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The Collegian’s Entertainment editor, Femi Aborisade, recently had the opportunity to interview a few local radio personalities. He met with Sarah Pepper of HOT 95.7 and Corey Foley and Greg Thunder, hosts of the morning show, “The Foley & Thunder Show” on 100.3 The Bull.
Femi: You host the Foley & Thunder Show on 100.3, The Bull, correct?
Foley: It’s the Foley & Thunder Show, it’s on The New Bull @ 100.3, and the “at” sign shows that we’re hip and with it from 5:30-9:00 a.m., Monday through Friday.
Femi: That’s pretty early, when do you guys have to wake up?
Foley: I haven’t yet.
Thunder: I get up around 2:30 a.m.
Femi: When do you sleep?
Thunder: At night, typically, but napping is very important. You have to get up a bit early to get a read of the current events.
Femi: What have you talked about on your show recently?
Foley: Paula Deen, Aaron Hernandez, etc. [We discuss] everything that is on the news or about Houston, to anything happening in our lives. For example, we discussed Cowboy Dave, who is also on our show, because he let his kids swim in a lake.
Thunder: Basically where cattle poop.
Femi: What sort of flavor do you bring to the show?
Foley: We’re a country station, but we’re not a country show. We like to be ourselves.
Thunder: We just approach it with our own eyes and perspective, opinionate on stuff and move on. We have a few segments like “The Brutal Truth” and “Smarter than Foley” where listeners compete against Corey in trivia.
Foley: We also do “The Dirt” twice a day when we talk about celebrity news.
Femi: Corey, you’re from Florida, right?
Foley: I was born in Florida, grew up there and graduated from the University of Florida. I started in radio in Gainesville, FL, then moved back to Tampa Bay, my hometown. I then pursued an opportunity in Minneapolis and met my husband Jeff. I first worked at a country station in San Francisco. San Francisco is not the best market for country, so when the gig opened in Houston, I took it. Greg and I worked at competing stations in Minneapolis, and this position would allow us to work together.
Femi: Corey, you got your start after calling in at a radio station in 1995?
Foley: I was requesting a Madonna song and the DJ and I were having a good time talking. He said he liked my voice and asked if I wanted to help voice commercials. I did some commercials and got an audition tape together, and when the female DJ left the morning show, I got my start.
Femi: How was working at [95.7 The Wolf] in San Francisco? (6:17)
Foley: It was good, but the market doesn’t exist anymore. That genre does not really work there; most of the listeners lived in the surrounding areas. The city is beautiful, but amazingly expensive.
Femi: Greg, you started your career in Minnesota, right?
Thunder: Wow, it was so long ago. You may know better than I do. Yes, I did; I’m from there.
Femi: And you were on the university’s swim team?
Thunder: Yes. I was terrible, but it was fun. I was sort of the team clown.
Femi: So how did you become a DJ?
Thunder: I would get on the mic during swim training and try to keep everybody laughing while introducing the routines. Someone told me one day that I should try radio, and I had never even thought about it until then. I got into broadcasting school and was on the radio by the time I was 20.
Femi: What was your first job?
Thunder: KFOR in Lincoln Nebraska, a really great radio station. I did nights there and had some mentors that were vital in showing me the ropes.
Femi: And you knew of Corey while you were there?
Thunder: I knew of Corey when I moved back; she was basically my competition in Minneapolis.
Foley: The weird thing is, I dated his best friend and I didn’t even know that. And he dumped me.
Femi: How did you get to Houston?
Thunder: I was in Minneapolis and was contacted by somebody in the leadership of CBS for a job here. I flew in and met Corey in a taxi at the airport, and we didn’t understand how we could not meet each other at the same baggage claim. We were thrown into an off-air audition and were supposed to conduct normal radio, but it did not work; it was too phony. Instead, we acted as if we had a show together.
Foley: It’s hard to do that if you do not know the person because you do not understand how they proceed through a conversation. We just got to know each other along the way.
Thunder: You could hear the chemistry at work; we hit it off really well.
Femi: What philanthropic work have you both done? (12:20)
Foley: There is a lot that the station does around the holidays, like Toys for Tots. What is great about radio is that there are so many opportunities to do things, and we do so many of those without becoming white noise in the community. We have done some things for the military, like the Hero’s Run.
Thunder: There is also Military Appreciation Day which is mostly specified for soldiers at Fort Hood, but everybody is welcome. We bus the soldiers in, feed them, they attend the show and then get bused back for free. It started with about a few hundred servicemen, but has grown to about 20,000.
Foley: What’s great about being on the mic is that you get a chance to do things you would not otherwise do. When the explosion happened in West, Tx, we were able to get stations together to collect donations; after the tornadoes in Moore, we were able to link up some sites. When you are in this job, you might want to do something personal; I lost my mom to breast cancer and that is a cause that is close to my heart, so I do a lot to support that. Greg and I are both animal lovers, so we do a lot to help our furry friends. There is a lot to do, and we’re in a situation where we are able to do it.
Femi: You guys host a country station. Do you like country?
Thunder: Yes. The thing I like about country music artists is that they are accessible. They are normal people who happen to make music, and they have to connect to their audience as much as the audience connects to them.
Foley: We have both worked in different formats like Top 40, Adult Contemporary, Hip Hop, etc., so working with another set of artists was nice. Taylor Swift wrote out thank-you notes to DJs when she came to Houston for a concert. Not just, “Hi everyone, thank you for chatting with me,” but “Hi Corey, I’m in a plane over Arizona.” It was amazing. Who does that? Avril Lavigne never did that. She was kind of rude.
Femi: What are you listening to?
Thunder: Between doing the show and watching The Voice, I am getting my fill of music. I really have to spend most of my off time focusing on the show, so I do not tunnel in on music as much as I would wish to. When I get a chance, I will go to a show or seek something out.
Foley: I listen to everything. I like country music, I like Top 40; it depends on my mood. My husband gets annoyed when we have to play music in the car on trips because he knows I will never say the same thing twice. One day I might wake and want some old Madonna. I actually had to pull out my CDs, but the kids don’t know what those are.
Femi: What tips do you have for those interested in radio?
Thunder: Enunciating and knowing that you are trying to speak to an audience is important. You need to be concise, and never beat around the bush.
Foley: Take out any unnecessary details. We get phone calls from listeners and they will say, “Well, the time was 3:15, it was 80 degrees outside, and my shirt was blue,” and we have to tell them to hurry it up. People usually listen to broadcasts on-the-go or in their car, and if a conversation is all over the map, they cannot follow its lead.
Thunder: In a face-to-face conversation, I am all over the place; I have a lot of pauses, and I do not care. But on the air, you need to focus. You will lose the listener if you are not direct.