What a Bear and I Have in Common

  I learned that country music radio personality Bear O’Brian and I have quite few broadcasting career things in common. For one, we just kept coming back to Columbus. Some people have been critical of Bear for moving around so much, but they just don’t understand the dynamics of being a local broadcasting personality.

  In my view, it’s a good idea to move around in the early stages of becoming a broadcast personality. For one thing, it’s the quickest way to get your salary up to a decent level. For another, and this is especially true if you move to larger markets, you learn different, sometimes better, ways of doing things. And once you have proved that you can cut it in bigger markets, you are more appreciated by management when you come back home.  That translates to higher pay.

  No matter where you work, it’s a good idea to have a good relationship with your boss, and part on good terms. You can’t always do that, but it’s good when you can. You could say that Jim Martin is to Bear what the late Jim Woodruff, Jr. was to me. Both Jims hired us at least three times. 

Jim Martin, Gen. Manager PMB Broadcasting; Bear O’Brian, Kissin 99.3
 
  Friendship with the boss counts for a lot, but what counts most of all, though, is whether you can attract an audience. Ratings rule. I was fortunate in that area, and so is Bear.

  Another thing Bear and I have in common is how someone convinced us to change our names. Bear said the progam director at his first station, WRNZ in Wrens, Georgia, told him that Wade Collier is not a good braodcast personality name. He suggested Bear O’Brien. “Now,” says Bear, “the only people who call me Wade are my mother and some relatives.  My wife calls me Bear.  We were both working at the same station when we met and I was going by Bear by then.”

  My name change wasn’t quite that drastic. My mentor at WDAK, the late Ed Snyder, convinced me that Richard McMichael, which is what my family and everyone else called me, was too formal, he said. He suggested Dick. (He let me keep my last name.)  It’s been Dick, outside my family, since 1948. The only people who still call me Richard are the few relatives I have left. 

  Bear’s back doing his morning thing, this time on WKCN-FM, Kisssin’ 99.3, from 6 to 10 on weekday mornings.  He’s working for a different company this time, but not a different boss.  Jim Martin left Clear Channel Radio and now owns, with a few other people, PMB Broadcasting.  Bear worked for him when both were at Clear Channel.

 Bear’s show went on the air Monday. He said there was a delay because his contract with WBAM-FM in Montgomery had a non-compete clause in it and the management of both stations had to work out that before he could go back on the air. They did and he’s back. Over the years Bear has done some wild things on the air, I’m told, but he says he is doing a family-friendly show and even includes a 5-minute religious segment. His goal, he says, is to not only entertain, but build trust with his audience. 

  To be honest, I am not a devoted country music fan.  I do like it, even going to Nashville once to attend the Grand Ole Opry, but it’s not my favorite music.  I’m basically a standards, jazz, and classical music guy.   I have made appearances on a few of Bear’s shows when he was in town before. We had fun. I like him.  Welcome back, Bear.

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One Response to “What a Bear and I Have in Common”

  1. Gary Edwards Says:

    WOW, it’s amazing what you can find on the internet. While browsing tonight, I did a search for Columbus, GA radio personalities, just to see if there was anyone I used to work with still in the Columbus radio scene. It was good to see two old friends in this article.

    Bear, if you read this, I used to work at WVOC, V-103 when you were doing the mornings over at the competitor 107.3 and I used to take your over bookings for DJ parties. Good times, bro. Good times.

    Jim, if you are reading this, I used to drop into the station to visit Bill Allen when you guys set up the new station after we sold the “mansion.” You made me some good offers to come back to work in radio, but I had to follow my heart and entered the golf world.

    I’m now living in the Orlando area, playing on 3 different golf tours, and making money to do something most golfers just dream about. If I’m ever back up in the Columbus area, I will most definitely look you guys up.

    If you need help with your golf swing, let me know. I’ll definitely help you out.

    Gary Edwards

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