By GUY D’ASTOLFO
Tracey Carroll has been doing morning radio shows for the past 14 years, including the past nine with Cleveland’s top-rated “Lanigan & Malone Morning Show” on WMJI-FM 105.7.
The Columbiana native will be part of a big change at the show come Monday.
That’s because John Lanigan — a show host for 28 years and a broadcast legend in the Cleveland area — will sign off that day.
His retirement will mark the end of a career that began more than 40 years ago, and included hosting the afternoon Prize Movie on WUAB-TV from the ’70s through the early ’90s.
Carroll is the producer of “Lanigan & Malone” and also serves as an on-air sidekick and traffic reporter for the show.
A 1985 graduate of Columbiana High School, the former Tracey Myers played basketball and ran track at the school. Her father, Ken Myers, was a teacher and basketball coach in Columbiana, Leetonia and Springfield schools.
She also is a graduate of Miami University of Ohio and the Ohio Center for Broadcasting.
Carroll has been married to her husband, Brian, for 24 years. The couple have two daughters and live in Medina.
Her radio career began in 2000, when she got a morning-show gig at WKFM-K96 in Milan. She left there and put in a few years on the morning show at 97.5 FM-WONE in Akron before getting the “Lanigan & Malone Morning Show” position.
Carroll talked about her life and career in this question-and-answer exchange with The Vindicator:
Q. When did you first realize you wanted to work in radio, and why do you love it?
A. I actually graduated with a degree in elementary education (I’ve joked with people that it gave me the best preparation for my current job), but wasn’t able to find a job teaching.
I spent almost eight years working as a public services assistant for the Cuyahoga County Public Library before deciding that I needed a change. I left the library to work as a paralegal while I studied at Cuyahoga Community College, but that didn’t work out, so I was at a bit of a loss.
Then I answered an ad to become a travel agent — and the woman told me to go to travel-agent school and call back when I had my license. As I was looking in the Yellow Pages for the phone number for the travel-agent school, I saw an ad for a broadcasting school and decided to call. It makes me sound like a total flake, but it’s the truth.
It was never my “lifelong dream” to go into radio. It was just something I thought I might be able to enjoy doing and earn a living. I was extremely lucky that things worked out the way they did. And I love it because it’s fun. I get paid to laugh, talk and meet fascinating people. How many people are that lucky?
Q. What is a typical day like working on the “Lanigan & Malone Morning Show”?
A. Haha! There is no “typical day” working on the Lanigan and Malone show. But that’s the best part. It’s different every day, so it’s never, ever boring. Nothing against folks who work on an assembly line, but I couldn’t do that.
What does happen every day is that my alarm goes off about 2:20 a.m. so I can hit snooze for an hour before finally dragging myself out of bed at 3:30 — although winters are worse, because if the forecast calls for snow, I have to get up earlier. I live in Medina and leave before the plows have cleared the roads, so my half-hour drive can become more than double that.
I arrive at the station and we have some brief show-prep before going on the air at 5:30 a.m. We’re on until 10 a.m., and you would think it’s pretty hard to fill 4 and a half hours, but that time actually flies by. When the show ends, everyone heads for home but then my work begins, tracking down and scheduling guests for the show, and also dealing with clients and sales — the radio business stuff that goes on behind the scenes. It is not unusual at all for me to be working well into the evening.
Q. What can listeners expect after Lanigan’s retirement?
A. Heck, I am not even sure what to expect! How do you even attempt to fill the shoes of a legend? Everyone tells John that they remember watching him on the Prize Movie when they were kids — even Luke Perry told him that. I watched him, too. And back then, if someone had told me that someday I’d be working with John Lanigan I wouldn’t have believed it. He’s made my job of booking guests very easy, because people want to be interviewed by John Lanigan. So booking guests may be more of a challenge after he leaves, I don’t know.
The dynamic will be different, for sure. Jimmy Malone, Chip Kullik and myself will be staying on, and Mark Nolan will be joining the show. He’s been doing radio and television in the Cleveland area for more than 20 years and our listeners are familiar with him, because he’s been filling in the past couple years when John’s been on vacation.
Mark and I actually grew up in the same area — he graduated from Beaver Local High School and then Kent State. Mark is truly a nice, boy-next-door kind of guy. Very likeable. That in itself will change the show immensely. It’s a friendlier vibe on the show, I guess, not as edgy. Which can be good and bad. We still have fun and laugh a lot — and I think that’s why people will continue to tune in. I hope that’s why people will continue to tune in!
Q. Do you still get back to Columbiana and the Mahoning Valley to visit?
A. I do get back to Columbiana, although probably not as much as I should. Almost my entire family is still there. When I was a kid I couldn’t wait to leave, but I am very proud of being from Columbiana, and I am so glad I grew up there. Whenever I go back I see someone I know — a teacher, people I babysat for, parents of high school friends — and they always recognize me. It’s home, and it always will be.
Q. If you didn’t get into radio, what would you be now?
A. Divorced? Haha! I don’t know. That’s hard to say. I shudder to think! In our business, we know it doesn’t last forever — unless you’re John Lanigan — so you’re always thinking of what else you might do, or might’ve done. Real estate? Public relations? I’m glad that’s a question I never really had to find out the answer for — thanks to John Lanigan.