How tough a job market is it for radio professionals these days? J.J. McKay, who not all that many years ago was among the most popular morning-show personalities in Denver, has just taken a new gig in Ketchikan, Alaska, a community with an estimated population of just over 7,000.
Not that he's complaining. Indeed, McKay is thrilled to land the gig after several years of struggle. "I figure if I can't get a job in Denver, I might as well take one out of town," says McKay, who starts the job next month.
McKay arrived in Denver in 2002, where he was paired with Rick "The Coach" Marshall on the KOOL 105 morning show. But four years later, McKay and Marshall got the heave-ho despite solid numbers. In late 2006, McKay said, "We were number eight with adults from 25-54, number three for adults 35-64 -- and we were never out of the top ten the whole time we did the show."
McKay and Marshall kept the team intact for a while by doing an Internet radio show on their own (now non-working) website -- and McKay also participated in another failed online project, DenverSportsRadio.com. While at the latter, he worked alongside controversial personality Dino Costa, who's currently on the Mad Dog Radio satellite channel in New York.
In addition, McKay filled in on occasion at KOA and The Fan, as well as taking a job at a station cluster in Gilette, Wyoming -- until his position was eliminated, that is.
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No wonder the gig in Ketchikan, where he'll oversee a small, two-station cluster and deliver a morning show, seemed so attractive. As he points out, "Guys are taking pay cuts, and if they have a job, they're holding on as long as they can, because there isn't anything out there, per se. And even in the smaller markets, if there's an opening, they get 500 résumés and tapes. You're fighting with all these other guys."
He adds that his audience will likely be larger than Ketchikan's modest size might imply. The community is a popular port that attracts 800,000 visitors a year, he says.
McKay, for his part, hopes he'll be able to stay a while.
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