The Awkward, Non-Professional Life Of A Radio Host

Downtown, Calgary/AB, Canada

I have worked in radio for nearly 25 years. Radio life is a little different than the usual office experience. I often describe it as being like a pre-teen girl for eternity. I listen to music, and talk on the phone. The majority of my career has been working a solo show. I’ve had co-hosts for a few years and worked on a morning show team for a bit, but most of my time has been in that little room talking into the microphone and goofing off – by myself.

I had a boss say to me once that radio jocks are “one step away from living in our mother’s basement.” Because I’ve always been in that little room by myself, I’d be the first to admit my social skills aren’t the best.

Today I am doing my radio show from a busy office tower in downtown Calgary. Banker’s Hall is the hub of the city with dozens of floors of worker bees buzzing in and out of the hive. The lines at Starbucks stretches for days. There are fancy cafeterias where you can buy pre-made salads, and everyone looks very proper in their suits, and fancy jewelry.

I was impressed, and felt highly underdressed. That’s the other thing about a career in radio – showers are optional. Jeans and a baseball hat are totally acceptable. Show up in a pair of pants and shirt with a collar and the questioning stares immediately pop up “Where’s the job interview?”

It’s a very lax environment, this radio career. I’m on the air for 4-5 hours and usually in the building for little more than an hour more than that. I do my show prep and research early in the morning before the kids wake up, or at night after everyone’s in bed. My ‘shift’ may appear short, but my workday is just as long as anyone else.

Still, with the short office time, I have a more freestyle approach to how I get the work done. I can drop my son off at 830 for school, and be there again at 330 to pick him up. That’s not what life is like for the downtown crowd. On my way into the city, I watched people drop their kids off at daycare at 7am and the roads were busier early in the morning that they are when I drive in 90 minutes later.

It’s an entirely different world these downtown career folk lead, and while it looks much more sociable, friendly, lively, and exciting, I’m guessing it’s also a little expensive. The parking. The transit. The lunches. The malls. The lunches.

I sat there and stared and wondered what life in these tower must be like. It’s the equivalent of living in quiet suburbia versus living in a bustling apartment block. While I think the busy, hectic downtown life would be fun, I’m fine with my laid back lifestyle. There’s a pang of envy, sure, and then I remember I’m wearing jeans on a Thursday and my boss is fine with it.

Image via Longo Miquelito

Buzz Bishop Fired

on the air

One of the most searched terms for people coming to this blog is Buzz Bishop fired.”

Truth be told, I have worked at 3 different radio stations in the past 2 years, so every now and again someone wonders where I’ve run off to. It’s a side effect of being a radio host; our jobs have a tendency to change. I’ve been lucky that I haven’t bounced around that much compared to some other colleagues.

This post will serve to show where I am now. If you arrived on this blog because you searched “buzz bishop fired”, I hope that it wasnt recent.

September 2011 – Present
Middays on XL 103 – Calgary

December 2009 – September 2011
Mornings on 90.3 AMP Radio – Calgary

September 1993 – July 2009
Z95.3, 95 Crave, Virgin Radio – Vancouver

May 1990 – August 1993
Evenings, 94 CJIB – Vernon

You can read more about my employment history by checking out my media kit. I’ve also done freelance work in television, newspapers and I contribute content to 6 blogs.

The Senior Tour

Fred Couples

Being a pro golfer must be awesome. Not only do you have the chance to make millions for a career that can last 5-10 yrs longer than most professional athletes, you get a chance to finish things off on another gravy train – the Senior Tour.


You can play on the regular PGA Tour until you’re 49, once you’re 50 you’re shuffled off to the other league. No longer do guys like Fred Couples, Mark OMeara and Tom Lehman have to fight young guns like Anthony Kim, Rickie Fowler and Rory McIroy for prize purses – they get to fight guys with similar skills.

This week, I moved to the radio version of the Senior Tour. Actually, they changed the name of that circuit to The Champions Tour a few years back – I like the sound of that better.

For more than 20 years I’ve been playing the most current of current music on radio stations in Vernon, Vancouver and Calgary. I interviewed Britney before she was bald, Puffy before he was Diddy and Beyonce when she was still a Child of Destiny. I introduced Canadian radio to Avril Lavigne, worked nightclub gigs with Michael Buble and rapped on stage with soulDecision.

It was a good run.

I’ve often described working in Top 40 radio as being a professional athlete. You only have so many “prime” years where the music is relevant to you and your lifestyle relevant to the listeners. Eventually, you have to move to the Senior Tour.

buzz bishop xl103That time for me, is now. I moved up the dial this week, from 90.3 to 103.1. I no longer host the morning show on AMP Radio, I now do middays on XL 103.

I’ve traded Taio Cruz for Pablo Cruise, Avril Lavigne for April Wine, Pitbull for Prince.

The approach I’ll bring to my show on XL will be the same I brought to AMP. I’ll be interactive, I’ll be leading edge, I’ll be upbeat, I’ll be plugged in.

The DJ in me hasn’t changed, just the music that I play.

I’ll be back on your radio tomorrow morning at 10 – the old slogan on AMP Radio works here too: make the switch ;)

The Path More Traveled

unitedway2

I was at a conference this week and sat next to one of the VPs of our company. High school graduation was brought up by the speaker. ” I graduated in 1989,” said our VP. My shoulders slumped, my head dropped. I graduated in 1987.

I chose to leave BCIT after one year to get started on the air. After more than 20 years as a radio announcer (17 of them at one station), you can easily say my career has been a success. My mom was upset when I dropped out to get the ball rolling on my career. She wanted me to go to school and finish the education and get a base.

Still, as I march into my 40s and people I went to school with are taking jobs in the head offices of national companies and VPs are a year younger than me, I have to wonder what would have happened if I had gone through with school.

There was never really a fork in my road where I had to choose between management and labourer – I was just always really good at being on the air and so the path of worker over manager was never really mine to make. I’ve had aspirations to move beyond the microphone, but didn’t want to take the risk to leave a good thing to switch career paths.

Still, I look at the peers of my age and I wonder.

I have a self taught Masters in Social Media and Marketing. I listen to podcasts, read blogs and try to spot trends for the future of media. I understand the radio industry with the savvy of a veteran in the trenches for more than 2 decades. Still, I don’t have that “office” training.

I wonder how I would have fared if I had chased a path behind a desk instead of a path behind the microphone.

I wonder.

Interview: Lady Gaga

lady gaga and buzz bishop

In the spring of 2009, Lady Gaga wasn’t yet the second coming of Madonna, but she was on her way. She was an eccentric pop star that was building a following underground through the gay community, her songs anthems for the dance floor.

Her buzz was growing, but she was still performing smaller club venues. In advance of one of those performances, she sat down for a series of face-to-face interviews in a Vancouver hotel cafe.

I talked to her about her beginnings and how Stephanie Germanotta became this character of Lady Gaga. During the interview she was calculated, meticulous and soft-spoken. I couldnt tell if she was having an artistic laugh at our expense, or if she really believed in the mythology she had created to surround this character of Lady Gaga.

Nearly 2 years later it’s safe to say, she (and the rest of us) are buying in.

Buzz Bishop and Lady Gaga – Vancouver, March 18, 2009


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