Metro-east native Courtney Landrum will always consider herself a team player, even though she has been promoted to headlining Y98’s morning show.
“Courtney and Company” took over the 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekday program at 98.1 FM.
Last fall, when longtime host Guy Phillips announced he was moving to afternoon drive-time at KTRS (550 AM), the station advertised for a superstar talent to entertain the masses, connect with the community, engage in social media, and integrate with the morning team.
Courtney, who had been a co-host since 1999, fit the bill. She has been a fixture in St. Louis morning radio since the Steve and D.C. Show in 1992.
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Marty Linck, operations manager for programming at Entercom, which owns the station, said the decision wasn’t difficult.
“Courtney has been a part of morning radio in St. Louis for 25 years, and she has earned the opportunity to lead this show into the next phase. She’s funny, smart, and dedicated. That’s a great combination,” he said. “The show hasn’t skipped a beat since the realignment, and I’m excited to see where Courtney and the rest of the crew will take it."
Landrum, who lives in Fairview Heights, is one of the few female radio personalities to headline a morning show, rather than be part of a duo or sidekick.
The audience drives her goals.
“We try and deliver an escape to a bad morning or just a laugh on your drive in to work,” she said.
Courtney and Company
It’s the “Company” dynamic that she thrives in, being part of a special work family that she enjoys being with every morning: Jen Myers, Kevin “The Intern” Berghoff and Lance Hildebrand, the veteran traffic reporter.
“You’re only as good as the group you’re with. We have such good chemistry on the show,” she said.
“We laugh every day. It’s great,” Myers said. She has been with the morning show for 13 years, after arriving at the station in 2002.
They act like a family, and their admiration for each other is evident.
“We know each other’s personalities so well. We’re like brothers and sisters,” Landrum said.
“It is a conversation with friends,” Myers said.
Landrum said the best compliment from listeners is about their camaraderie.
“They say ‘I feel like we could be friends.’ They get me; they know me,” she said.
“We believe it’s ‘Seinfeld’ for radio – that the littlest things turn into the biggest bits,” Berghoff said. “Courtney has a great sense for what people like.”
Then a student at Lewis and Clark Community College, Berghoff arrived for an internship in 1999, and says he owes Landrum his career.
“I am better for knowing her and working with her,” he said. “She saw something in me, that I was more than dubbing tapes. When she took over producing Guy’s show, she brought me in.”
Her positive attitude makes a difference, Berghoff said.
“Courtney is very real. She’s honest in a good way. That, I think, helps everybody else stay real,” he said. “She is funny. She exudes that on the air, and off the air. What you hear is what you get. That’s her gift. She lets you be yourself too.”
While she is loathe to brag about herself, she did respond: “It’s definitely always me on the air, not a version of myself.”
Berghoff said she is not afraid to speak the truth, either.
“That’s the best part. She’s not afraid to call anybody out. It’s not to make you feel bad. She does it in a funny way,” he said.
“We kid, but we love,” Landrum said.
'A good show is still a good show'
The station format is Hot Adult Contemporary, and the demographic tips toward female listeners.
“It’s predominately women, and we don’t care about the age. We also love having men listen too,” she said.
Much preparation goes into making the show flow, and to sound spontaneous.
The night before, the group is usually emailing each other about potential bits or talking points.
“I always pay attention to everything around me — even the mundane things could have a great on-air story,” Landrum said.
Myers agreed. “We always have our antennas up,” she said.
Landrum said technology has made accessing information much more efficient.
“A good show is still a good show, so that hasn’t changed much, but the internet has definitely made life a whole lot easier. I used to have to sit around and wait for return calls and go to the library to research things. Now, obviously everything is much easier. The only problem is everyone is seeing the same stories, whereas in the past we were the ones that told them those stories first.”
On recent mornings, they chatted about “The Bachelor,” discussed a survey about what worried Millennials most, and commented on celebrity news. In a regular segment, “Things You Didn’t Know,” Courtney shared such tidbits as croissants originated in Austria and that CBS used recorded bird sounds for The Masters golf tournament until a bird expert exposed the scam.
“It’s useless information,” she said, laughing.
Growing up in the metro-east
Pop culture has always been in her wheelhouse. While growing up in Fairview Heights, O’Fallon and Belleville, Landrum said music, movies and television were major interests.
“I think if you’re in radio, that’s what you like, you like to talk about it,” she said.
But discovering the new cable music channel MTV in 1982 was life-changing.
“I was obsessed with MTV. I wanted to be Martha Quinn,” she said. “It came on when I was in eighth grade. We used to watch it all the time. I loved music so much.”
A 1986 graduate of Althoff Catholic High School, Landrum briefly attended University of Missouri in Columbia, then returned home. She took classes at the Broadcast Center in St. Louis. Before she finished, WKBQ, a contemporary hit radio station at 106.5 FM, hired her.
“I knew it was the right fit for me. When you love getting to work in something, and finding out that it is for you, that’s a great feeling,” she said. “I was just bit immediately. I got lucky – right place at the right time.”
Starting as an intern
She started out as an intern for the midday guy, and met the morning duo Steve and D.C. They poached her for their show a month into her Q internship. Two months later, she was hired as their producer. But she was always on the air, even as an intern.
She left in 1997 to work for Emmis’ Alice 104.1 FM station.
“I just felt it was time to move on,” she said.
After a year, Alice’s format changed. In 1999, she was hired at Y98. Guy Phillips had been on morning radio since 1979.
“When I became Guy’s producer, I really wanted the show to be more honest and real. At the time they were doing a Friday morning Joke-Off, and I convinced Guy to retire that, along with some other bits he had done for years,” she said.
However, she wasn’t responsible for the demise of the popular bit, Candid Phone.
“Unfortunately, that became illegal by the FCC. You couldn’t put someone on the air without their knowledge so that went away for legal reasons. Not to burst any bubbles, but if you hear a phone prank today, odds are it’s an actor on the line because many stations don’t allow their talent to do them anymore or they’ll face hefty fines,” she said.
She remains on good terms with Phillips, as well as Steve and D.C., she said.
She is grateful for longevity and being able to stay in the area.
'Local live talent'
“I have been at the same place for 19 years. I am very fortunate that they want local live talent,” she said. “They want us talking about things that affect the community.”
She is an unabashed “homer” – a metro-east booster.
“Totally!” she exclaimed. “I happen to be very close to my family.”
The daughter of Karen and the late Bob “Lumpy” Landrum, Courtney is close to her older sister, Dina, and older brother, Chris, who both live in Belleville, as do her two nieces and her mother.
She continues to hang out with old friends east-side. And admits that they “could call at any time and tell terrible stories about me,” she said, laughing.
Courtney and her live-in boyfriend, Nick Sansone, have been together 14 years.
Marriage isn’t necessary, she said: “I am very happy.”
After 25 years getting up at 3:20 a.m., she is used to her unusual work schedule.
One adjustment in recent years has been that she doesn’t go out much during the week.
“I used to go to every concert, every event, but now, 3:20 comes way too soon. I love when a concert I want to see is on a weekend – I am really pumped then. And my very favorite thing to do is a Cardinals day game during the week,” she said.
But during her early years, she made some wonderful memories.
“Getting to go backstage with my sister to interview and meet Sting – she’s a huge fan, so it was like making a dream come true for her,” she replied, when asked to recall some of her best career moments.
“Meeting Duran Duran – they were my teen crush. Picking up INXS from the airport, another teen crush. Going to the MTV Movie Awards, countless Disney and Universal trips. So many interviews and concerts that it’s hard to choose,” she said.
When she’s not on the air, she is still very much a visible ambassador.
“I don’t do as many remotes as I once did, but I do a lot of charity work, emceeing events, trivia nights — whenever I’m available, I like to help out,” she said.
She participates in station events, from Opening Day to the Y98 Mistletoe Show.
Part of her duties include being a spokesman for advertisers, and is known as a natural pitchman. She works with prospective clients, but the account representatives do the leg work.
Because of her longevity, her voice is often recognized in public.
“It’s usually when I have no makeup on!” she said.
In her spare time, what are her favorite things to do for fun and relaxation?
“Golf and beer, not necessarily in that order,” she said.
The show is available for live streaming online, and there are audio podcasts posted daily on the Y98 website. Courtney and Company posts on Facebook and Twitter too.