Like it or not, kids are returning to the classroom in Charlotte this month, and kids or no kids, morning commuters are once again facing more time in their cars behind a sea of brake lights.
Which also means more time to listen to ... well, whatever it is you listen to on that morning drive, or whatever your school-bound passengers won’t complain about.
And while we’re well aware that many motorists are locked into satellite radio, podcasts, streaming music or audiobooks, terrestrial radio in Charlotte is still vying for your attention with a menu of morning radio shows that offers a breadth of experience and a depth of variety.
Here’s a look at the faces that belong to the voices behind 11 of the city’s most high-profile morning-radio shows, along with links to stories that share some of the secrets to their successes:
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The Ace & TJ Show
Station: 96.1 WHQC-FM, aka “Channel 96.1.” (Format: Top 40; owned by iHeart Media.)
TJ, from The Ace & TJ Show on Charlotte morning radio, talks about a favorite prank.Jenna Eason The Charlotte Observer
On the air in Charlotte since: April 1998. On the air at WHQC since: January 2012.
Supporting cast: Brian “Riggins” Weber (vice president of programming), Guenn Schneider and “Tech D” Rob Miller (technical director).
Conversation-starter: If you think (or have ever thought) that Ace’s real name is Herman, blame TJ.
Why blame TJ? Click HERE to find out.
Bob & Sheri
Co-hosts: Bob Lacey, 67, and Sheri Lynch, 51.
Station: 107.9 WLNK-FM, aka “The Link.” (Format: adult contemporary; owned by Entercom.)
Longtime radio partners Bob Lacey and Sheri Lynch tell the story.John D. Simmons The Charlotte Observer
On the air together in Charlotte since: February 1992.
Supporting cast: Max Sweeten (director) and Todd Haller (producer).
Conversation-starter: “It’s kind of like a marriage,” Lacey says, describing his quarter-century-long relationship with Lynch, “but without the sex.”
What does Lynch think have to say about his assessment? Click HERE to find out.
Host: Mike Collins, 66.
Station: 90.7 WFAE-FM, aka “Charlotte’s NPR News Source.” (Format: news/talk; owned by University Radio Foundation, Inc.)
Mike Collins, the host of Charlotte Talks, remembers when Bonnie Franklin cursed on the morning radio talk show.Jenna Eason The Charlotte Observer
When the show was founded: April 1998.
Conversation-starter: As host of the popular talk show for nearly two decades, Collins has done longform interviews with thousands of newsmakers, news gatherers and just-plain newsworthy folks.
Who is the guest he’s remembered the longest? Click HERE to find out.
John Boy & Billy
Also known as: “The Big Show.”
Co-hosts: John “John Boy” Isley, 61, and Billy James, 58.
Billy James and John Isley talk about their most memorable moment on their morning radio talk show.Jenna Eason The Charlotte Observer
Station: 99.7 WRFX-FM, aka “The Fox.” (Format: classic rock; owned by iHeart Media.)
On the air in Charlotte since: 1980. On the air at WRFX since: November 1986.
Supporting cast: Terry Hanson, Jeff Pillars, Marci “Tater” Moran, Andy Abdow (archivist), Jackie Curry (associate producer) and Randy Brazell (general manager).
Conversation-starter: Isley says he doesn’t roll out of bed until about 11 o’clock every morning, and he and James sometimes only show up at their studio off Billy Graham Parkway three times a week.
Then how do they get their show on the air at 6 a.m. six times a week? Click HERE to find out.
The Mac Attack
Host: Chris “Mac” McClain, 43.
Station: 610-AM (102.5 on the FM dial), aka “The Fan.” (Format: sports; owned by Entercom.)
Chris McClain, the host of The Mac Attack, remembers a bet gone wrong.Jenna Eason The Charlotte Observer
On the air at WFNZ since: July 2004. In the morning time slot since: February 2009.
Conversation-starter: The beginning of the end of Chris McClain’s athletic career came in a varsity basketball game during his senior year of high school.
What made him realize he had no future? Click HERE to find out.
The Maney, Roy & LauRen Show
Station: 95.1 WNKS-FM, aka “Kiss.” (Format: Top 40; owned by Beasley Broadcast Group.)
Roy Brown, LauRen Merola and Maney talk about their most memorable moments on The Maney, Roy & LauRen Show on Kiss 95.1.Jenna Eason The Charlotte Observer
When the show was founded under the current name: February 2015.
Conversation-starter: Maney, Brown and Merola were merely supporting characters on a recent TLC reality show, but truth be told, their own shared adventures are entertaining enough to be the main focus their own series.
What kinds of adventures, exactly? Click HERE to find out.
No Limit Larry & Morning Maddhouse
Host: Larry “No Limit Larry” Mims, 40.
Station: 97.9 WPEG-FM, aka “Power 98.” (Format: mainstream urban; owned by Beasley Broadcast Group.)
No Limit Larry talks about his most memorable moments on his Morning Maddhouse on Power 98.Jenna Eason The Charlotte Observer
When the show was founded under the current name: August 2004.
Supporting cast: Jessica “Miss Jessica The Girl Next Door” Williams, Jeremy “Comedian Burpie” Alsop and music director Brian “Mr. Incognito” Robinson.
Conversation-starter: Before he landed the internship at WPEG almost 20 years ago that eventually evolved into the marquee role he has now, Mims was already the star of his own morning radio show.
How did that show almost land him in hot water? Click HERE to find out.
Paul Schadt & Meg
Co-hosts: Paul Schadt, 57, and Meg Butterly, 46.
Station: 96.9 WKKT-FM, aka “The Kat.” (Format: country; owned by iHeart Media.)
Paul Schadt and Meg Butterly, hosts of the Paul Schadt and Meg morning radio show, tell the story of Schadt finding out he was inducted in the Country Radio Hall of Fame.Jenna Eason The Charlotte Observer
Schadt’s been on the air in Charlotte since: June 1981. When he and Butterly were teamed up on WKKT: September 2009.
Producer: Geof Knight.
Conversation-starter: Of all the experiences Schadt has had in Charlotte, he says two stand out: 1) His induction into the Country Radio Hall of Fame, in 2014; and 2) the call he received a few months earlier informing him of his selection.
Which celebrity made that call? Click HERE to find out.
Tanner in the Mornings
Host: Rob Tanner, 54.
Station: 103.7 WSOC-FM, aka “Country’s Hottest Hits.” (Format: country; owned by Beasley Broadcast Group.)
Rob Tanner remembers pranking Brad Paisley on his radio show, Tanner in the Morning on 103.7.Jenna Eason The Charlotte Observer
On the air in Charlotte since: January 2005.
Supporting cast: Catherine Lane (co-host), Chris Allen (producer), and “Captain” Jim Slade (news reporter).
Conversation-starter: It’s pretty safe to say that Tanner is the only morning-show host in Charlotte who broadcasts live from the comfort of a big, plush, faux leather easy chair.
What’s with the chair? Click HERE to find out.
WBT’s Morning News w/ Bo Thompson
Host: Bo Thompson, 43.
Station: 1110 WBT-AM (99.3 on the FM dial), aka “News 1110/99-3 WBT.” (Format: news/talk; owned by Entercom.)
Bo Thompson, host of WBT's Morning News, talks about his highlights.Jenna Eason The Charlotte Observer
When the show was founded under the current name: March 2012.
Supporting cast: John Stokes (news updates), Jim Szoke (sports) and Freddie Hammer (traffic).
Conversation-starter: It probably would have been difficult – if not impossible – to find someone in Bo Thompson’s class at Eastover Elementary School who was as obsessed with politics as Thompson.
How did his obsession manifest itself? Click HERE to find out.
The Woody and Wilcox Show
Station: 106.5 WEND-FM, aka “The End.” (Format: alternative rock; owned by iHeart Media.)
Greg Wood, Chris Wilcox and Chelsea Paxton of The Woody & Wilcox Show talk about their most memorable moments... sort of.Jenna Eason The Charlotte Observer
On the air in Charlotte since: April 2010.
Producer: Cool Beans.
Conversation-starter: It’s a small wonder, at the very least, that Woody and Wilcox are still working together.
How close have they come to getting forced out of radio? Click HERE to find out.