College Radio Day

Talk Show Hosts Who Got Their Start in College Radio

todayOctober 1, 2021 44 1

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By Rachael Gerron
Web Content Contributor

In celebration of World College Radio Day, I’ve compiled a list of iconic talk show hosts who began in college radio before landing careers in Hollywood.

Wendy Williams

In her freshman year of college, Wendy Williams began working as a newscaster at Northeastern University’s WRBB. In an interview with WRBB’s media team, Williams recalls being nervous for her first news segment.

“When it was my turn and the DJ that was on at the time said, “at the top of the hour, here’s Wendy with the news,” I tumbled my chair on the floor, purposefully, crawled out of the room on my forearms, and cried like a baby,” said Williams. “First time I ever cracked a mic and I was stupid at it!”

When a DJ didn’t show up for their shift one day, the program director put Williams in their place, and she became the host of her own segment on the station.

Since her days at WRBB, Williams worked at several radio stations as a DJ. She eventually gained popularity as an on-air personality because of her comical celebrity commentary- a theme that has continued her daytime talk show, The Wendy Williams Show on FOX.

David Letterman

In 1965, David Letterman began his career as the host of his show Make it or Break It on Ball State University’s WBST. On this segment, Letterman would play rock music on a classical music station, and if listeners called in disapproving of the songs, he would break the record.

This segment didn’t last long, but it was the beginning of his long and successful career in the media world. In 1982, Letterman became the host of Late Night with David Letterman on NBC and then his longest-running show, The Late Show with David Letterman on CBS.

Jimmy Kimmel

Following in the footsteps of his idol David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel also got his start in college radio. He was still in High School when he hosted a segment on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ KUNV, which he describes in an interview with Variety.

“That excited me more than anything I’d ever done,” said Kimmel. “I went through the Yellow Pages to find people who seemed interesting. I’d goof on these people, but they were so excited to be on the radio that they didn’t even notice.”

Since his days in college radio, Kimmel has worked at several radio and television stations across the country, which led him to his current position as the host of his own late-night talk show on ABC. “Jimmy Kimmel Live” first aired on ABC in 2003 and has grown in popularity with younger audiences with bits such as “Mean Tweets” and “Lie Witness News.”

Dick Clark

While getting a degree in business administration at Syracuse University, Dick Clark also worked part-time as a DJ for the school’s radio station.

In 1952, Clark became the host of Bandstand, a radio show that played teenage dance music. The show was eventually picked up by ABC and turned into what is now better-known as American Bandstand.

Clark quickly became a household name and went on to start his own production company and hosted shows such as The Dick Clark Show and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.

Be sure to check out KTSW’s great lineup of on-air segments – who knows, you could be listening to America’s next talk-show host!

Featured Image by KTSW Multimedia

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