A memoir of a successful career built on a lifelong love affair with radio.
Duran, whose program is “the most-listened to Top 40 morning show,” presents himself less as a DJ and more as a people connector. He is in the business of making friends, both with unseen listeners and with the stars who appear on his broadcasts and reveal hidden dimensions of their characters. As much as he admires Howard Stern—“a hero to radio people,” he writes, and then continues, “he’s our North Star”—Duran’s own personality and approach are much different. The author is not abrasive and doesn’t try to put people on edge or make them uncomfortable. His radio program is more like a safe haven, where celebrities can let down their hair and be themselves, where those of whatever political affiliation or sexual orientation can feel like they belong. As a child of Dallas exurbia, Duran felt like “a weird kid trying to fit in.” He was not athletic or outgoing, and he realized he was somehow different than the rest of the kids even before he recognized that he was gay—or even knew what that meant. Radio offered a refuge and a connection, a place where he felt like he had a friend and could make friends. He started broadcasting from his own makeshift studio in his bedroom and then pursued it as a vocation. At first, he worked for small Texas stations before moving on to Houston (where cocaine almost derailed him) and other stops before landing in New York, where he has reigned as the morning host at Z100. He has made it seem easy, but here the author shows how and where it hasn’t been: the firings and job switches, the personal tolls in terms of romantic relationships, the dedication it takes to get to the top and stay there. Of radio, he writes, “it’s not about transmitters. It’s not about ad rates. It’s about connecting with people.”
A people person offers a friendly, occasionally amusing peek behind the curtain of the radio business.