Life on the Radio

Ever wonder what it would be like to be a radio host? Well, earlier this month we joined Jack Paper and Reagan Marks, hosts of KHOP@95-1's "The Morning Paper," in the studio to find out. What we discovered surprised us.

Before going to the studio, we had dozens of notions of what a day in the life of a DJ would be like. A fancy studio, lots of people buzzing around -- overall, an intimidating atmosphere.

Our misconceptions were soon cleared up, however, when we were ushered into not the glamorous studio we were expecting, but a small gray room containing all of three computers, a frightening mixer-type thing and a few microphones and headsets. There were no people running here and there, just Jack in his cargo shorts, Reagan in her sweats, and the little gray and white kitten they were trying to find a home for.

So much for glamour.

As we watched Jack and Reagan finish their work for the morning, we couldn't help but be surprised. There was no one fetching coffee for them or running the technical aspects of the show like we imagined. These two did everything. When they weren't recording, they were taking calls and planning what was coming next. There was no downtime between airings; there was always something to do. We thought we were going to go into shock from all the colors and flashings on the computer screen.

When they had a few moments to talk, we asked Jack and Reagan a little about their typical day at work. They explained that their show runs from 5 to 9 a.m. on the weekdays and that they usually get to work around 4:15 a.m.

Jack admitted this is his least favorite part of the job. "Every job has its downside, though," he said. "If having to get up early is the worst part of my job, I would say I'm pretty lucky."

Asked about their lives before radio, the DJs assured us they had "normal" jobs before getting into the business. Reagan, who came to the station immediately after graduating from college with a degree in economics, explained that she had worked as a waitress and part time at a radio station during college.

Jack explained that he had been training killer whales and dolphins at Marine World before catching "the radio bug" while working for his college's on-campus radio station. Both eventually found their way to KHOP.

"It's one of those careers that, once you do it, you can't imagine doing anything else," Regan said.

What's so great about being a radio host? While being able to meet celebrities and get free movie tickets are definitely perks, the DJs explained that these things don't keep them getting up at

3 a.m.

"My favorite part of the job is getting the chance to make a difference in people's lives," said Jack. "We've had some amazing calls ... you don't realize how you can touch someone."

Reagan explained that one of her favorite parts of the job is speaking at career days at junior high and high schools.

"I get to see kids get motivated about something," she said.

Not everyone always appreciates what these two hosts have to say, however.

"We get just as many good as bad comments," Reagan said. "You have to have tough skin."

For example, Jack recently made a reference to how tasty Kentucky Fried Chicken is. A group of animal rights activists was offended and let the radio station know.

Being the opinionated, down-to-earth, KFC-eating people that they are, however, is what attracts many listeners to "The Morning Paper."

"We're just like our listeners but we have a microphone in front of our faces," Jack said. "You have to be real."

Reagan agreed. "You should be the same person when you turn the radio on as when you turn the radio off," she said. "You can't be afraid to stand out."

And stand out they do. Teens, adults, kids and parents alike throughout the Central Valley -- and even throughout the world, thanks to Webcasting -- tune into "The Morning Paper" on the way to school or work or while surfing the Internet.

Clearly, these two resonate with their audience.

"We love what we do," Reagan said. "We have fun and make a difference in people's lives."

What more could you ask for in a job?

Sasha Riddle is a junior at Beyer High School. Michelle Vecchio is a senior at Whitmore Charter School. They are both members of The Bee's Teens in the Newsroom journalism program.