In our ongoing series covering the radio landscape, we venture down south to San Diego’s radio juggernaut, 91X for this segment. We caught up with their much beloved morning show hosts Marty and Danielle.
The dynamic duo has been entertaining the masses for four years now, and the relationship has been successful because they are genuine people who take to the airwaves. They have become the familiar voices that we have allowed into our lives, and for many, they are our radio friends. Sure, they make us laugh, they bring us great interviews and the kind of music news you only get from high profile morning shows. But this entertaining duo is a little different, and their fans love them because of it.
I caught up with Marty and Danielle just before their big announcement that will change a few things. To know where we are, we have to know how we got here. In part, it is good music, great guests, and two morning show hosts with great storytelling abilities – one with a distinctive voice, and the other with the best and warmest laugh in the radio biz.
Let’s first talk nuts and bolts. Not long ago, 91X made a programming change that was innovative and long overdue. Radio had been losing listeners for years to a variety of sources. It has only been in the last 24-36 months that we can say there has been a resurgence in the music medium.
Music for stations like 91X really is the tail that wags the dog. For 91X, they leaned on their rich history of alternative rock and its origins in the genre to come out with a daily playlist that captures the sense of what alternative is all about. They also make sure they keep their foot on the new music pulse, but there has to be more than just music to bring back those listeners. Cue in the voices, and the hands that support the bands, with an ownership group that is invested in their community, and double down with live voices who truly have become our radio friends, like a “Cheers” of the airwaves.
With that as our backdrop, Marty and Danielle fit in and they have made a difference in the radio landscape. Truth is, I listen to a lot of radio shows every single day, and yet, I find myself tuning in to their show more often than not. When I checked in with the duo, I started off by letting them know I too was a listener. That said, the two were just as personable, accommodating, funny, and direct all in one, just like their on-air radio personalities represent.
One area that is obvious is their genuine friendship. It comes off clearly that the two know each other not just as colleagues, but as dear friends. I told them the observation and asked them to please confirm that to be true, which drew laughter from both. Marty answered that the perception is very true; they are very good friends. Not only do they share their lives on air, it continues off air. They share their daily lives, the ups and downs just like anyone else does. Over the years, 91X listeners have really honed in on their banter and the manner in which they speak with each other really is that of friends and you can’t help but laugh at whatever the topic of the moment is, or pay attention to a matter that impacts us all as human beings. That’s the power of good radio; listeners really do listen to every word, and Marty and Danielle have earned the trust of their listeners.
MARTY & DANIELLE | MORNINGS 91X
Marty further explained, “We talk about the things in our lives that matter, and Danielle confides in me. I do the same and we sometimes talk about whatever ‘it’ is on the air, and sometimes we keep it to ourselves as good friends do.”
Danielle added that Marty is there for her whenever she needs an ear, and he often leans on her. She joked about how she’s had previous “radio husbands” and Marty by far is her favorite, which made us all laugh.
One aspect of radio that impacts all who choose to be behind a mic is how your jokes, slapstick, or any subject matter can impact you personally. Just watch Howard Stern’s “Private Parts.” OK, that may be a little over the top, but you’ll get what I am saying; your public life means at times those around you may be involved in your on-air discussions. Part of any successful radio venture is having the support of your family, friends, and especially your significant other as they may be mentioned on-air.
For these two, this aspect is not lost on them; Marty has Mrs. Marty and Danielle has her Mr. Both acknowledged how they have to be sensitive of their partners. Marty said Mrs. Marty takes part often on their radio shtick and he considers himself extremely lucky that she supports him the way she does. I also absolutely loved Danielle’s response. She said her Mr. is not a public person and she has to be very respectful of that, and also said he understands that her personal life is part of the gig, and supports her, which is so vital to being of a good mindset any time you go on the air. The success of Marty and Danielle is due in part to their significant others allowing them to be themselves – and maybe at times an over-the-top version of themselves – in a public forum.
As a morning show, Marty and Danielle interview a ton of bands. I asked them if there was a particular band or an interview that stood out. Marty immediately responded, “Wow, there are just so many. It’s hard to pick.” Danielle chimed in, “Right, so many good ones… What about Dave, Marty?” He responded, “Yeah, that was really something.”
The moment in question involved a scheduled interview with a band. They prepared as they do, like all radio people do when they are about to do an interview, and were ready to speak to the band member in question: Taylor Hawkins, drummer for rock Hall of Famers, Foo Fighters. That was who they prepared for, but what happened caught them by surprise.
Marty said they prepped and were ready to go; Danielle knew everything she was going to ask Hawkins, and when the incoming call lit up the phone lines, it was not Taylor – instead it was Foo Fighters lead singer, Dave Grohl. Danielle said “OMG, I couldn’t believe it was Dave! Don’t get me wrong; I was excited he called, but we had no questions lined up for him.” Marty too said that he was happy, but quickly developed a sense of nervousness because they were not prepared to chat with Grohl.
I will paint the picture for what happened since they are too modest to say this: Because they are talented on-air personalities, they let their familiarity with the band, their music content, and the latest on the Foo’s take over.
With Dave being Dave, it was the easiest, seamless, and most memorable interview. Danielle said after the show, she told Music Director Hilary that she was sneaky for doing that and thanked her. She said Hilary had no idea Dave was calling in and was genuinely happy for them that it turned out as well as it did. That’s the thing about 91X, everyone is genuinely happy for one another when good things happen.
I asked the team what makes their show – and 91X in general – such a big part of the Southern California landscape. They both echoed the same thought, which is they are supporters of what Program Director Garett Michaels, and Music Director Hilary were championing… the message supported by their ownership group – community involvement. The station, and the morning show live, breathe, and talk everything San Diego.
OK, so I didn’t tell them this part; despite the fact that I am a lifelong Dodgers fan, I too get caught up in their coverage of all things San Diego, even the Padres. That is reason number 101 that listeners love this station and this morning show.
What drives a radio station, especially a music radio station? That’s easy… the music! We talked about the music format and how their listeners took to the format. Marty said it was effortless; this station had always prided themselves from its inception to be themselves and not just go with the i-this or i-that style of music programming. So when they keened on their entire music catalog, fans including myself couldn’t have been happier.
Over the years, names like Steve West, Robin Roth, and Mike Halloran have been part of the station’s history; and with kick-ass specialty shows like Loud Speaker, Church of Bob, and Resurrection Sunday, the station is poised to have a unique place in the hearts and musical souls of its listeners. Thus, the station has a special connection to our collective musical past and it would be foolish for anyone not to lean on their rich history.
Marty loves hearing the songs he grew up with, while always loving to hear the new music being played. Whereas Danielle loves the new tunes, but she is always amazed at how cool songs are that she is not familiar with.
She mentioned how she has a new found appreciation for Coldplay. Being she is the youngest among a good number of the DJs, she feels good having the influences she has around her for music history 101, and that helps her relay on honest perspective to younger listeners. That in itself is an assessment of music for the masses that money just can’t buy.
What’s the takeaway from this interview? I think Marty and Daniele are the real deal. They are great broadcast, but even better people. The show has been a staple of everyday life for so many; it’s no wonder they have become a fabric of the San Diego music landscape and beyond.
NOW for the big announcement:
The announcement was set for today at 7 a.m., and everyone was starting to speculate on what it could be. Guesses ranged from another enormous holiday show to a love child between Marty and Danielle. Instead, it was the change in the Morning Show landscape. Danielle announced that she will be closing this chapter of her life and will be leaving the 91X Morning Show.
Honestly, I was taken by surprise when they dropped the news on me. When I asked Marty how he felt, it took him a moment to answer, and that pause was deafening. With a quiver in his voice, he said it’s been a journey, and this was a process for all. Like a good friend does, he supported her decision and couldn’t be happier for where she is in life. He said it is just tough when you share a space with another person as long as they did, but it was time to flip the page and he 100% supported the decision.
So, what’s next for Danielle? She said, “I’m the Events Coordinator at Second Chance Beer Co. Not only do we make delicious craft beer but the company is HUGE on helping rescue dogs get a Second Chance. 1% of sales goes to local rescues, we hold adoption events regularly at the tasting room, and over all the most dog friendly brewery in San Diego. It’s a dream come true!”
She went on to say – “My last day on air is Friday, October 27 and we are having a big party at Dave and Busters in Mission Valley the night before.”
In the end, no matter what happens, these two have shared an experience that comes once in a lifetime, twice if you’re lucky. They are and will be dear friends for the rest of their lives. We were lucky enough to tag along for the ride, electronically speaking, through radio airwaves of course.
As to what’s next for the Morning Show? It is not clear just yet. One thing that may be in the making is the search for the next morning show radio star. So be ready for another announcement from 91X in the very near future.