Jimmy Roach moves to WDSY
Jimmy Roach, left, and Brian Montgomery, aka Monty, will be working together again at radio station WDSY.
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Longtime country music listeners will wake up with a real sense of deja vu Monday morning: Jimmy Roach will be back on WDSY-FM's (107.9) Y108 morning show after more than a decade of hosting morning drive at the country Froggy stations. The move back to Y108 also reunites him with Brian Montgomery, better known as Monty, his former co-host there.
In December, Mr. Roach heard that former Y108 morning team host Rick Eberhart, whose on-air name was Zeke, was leaving the station. "I thought 'That chair's going to be empty over there. Maybe I could fill that. So I started harassing people -- emails, snail mail, whatever it took."
The strategy worked. He was offered the job and decided to leave the Froggy stations. "There were a lot of great people there. But when you have the chance to work with Monty and work with the industry leader in your town, it's a chance you can't turn down. It's a special situation and I'm very thankful it worked out this way.
"It's really comfortable. It's a different building, different equipment, but a lot of the same people are here -- Monty, Stoney Richards, Charlie Mitchell and some of the salespeople. So you see the same faces."
Mr. Roach's radio career started in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, at WCOL-FM, which at the time was a hybrid religious and freeform rock format. These days, it's a country station. He would play tapes of religious programs and at 6 p.m. was allowed to shift to a progressive rock format he programmed himself. Some listeners didn't like the transition from sermons to album rock: "The first night a guy showed up with a hatchet at the door," Mr. Roach recalls.
Until a few weeks ago, he was the longtime morning host at WDSY's country competition -- the Froggy stations (WOGG-FM (94.9), WOGH-FM (103.5) and WOGI-FM (104.3).
Before that, he was WDSY morning host from 1991 to 1998. In '93, Monty joined the WDSY morning show.
Longtime area residents also will remember Mr. Roach's former incarnation as a rock DJ. He and Steve Hansen hosted the popular Jimmy and Steve WDVE-FM morning show from 1980 to 1986. They were fired and took a short-lived job in Fort Lauderdale. In 1987, they returned to Pittsburgh as morning hosts on former classic rock station WMYG-FM, which is now WRRK.
He's happy about teaming up with Monty again, because the two have a good working rapport. "His brain's always throwing off sparks. I've always tried to work with really smart people. It's kind of like getting in front of the parade and pretending you caused it."
Their working relationship goes back to the WMYG morning show. Monty started out there as an intern, and would record funny comedy features for the duo to use. "We found out he could do 300 voices and had this incredible writing ability and was this natural born entertainer."
Monty also is looking forward to the reunion. "I realize it's been two or three presidents since we've worked together, but I think on Monday morning it won't feel any different," he said.
The new morning team will take the revamped morning show in new directions, Mr. Roach said. "But the cornerstones of country, what we do, are going to be the same. Since we're two regular guys who happen to be on the radio, it'll be a lot of relatable things: talking about things that are important to our audience -- family and security and love and kids. It's a reflection of what our audience is."
While the show will be comedy-driven, it won't push the envelope the way some morning shows do. "My thought process was I always visualized a family around the breakfast table with a little kid, a teenager, a mom, a dad and somebody's grandma. And I try not to embarrass anyone at the table," Mr. Roach said. "It's not worth it to get one dumb laugh out of something that throws your image that you've built up for years out the window."
His co-host Monty agrees that there are ways to be funny "and not be blue about it. There's an edge, but you can still be entertaining but not saccharine."
Country music is popular among radio listeners in this market, and although the artists have changed over the years, Mr. Roach believes some things about the music never change. "Some people will say 'That's not country music.' Chuck Berry was rock. So was Nirvana. Every kind of music has an evolution. Country now is so accessible to so many people. It's something you can relate to, it's somebody who's talking to you. Despite how you package the outside of it, the crux of it is still the emotion."
"It's really exciting. It's kind of like starting over in the business," Mr. Roach said of his return to WDSY. For a while at least, he adds, "It's going to be exciting to get up in the middle of the night."
First Published March 31, 2012 12:00 am