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Greg Strassell

5-3-2013

Snr. VP Programming CBS Radio Greg Strassell has always been the go-to guy at CBS for talent acquisition for music stations, and hes great at what he does. If there is a talent, format, station, or market in discussion, Greg knows everything about it. I find myself intensely listening to everything he has to say, as he lives and breathes this business. Through the years, Greg has brilliantly taken our clients into the CBS family and given them success and longevity. So whether its Orlando, Greg Thunder, Ray Stevens, or countless others, it was Greg who saw the future and made it happen. The most amazing quality Greg possesses is his ability to remain steady and even-keeled regardless of the chaos around him.

Now, in his own words, here's how Greg Strassell got into radio


When you grow up in a town of 8,000 people -- Tell City, Indiana -- as a Hoosier, playing basketball is your first goal. I wasnt very good at the game, so having a Plan B was a necessity.

Radio started capturing my imagination, from listening to locally owned WTCJ (Jim Brewer Broadcasting) or hearing John Records Landecker on WLS (Chicago), Johnny Randolph and Coyote Calhoun on WAKY (Louisville), Cardinal games on KMOX (St. Louis), Buddy Scott and Charlie Quinn on WGBF (Evansville) etc. Each station was unique to their market and had strong local character, and it felt like you could visit the city without leaving your home.

My parents gave me a cassette tape recorder one Christmas, and it was natural to start pretending to be on the radio.  And like the characters that are in a possessed state recreating Devils Tower from Close Encounters of the Third Kind in their homes, teenage radio wannabes all over the U.S. were building radio stations in their homes. I had made my first board out of cardboard, with VU meters and switches from Radio Shack, and various parts from old broken radios around the house.

I started pestering the local DJs by playing contests and requesting songs and striking up conversations about getting into radio. One of those DJs was my friend Joe Bell, who is currently the Beasley market manager in Miami.

When the hometown station was covering local sports, I volunteered to carry the Marti transmitter and set it up. It got to the point where, at 12 years of age, I could set up a remote as good as anyone on their staff. I also did stats for the play-by-play guy named Mike Younce during the games.

My first on-air gig happened when WTCJs Dave Strycker, now the GM of WHON/WQLK Richmond, IN, called and asked me to be the voice of Dennis the Menace for the local Dairy Queen commercial (Dennis was the national mascot).  So, at the age of 12, I got a taste of voiceover work.   Then it got interesting, at least to me.  The competing station, Bud Walters brand new WKCM, had morning talent George Reed, now of Media Services Group, who offered me the chance to cross the street to be their Dennis the Menace.  However, there was a toll bridge over the Ohio River to get to their station; my parents would have to pay 80 cents round trip each time I had to do the spots.  I had a decision to make. Where to go?  So I went back to WTCJs Dave Strycker. Terms: Id stay and be their Dennis the Menace, not have to cross the bridge, AND would get paid a few 45s each time I did the spots.  That sealed the deal. (Sorry Lisa, I did this without a talent agent.)

Around my 15th birthday, Dave called again and offered me the chance to work part-time on air at WTCJ. I still remember the euphoric feeling of getting that call and knowing I was officially in radio at $2.10 an hour! I recall thinking They pay us for this? Bonus! He hired me to do Saturday nights, rocking out and playing what we wanted. Then I was to sign off and come back at 6 a.m. to play church organ music.

Thank God for my mother who supported me by being my chauffer until I got a drivers license. The FCC license was granted to me by taking the written test a full year before I was able to get a drivers license.

One night, at 15, a bachelorette party was calling all evening for Barry White songs, so I had the bright idea to invite them to come up to the station and take me to their party when we signed off. The plan almost worked until mom was the first car to arrive to pick me up. I just sunk in the seat and hid as the other car arrived.

In high school, I would subscribe to the air check services to hear Los Angeles and New York radio, and those emerging FM top 40s around the country. John Ivey of KIIS LA and I became friends when we were both starting our careers. He was at WOMI in Owensboro, Kentucky, about 20 miles away, when we were both 18 and hoping we would do something in our careers. He was known as John Michaels The Music Mugger and I was Johnny Ashton The Juvenile Jock. 

My father, months before he passed away, was very proud that year my paychecks started coming from CBS. He was proud that I followed my dreams and established myself from a small town, thanks to the people who let me in the door early on.

Reach out to Greg here Greg.Strassell@cbsradio.com

Lisa Miller is the President of Miller Broadcast Management in Chicago. She's also one of Radio Ink's Most Influential Women in Radio. Miller can be reached at Lisa@millerbroadcast.com or 312-454-1111.
So, how did you get into radio? We'd love to hear the story about why you're passionate about radio.




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(9/13/2013 5:54:40 AM)
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