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Radio announcers just one piece of broadcast puzzle

By Linda White
Special to The Sun

Each day, he accompanies thousands of people on their drive home from work. As host of the coveted late afternoon show on Toronto's only independent radio station, Matt "The Hammer" Wreggett is living out his childhood dreams.
In addition to his on-air duties, announcer Matt "The Hammer" Wreggett is Z103.5's music director. Wreggett studied radio broadcasting at Loyalist College in Belleville.

"To make money sitting down and talking is not a bad way to earn a living," says the Z103.5FM announcer. He loved announcing songs while growing up and went on to study radio broadcasting at Loyalist College in Belleville.

"I remember sitting in groups of three and our instructor telling us to take a look at the person on either side of us. He told us only one of the three would be left (by the time the program ended). He was right."

The Hammer worked at the college radio station and landed a co-op placement at Z103.5, where he earned $7 an hour washing promo vehicles before landing a job producing commercials. He went on to become production manager, but still had his eye on the announcer's seat.

The station eventually allowed him to host a show in the wee hours of Friday morning. Within a couple of months, he had the highest ratings in Toronto. "I'd slide that paragraph under the program manager's door," says Wreggett. "Finally, I got the seven to midnight shift Monday to Friday and was well on my way to becoming what I wanted to be."

Music director

On-air announcers are the most visible of all careers in radio broadcasting, but are just one of many. Others find work in operating, programming, production, copywriting, music, regulations and sales promotions.

In addition to his on-air announcing duties, Wreggett is Z103.5's music director. He works hand-in-hand with vice-president of programming Paul Evanov, who is responsible for everything you hear on the station. "First and foremost, it's about understanding the station's format," says Evanov, son of Z103.5, AM 530 and Foxy 88.5 owner/founder Bill Evanov.
V-P of programming Z103.5

"The music you play is interwoven with everything else, from your announcers, station identification, promos and paid commercials. Together, they make your sound. You're trying to attract as many listeners as possible, to keep them listening and build the time they spend listening."

Evanov's duties include meeting weekly with record company representatives who bring in new music. "There's no time to listen to them all," he says. "You have to have a feeling in your ears and guts ... In the end, you have to know the profile of your targeted audience."

Evanov was just 14 when he began following his father to work. He got coffee, loaded songs and handed out flyers at the CNE. "I started from the bottom and became jack of all trades," Evanov says.

Never interested in being on the air, he's produced the afternoon show and six years ago made the transition from promotions to programming. He worked as assistant program manager and is now program director.

"If you're in for a 9 to 5 job with two 15-minute breaks and a lunch, this is not the business for you," Evanov says. "You have to be passionate. It's more a lifestyle than a job."

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