Orlando Montoya, one of our WRUU 107.5 FM founders, is moving to Atlanta to start new endeavors. Orlando became a pivotal lynch pin for WRUU 107.5 when he began volunteering with WRUU 107.5 FM bringing his strong background in radio to WRUU 107.5 FM. As the Voice of Savannah, Montoya’s soothing voice has been heard across radio airwaves for nearly 30 years. Behind the scenes, he not only hosted several radio shows, including Sunday’s Heart and the Hand programming, but also wrote and directed the fundraising drives for WRUU 107.5 FM, as well as offered his vast radio knowledge for new hosts as well as seasoned veterans. Always willing to lend a hand and a positive message, Montoya’s voice has helped lift others in the Savannah community as well. We are going to miss Orlando, and he will always be a part of our WRUU family. We wanted to share this interview with you about Orlando to showcase him and what he has done to help us build WRUU 107.5 FM into what it is today. From all of us here at WRUU and Savannah, we want to thank Orlando for everything, and we wish you well in your new home. Don’t forget to come back and visit! WRUU: Please talk about your background and how you started in radio. MONTOYA: I started in radio in 1995 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando where WUCF FM was a typical college radio station with lots and lots of volunteers and eclectic programs. I wanted to be a music host. So I approached the radio station music director and asked for a show. They made everybody prove themselves as a reliable volunteer somewhere else at the station – fundraising, operations, newsroom, etc. – before getting a show. I chose the newsroom because I was good at writing. I eventually became news director and music host, both paid part time positions. In 1996, WUCF FM management, responding to ratings and fundraising realities, decided to make the station a more conventional “all jazz” NPR station. Most of the volunteers quit. I stayed as news director until I graduated in 1997 and stayed as music host until 1998 when I left Orlando for Savannah. WSVH FM Savannah was the only news position that I ever applied for. I only applied for it because my program director urged me to and he knew the station manager in Savannah. I really wanted to be a music host. In radio, you must be flexible. WSVH FM Savannah proved to be a good, 15 year job. There, I became the No.1 rated FM news program host in Southeast Georgia, won many awards, interviewed thousands of people and had amazing experiences. WRUU: Why radio? MONTOYA: I wanted to be in radio because music saved my life. I loved music but didn’t play an instrument. So radio is the next best thing. I loved listening to the countdown shows with Casey Kasem and Dick Clark. I loved classical music and light rock. I loved listening to the talk shows with Tom Snyder and Bruce Williams. Garrison Keillor made me think I was a Minnesotan. Radio is the most intimate of broadcast media because it’s in your mind. Your words, sounds and moods create images in people’s heads. And that’s very powerful and won’t go away. As long as there are cars, showers and morning jogs, some form of audio will be there with us. WRUU: Please talk about what your fondest memory of being part of WRUU has been. MONTOYA: I loved the WRUU fundraiser concerts. They were always fun. I am most proud of the relationships that I made with 60+ Unitarian Universalist ministers around the world who gave me their permission to broadcast their sermons on Sunday morning. Everywhere you turn on the radio dial, there are religious broadcasters pushing a kind of religion that is intolerant, narrow and dangerous. When I came to Savannah in 1998, I vividly remember stumbling across a radio minister who celebrated the death of Matthew Shepard. As a gay person, I am proud to put on messages that promote themes of Unitarian-Universalism: justice, love, learning and hope. WRUU: What’s next on your horizon? Will you continue to do radio? MONTOYA: In Atlanta, I will pursue personal and professional opportunities in a much larger market with many more opportunities, including in radio. I will introduce myself to people and seek the kinds of radio jobs that I want – instead of the kinds of radio jobs that people want me to have. I am open to many possibilities, but especially production, operations and music. I am not terribly interested in news, except arts and feature reporting, which I love. And if I stumble into another career, wholly unconnected to radio, I’m open to that, as well. WRUU: What would you say to someone looking to get into radio today? MONTOYA: Be flexible, open and curious. If you’re interested in a career in radio, you cannot be set in your ways. The reality of markets and money – who is paying whom and for what — mean that change is constant and not always to your liking. WRUU: Do you have anything else you would like to add? MONTOYA: Thank you to the incredible volunteers of WRUU who responded to my messages, invitations and calls for volunteers. Thank you to the founders of the radio station and to the people who keep it running behind the scenes. And thank you to Savannah for listening to me. One of my mentors, an Orlando talk radio host named Peter Rocchio, with whom I worked as a board operator as an intern in 1996, used to end his program with this line, which I have adopted as my own: “Do something good for yourself. You deserve it.”
Thank you to Adam Messer, WRUU newsletter volunteer, for interviewing Orlando. Adam is an author and journalist, and hosts the WRUU program, “The Adam Messer Show,” interviewing authors, artists, and entertainers, Sundays from 3-5. http://www.theadammessershow.com
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