Joey Bradfisch doesn’t mind being the victim of a shock collar or being threatened by criminals at the courthouse. As audio producer for Phoenix radio station 104.7 KISS-FM‘s morning show, Johnjay and Rich in the Morning, Bradfisch has become the program’s unofficial whipping boy who will do just about anything asked, as long as it makes listeners laugh and sounds great on air. The 26-year-old Tempe resident not only performs hysterical stunts on the show, he’s also responsible for the audio magic behind the boards, ensuring the show’s eight markets broadcast accurate programming — and he gets to work at 4 a.m. just to do so. When he’s not amusing listeners with his antics, Bradfisch manages local rap-pop group Weird Is the New Cool, who plays the Pray for Snow Party in Old Town Scottsdale Saturday, November 3. Keep reading to hear five reasons why Bradfisch is happy he made the move to the Valley.
What brought you to Arizona?
I worked for a syndicated show, the Steve and DC Morning Show in St. Louis, and I kind of wanted to venture out. I grew up outside of St. Louis in Illinois in Grafton, a town of 600 people. I had pretty much the same role as I do here, which is audio producer, and I participated on air with them a lot. I was kind of the young dumb kid on the show, so they kind of made me do all these dumb things. I was looking for a change. My cousin lived out here, so she was like, ‘If you want to come out here and go to school or look for a job, you’re more than welcome to stay with me.’ I worked in air conditioning for awhile. I didn’t want to get in radio back then because I wasn’t making a lot of money in St. Louis.
How did you first get involved with radio?
In college, I worked for the radio station. The only reason I went to my community college is because they had a really good program as far as radio was concerned. The station was student-ran, and I was the production director. My teacher was the production guy for the Steve and DC show. I interned with him, and at the end of the internship, he was like, ‘If you want this job, it’s yours. I’m going back to teaching.’ I was like, ‘OK.’
How did you get your job here?
I’ve been here 5 years and have been with Johnjay and Rich since May 2010. When I first moved here, I listened to Johnjay and Rich all the time. It was a lot like the show I used to work on. I felt really comfortable with the show and was like, ‘I could do this.’ When I was working in air conditioning, there was a time I remember they had Ellen DeGeneres on, and they kept the show on until 11 a.m. It usually ends at 10 a.m., and I blew off an air conditioning call because I was sitting in my truck listening to Johnjay and Rich. I e-mailed one of the hosts I used to work with because I didn’t know anyone out here, and he was like, ‘I know Rich Berra. He was our first producer.’ I was like, ‘What?! How did I never know this?’ I worked here part-time, and then a few months later, they gave me a full-time producer position.
What’s your typical day like?
I get in at 4 a.m. There’s a lot of show prep that needs to be done before everything starts. There are about 50-60 clips that I have to insert into the system and title and compile for an audio sheet for Johnjay and Rich. They do a lot of stuff in the morning pre-show for affiliates, and I insert those into segments that we send up there. I’m editing on the fly, doing 15 things at one time. I love it. Keeping busy throughout the morning, as well as having a great time doing it, is pretty rewarding.
What are your ultimate goals?
As hard as it is to get up in the morning, I do love the morning show atmosphere. Transitioning into more of an on-air role would be the ultimate goal. Doing the stuff with Weird Is the New Cool, managing them, I definitely want to make them successful because I know they’re talented enough to get there.
How did you start managing Weird Is the New Cool?
I met (drummer) Tim (Yokley) a few years ago because Weird Is the New Cool put Johnjay and Rich in their “Arizona” song. Rich heard about it and was like, ‘Bring them in.’ Tim invited me to a show at his studio, I went out to that, and we just started hanging out a lot more. At this point, we’re roommates and best friends. About a year ago, he was like, ‘I’m overwhelmed with trying to book shows and stuff. We’d love to have you help manage the band.’
Tell me more about your Shock Collar Survey segment on Johnjay and Rich.
I call unsuspecting tanning salons, restaurants, whatever, in New York — a lot of times the people in New York are going to get mad easier, so we want that reaction. Basically, I call and ask ridiculous questions. I say I work for a survey company. I go by Kenneth, and I call and ask questions like, “If you throw a cat out the window, does it then become kitty litter?” I just try to keep them on as long as I can, and if I keep them on less than 60 seconds, then Johnjay and Rich shock me. If I keep them on more than 60 seconds, then I won’t be shocked, but lately I’ve just been getting shocked anyway. And if I say, “Uh,” I get shocked, too, which is bad because one of my crutches is saying, “Uh.”
Do you worry about your body at all?
No, but after awhile, it looked like I got bit by a vampire or something. It hurts pretty badly.
Whatcha Doing at the Courthouse? is another bit of yours, which airs every Friday at 7:40 a.m. Tell me more about that.
Basically, what I just do is go down and ask people why they’re at the courthouse, and they give me their stories. Usually I just get an attitude with the people to get audio out of it, which can be bad sometimes. I used to do the Scottsdale courthouse, but it would always be, ‘I got busted for a DUI.; It was the same thing over and over, so I went downtown, and holy crap. I mean, I walk down there, all the homeless people know me. ‘Hey, dude, got any change?’ ‘Hey, dude, I gave you change last week. We’ve already gone through this, and I see you didn’t buy that sandwich you were going to buy.’
I’ve had a lot of drunks at the downtown courthouse, a lot of people completely smashed going into court. This one guy put his hands on me and kept following me around. I had to tell the police, ‘Get this guy off of me.’ I mean, it was a fun interview, but…
I go by myself with a backpack and a microphone. I kind of profile a little bit — the person that you shouldn’t go talk to is the person I talk to. I go up to the people with tattoos on their face or whatever. A lot of people just love it — they’ll tell you anything, but sometimes I’ll stand out there for 3 hours trying to get audio for a 2-minute segment.
This one guy tried to kick my ass one time. He drove by on his bicycle, and it was a girl’s bike. He was walking into the courthouse, and I was like, ‘Hey, are you wearing women’s perfume?’ because when he rode by, I got this huge whiff of women’s perfume, which I thought was odd. He came after me, like almost spitting into my face. He was screaming all the way into the courthouse at me, and I was like, ‘Ohmigod, I’m going to get my ass kicked. This is for my job, I’m going to get my ass kicked.’ I think he pushed me. I wasn’t trying to instigate anything, because this guy’s mad, and I don’t know if he has a knife or a gun — these people are nuts. He goes in there, and usually what happens is if I was to interview someone, and they go in, they’ll be in there for an hour-and-a-half. I’m like, ‘OK, I’m going to stand out here and get the rest of my audio because he’s going to be in there for awhile.’ He comes out 10 minutes later, and he starts screaming at me again. I’m like, ‘I’m sorry, dude, you smell like women’s perfume. It’s not a bad thing, it’s OK.’
What do you think is in radio’s future?
It’s obviously going in the direction of apps and an online atmosphere. The company I work for, Clear Channel Communications, I think recognizes that and has built a great online and app portal for all their media. I don’t even have my stations pre-set, because I’m just listening to iHeart Radio on my iPhone or something else. Personally, radio is my favorite type of medium because it’s kind of like audio theater. You’re always trying to picture what the deejay looks like and that sort of thing, and I think radio is the most influential medium out there.
What makes a great deejay?
I think what makes a great deejay is just being real. Howard Stern is one of my heroes just because he was one of the people that went out and was like, ‘I’m going to tell my life on the radio, and I’m going to be honest with people.’ I think it’s funnier when you bust on yourself rather than make yourself sound cooler than you are. I also think people can recognize whether you’re being genuine or faking it.
Why do you plan on staying in Arizona?
I like the people here. It is kind of crazy how many people you meet that are transplants to this state. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, though — having a diverse crowd here is pretty cool.