We hear a lot of chatter about how kids these days really don't want to be in radio. Or if they do, they expect a $100,000-a-year job as soon as they graduate from college. But the fact is, that's not true for everyone. There are still young people out there who love radio and are willing to pay their dues to make it in this business. And 27-year-old Krystina Ramey is a perfect example of that. Despite a degree in graphic design, her true love was radio and being on the air. And she was willing to work as hard as she needed to work to get her foot in the door. Here's her story.
RI: Florida to Los Angeles to co-hosting mornings in your hometown. How did that all happen?
Ramey: I was working for a station in Florida, and I decided I wanted to go big in radio, so I set my sights on Los Angeles. I visited California for a week and set up as many job interviews as I could. In L.A., I went to see the company I was working for in Florida and met with the PR guy. I left my resume, I left my portfolio, and I said, "Call me if anything opens up."
I went back to Florida, and I knew, by the end of that summer, I was going to move to L.A. I waited three months and I hadn't heard anything, but I had my mind set on moving. I figured I would work in a restaurant or I would do something on the side until the radio thing came through. The week before I was set to get in the car and move, I got a call from Fox Sports Radio in Los Angeles, and they offered me a position working as a promotions assistant. I was ecstatic. I happily took that position.
RI: What made you think just getting in the car and going out to Los Angeles was a good idea?
Ramey: I don't think I necessarily thought it was a good idea, but I knew that it had to be done. I wasn't happy where I was in Florida. I loved the people I was working for, but the job opportunities weren't there. I wanted to go somewhere where there were more opportunities. I knew it was going to be tough, but I just know me, and I've always laughed in the face of danger, honestly, and I know how hard-working I am. I decided I could tough it out until something breaks, and then I'll work my butt off like I always do. I work to succeed.
RI: So you get to Fox Sports Radio as a promotions assistant. What were you doing?
Ramey: I was doing a lot of paperwork, handling the prizes, I would call contest winners, attending station events, setting up banners, driving the station vehicle. That was it. It was a lot of odd hours. Some days you would work at 5 a.m., some days you would start at night and work until 2 a.m. No set schedule. I didn't know how many hours I was going to get every week. It was tough, it was definitely tough. I'm lucky my supervisor really liked me, and he made my schedule a little more regular, and in the office more so than I was in the streets. I knew that it was an entry-level position into radio. I did what I had to do for as long as I had to do it.
RI: How long was it before your next step?
Ramey: I did that for just over two years. It's funny, because that's the longest I had been at one spot in my life. I had always moved up or moved on to something different or bigger before two years had passed. I was like, "Oh, my goodness, what's going on? I have got to get something else going." So I started putting together my resume and applying, and applying and applying, for stuff I didn't even think I was qualified for. I knew eventually something had to stick. At the same time, I was part of RAW at Fox Sports Radio for that entire time.
RI: Tell us about RAW.
Ramey: It is really ingenious. RAW is an experimental show on Fox Sports Radio. Our supervisor decided he was going to take the guys and the girls who worked behind the scenes during the day, the producers, promotions assistants, Web folks, the people who don't get to be on the air but really have a passion for radio and want to work toward being on the air. He threw them all in one room, gave them a show, and let them talk about sports. It's raw, it's unscripted. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles.
We talk about sports, like how you would talk about sports with your friends at the bar.
What I love about it is, everyone in radio always says you need experience, but no one is willing to give you that experience. Don Martin gave us that opportunity. The show is on Saturday night, and it's only on the Internet, not on terrestrial radio, but it was our shot.
RI: Did it help you get other jobs in radio?
Ramey: I was in promotions for the first year and a half of my time on RAW, and then I started applying for radio jobs. I got a job producing a late-night request and dedication show; I produced that for a year and a half. I was on RAW the entire time that I was doing that. I would work Monday through Friday from about 6 p.m. to midnight, then on Saturday nights go into RAW on Fox Sports Radio and do the radio show.
About a year and a half after producing the late-night show, I got an opportunity to produce a morning show. I did that for a couple of months, all while still doing my Saturday-night show. So, at this point, I'm working 3 a.m. until noon Monday through Friday and still going in on Saturday nights to do RAW. I never wanted to give it up. It didn't matter what level I was at; as cool as it was to be able to produce a morning show in Los Angeles, I knew how important RAW was at getting my own experience on the air.
RI: Where are you now, and how did working for Don and RAW get you to where you are today?
Ramey: I'm back in my hometown, in the Tri-Cities in northeastern Tennessee. If I had not spent time on RAW, I would've never been able to get this position. I'm co-hosting a morning show now [on KTFM-FM]. I literally went from zero on-air experience, outside of RAW, an experimental show, a streaming-only show, but as far as terrestrial radio, zero experience to co-hosting a morning show in my hometown. That's a dream for a lot of people.
The only way I was able to get to this position was because I was able to spend three years on RAW on Fox Sports Radio, thanks to Don Martin. I learned how to create a show. I learned how to prep for a show. I learned what works and what doesn't work, how to intro content, how to get out of content, how to flip the subject, how to interview people. It was just amazing to learn to be a radio host. I was able to learn it right there on Fox Sports Los Angeles.
RI: How important do you think having something like RAW is to the radio industry?
Ramey: It is invaluable. I've gotten a lot of people on RAW, because they saw what I was doing and they were jealous, I say, and they all wanted a piece of it. Some people can hack it, and some people can't. It's not a joke. Granted, it's not going to be on your car stereo when you turn on Fox Sports, but that doesn't mean it's a joke. We put a lot into it. I spent my entire day putting together a rundown and prep.
If I had not been on RAW, I wouldn't have been on the air for another two, three, or four years, because I would still be at the producer level. While producing a morning show is huge, it is not the same thing as being on the air. If we take RAW out of the picture, I still wouldn't have had any on-air experience. I would just now be cracking the mic here and there, replying to the morning show hosts' comments as I'm producing the show. Little bits and pieces here and there.
RI: And you were also getting helpful feedback and critiques from Fox Sports executives.
Ramey: Of course. That was the great thing about Don Martin and my direct supervisor, Jay Blease. Any time you needed anything, those guys would sit down with you. They were such a great resource. They really cared about our being able to grow and develop. I have two friends on RAW, and they've been going into Don Martin and pitching a show for the actual station, for terrestrial radio. They have been pitching their show to other stations. They have been getting a ton of feedback.
RI: How's it going at your hometown station?
Ramey: It's amazing. The people here are so friendly. My co-host, Steve Mann, has been so open and accepting. He has basically said, "Look, I love your passion. I love the fact that you come in here with ideas. Whatever you want to do, we can do it. Let me know how I can help you. Whatever I need to do."
It has been such a fun, experimental process, because I have had these ideas floating around in my head for years. Some of them didn't work while I was on a Sports station. Some of them wouldn't work while I was producing a latenight request and dedication show. Now that I'm here, I'm able to figure out what does and doesn't work. I'm actually doing it, and I've gotten this far because of what I did on RAW.
Reach out to congratulate Ramey for a job well done at firstname.lastname@example.org
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