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Listeners set alarms early for O'Rourke
Kevin Whetstone
Antelope Staff
Photo Courtesy
Scott O Rourke gets a signature from country super star George Strait.

Chances are you have spent more time with him than you think. He has likely been in your car, your school, your workplace and even your home. He may even be with you while you shower in the morning and prepare for your day. No, the person being referred to is not our Lord and savior above, nor is he a voyeuristic stalker who sits outside your window. 

Scott O’Rourke, better known to the area as the morning voice of the Tri-Cities on Nebraska’s Hot Country Y102 (102.3 FM), has provided listeners with a reason to set their alarm clocks a little bit earlier for more than a decade. I had a chance to sit down with this sprightly host on a rare break from his busy schedule, where he talked about his love of sports, family and all things radio.

What is it that gets you going in the morning? Are you just naturally energetic all the time or do you have a routine that you follow to get your day started off right?

I do deep knee bends when I first wake up in the morning followed by some aggressive deep breathing. No, really, a big icy-cold glass of water…It invigorates me. That, and I have to remember to brush my teeth in the morning. 

I hear that you caught the “radio bug” as young as five. When other kids were running around playing football, were you that kid standing on the sideline with a tree branch ‘microphone’ doing the play-by-play?

Honestly, I was. My mom still tells the story about how I used to turn her upstairs bathroom into the radio broadcast booth. We’d play games with the neighborhood kids, and I’d go up there, and I’d be the announcer. I was that dorky kid with the microphone. 

So it’s safe to say that you are living out your dream then?

There is not a day that I go to work that I don’t love being there. It was always something I wanted to do growing up. I loved listening to the people’s voices and the way they entertain people, that "theatre of the mind" idea.  


Speaking of your love for radio, are there any radio personalities you remember growing up that really influenced you? 

My boyhood dream was to grow up and do the play-by-play for a baseball team or to be the voice of the Huskers, so Kent Pavelka, who was the voice of the Huskers in the early 90s when we were so good, was big. Another guy was Vin Scully, who was the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers. I remember he did TV too. I actually had a chance to meet him when I was in college.


Did he offer you any words of advice? 

It was at a Rockies game in my junior year of college. I was actually in the media lounge with a handful of animal crackers when he walked in, so I had to put them down to shake his hand. It was basically a really brief “Hi, how ya doin?” The animal crackers are free in the press room by the way. 


When did you initially get your start in radio?

My whole senior year of high school was spent trying to get a radio job. I tried at my local radio station in North Platte, which was KODY/KXNP. It was a country station, and I didn’t really listen to country music at the time, but I really wanted to work in radio.


So they gave you the job?

I was hired to work 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. I never even had to fill out a job application, I just remember I went in and told the guy “This is something I really want to do,” and the next thing I knew I was on the air doing what I loved. It’s really the same story with Y102. 


How So?

I actually applied to be a salesperson, and I failed the interview miserably. The last question of the interview was “Why do you consider yourself a good person?” Well I knew I wasn’t going to get the job so I said, “Well I’ve never killed anyone with an axe before.” She ended the interview and kicked me out of her office. A week later, the morning show job opened up, so she called the station’s owner, saying she had a smartass with radio experience apply. The owner called me up and offered me the job, and I have held it since.


How long have you been working at Y102?

I started out in 1996, so it has been 14 years. I actually started out as the news director, and after working there for a year they gave me the program director job. I was the youngest program director in the state for quite a while. Y102 was basically my first child. I was working 12 hour days, doing everything I could to make the station viable. It was a small 25,000 watt station that could barely reach Shelton at the time. But eventually we were bought out by a bigger company, and they made us what we are today. 


Can you tell me a little bit about your current show?

(DJ) Becci and I are on from 6 to 10 every morning. We have what I consider to be the most listener-interactive morning show in the Tri-Cities, and we compete head-to-head with the nationally syndicated “Bob and Tom show.” 


What is the strangest/funniest thing that has ever happened to you on the air?

One of the most ridiculous things I did was in my naïve Y102 days. To compete with Hits 106 one year on St. Patrick’s Day, I decided it would be a good idea to give away free beer, which was very much illegal. We got a local store to donate fifteen cases of beer, and we had another business donate a forklift. So, on an icy St. Patrick’s Day morning we set up to broadcast on a wooden pallet that was pretty high off the ground. When people started showing up, we didn’t know how we would get the beer to them, so my buddy just dropped a case and told them they could keep whatever cans didn’t break. Of course, right about that time, local law enforcement drove by and encouraged us to not do what we were doing. 


Were there any repercussions?

My station manager got a call from OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), and they were threatening to fine me $10,000 because I was up on a crane with no straps or lanyards, but luckily they let it slide. 


What is the most important thing for current students to remember when pursuing a career in broadcasting?

Figure out who you are. You have to be genuine, because listeners want to relate to you. They want to know that you have good days and bad days just like them. Be genuine, you can’t fake it because listeners will know, so find your comfort zone and settle in. 


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