I enjoy virtually all genres of music but Country is my go-to. When I moved here in 2002, I was still loyal to Country 99.5 WKLB out of Boston. If I held the radio the right way I could get a staticy signal. Alas, my arms got tired and eventually I started listening to WOKQ 97.5 out of Dover. I found Mark and Danielle and The Morning Waking Crew. They became my constant. I’m a creature of habit. I crave routine especially in the morning. With a routine, my internal operating system can boot slowly while I function on autopilot. OKQ and the Morning Waking Crew have become embedded in my morning routine. Looking at a clock means processing information and I’m not ready for that until I’ve eaten and had my tea, but, I can tell roughly what time it is by what’s happening on the radio. If Mike Geary is doing the weather live it is either 20 after or 10 of the hour. If discussion is about Birthdays is it 7:20 am and if breakfast better be on the table or we’re running late.
Mark Ericson is the brains behind the show. He’s the experienced radio guy who makes sure sponsors get their due and things stay relatively on track. I say relatively because Danielle had a way of derailing things. She rarely meant to, but she had strong opinions and an infectious laugh that could break me out of my stupor even on my worst mornings.
I speak of Danielle in the past because today Mark Ericson announced that Danielle would not be returning to the airwaves. It’s been change long in coming. The fact that I feel like I’ve lost a friend is a testament to how well Danielle did her job.
At the end of August Mark and Danielle went on their annual vacations. Mark returned Danielle did not. She was slated to return mid-September. The day came and went. Danielle did not return and no mention of her was made. The Morning Waking Crew’s Facebook page exploded with demands for information about Danielle. Eventually an announcement was made that Danielle had taken a leave of absence and that WOKQ was unsure when, or if, Danielle would be returning. This mollified most but conspiracy theories abounded. In the meantime former producer Megan “Bunch” Brady came back for a brief stint in the cohost chair. Eventually traffic reporter Karen Kiley (a.k.a. 2K) took over those duties.
Ericson’s announcement this morning was emotional and leads me to believe there is more to the story than they are able to share with the listening public. Situations like this put a radio station in an awkward position. In order to promote listener loyalty stations encourage personalities to connect with their audience. On-air talent promote products and appear at events and if they are good at what they do a bond is formed with the audience. The trick for the individual behind the on-air personality is to maintain whatever level of privacy he or she deems to be appropriate. When situations like Danielle’s arise where there is a medical issue, all sorts of legal protections are invoked on behalf of the employee limiting what the employer can say. Then what do they do? The radio station looks like the villain for not telling the audience about someone they view as a friend when in fact the station’s hands are tied. It’s a hard row to hoe and I think given the circumstances WOKQ did the best they could with the information they were able to share publicly. Something else that came through in this morning’s announcement was that Danielle’s absence has been hard on the staff too.
Mark and 2K will stay on the air through the holidays and although Kiley appears to be the heir apparent to the co-host throne Ericson clearly stated that was not a done deal by any stretch. They will be interviewing to fill the position.
This morning they played an example of one of Danielle’s more humorous rants. Hearing her laugh reminded me of how much I’ve missed her. Karen Kiley has made the best of a difficult circumstance and if she were to stay on I would not be disappointed but I will miss Danielle.
I hope the new cohost is a woman. Although Mark complains about living in a vat of estrogen I think the show needs a female touch. I also hope that when hiring, they seek out a vibrant personality who can handle Mark’s macho persona. Radio operation skills can be taught, but a personality is something you are born with and a successful morning show co-host requires a certain type of personality.
So to Danielle Carrier, Adios and vaya con Dios. I hope our paths cross again.
To Mark and 2K, I look forward to hearing your voices on Friday morning.