Jason Fosdick: How demo reels in pizza boxes launched Foz’s radio career (”1on1 with Jon Evans” podcast)

Jason Fosdick: How demo reels in pizza boxes launched Foz’s career ("1on1 with Jon Evans" podcast)

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - He’s there when you need him Monday through Friday. Telling you ‘there’s a crash, avoid Market Street’. Telling you ‘chilly day, jacket is a must, high temps in the 50’s’. He mixes in 3:15 worth of Katy Perry, dishes dirt about Kim and Kanye, and shares the daily horoscope nugget that a Leo’s ‘sky high expectations have set you up for an epic fall’.

The man at the controls of these three hours of high-energy weekday morning radio is Jason Fosdick. You know him better as “Foz”, and for 15 years he’s been waking up Wilmington on Z107.5.

“First day I came here, I saw the beach, I went downtown and saw the battleship (North Carolina),” Jason says. “I knew it was it. Really, knew it was it. Took a tour of the Bellamy Mansion. I was hooked.”

The Wilmington market also got hooked on ‘Foz in the Morning’, naming it ‘Best Morning Radio Show”, and voting Jason as “Best Radio Personality” several times in Encore Magazine’s “Best of” readers’ poll. He’s worked alongside several co-hosts over the years, with Michaela Batten holding down the role since 2016.

“Foz has one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever witnessed, and wants nothing more than to make it his daily mission to better our community, one morning show at a time,” said Michaela, who recently celebrated her third anniversary with Jason on the morning show. “We joke I am his “pooper scooper” because I have to go behind and clean up his messes, but in all honesty it is an honor get to work alongside someone who is so passionate about his job and his community.”

Jason grew up outside of Chicago and remembers loving listening to music on the radio as a child. Both of his parents were extremely involved in the community, which is one of the reasons Jason carries that same desire to help organizations and efforts around Wilmington. Whether it’s donating his cooking talents as a live auction item at fundraisers or bringing someone into the studios on Kerr Avenue to talk about their upcoming event, he’s involved because this is home.

“My home life growing up, I saw these two amazing people doing all these amazing things for all these other people, that was growing up,” Jason says. “Now fast forward to 15 years on the radio, and I’ve got this massive media behind me that I can do the same thing with a whole radio station behind me.”

Jason became a standout football player at Pontiac High School and took those abilities to new heights at nearby Augustana College. He earned All-America honors as a defensive back with the Vikings’ football team in 1999, finishing second in the country that year with ten interceptions. On the baseball diamond, Jason re-wrote the school record book while being part of a group of players that energized the program. He is still the school’s all-time leader in home runs (25) and ranks in the top-ten in six other categories. In 2000, Jason’s senior season, the Vikings won a school record 38 games. He talks about the memories starting at 9:50 of the podcast.

“We had a bunch of guys who got together and said ‘let’s make this good’,” he remembers. “We worked hard. We were bad our freshman year. We got better our sophomore year. By the time we were seniors, we were one of the best teams in the nation. That was exciting. It took a ton of work. But, what a great life lesson to take into radio. Because radio wasn’t easy at all, and if I didn’t come into it ready to just give everything I had from 4:00am to 4:00pm, I wouldn’t be there I am today.”

But radio wasn’t on Jason’s radar after graduation. He did financial planning for about 18 months, until one day his life changed. Ironically, by a commercial on the radio. You can hear that story at 11:15 of the podcast.

“I was sitting in my car going to another kitchen table appointment one night, and I heard a commercial on the radio: ‘Do you want to be in radio? Call the Illinois Center for Broadcasting!’,” he said. “So, I called them, took the tour, signed my check right there on the tour for the tuition because I felt like this is where I belong. My whole life changed, literally, in one day, at 23 years old, one summer afternoon.”

Maxim Monday! More like man crush Monday look at these two cuties. Maxim learning from the best around.

Posted by Z1075 on Monday, June 6, 2016

Jason excelled at the school, was named Outstanding Broadcasting Student Award, and set out to conquer new heights in radio. But first he had to find a job, and the young graduate quickly learned how cruel the industry can be. He flooded radio stations with his demo reels, but the answers kept coming back ‘No”. That’s when Jason devised a brilliant strategy to make him stand out from the rest.

“I was a very broke kid trying to bust into radio,” he explained. “What I was doing was, I’d save up enough money to send my demo with a pizza box. So, they would open it, and at least there would be some ‘Well, this is different than the other 400 tapes I got in’ reaction. Three pizzas is what it took. I tried to do something special to stand out, and that’s what it was. A pizza box.”

That first radio job came at a station in Champaign, Illinois. “Your job starts at 2pm, don’t cuss,” is what Jason says he got for training. The Program Director put him on mornings three months in, and he’s been on that schedule ever since. ‘Foz’ started to find his groove, and when a call came a couple years later from Mark “The Shark” Holcomb in Wilmington, that he had an opening doing mornings at Z-107.5, Jason jumped at the chance.

“This is where I’m going to end up in radio, it really is,” he says about the Wilmington market. “It’s weird to say that so young in a career. But this is where my passion is. I knew pretty early in this is where I wanted to stay and be special. In today’s world of media, it’s hard to do that when you’re constantly chasing. I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to be important and influential, so I’ve dug my heels in and said, ‘this is where I’m gonna be’.”

A lot has happened in Wilmington for Jason since he arrived in 2004. He and girlfriend Tamara married in 2012, and they have a son, Maxim, who Jason says “can break him down with one word”. Jason also became part of the management team, overseeing programming, music, imaging and personnel for all five Sunrise Broadcasting stations in Wilmington. The demands of the job are not easy. Up every morning at 4:00am, in the station by 5:00am to prep for the show, you get the sense the 41-year-old wouldn’t trade it for the world.

“It’s hard to put into words the ‘Magic of Foz’,” Michaela said. “He is everyone’s best friend, a radio superstar and all the while a master of marketing. He somehow meshes all of those things into his “profession” and will tell anyone who asks just how lucky he is to get to do what he does. Best of all, he is REAL. No parts of ‘Foz’ are an act, what you hear is what you get. Which in this day and age is so refreshing.”

“You would think I’d be so cranky,” he says with a chuckle. “Hand to Bible, swear to God, every morning when the alarm goes off, I jump out of bed. I really do. Every day is different. Every day is exciting. I can’t wait till the red light goes on, hit that mic at 6:00am and we start talking. I love it. The phones start ringing immediately. We start getting the temperature of the town. Wherever the wind blows us, that’s where the conversation goes. It’s a fun space to be in for three hours.”

I asked several fans of “Foz in the Morning Show starring Michaela” what questions they would like to ask Foz. I got his answers, including his favorite and least favorite interviews, the person he’d most like to meet, and advice he gives to anyone wanting to get into radio as a career. This was one of the most fun interviews I’ve done in this series, with someone I respect and consider a friend. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

You can hear my full interview with Jason Fosdick, better known as ‘Foz’ from Z107.5, by clicking on any of the links below.

Please subscribe to the “1on1 with Jon Evans” podcast, and you will immediately receive the new episodes on Saturday.

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