First Listen: A Father/Daughter Morning Show

Six months ago, Rodney Baucom’s morning partner became his 22-year-old daughter, Reagan.

Rodney Baucom is network PD/morning man of the Southern Gospel-formatted The Life-FM Network, based at WHQA Greenville, S.C. Baucom was profiled this week in the Christian radio trade

Asked where he thought radio might find new talent, Baucom told HisAir, “I think it may come from the kids of our current talent. If our children can see how much we love our career and what an impact it’s making on our culture, why not?”

With broadcasters in all formats facing the next-generation-of-talent issue, a father/daughter morning show was an intriguing concept. I took a First Listen to The Family and Friends Morning Show With Rodney and Reagan.

Rodney Baucom has been in radio since the early ‘90s. When he’s doing DJ things, he has the sort of big voice and classic CHR energy level that I’m always pleasantly surprised to hear now. Just after 7:30, there was a 90-second motivational feature, “Morning Launch,” over “Also Sprach Zarathrusta” (the “2001: A Space Odyssey” music) that built to “let it be said that we put in the effort today and we truly lived! My friend, it is my privilege to welcome you to Tuesday! June 15! 2021! It has the potential to be the best … day … everrrrr!” Listeners need a pep talk now. It wasn’t a bit that every host could pull off. Or would have tried.

Part of what makes it work is the balance. When father and daughter are on the air, the tone shifts. Rodney does the station business. Reagan gives the small real-life details that give the show its “real people” feel. Over the course of 90 minutes:

  • Rodney shares the story of the commercial diver who escaped being swallowed by a whale. Reagan recalls how her brothers used to tease her at the beach about sharks, even in a few feet of surf.
  • Rodney talks about the family that managed to cure their dog’s separation anxiety by dressing a mannequin in the owner’s clothing. That leads to a story about how he and his brother would prank the family by making dummies out of clothes stuffed with other clothes. “You were a weird kid,” says Reagan. “I appreciate my weirdness. It made me the person I am today,” says dad.
  • Rodney teases a story about why ketchup is good for your hair. Reagan talks about an episode of Hannah Montana in which Miley Cyrus, distracted by a boy’s presence, squirts ketchup on her hand and tries to convince him it was on purpose.
  • A community-calendar feature leads to a discussion of Vacation Bible School. “It was fun because we got to do a craft, but it was basically Sunday School at night,” says Rodney. But Reagan remembers the VBS teacher who coached her through a choir solo in three increasingly confident takes. “Sing it for us!” Rodney says. Reagan does not sing.

The 7:50 bit is Family Feud-inspired. Instead of an “Impossible Question”-type feature with one possible answer, callers need only one of the top five answers in a category. This morning, the category is things you learned from your dad. The first guess is “tie a tie,” which isn’t on the list. The second caller guesses correctly: “Ride a bike.” The others are driving, fishing, shaving, and how to curse. “I did not teach my kids how to curse,” says Rodney. He did try to teach Reagan how to fish, but she refused to handle the worms. 

In the 90 minutes I heard, the discussion didn’t include any heavy parenting discussions or touch on generational conflict; it wouldn’t have matched the tone of the rest of what I’d heard if they had. Some of the father/daughter discussion went to random places (perhaps made more random by my paraphrasing); all of it offered that sense of real-life authenticity that you hope to get from a morning show these days.

In the HisAir interview, Rodney Baucom talks about how Southern Gospel has become more contemporary in its sound and production. He recently became host of The Gospel Greats, the genre’s long-running syndicated show. The music heard on the morning show is roughly a 60/40 split of contemporary and more traditional. Both father and daughter talk authoritatively about the music and its history, and a lot of the discussion is about acts coming to town.

Like many AC stations, The Life-FM uses song tags. The song title is delivered by a typically cadenced announcer. Sometimes the artists give their own names; sometimes the artist name is read in kids’ voices. When the Baucoms give the entertainment report, there are lots of actualities from the acts themselves.

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