She is leaving radio the way she got in, with a leap into the unknown.
Kelly McKay, midday host for the last five years on WLNK-FM (“Link” 107.9), is signing off Dec. 12 to run her own social media and voice-artist business.
“I’m calling it Loud Mouth Red Head Voicing And Media,” McKay says. “Some of my friends think I’m nuts. They say, ‘You’re so good at what you do.’ But that’s when you should make a change in your life.”
McKay, 48, has been in the radio business for 30 years. She started when she was 18 and a freshman at Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio, where she was studying to be a TV reporter. It was a plump period of her life, she says, and people kept telling her she wasn’t going to cut it in the slenderland of TV.
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A guy in radio studies that she had a crush on dared her to try out for a DJ spot at a local station. She got it, competently faked her way through the basics, and radio became her career.
“It was so much more fun than TV,” McKay says.
Over the years, she’s interviewed celebrities from Hillary Clinton to John Mellencamp. She was broadcasting one day from Universal Studios in Orlando and found Tom Selleck sitting quietly on the sofa waiting to see someone. “I was coming out to get a soda and there he was. I said, ‘Hey, Tom, do you want a soda?’ I went back in the studio and I was jumping around like an idiot. You’re not supposed to react that way to celebrities when you’re in the media, but we’re their fans too.”
She was working in Indianapolis when she came to Charlotte seven years ago to deal with some family issues. She set up a studio in her home and continued her Indianapolis radio show from there, then started at WLNK-FM five years ago.
McKay has done voice work for commercials and industrial clients and will continue that through her new business. She also wants to work on social media campaigns. “If you’re in business and you’re not in social media, you’re a dingdong,” McKay says. “That’s like saying ‘no’ to word-of-mouth advertising. You make people aware of what you do and you make them love you.”
Among the clients she’s already lined up are Three-Way Plumbing Services, Simply Skin Spas and the American Cancer Society.
McKay’s already slightly famous for being the voice of the Cat’s Meow toy commercial on late-night and cable TV. “People ask me, ‘Are you the Cat’s Meow girl?’” If you haven’t seen it, it’s a lump that moves around under a fabric apron and drives cats nuts.
“She did a really good job for us,” says Rick Feinblatt, vice president of “The Link” and sister-station WBT-AM (1110).
He says the station will use fill-in hosts through the holidays after McKay leaves. He wants to get a new program director in to replace Anthony Michaels, who recently left WLNK-FM, and let that person decide who to hire for the opening.
Winners were announced last week in the Radio Television Digital News Association of the Carolinas competition. First-place winners included Kristen Miranda and Brian Stephenson of WBTV (Channel 3) in consumer; Miranda and Stephenson in entertainment; Peter Daut and Jeremy Letterman of WSOC (Channel 9) for education; Molly Grantham and Leighton Grant of WBTV in special report; and WSOC for politics. Joshua Roberts of WBTV was named best TV producer of the year and Kim Ursich, formerly of WCCB (Channel 18) and now with Raleigh’s WRAL (Channel 5), won second place. …
Second-place RTDNAC awards went to Erin Newnam, Rad Berky, Ben Thompson and Stuart Watson of WCNC (Channel 36) for best newscast; Miranda and Stephenson for education; Jamie Boll and Jeff Keene of WBTV for investigative; Al Conklin of WBTV for weathercaster. In radio, first place awards went to Chris Miller of WBT-AM (1110) for spot news and Miller, Mark Garrison and Mike Doyle of WBT for general news. Second-place Associated Press awards went to Grantham of WBTV for public service and to WCNC for outstanding news operation. …
WSOC news director Julie Szulczewski was named secretary for RTDNAC. … WBTV will air the Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade at 4 p.m. Thursday. With producer Brian Baltosiewich, the broadcast team will be Paul Cameron and Maureen O’Boyle, with Kristen Hampton reporting from Tryon Street.