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Wendy Rollins from Radio 104.5: The Radio Lifer.

September 21, 2012

Text and images by Brandee Nichols.

Wendy Rollins traces her love of radio back to her high school days, when she lived and breathed for the local alternative station, 99X in Atlanta.

“One day I tuned in and they were playing Jane’s Addiction,” she remembers. “I was like, ‘What is this? I’m into this!’”

From then on, she was hooked. She even recorded the station on cassette tapes while she was at school. Rollins began listening to more than the music, paying attention to what the DJs were doing as well. She was astonished when she learned that one of the female DJs was also the program director.

“Wait a minute, there’s a woman running this?” she remembers thinking. “That blew my mind. So I just decided that’s what I wanted to do.”

That essentially launched a career in radio that has bounced her across the country and back. Rollins is now the assistant program director at Radio 104.5 here in Philadelphia. She helps run the station, organizes studio sessions and giveaways, keeps up with the website and works on the Live at 5 sessions, a weekly studio session for local bands. And she hosts a weekday show from noon to 6.

“Everybody says – and it’s true, ‘Once you get into radio, you really can’t get out,’” Rollins offers.

She started her radio career while in college working on her communications degree.
“I always tell people you don’t have to have a degree in communications,” she says. “You just have to have hands on experience. You have to be involved. That will get you further than anything.”

After interning at WCHZ in Augusta, Georgia for all of two weeks, she was asked to fill in on the overnight shift. During her second night on air, there was a nearby carjacking where someone was shot. The blood trail led to the station.

“I called up my boss,” Rollins recalls. “I was most concerned to let him know that I didn’t have any dead air.”

After college, she DJed in North Carolina for a few years. By then, she knew she wanted to become a program director. She did a brief stint in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and then became program director at an alternative station in Reno, Nevada. Despite having the highest ratings the station had ever seen, her position was eventually cut.

Rollins moved back home to Atlanta and took an office job. But it wasn’t long before the world of radio came knocking on her door. For the next year, Rollins worked her nine-to-five office job during the week and all weekend at 99X, the station that spawned her love of radio.

She eventually moved on to a station in Charleston, South Carolina. Then, in 2007, Radio 104.5 launched and program director John Allers offered Rollins the assistant program director position.

Now, she’s the go-to contact for the local music scene at the station.

“I think there’s a lot happening,” she says. “I’ve been pretty impressed with what’s out here in comparison to some of the other towns I’ve been in. There’s definitely some talent out here.”

Rollins also does a lot of the band and artist interviews for the station, including a memorable session with Courtney Love (above, in an image Stephen Eckert).

“I was really terrified of that one,” Rollins remembers. “Courtney’s team was like, ‘We just want to give you some warning because if it goes wrong, she might hit you.’ They literally said that to me!”

Despite half the interview being pure gibberish, the conversation flowed.

“When she left,” Rollins says, “she gave me a hug and was like, ‘I don’t know your name. It’s been very nice meeting you.’”

The station just celebrated its’ fifth birthday, meaning this is the longest run Rollins has had with any station.

“I just don’t really belong anywhere else,” she says. “I feel like I still have work to do here.”

One Comment
  1. November 24, 2012 10:43 pm

    Wendy you’re the best at what you do really. I look forward everyday to you and your show. I love hearing your voice, that makes my day. it really does.
    so when you’re not there, it not the same.
    I miss Lauren that she used to host on the weekends 😦
    so now it’s just you Wendy!
    Thank you!!! 🙂

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