Michelle Rodriguez Is Country Radio's Night Owl
Michelle Rodriguez spent a few years doing night shifts at 99.5 The Wolf, and a little while working part-time in the promotions department, before moving to KSCS-FM 96.3 for nights. She's there because DFW radio legend Smokey Rivers saw her natural on-air talent, but she still manages to jump into the local music scene after signing off.
Despite having a night show, you manage to get out a lot. Are you able to bring a portion of that back to work and roll it into to your on-air sound?
Absolutely, as best I can. It's hard not to gush about that stuff to anyone who'll listen, so obviously I try to do my best to talk about or introduce a little bit more of that artist to the listener.
The fact that you manage to get out and support locally despite a night shift sort of raises the bar out there for others who need to step it up. Care to say something to the semi-supportive?
Go out and buy that ticket, check out new music, retweet or share that concert you've seen coming up on your timeline on Twitter or Facebook. Maybe you've never heard of them, maybe you have. Take a chance. I've made some life-long friends at concerts I went solo to. Yep, sometimes you have to go solo. Anytime you're out at a bar or club, you see a band or artist you've never heard of, go up to that merch booth and buy an album, t-shirt, koozie, shake their hand. They'll be forever thankful and grateful you did.
I imagine, with the years you have logged on air here, you've got some pretty wild stories in the memory banks.
I had Dierks Bentley call the radio hotline number once after a show he had with Kenny Chesney in California, just to say hi while he sat around with friends, having beverages of the adult variety, just thinking of Texas knowing I was on the air. How humble and cool is that? Or the time John Rich from Big & Rich had his people escort me in their secret service-looking SUVs back to the radio station for my air shift after I introduced them on stage at a venue, wanting to make sure I made it back safely to the station. Or being able to attend the CMA Awards and end up being invited to John Rich's private bar, rubbing elbows with Kid Rock and his band, the Zac Brown Band, Sebastian Bach, and celebrating Gretchen Wilson's birthday with her till the early morning hours. Without a doubt, the greatest gift of all are the people that make up this industry, those people that you're able to call friends. I have been so lucky and blessed to have landed in country radio. I have met some the most amazing, kind-hearted and talented folks. Both radio people and musicians. People that will be life-long friends.
While mainstream country radio seems to have plenty to do with nationally breaking artists, you have found a few ways to express yourself about local artists.
First and foremost, I am a fan of all music, so it's hard not to come home after a local show and blog about it or even write a whole essay on Facebook about whatever band I just finished seeing. Jason Aldean once said musicians today had it much easier with social media, YouTube, Twitter, etc. They have that avenue to promote their music that other artists before them did not.
Who comes to mind first?
The first that comes to mind is the Eli Young Band. I've been following these guys out of Denton for almost a decade. To go from seeing them playing Lower Greenville for a handful of people on a weekday some years ago to packing up Lone Star Park this year with almost 30,000 screaming fans, not to mention scoring two consecutive No. 1 singles in country radio this year, it was pretty amazing walking up on that stage to introduce them to that massive crowd and see how humble they've remained through all the success.
How about someone new to the gridiron?
There is the new band by the name of Tyler & the Tribe that just released their debut album Rock On, they're out of Sulphur Springs. I got to meet them in my best friend's living room while they were playing a few songs for her birthday. I was so impressed by not only their humbleness to do something so amazing as to come play for a friend, but how passionate they are about their music and their work ethic. They all either hold full-time jobs, still in college or doing both, and still manage to make those weekend gigs all over Texas. I think it's so important to be at every show you can as these bands start out, to show that support. Their live show is amazing. I can't wait to see more from them and see them fill up a Lone Star Park one day with 30,000 screaming fans. You've gotta go check them out! They've got a unique sound.
What was life like for you at home?
I am, without a doubt, inspired by my parents every day. My mom is a politician, she'll stand up for people who don't have a voice and fight without expecting anything in return. My dad is a musician that has been playing for more years than I've been alive. I've seen both of their struggles and sacrifices to offer me a better life and set a great example that hard work does pay off. My dad, Manny, still plays every weekend to this day. You can find him and his bass guitar, playing in Deep Ellum with his brothers. My little brother is also a musician. He's a drummer and has been part of a few local bands. Music has always played a huge part of my life. I know what a tough career it is. It's not always huge crowds, pictures, autographs, but it can be very rewarding. There have been some very amazing people that have helped me get to where I am: A man by the name of Smokey Rivers, who still does radio in DFW, gave me my first opportunity. I will forever be grateful to him. He led me to where I am today, with the opportunity to meet friends and mentors Dave Kelly and Chris Huff, both also amazing radio people that to this day inspire me.