BEHIND THE SCENES WITH BRANDY

Q101 Radio Show Host Brandy Lindsey Shares Stories and Explains the Ins and Outs of Broadcast.

Photos by Leanne Shenk

You may not recognize her by face, but there is something familiar about the sound of her voice. That’s because she is Brandy Lindsey, the morning show radio host for Harrisonburg’s WQPO, also known as Q101.

The Virginia Beach native attended college at Radford University and declared media studies as her major, jump starting her career in radio. “I joined a radio club my freshman year and was able to do a radio show and play whatever music I wanted to play,” Lindsey said. Her school routine consisted of working one hour in the middle of the week to play a jazz show and then once a week at night from about 9-10 p.m., when she would play her own style of music. Lindsey said that being a DJ for college radio and commercial radio is very distinct. “Commercial radio is different because you’re dealing with labels and ads and you actually have to play what the listeners want to hear.”

Because Lindsey paid her own way through college, she wanted a career she was passionate about: radio. After she graduated, Lindsey worked a parttime job at WNVZ, more commonly known as Z104, a local radio station in Virginia Beach. “I wasn’t really making much money… but I still enjoyed what I was doing.” She worked from midnight to 6:00 a.m. as a member of the Street Team, doing promotions, traffic and anything else they needed her to do. Lindsey’s love for music is not new. She has been invested in the music scene for many years. She loves to sing and started playing guitar when she was 15 years old with musical inspiration from Michelle Branch. While working at Z104, Lindsey had the opportunity to meet Branch when the musician visited the station for a lunch show.

“[It] was really fun to meet her because that was the reason I had started playing music,” Lindsey said. “She was super nice and I got to talk to her for a little bit.” After three years working at the beach, Lindsey moved to the mountains for a breakthrough, full-time job in radio. “A job opened up here [at Q101] and I wasn’t going to get a full-time job at Z104, so I thought ‘why not try this out?’” Lindsey said. “I applied for it and I was up here a month later.” Q101 and Z104 are similar in that both stations are considered Top 40 radio; however, Z104 plays in a bigger market than Q101. “A lot of people consider Top 40 radio redundant, they’re like ‘oh you guys play the same songs over and over,’” Lindsey said. “But Top 40 radio is what I like to call ADD.”

For example, Lindsey says several listeners will call in to request the same song five minutes after it was recently played. “We do add new music every week and right now I’m not only on-air, but I’m also the music director, so I get to schedule the music,” Lindsey said. Another perk of being a radio personality is the free food. Q101 partners with O’Neill’s Grill for their campaign called “Food for Thought” every month. During the month of April, their focus concentrated on Relay for Life. And as a bonus, the restaurant brought in food samples for Lindsey and everyone at the station to taste. Being a local celebrity is not too bad either, as people tend to recognize her voice in random public places. “Sometimes you just get lucky and you’re just sitting at the bar eating a burger and someone’s like ‘Hey I recognize your voice, go ahead, this one’s on the house.’”

When she first arrived at Q101, people identified her voice quite often, so she made a game of it. “I just got to the point when people would ask me ‘Why do I feel like I know you?’ I would make up some excuse about how I used to be an extra on Dawson’s Creek.” She also jokes about talking in a high-pitched voice to become less recognizable. Lindsey says humor is a quality necessary to work in the Q101 office. For instance, a new sales assistant joined the team a few months ago. Lindsey introduced herself and gave the assistant a laundry list of duties. “’We’ve got a car wash card up front and you have to actually take out all the cars in the back parking lot and take them to the car wash…there’s also dry cleaning,’’’ she joked. “I kept going on and on and she’s writing it all down…then I finally had to stop and say ‘I’m just joking with you.’”

Lindsey enjoys working with everyone at the station. Most recently, she and Kate Martin, who is the host on the midday shows, posted a video on Facebook of them “pogging,” which entails bouncing a solo cup on your butt and flipping it upside down. “It really is like a family, sometimes they drive you crazy, but at the same time it works out very well,” she said. Along the way, many people have inspired Lindsey like Brandon Stokes (famously known as Shaggy) from Z104. Right out of high school, Stokes landed the dream job as a host on the Z Morning Zoo show, where he has successfully spent the past 14 years. “A lot of us part-timers at [Z104], that’s kind of who we wanted to emulate careerwise,” she said. Looking to the future, Lindsey sees herself moving back to a big city as well as being near the beach again. 

“I didn’t come here to find love. I didn’t come here to settle down,” Lindsey said. “I came here to get good at what I do and to get better and to grow.”