Welcome to JJ-365 Salutes. Over 2018, we pay tribute daily to one of “The Good Ones”. Today we are shining the light on Charlie De Santia.
Charlie and I worked under the same roof a few times. In Toronto with CORUS and in Barrie at KOOL-FM. In the big smoke she was cutting her teeth and doing everything she could to gather more experience and get noticed. The bright light would shine even brighter in time. 365'ers Darren Wasylyk and Scott Armstrong who she worked directly with were very high on high, and her and in succession planning sessions would enthusiastically mention her contributions and potential.
Fast forward many years to me going out on my own, creating JJ International Media and Management solutions. A large part of what I do is coaching talent. Central Ontario Broadcasting became one of my partners where I worked with their on-air performers, including, you guessed it, Charlie.
Growing up in Toronto she quickly became obsessed with local radio talent starting in the '80s when she met Scruff Connors at a McDonald’s on McHappy Day. Listening to him, Maddog and Billie Holliday, and 365’ers Jesse and Gene Valaitis and Tarzan Dan Freeman, whose TV show, ‘Hit List’, on YTV, she watched religiously. It was apparent that this is what she wanted to do! Plus, her mother would always say to her “you just open your mouth and let your belly rumble.”
After being rejected from just about every radio program across Ontario, Fanshawe College in London Ontario accepted her. She was so shocked; she actually called them to make sure that it wasn’t a mistake. Within the first few weeks at Fanshawe, her profs said, “What do you want to do in radio?” She quickly replied, “I want to be a morning show personality.” He said, “Good Luck.” He was being honest and wanted her to know, that it wouldn’t be easy, and it would take a lot of hard work, low paying gigs and moving around.
It was the late 90’s when she landed a volunteer phone operator position at the new KISS 92 Toronto answering phones for Taylor Kay and Tarzan Dan. While still in college she worked weekend overnights board operating at Q107. When 365’er John Derringer would come in to do his morning magic, she’d boot it back to London for a 9 am class. Jeff Woods gave her the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of Q107 before telling her “If you want to be the on-air kid, you got to get your feet wet in a smaller market.” He placed a call to 365’er Drew Keith in Bracebridge, and she soon became the summer cruiser person for The MOOSE in Muskoka!
From Muskoka, it was off to Niagara Falls working for the then 105.1 The River and WiLD 101! Rob White was the Program Director at the time who helped her grow her radio skills both on-air and in Promotions! It was in Niagara that she quickly realized that Promotions was also a very cool part of the industry! While I was VP/GM for CORUS Radio, Toronto, we had launched MOJO Radio. In 2004 she applied to be the Cruiser person working under Darren Wasylyk (Promo Director) and PD Scott Armstrong. Between the two of them, they created an opportunity for her to have more on-air time. She was an almost weekly entertainment reporter of sorts with Charles Adler too.
A couple of years later, AM640 Chopper Traffic was born! 365'er Gord Harris had asked her if she would like to anchor morning and drive Chopper Traffic for both AM 640 and Q107. That was a big 'HELL YES!'
Marriage and kids came into play soon after bringing new challenges for a woman in radio. After having her first child, she took a much safer job in Promotions at then 97.3 EZ Rock working under Melissa Morris someone she describes as fabulous, and one of the most creative minds.
During her mat leave, there was a company change, restructuring as it goes in this business happened and she found herself struggling with her identity. Not working in the industry she loves and being a new mom, wasn’t easy.
For a couple of years, she worked for a few other companies in radio but says she just didn’t fit in. That changed almost six years ago when landed a job with Central Ontario Broadcasting (COB).
365’er Dave Carr hired her to cover a mid-day mat leave for a year at 107.5 KOOL FM and reassured her that she would have another gig with the company once the one-year contract was up! She worked in the music department at KOOL FM and was on-air for both KOOL and Rock 95 before being offered her dream job.
It’s been almost four years that she has been a part of KOOL Mornings with 365’er Dale Smith and says there hasn’t been a day that she hasn't laughed out loud. There have been many, many shenanigans like:
- The time they bought a giant teddy bear from Costco to donate to charity, but it was so big she had a hard time getting it out of the store and into the car. Naturally, Dale filmed it and added a little commentary! He posted it to Youtube, and it went viral!
- Or the time Charlie learned how to Twerk.
- Or the time Dale made her try Oysters and she almost barfed.
And on it goes...
Charlie says: “It’s one thing to get your dream job, it’s another to have the opportunity to work with someone you respect and have perfect chemistry with! Our boss, 365’er Matt Matthew Cacchione, has been instrumental in supporting our show, helping us grow as talent and being very patient when we sometimes push the envelope a little too far. We have a blast on-air and off-air attending over 100 events a year within our community! “
It doesn’t matter where you started; it’s where you end up, she says: “My long radio path led me to Barrie, Ontario the place I now call home. I am fortunate to have an owner/employer that genuinely is concerned for the wellbeing of employees. It’s reassuring in an industry that can be unstable at times, unpredictable and ever-changing.
Dale and I do radio the way we want, the way it used to be, incorporating parody songs, skits and carefully placed innuendos and sometimes good old fashion fart jokes.”
Charlie sums up: “I am forever grateful to all the people I mentioned above and the friends I’ve made along the way, and for the family I have at Central Ontario Broadcasting.
My advice to those trying to find their way in Radio! Just shut up and do it! No excuses! Work for nothing, work long hours, work for minimum wage, work those brutal shifts, work your ass off and you’ll find your way!”
Coaching Dale and Charlie is a great experience. They appreciate the resources COB provides, are into it, want to find new gears, and not afraid to think differently. We had some great discussions and brainstorming and then they would go off and have the courage to try new things.
Charlie has the strength, discipline, smarts, work ethic, creativity and talent to keep doing this for a long, long time and in some very big places. She's a lot of fun, has a great sense of humour and has a genuine long-term commitment to the community.
All this while being a dedicated mom and wife. Pretty impressive is this Charlie! Atta be!
Thank you, Charlie De Santia for being one of “The Good Ones”. Feel free to like and share Charlie’s positive story. Who is the subject of tomorrow’s JJ-365 Salutes? As they say, stay tuned.
Jim JJ Johnston is the CEO, President and Chief Talent/Content Coach for JJIMS INC., and works with talent in many different industries.