How did you get into radio in the first place?
At age 16 when I got my driver’s license, without telling my parents, I drove to a local radio station about 20 minutes away and wrangled a job interview and demo tape. This was on a Saturday morning. The owner at that radio station told me that I “sounded too much like a radio announcer,” and decided not to hire me part time. About a week later, I drove to the next closest radio station, about 40 minutes away from my parent’s home, and was able to get an interview and was given a part-time job working weekends at WCCN radio is Neillsville. I worked part-time through high school. After graduation, I went to Wausau and worked at WXCO radio as the sports director and afternoon disc jockey. After about six months, I decided that there was probably no great financial future in radio for me and decided to go to college with the idea of pursuing a law degree. I went to U.W.-Stevens Point and continued to work as WXCO’s sports director through college. While in law school, I worked for about a year at WIBA AM in Madison.
com thompson kittlaw Scott Thompson devotes about half of his time to radio and half to his elder law practice in Monroe.
How did you become involved in the radio station in Monroe?
When I graduated from law school in 1984, I came directly to the Kittelsen Law Firm with the thought of just being a lawyer. However, after about a year in Monroe, I decided to talk to the owners of the local radio stations and became a part-time sports announcer for them. I then represented the owners in an attempt (aborted by the buyer) to sell the radio stations in 1995. I was then their corporate counsel. After the sale fell through, I approached the owners and said I would be willing to pay the same price for the radio stations if they were still willing to sell (the youngest owner at the time was 72), with the only caveat being that they would have to finance me. They “fool-heartedly” agreed, and I purchased the radio stations, fittingly, on April Fool’s Day in 1996.
Do you own only the Monroe radio stations?
No. I own WEKZ AM 1260 and WEKZ FM 93.7 in Monroe. However, in 2002, I purchased Q102.1 in Lena, Ill., and then two years later, purchased two more radio stations, WFPS 92.1 and WFRL AM 1570 in Freeport, Ill. All the stations are located within a 25-mile radius of each other.
Other than owning the radio stations, do you participate in any other way?
I do a morning talk show called the “Morning Mess” on 93.7. I also do morning shows on our country radio station K92.1 and on AM1570 WFRL. Once a week on the “Morning Mess,” I talk with my mother about general day-to-day and weekly issues and conclude with her giving the listeners “Words of Wisdom.” Talking with my mother is probably the most listened-to portion of my show. She is 73 and is famous in Monroe.
What fascinates you about radio?
The thing that I think is most important about radio is that if it were invented today, even with all of the other technology that exists, radio would be a powerful force in the crowded landscape of media. Radio is wireless. The signal is robust and somehow radio connects with its listeners with an emotional feel. Even with all the other media competition, radio is still listened to by 93 percent of the population (including teenagers) on a weekly basis.
How do you split your time?
I devote about half of my time to radio and half to law. I practice elder law at Kittelsen, Barry, Wellington, Thompson & Schluesche in Monroe. I sign on the morning shows and begin working at the radio stations at about 4:30 a.m. I’m done around 9 a.m. and go home to have breakfast/lunch with my wife. I take my first appointment at the law firm at about 10 a.m. and then work through the noon hour. My last appointment is never after 2:30 p.m. I am lucky because being an elder law attorney provides me with greater flexibility than being a trial attorney or divorce attorney or any other type of practice.
You made news recently by hiring Sly from Madison radio. How is that going?
It is going great. Sly is an excellent talent and has agreed to move to the afternoons on our FM 93.7 signal. He has picked up significant audience from the Madison market and has retained the Monroe and Freeport listeners as well. Finding good people is hard to do. Picking up Sly was a no brainer.
Sly is a liberal and you are a conservative. How does that work?
Great! I think having me as a “right of center” conservative and Sly as a “left of center” liberal is a great dichotomy for the listeners to get both view points out on the air. No one is right. No one is wrong. There are just different views, and the listeners can make up their own minds.
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If you had to give up one career, which would it be?
I get asked that all the time. I am finding that it is extremely difficult with the complexity of the elder law practice to continue to remain current. Therefore, I will probably give up the elder law practice sooner than radio. However, I am only 52. That will be a while.
What does the future hold?
Both careers are challenging and dynamic. Both have great futures. However, it boils down to working with exceptionally talented and hardworking people at both places. That is the fun. The job satisfaction comes when we can help clients through difficult times at the law firm and when we entertain our listeners with great radio.