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Brian O'Donnell
Weekday Morning Host, Monday-Friday, 6a-12p

Brian O'DonnellPlace of Birth:
Chicago, Illinois, but my dad was transferred here when I was almost 6 years old—so life as a child in Chicago gets more and more vague each year.

How long at WGUC?
I started here in the Fall of 1997 doing classical music from 2-4pm, followed by All Things Considered 4-6pm. Then I moved to the wee early morning hours, 6-10am, about a year later, and I have been sleep deprived ever since. Now on air between 6am & noon

Why do you like working at WGUC?
What's not to like? The staff is a tremendous bunch of creative, enthusiastic, positive folks, always looking to enhance WGUC in every way possible. It's the essence of 'teamwork' around here. Very seldom, if ever, have I heard or overheard anyone utter that rotten phrase "it's not my job" when asked to do something extra. In fact most of the time, it's not even necessary to ask... the work just gets done by whomever knows it needs to be done.

First radio job:
That was an all-nighter. I was really in the right place at the right time in 1973 when the all-night Saturday-into-Sunday morning announcer position became available at, what was then my favorite radio station—WEBN. WEBN was a classy place to work headed up by the visionary Frank Wood, Sr., a great and gracious man who built the station to expand classical music and jazz programming in Cincinnati. In the early 70s, WEBN played a broader range of music, from great Motown tunes, to folkies like Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Dylan, CSNY, to Zappa & the Mothers—toss in a little bluegrass piece by the Scruggs Revue, perhaps a Ken Nordine spoken word gem or a funny Robert Klein routine, Beatles, Zepellin, Stones—and new acts, at that time—the Eagles, and Jackson Browne. It was a phenomenal time to listen to radio and it was a remarkable time to start working in the medium. I felt very fortunate to be at WEBN then; really I had very little experience, just some time spent at WFIB on campus and also here at WGUC, overnights.

Favorite classical composer/works:
Mozart's Clarinet Concerto is a piece I'll take with me when I go. There's a recording, late 50s I think, of Benny Goodman & the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood under Charles Munch—I've made several copies of that and I always have one in the car, in my office space at home and of course there's one in the library here at work that I borrow for a listen from time to time. And a few years ago Eddie Daniels & the CSO blew me away with it in Music Hall. It was at one of the Friday morning concerts, 6th row center... Heaven!!

Other than classical, favorite music and why?
That changes, somewhat, from time to time. I really like a bunch of the (relatively speaking) newer folk-influenced singer/songwriters like Steve Forbert, Mark Cohn and Lucinda Williams. One of the best is Iris Dement, who's just got one of those voices you love, or you hate, and I'm absolutely in love with her voice and her words. Veterans like Emmylou Harris, Mark Knopfler, Clapton, JT, Springsteen, and the Beatles still make me feel as good today as they did in '64. That's the power of music. I still get to play those tunes at WNKU 89.7FM—I host Saturday Morning Music from 8a to Noon.

Activities/interests:
Music, of course. I love to fish, I am bit of a photobug, I like hiking and I help Sandie in the yard. I bought a Martin 0018 back in 1969, never had a lesson, never had any guidance....and you can certainly tell if you ever hear me play. But I still get a ton of enjoyment from playing...usually by myself, once in a while with a friend...a friend with an unusual amount of tolerance.

In grade school, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Elvis or Roger Staubach. I was a little squirt quarterback on a peewee football team and just adored Staubach at the Naval Academy. Then when I was at Purcell, I think my sophomore year, he came back to his Alma Mater to address us in assembly in his dress blues. I was in awe—still am.

How were you introduced to classical music?
A teacher of mine at UC named Robert Ruchoff. Here was a guy who had and displayed as much passion for music as anyone I've ever seen. It was amazing to watch him turn on his reel-to-reel machine, wait for Daphnis & Chloe to begin, and then it was all over—he may as well have been up on the space station—he was so taken away and totally enveloped in the music. That, to me, is as fine a gift as being able to actually 'play' music on an instrument. To be able to be transported to somewhere else like that, if only for a few minutes, is to be blessed. I see so many musicians performing on stage, and they sound good, but they may as well be on the assembly line at Toyota in Marysville, cause they're just going through the motions. I've seen them in orchestras, in bands, solo artists. Why do it at all?

What question are you always asked when you meet listeners?
Do you really like getting up that early?

What's the answer?
Yes, I do, but I pay for it in the middle of the day, when I feel like a zombie. I love the early morning, whether I'm at work or not. Being up before almost everyone else gives you a different perspective on the day... and there's a certain solitude about it. It is much different than STAYING up until the wee hours, and I've done my share of that, as well.

Describe a typical day at WGUC:
Well, from 6 until 10am, it's juggling traffic info with music with weather info with music with some of the things going on around. After 10am …..rush hour over & done…things kind of slow into the midday…longer pieces of music…..After 12 n I take a look at tomorrow morning's music and read about some of the composers & performers for the next day's program. I’ll write and record a promo for tomorrow morning's program, maybe record a few underwriter announcements or other station promos or fundraising announcements. Several times a week, someone will stop by to record an interview—sometimes Jaime Laredo, J.R. Cassidy from the Northern Kentucky Symphony, a curator of an exhibit at The Cincinnati Art Museum, Ixi or Tanya from concert:nova, a soloist in town to perform with the CSO.. etc. And then there is editing some of these interviews for the Cincinnati Spotlight.

I usually head home around 1 or 2 in the afternoon, sometimes a little earlier, and sometimes later. At home I'll do some more research for tomorrow's program.


WGUC Hosts
Brian O'Donnell
Frank Johnson
Mark Perzel
Suzanne Bona
Naomi Lewin

Lloyd Bryant
Thane Maynard

Ted Askew
Bob Christiansen
Lauren Rico
Mindy Ratner


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