For as long as he can remember, 16-year-old Tom Miner has been fascinated by broadcasting personalities.
Now the Ardrey Kell High School sophomore is on his way to starting a career in the industry he loves.
Miner, who has spent much of his youth in Maryland right next to Washington, D.C., said he was exposed to some of the greatest broadcasters.
“That area is very rich in broadcasting history,” he said. “I look up to people like Marty Bass, Laurie DeYoung from WPOC, and of course Loo Katz from WASH-FM.
“Whenever we go back to visit, I have to listen to them.”
According to Miner, when he and his family moved to Charlotte six years ago, WSOC radio was allowing people to call in and report the weather, as the “weather kid.”
Miner jumped at the opportunity. He worked at the weather call-ins from 2005 to 2008, during which time he went to the station several times and met Kyle Whitford, a production director and manager who had been in radio since he was Miner’s age.
Whitford became Miner’s mentor.
“He coached me on all this radio stuff,” Miner said. “He taught me everything I use today and got my foot in the door. I still talk to him today and go to ask him for help about certain issues.”
In summer 2008, Miner heard Joy Barge doing a radio traffic report and requesting tips be called in. Miner started calling in so frequently that Barge began referring to him as “Tipster Tom.”
The two subsequently became friends, and Barge gave Miner advice about traffic reporting. Barge works out of Atlanta, and last summer she invited Miner to visit the studio. Miner also got to sit in on morning and afternoon shows.
A big chunk of Miner’s life is now spent on his broadcasting career.
At Ardrey Kell, Miner is the weatherman on the morning video announcements. He says he tries to make it fun, since it’s early and people are sleepy: On Valentine’s Day, he wore fake wax lips; for St. Patrick’s Day, he wore a crazy hat.
“If I can start their day off right, that’s what I want to do,” Miner said. “I just hope what I’m saying is right. A couple times we were forecasting snow and then it didn’t happen.
“People will come after you if it doesn’t snow.”
Apart from weather, Miner also was master of ceremonies at various Ardrey Kell High sporting and entertainment events, which he said he thoroughly enjoys. It is easy to see how his voice – steady and articulate, yet excitable – connects with audiences.
Miner also has a home studio, where he has done some radio commercials for local politicians, some voiceover work for TV commercials and local documentaries. He works on a contract basis.
Most recently, Miner began working weekends for a radio conglomerate that covers several markets throughout North Carolina and Virginia.
“I’ve only been with the radio company for a few weeks,” Miner said. “Right now I work in their traffic department, and I produce traffic onto their website and occasionally anchor traffic on their radio stations.”
Miner said he hopes to be on air more over the summer when he is not in school. Listeners may be able to hear him as a backup traffic anchor on many of Charlotte’s most popular stations, as well as on stations in North Carolina and Virginia.
At school, civics and economics are Miner’s favorite subjects. He hopes to be elected to the student council next year.
“I would like to help plan stuff for my class and be part of everything,” Miner said. “I’ve always been interested in politics and would like to be part of what happens in this world.”
Miner says his ultimate goal, however, is to work his way up to being a host on a morning radio show.
“That would be the dream right there,” he said, smiling.
Miner said he’s always been given a lot of support. His parents and younger brother may not understand his fascination, he said, but they are behind him 100 percent. Peers at school and friends have offered positive feedback. And his faith, he says, has always been an encouragement.
He attends Forest Hill Church in Ballantyne and participates in a Bible study group through Elevation Church. Miner hopes to start a church group club at Ardrey Kell in the next few weeks.
When he graduates, Miner hopes to attend a North Carolina university that has a strong broadcasting program.
“If you can do what you love for a living, then you’ve got it made,” Miner said.
“I love broadcasting, every aspect of it, and that gets it for me.”