Author Archives: Jeffrey T. Mason

“It was twenty years ago today…”

One of the most exciting days of my career was Monday, December 14, 1998. Just two days prior, I loaded up my car with a few weeks’ worth of clothes and put Pittsburgh in my rearview. I was driving to my brand new job in Chicago! I’ll never forget the very first time I was behind the wheel on the Dan Ryan, watching the skyline of my soon-to-be favorite city rapidly approach. I still get those tingles when I see it today.

A month earlier, a brand new radio station signed-on called 92.7 Kiss-FM. This was the first true top 40 station here in the seven years since Hot 94.7 signed-off. (B96 may have called themselves “top 40” through the 1990’s, but it always favored dance/rhythmic music, ignoring most rock-leaning songs). Kiss-FM was going to do it right. Our slogan was “All The Hits, One Station.” How true that was. Finally, you didn’t have to listen to three different stations to hear them!

The big promotional kickoff for Kiss-FM was “10,000 songs, then $10,000!” The station would be commercial-free until that 10,000th song played. At that point, they would open the phones and give $10,000 to the 92nd caller. Nobody was sure exactly how long it would take to play those 10,000 songs. So, the brand new airstaff was hired and brought to town a few days early:

George McFly (mornings)
Harry Legg (middays)
Chris Shebel (early afternoons)
Shark (late afternoons)
Jeffrey T. Mason (evenings)

***George wasn’t here for the launch, but would arrive soon after. We brought Luis “2-Live” Lopez on for overnights a month or so later. Bill LaTour eventually replaced Chris Shebel on air when Chris focused exclusively on his role as program director. And last, but not least, Melissa Forman made her Chicago radio debut as George’s morning co-host about 5 months into the format.***

While waiting for that 10,000th song, I was listening at an Extended Stay America in Des Plaines. (At this point, the Kiss-FM studios were still in Arlington Heights with an impending move downtown soon.) Eventually, it became pretty clear everything would culminate on Monday. We just weren’t sure what time. Whoever was scheduled to be on the air at that point would be the very first DJ heard on Kiss-FM. That turned out to be me 🙂

I can’t wrap my head around the fact that it’s been TWENTY years since this adrenaline rush began! While I’ve made so many friends throughout my career, I’ve never worked with a finer group of people than at 92.7 Kiss-FM…and eventually our sister station, The 80s Channel 103.1 WXXY.

Chris Shebel put together a video for our 1999 company Christmas party. It shows the good, the bad, and the ugly from our first year on the air. I’ll let YOU decide which is which.

Enjoy! And thank you so very much for being part of this story…just on the opposite side of the speakers.

New Showtime…Who Dis?

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First, let me congratulate (now former) fellow “weekend warrior” Lisa Dent on her promotion to middays at Big 95-5! We’re both CBS Radio refugees who made the jump to iHeartRadio last June. Lisa has so many fans and this move should be great for everyone!

With that move comes a round of DJ Musical Chairs. Gotta admit, I’m ALL about it. Starting this weekend, I’ll move up into Lisa’s former time slot of Noon-6pm Saturdays and Sundays. Working while the sun’s out…WHAT A CONCEPT 😉

It’s hard to believe I’m about to celebrate my 20th anniversary of hitting the air in Chicago! On 12/12/1998, I packed the car and left Pittsburgh for a brand new job at a brand new radio station – 92.7 Kiss-FM. 2 days later, I started a brand new chapter in my whirlwind journey as the very first DJ on-air there.

Harry Legg, Chris Shebel, me, & Luis Lopez – in the beginning!

The first decade of my career was transient, to put it mildly. I never signed an apartment lease longer than 6 months. I came, I saw, I conquered, I left. Veni, vidi, vici, vamoose!” That was always the game plan. Make a splash, then move up to a bigger stage. When I got to Chicago, that all changed. Partly because there are only a couple stages bigger, but mostly because I fell in love with this city! Had you asked me in 1998 where I would be in 2018, I would NEVER have guessed right here on Big 95-5. (This station was still WNUA back then. How COULD I have possibly known?!?)

TWENTY years later, I want to thank YOU for listening! We’ve been through a lot of stuff…through a lot of stations…and I really appreciate you sticking with me!

Fingers crossed we can do this again soon on weekdays.

“Want to hang out this weekend?”

 

It’s been QUITE some time since I’ve uttered those six words. This week, it’s a legit question!

After seven months and thirteen days off the air, the “radio drought” ends this Saturday night (6/30/2018) at 6pm. As Robert Feder first reported, I will be back behind the microphone at Chicago’s Big 95-5, #1 for NEW country!

Thanks for all of your awesome comments on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Man, have I missed talking with you!

Just to clarify: This is a part-time position. I won’t be on during the week unless someone is on vacation or calls out sick. My regular shifts will be on Saturdays and Sundays. This weekend, it’s 6p-Midnight Saturday and 6p-10p Sunday. I’ll keep you updated on social media if/when those times change.

For those of you who only know me from Chicago radio, you may not realize this is actually a return to country radio. I started that phase of my career in 2004 at 99-9 Kiss Country in Miami and spent the next 6 years having a blast at stations like 98.7 WMZQ in Washington DC and KMLE Country 108 in Phoenix. Country music fans are some of the kindest and most loyal of ALL radio listeners. Are YOU one? If not, give it a shot! You’ll LOVE this station.

I want to thank Program Director Lance Houston, SVP/Programming Tommy Austin, and Region President Matt Scarano for welcoming me into the iHeartMedia family. Also, my sincere appreciation goes to 93.9 Lite-FM Program Director Mick Lee for all his support.

Remember: if you’re not in Chicago, you can listen to Big 95-5 on the iHeartRadio app. Our studio line is 844-955-9550. I sure hope you’ll use it this weekend!