Charley McCain : A Valuable Commodity
By: Maya Perry
After 20+ years in this radio business, Charley McCain still fan girls with the best of them. “I love to discover new artists and turn others onto their talent. Hearing a song for the first time and knowing in your heart that it’s going to be a hit just feels good! We don’t play new songs on my current station, but we do play a variety, and it’s fun to play something off the wall and have people say, “Oh I forgot about that one!” Music makes people happy, and if I can’t create it, I can make sure it gets to you!”
Charley McCain is an on air host who has maintained an impressive journey in this business. As we spoke, she began to share her start in radio. She explains “since I was a little girl because my mom always had music on in the house. I wanted to work in the music industry, but I have no musical talent of my own. My original plan was to move to LA, but between roommates falling thru and the proverbial “wrong turn on the freeway”, I ended up in Charlotte NC. When I got my first chance to be on the air at 1065 The End in Charlotte, there was already a female on the air named Kristen. My real name is Krista, so those were too close .So we knew I needed a completely different name. My boss had received an application from a female who went by Charley. He didn’t hire her, but liked her name so he gave it to me! I’ve always been Charley on the air at every station where I’ve worked.I knew someone who worked at WRFX and I told him what a cool job I thought it was. He referred me to the promotions director, who said I had a cool voice and I should be on air! I started out answering phones for the Alan Handleman talk show in 95 or 96, board op-ing syndicated shows, and basically anything they would let me do. From there, I met someone at 1065 The End, and they hired me part-time. I worked overnights, weekends, swing-shift, office monkey, you name it.”
Eventually Charley hosted “90 Minutes” the local & regional music show, and following that, she was offered the job of Music Director/Assistant Program Director at Alternative 101.7 WKZQ in Myrtle Beach. She worked there for 5 years, then moved to Rock 93.5 WARQ in Columbia to co-host the “S&M Morning Show”. In 2007, she moved to WPAW 93.1 The Wolf, where Charley did nights & swing shift, and was production director. That eventually led to her to being hired by sister station 98.7 Simon to co-host the Get up Show, where she’s been since 2013. As you can see Charley multi- faceted personality helped her grow into this brilliant personality.
Charley’s story continues to inspire upcoming women in radio. When asked what she would tell her younger self and future women on air, she states “sometimes you have to push a little harder & toot your own horn a little louder. So what if there’s already a female on middays? There’s no reason that a station can’t have 2 female voices in back-to-back day parts! Show up, do the work, learn every job you possibly can. Make yourself a valuable commodity. It’s not just about your air shift – learn programming, production, imaging, and social media. Don’t be afraid or too aloof to take a job that isn’t quite what you want but opens an opportunity…you never know when someone will leave or a new position will open up, and you want your supervisors to think of you first! But above all, enjoy it! We are so lucky to work in such an amazing industry – take advantage of every opportunity to meet the stars, see the shows, experience the rush, and help the people.”