A familiar voice returned to Dayton radio this summer when Gina Ferraro joined The Mix Morning Show on Mix 107.7, bringing her back to the Miami Valley after six years in Chicago. From 5 – 10 a.m. each weekday, she joins hosts to cover traffic, entertainment news, and social media during the broadcast, among other topics. Ferraro’s first broadcast with the program was July 1, and today she celebrates one month at Mix.
“I just couldn’t turn down the offer,” Ferraro said. “The timing was perfect. My family lives north of Dayton in the Wapokoneta area, and my 80 year old grandmother lived in Virginia for 40 years and announced out of nowhere that she was selling her house and moving back to Ohio. I thought, this is an opportunity to do something from a new angle and my grandmother will be there. It’s been great. Everyone’s welcomed me with open arms. My co-hosts were happy to have a female back on the show, and we all knew each other from when I was here before, so the dynamic isn’t forced and we all click. It’s been a smooth transition.”
While attending Wright State University in college, Ferraro worked for the Dayton Bombers, where she met WTUE’s John “The Bman” Beaulieu. He suggested she intern at Clear Channel Dayton, and she scored an internship that lasted through her graduation in 2002.
“When I was done with school,” she remembered, “Kramer from 103.9 The X approached me and said he needed an overnight person and asked if I’d be willing to do on-air work. I’d never been on the air, not while I was with Clear Channel, not even on the college station, and Wright State has a great radio station. I ended up doing a year and a half at The X, first on overnights, then mid-days and a solid weekend shift. In 2005, I went to 94.5, which was a sister station that did Top 40. I was on mornings there until 2007, then went to Z93 and signed a two-year contract. Six months later, a new company bought the station, changed the format, and fired all the staff!”
A stint at WHIO radio followed before Ferraro’s husband was offered a job in Chicago, and suddenly she found herself in a market she didn’t know, with nothing lined up.
“Lite 93.9, a Clear Channel station in Chicago, was looking for a traffic producer. That wasn’t what I wanted to do, and after I applied, I got an interview and almost didn’t go because I was so uninterested. One of my radio buddies said, ‘In Chicago, you never know who you might run into on an elevator, so go to the interview.’ I got there, and the woman who was interviewing me greeted me right off the elevator and was frantic. She said, ‘I know you’re not going to believe this, but on Monday, they fired the traffic guy. I gave your demo to the news director, and you’re hired. You’ve got the job.’ I literally walked right into that job.”
Later on, television beckoned, and Ferraro landed on a local daytime talk show, WCIU’s You and Me This Morning, doing entertainment reporting on a regular guest basis. Two subsequent local programs, Nude Hippo and Tattoo Factory TV, gave Ferraro the opportunity to push her boundaries on camera, being a celebrity guest in a roller derby, broadcasting live from the Sears Tower rooftop, interviewing Robert Downey, Jr., and getting her first tattoo on camera while interviewing the tattoo artist.
In Dayton, Ferraro’s day begins at 3 a.m. On the road from Wapokoneta by 4 a.m., at the station by 5 a.m.
“That first half hour,” she explained, “I print out all of our show prep and sanitize the studio. I was taught that early on; we’re all sharing microphones and headphones, and you can’t risk a cold in radio. Our prizes are predetermined for the whole week, so I set up that day’s prizes and start going through the show outline to see if there’s audio from other sources that I might want to use. For instance, when the royal baby was born, we aired the announcement from the town cryer. Then I’ll go through Twitter and see what’s trending and figure out what happened the night before, because I have to tweet during every hour of the show and encourage people to chime in on their phones.
“After that, I highlight the entertainment news I want to use for that segment, and then once six o’clock hits, we’re in our busy time on the air. Taking calls, discussing events. At the top of every hour is news, weather, and traffic, and weather and traffic come in again during the hour. Jamie Jarosik from WDTN does weather, and there’s entertainment news at a specific time, and at 7:35 we do The Impossible Question. There’s a prize for that. At 8:40 we do the At Work Club: you can sign up at mix1077.com, and if your place of employment wins that day, you get a bunch of prizes.
“At 9 a.m. we do the Favorite 5 at 9, and your business can enter that as well. You pick five songs and we play your requests. I swear, it’s one of the last things in radio where you can actually request songs and get them played. It has to be stuff in the Mix realm – like you can’t really ask for Travis Tritt or Metallica, but we have played Elvis and the Beatles and such, so sometimes they do color outside the lines a little. There are prizes for Favorite 5, too: for instance, all this week, we’ve given a pair of tickets for the Maroon 5/Kelly Clarkson show at Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati this Sunday.”
At 10 a.m., when the show ends, Ferraro and Stevens work with the station’s sales team, handle the next week’s prizes, mail the current day’s prizes to their winners, and do prep for the next day’s show, and at 1 p.m., the work day is over.
“I’m pretty basic in my home life,” Ferraro said. “I’m an avid CrossFitter, and I do the Paleo Diet. I spend time with my husband and family because it’s so good being back with them after living away for years. I have a golden, half golden retriever and half poodle. I love taking her out.”
Of future career goals, Ferraro said, “I would love to host my own national show on The Travel Channel or Oxygen, maybe Bravo. Something that has to do with the history of cities in America or around the world. Right before I left Chicago, I’d launched a brand new show, Uncovering Chicago, with a co-host, and I had to table it because of the job offer in Dayton. Ultimately, I’d love to pick up that idea again and take it to a national level – uncover Columbus, Atlanta, all over, and do a really cool, interactive show that brings the viewer something they can have fun with and be educated by at the same time.”
But for now, she’s perfectly happy to be at Mix.
“It’s been a nice breath of fresh air being back home. I still feel unsettled because I don’t have a place yet and 90% of my things are still in storage in Chicago, but I’m really enjoying it here. I don’t miss the Chicago traffic, and the cost of living here is almost like I’ve tripled my income, so that’s seriously a blessing. And I love my new job. When I’m at work, it’s constant and I’m having fun the whole time. By one o’clock, I’ve got to go home or I’ll work all day and night. I’m having so much fun that it doesn’t feel like work.”
There’s still one more day to win tickets to see this Sunday’s Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson at Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati! Register by noon on August 2 at Mix 107.7′s website.
Registration lasts until 11:59 p.m. on August 3 for Gina’s Girls Night Out with the Backstreet Boys! Gina will treat the winner and a friend to a VIP concert experience including two tickets to the show, plus a meet and greet with the band and passes to the soundcheck party before the show.