ruby Carr? What makes you, you on the radio? What are the different things you have in your show that you’re going to bring to the show? Different bits that you do? Different personalities that maybe come along with you? All of that stuff. How well you work with others is important in radio, because we all have to work together, even if we have our own shows.
BB: There’s one studio, and a bunch of people share it.
CF: Exactly. "Are you messy?", would be something I’d ask. Some times our studio is disastrous. It’s like, "I am not your mother."
And, sometimes, getting a job is who you know. The best thing to do is to get some important people to recognize you and chuck them on your resume as contacts and get them to talk highly about you. That’s really important. That will help you go really far.
BB: It happened last year where the computers died in your building or something. [Cub and Floyd] did a call-in show.
CF: There are back ups to all of that. But, if that happened, if you just go off the air, we have a back up system, a back up cd of music. If our computer messes up and all the music that I scheduled doesn’t work, we have a back up that way. Nowadays, it’s really "Radio for Dummies". Before, when it was vinyl, you would have to go from track to track. Now, it’s all computerized; it does it all for you.
BB: But, if your studio became unusable for some reason, do you have a back up studio? Is there some place you could go to? There must be a Production studio you could jump into.
CF: Way to make me freak out! I don’t know. [CF and P laugh]
BB: I think, at K-Rock, Gary said that if something happened to the master control room, they could actually broadcast from it.
CF: I assume that yes, we definitely have something set up. I personally have no idea where that is. Watch. Tomorrow, you’ll jinx me on my show. The studio will blow up while I’m in there.
Have you ever experienced unemployment since you finished your studies?
BB: You’ve always had work in radio.
CF: Yes. Since I finished the college, I’ve been in radio the entire time.
BB: Full-time, pretty much?
CF: Yes. When I was doing that stint when I was working every day, I was technically in 2 places, part-time. But I was probably working more than probably anyone, full-time. [laughs]
11. Bonus Question courtesy of... Neil Spence!
How much of your real personality do you/should you show on the air?
CF: I think, a lot of your own personality. I mean, it’s all up to who you are and what you want to portray on the air. I think the most successful jocks open up and let people into their lives. People listening to you want to know you. They want to feel like you’re their friend and that you’re talking to them. The best jocks make you feel you know who they are.
Floyd, for an example, does a really good job of this. I know that because my friends fall under the category "new radio listeners". There really wasn’t a station before Live 105 that they really liked, so they’d listen to their iPods or they went on satellite or whatever. Then, they started listening to Live 105. My friends, on a weekly basis, will be like, "Oh, did you hear Floyd talking this in the morning? Floyd’s arm hurt. Is it feeling better?" Honestly, they think that they know her and that they’re friends. That’s amazing. Later in the day, they’re thinking about whether or not her cold’s got better. Or, "I wonder how her plans that she had, that she told everyone about, went?" Stuff like that. So, yes, you should definitely open yourself up.
P: You don’t want to have a stalker.
BB: Well, I’m sure that’s happened. But, it must be a fine line sometimes, what to share and what to hold back.
BB: If you have a partner you can have a conversation and say, "Honey, do you not want me to talk about this?"
CF: I’m sure there’s some marital fights that happen over people who are in radio, and their kids. I’m not married with kids, but that would be brilliant show prep. One of my roommates is in radio. She gets it. I definitely use stories about living in an apartment, because everyone’s been in their late 20‘s with roommates. They know what that’s like. So, real life stuff relates the best to your listeners because it’s happened to them. They’ve gone through it, too. You’re stuck in traffic somewhere. They’ve done it; they’ve been there.
You have a crappy weekend. You break your heel downtown. You get in a fight with your boyfriend. Your parents do something that makes you upset. Everyone’s been there before. If you share that, they feel that with you because they have the same thing going on in their lives.
BB: They feel an affinity for you.
CF: Right. Exactly. So, open up yourself. Tell people about your life.
BB: But hold stuff back that makes you uncomfortable. You would never say, "Gee, I can’t stand living in my apartment on South Street."
CF: No. I wouldn’t. Some people do. Some people get that into it. We’d never do anything that disrespected my friends or family. I’d never, ever do that. But, again, it’s all in what type of jock you want to be. There are jocks who will just say everything.
P: Shock jocks.
BB: On the Q, they...
CF: Lay it out.
BB: When I talked to Bobby Mac, when he’s not "Bobby Mac", he’s a normal guy. He’s that bombastic on the air; but off the air, he’s just a regular fella.
CF: Sometimes in radio you get to play a character. It’s all in whatever job you want, or how you’re portraying yourself. I say, "Be yourself", but your radio self or alter ego could be something completely different. If that works, then why not roll with it?
BB: It’s served him very well.
CF: It has. Absolutely.
BB: Christina Fitzgerald, thank you very much for the last hour and a half. It’s been lovely meeting you. I appreciate your time.
CF: You fed me, so what else could I ask for?
CF: Thank you!
BB: It was my pleasure. Patricia, stay awake. It’s time to get some pictures.
CF: I put her to sleep over here. She’s snoring over here. How am I supposed to do a show if I’m putting her to sleep?
P: I’m not your demographic.
BB: Thank you.
CF: Thank you.