Heather Brown, co-host of Alice 107.7’s hit morning radio show since 1999, is easily one of the most well-known local celebrities in Central Arkansas. For as long as I can remember, I have woken up listening to Heather talk about anything and everything with her co-host, Poolboy on The Heather & Poolboy Show.
Her candid approach to sharing details about her family and personal life and her bubbly personality invites all of her listeners to feel like they’re her best friends — but there was still some behind-the-scenes info I was curious to know.
Name: Heather Brown Location: Little Rock, AR Title: Radio Personality/Morning Show Host Company:Alice 107.7/Cumulus Media What it is: Broadcasting and Media Production Company Educational Background: BS in telecommunications, Texas Tech University
What was your first job?
A little AM radio in Sweetwater, TX, which is a very small town that I was born and raised in. That was my first job at 15.
You became interested in radio because of your dad — what made you decide to pursue it as a career?
My parents divorced when I was 2 years old, and my dad didn’t live in the same town, so I only saw him on the weekends and summer vacation when I would go visit. So I guess I just wanted that relationship — and he was in radio, and everything about that job fascinated me. Of course, I told my friends he owned a radio station, and everybody used to tell me that is so cool, and it just kind of happened.
If you weren’t doing radio, what do you think you would be doing?
I have a skincare business, so I’d probably be doing that full-time. And if I weren’t doing that, I think I’d probably just be a stay-at-home mom. I don’t think I have any other aspirations outside of radio besides owning my own business and being with my kids.
Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to go into radio?
We have kids come in all the time from high school, internships, etc. who ask me this. I just tell everybody you don’t have to have a college degree to do radio, but it doesn’t hurt. But I think what you should do is make sure that you’re comfortable with conversation and with being around people. The more social you are and the more comfortable you are with that type of situation, I think the more entertaining you’ll be as an on-air personality. So I tell the kids when you’re picking out your classes at college, see if there’s a drama class you can take or a speech class — something that will help you get out of your shell a little bit.
I’ll tell you I was a very very shy person when I got the job at 15 years old, and they trained me. I probably trained for two months before I ever actually went on the air because I was so scared to actually turn on the microphone. So they put in another room with a tape recorder and I would just pretend to be on the air. I mean, I was terrified. And it’s funny, radio has just totally changed me — I mean, I’m not shy AT ALL now, I’m like the very opposite of shy.
In Texas, we would do this thing called “air check.” So you would record one of your shows, and then you’d go over that show and see what you did right and what you did wrong. It’s really a good way to just kind of learn.
What are your hobbies? What are you doing when you’re not at work?
My kids are just my heart, so I’m not going to miss anything if I can help it. Occasionally two of them will have a game at the same time and we’ll have to split up, but I try to never miss a practice or a game — I sit there, I cheer them on. So I think my biggest hobby is enjoying my children. I just really love to watch them shine and grow.
I don’t work out anymore! I like to sleep — I love any chance to sleep in, oh my gosh. And I like movies, I’m a big movie person. I love spending a rainy day curled up watching movies.
Speaking of your family, I know a lot about your kids and your family just from listening to the show. So what’s it like to be so open and know that your listeners know so much about your personal life? Does that ever take a toll on your personal relationships?
You know, that’s just kind of what we decided to do a long time ago. We wanted it to be a lifestyle show. Sharing our daily lives is how we connect with people, and we’ve been very successful with that particular avenue. I’ve never really had a problem sharing stuff; I mean I can self-edit, but sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself. You just HAVE to. You have to find the funny in things.
My teenager is old enough now that he might come home from school going “okay, don’t say stuff like that about me on the radio,” and I totally understand that. As for my husband, he knew before we even got married that he was on the chopping block. So he knew he’d have to be okay with it, and he laughs about it.
We had a fight I remember a long time ago — I think we only had one kid at the time, we might’ve had two — anyway, we stayed up all night fighting because we couldn’t agree on this one issue. So I went to work the next day and I told EVERYBODY — and he didn’t mind! Because most of the people calling in were on his side. So he listened and he called in and got in on the conversation. Sometimes he feels like he needs to defend himself, but it’s all in fun. We’ve never had a real issue with it, because I know my boundaries.
Do you have to draw lines somewhere? Are there certain things you just won’t touch?
Any truly deep, personal, serious things I try to steer clear of. Unless something comes up and I feel talking through it could actually help somebody else, then I might bring it up. But if it would hurt somebody, I absolutely won’t.
We hear all the time that our show is so relatable, and that’s what I love about it. Because I’m looking for comfort from a listener as well. I want some validation too. I love it when someone texts in and says “I’m so glad I’m not the only one!” It’s a two-way street, it’s so wonderful. I feel like sometimes we think we’re alone, or we’re crazy, and that validation goes a long way. And that’s one of my favorite parts.
So what is it like to be a local celebrity? Can you ever go anywhere without getting recognized?
You know what, not usually. People recognize me all the time, either by my voice or because they’ve seen me. At the grocery store or wherever, they’ll usually come up and say “hi” and talk to me. The only time it sucks is when I look or feel like crap and I’m just trying to sneak in and sneak out real quick. I mean I’m not a super professional dresser anyway, and I don’t wear a lot of makeup — so I guess maybe just when I don’t feel good. But I always talk to anyone who recognizes me; I would never intentionally blow anybody off. Most of the time it’s a positive experience.
Considering you’re on the air at 6 a.m., I’m sure you have to get up really early. So what does your typical day look like?
Well, I have to get up at the butt crack of dawn! But then it’s just the normal stuff, you know, shower, wash my face, put on some clothes. I don’t go to work in my pajamas, but I do dress very casual. I’ll usually wear yoga pants and a t-shirt. I won’t usually get very dressed up or put on makeup or anything unless I’m doing something directly after the show. I just like to be comfortable. If I’m going to be making your drive to work enjoyable, then I need to be comfortable. So it’s nice that we don’t have to dress up.
I usually get done with the show by 10 a.m. and I may have other stuff afterward to finish up — sometimes we’ll have meetings or I’ll have to cut commercials or things like that, but I’m usually out of there by 10:30 or 11 a.m. at the latest. Then after that, I’m in charge of my schedule. Like today, I got off work and I went and gave blood, then I had this phone call with you, then I’m going to have another call with my other business after this.
Then after school gets out, I go get my kids and we go home and have dinner and then we go cart everybody off in seven different directions because everybody has an activity. Sometimes on the weekends, we have some event for the radio station where we’ll go MC, or it could be a Saturday morning grand opening of an outlet mall. I’m always doing something, messaging people, or talking to people, or meeting somebody for lunch.
I can’t even imagine being up as early as you have to be — but I especially can’t imagine being 100% bubbly and positive that early in the morning. So how do you keep from being a complete zombie when it’s 6 a.m.?
Well, I’m used to it by now. But I am not a morning person AT ALL. I hit the snooze button several times, I don’t like to get up early. But it just kind of is what it is. I’m there to entertain you, I’m there to inform you, I’m there to make your drive to work pleasant. And traffic sucks, and being an adult sometimes sucks, so if we can just give you that little bit of time to laugh or forget all of those responsibilities for a little bit, then I know that we’ve done a good show.
So, I just do it. It’s like flipping a switch — I just turn it on. I’m a very positive person, and I really believe in positive mind set and in keeping an optimistic outlook, and I think that’s another part of it.
Who’s your favorite guest you’ve ever had on the show?
We don’t really get a ton of huge actors or anything like that. We had Chuck Norris on the show once and we were talking to him about all of those sayings about him. We had a good time with him doing that, he was very funny.
That’s a hard question! Man, that’s tough. We’ve had a few big stars, I know we’ve had Steve Carell on to talk about upcoming movies, so that was really cool. I’ve interviewed a lot of country stars, I’ve talked to Garth Brooks, and I’ve talked to George Strait, you know, a lot of the big names. I don’t know if I have a favorite, I hate that that’s not an answer!
Your show does a lot of ads where you talk about a product you’ve used or a service you’ve tried. How do you choose which products and businesses to promote? And how do you always make sure to come across authentic?
Those are endorsements or we call them “ad libs” — they’re not scripted. Usually what happens is I’ve gone somewhere and had a great experience, so I will propose it to the station and say, “They are really awesome, you should go talk to them about advertising and let them know that I’m interested in endorsing them.” Or a business might want me to promote them, and so they will contact the station and then I will try it out, whatever it may be — so that it is authentic.
Whatever I sell to you IS my experience. I can say no, and I have said no. People want me to talk for them but if there is something I didn’t like about the experience, I’ll just say “no thank you.” It’s fine if they want to run an ad with the station, I just don’t want my name on it. I’ve been here long enough and I’ve established that relationship over the years — there is a trust there, and I’m aware of that when I’m telling people who to work with.
In that same vein, how do you and Poolboy tackle sensitive topics? Without letting your personal opinions and beliefs bias you? I’ve noticed that you guys do such a good job of staying objective.
We do try to stay aware of things like that because of what goes on in our show, and we kind of want to be an escape from all of that. If we do or say anything about, say, politics, we try to be funny about both sides. But it is a conscious effort to not talk about those things.
I don’t want my political affiliation to matter. Because I think that we can like each other regardless, but there are people who will unfriend you on Facebook the minute they find out who you voted for.
It’s crazy and I do let everybody know that I’m a Christian and I do let everybody know that I’m a believer of God. That’s not usually a topic, but if it’s relatable in some way then I’ll mention it. I’m not trying to shove it down your throat, but I’m not trying to hide it either.
What’s your favorite thing about working with Poolboy?
He’s such a good friend to pretty much everybody. He’s thoughtful, he’ll remember things. He’ll remember that you liked Dr. Pepper the last time you went to lunch together, so he’ll have Dr. Pepper waiting for you. You know, it’s little things that he might pay attention to that add up.
How do you balance your friendship with your professional working relationship? Or is it just kind of all thrown in there together?
It really is. The whole show is just four hours of hanging out and talking with friends. And it’s set up like that — just two friends bringing up topics, sharing things that happen in our lives. I’m not going to say we’ve never been irritated with each other, but it’s never, ever been an issue. Ever. We’ll just tease each other about it. I’ll go “Man, you woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, you are crabby” and he’ll go “No I’m not!!” But there’s nothing that we don’t laugh off and just go right to the next thing.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
It is all about mindset. You have to believe in what you’re doing. If you’re selling something, you have to believe in it in your heart of hearts. And when you’re enthusiastic about it, then you become the type of person that people want to be around and people want to join with. If you wake up with a great attitude every day and say, “You know what? I am going to do this.” I think if you take that kind of a positive mindset, you just can’t lose that way.
How do you define success?
Happiness. Success is kind of relative. Is it money? Contentment? You know, what is it? But I do think that loving what you do is important. Having a true passion and being able to truly say that you love what you do.