Name: Bethany Watson
Job Title: Co-host of Z100 New York’s “Elvis Duran and the Morning Show”
College/major: University of Minnesota/Theatre Arts major
Twitter Handle: @RadioBethany
Can you tell us about the day you found out you’d be a part of the Z100 team?
Bethany Watson: I had done several phone and in-person interviews and was playing the waiting game. One Sunday, I received a text from Elvis asking if I could talk the next day. I knew I had either gotten the job or was about to be let down gently. I held my breath for 24 hours until my phone rang the following afternoon. When Elvis said he’d like me to join the team, I squeaked out some form of a response (I honestly don’t remember what I said after I agreed); luckily, I was able to withhold the girl-screaming until after I hung up.
What’s a typical day like for you? What does your job entail?
BW: I usually wake up around 4 AM and get into work by 5:15. I do the “Reality Checks” (news updates) for the show, so I spend 45 minutes gathering the news and writing my newscasts. (I also spend a huge portion of that time making coffee, gulping coffee, and making more coffee. I have a problem.) We do the show from 6 AM to 10 AM ET, and then fan out when the show is done. I use the time after the show to record commercials, answer emails and go to meetings. Once the show is done, it turns into a very normal job.
What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?
BW: The first job I ever had in radio was at 101.3 KDWB in Minneapolis, where I was living. I was working at a bank and realized I hated my job and my life. At the same time, the “Dave Ryan in the Morning Show” was looking for a new female co-host. Because I had done theatre and improv professionally, I felt I had the skills to do the job even without radio training. Plus, I was seconds away from hurling myself out of the 6th floor window of my bank, so this seemed like a better option. I sent my acting headshot and resume to the show along with an email detailing all of the skills I would bring to the table. They had me come in for multiple auditions- four total-and I was finally offered the job. It was definitely a non-traditional way of getting into radio, but it worked!
What is one thing you wish you knew about your industry when you first started out that you know now?
BW: Never date a listener. Never date a listener. NEVER DATE A LISTENER. It gets weird for both of you.
Who is one person who changed your professional life for the better?
BW: There are obviously so many people who have changed my professional life: Dave Ryan and my KDWB boss Rob Morris, for example. But I have to give mad props to Elvis Duran, and I’m not sucking up because he’s my boss. Elvis creates an atmosphere of kindness and acceptance that goes beyond the show. He’s taught me to be kind and patient with everyone I encounter in my life. I think that’s a huge gift, both personally and professionally. Plus, he hired me, so that’s pretty awesome.
Is there a quote you live by?
BW: Jimmy Choo’s Tamara Mellon said, “Feel the fear, and do it anyway.” Also, a listener just emailed me the quote, “If God puts you to it, God puts you through it.” I love how comforting this quote is in times of pain or insecurity. It also serves as a great justification for buying a five-dollar coffee: “Listen, God, you put this Starbucks in front of me...”
What is the best part of your job?
BW: I love meeting the people I never would have met otherwise. Before my first day on the air, I traveled with the show to the Iowa State Fair.I met so many listeners who welcomed me with open arms, even though I hadn’t been on the show yet! It was such a huge moment of acceptance and love from total strangers. I’ll never forget that.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
BW: Not fired, hopefully. I also want to dip my fingers in everything creative. I want to write essays for a website, play a weepy defendant on “Law & Order,” keep reaching people through radio, play Chris Hemsworth’s love interest in a film and learn French. I also see myself living in a stable home with my boyfriend Ricky and our kitty cat Oliver, instead of moving every year. Is “I want to do everything” a good 10-year plan?
What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?
BW: Be nice to everyone. Radio, like most industries, is ultimately a small world. You never know when your intern will end up being your boss or when your boss will be your reference. I’m not saying you should only be nice because it could serve you in the future; I’m saying be nice because you’re going to work with the same people for a long time, and it’s a much happier environment when you’re all looking out for each other. If you excel, I excel (and vice versa). The earlier you can learn it, the better.