After crisscrossing the country as a disc jockey, Amanda Valentine has found a home in country radio in Cincinnati.
B-105 listeners seem to agree. Millstadt native Valentine and her afternoon drive-time partner, Jesse Tack, have entertained a loyal following for nearly three years. The dynamic duo was recently recognized by the Country Music Association with the Large Market On-Air Personality of the Year Award during televised ceremonies on ABC on Nov. 8.
They were on hand for all the awards show hoopla, a memorable evening they described as “surreal.” They shared their journey with their WUBE 105.1FM listeners every step of the way, from the car ride there on Facebook Live to their all-access anecdotes afterward.
They consider their relationship to their fans a special one.
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“I love how much country radio is a community. Everyone is a part of it, from artists to listeners. They have very strong feelings on what they like, and they are very passionate. They pay attention. There’s just a lot of good people,” Valentine said during a phone interview after work.
Valentine and Tack were among six finalists for the On-Air Personality Award. In October, they received the news that they had won from country superstar Keith Urban, who called their hotline to announce it.
And then from then on, it was a month-long whirlwind.
Judges based the decision on overall sound of the show, community participation, ratings, participation in local and national country events and organizations, and awards or accolades received during the eligibility period.
“Their hard work and passion for creating great content comes through not only on their show, but in the community with their audience. So proud to have our newest B-105 team bring this award home,” said Mike Fredrick, vice president/market manager of Hubbard Interactive Cincinnati.
“It’s a really good station and a really good company,” Valentine said. “We’re live and local personalities that you can’t get on Spotify and Pandora.”
Valentine and Tack decided to take their listeners with them to Nashville, a road trip broadcast on Facebook Live.
It was all very surreal. I kept thinking ‘I can’t believe this is happening.’
Amanda Valentine, Millstadt native who won a CMA award
At the awards show, they hung out backstage, and posed for a photo with Garth Brooks. Tack gave their acceptance speech.
“I was the Vanna White with the trophy behind him,” Valentine said.
They were also invited to Brooks’ after-party, which he hosted with his wife, Trisha Yearwood.
“That was pretty cool,” Valentine said. “It was all very surreal. I kept thinking ‘I can’t believe this is happening.’”
She also rocked a slinky red gown that she bought at a bridal shop. Down to a size 2 after losing 117 lbs. during a six-year period, she made the dress decision part of her blog.
“The whole debate became empowering. I had a closet full of black. That was my comfort zone. That was a move for me, to go with a skin-tight red dress. I worked really hard to get in shape, so I went with it,” she said.
Sharing her story
She details her weight-loss journey on a blog called “Weight a Minute,” which is posted on the station’s website. She will start a podcast in January.
She wanted to share her struggles, because she knows she’s not alone.
One New Year’s, tired of crash dieting, she decided her resolution would be to make healthier choices, realizing it had to be a lifestyle change.
“I would lose 60 pounds in crash dieting, then gain it all back, lose 40 pounds and it would come back,” she said. One day, she just said “enough” about diets, and those changes had a significant effect.
“Everybody deals with this. It’s hard. There’s fast food everywhere. The holidays are coming up,” she said.
Being active has been a big component to her weight loss. She began walking as exercise, and gradually expanded her fitness routine.
“I would put on my headphones and walk around the neighborhood. Then I got more and more into it — from walking to hiking to running. It’s small steps. It definitely didn’t happen overnight,” she said.
Today, she can fit both legs into one leg of a size-24 pair of jeans she used to own.
“I can’t believe it. It’s small changes. I just want to be able to help people with my experience, share a story that life’s not a fairy tale,” she said.
Talking about healthy living is very important to her. She is now a spokesman for the American Heart Association, the Go Red for the AHA Campaign.
Valentine’s enthusiasm for what she does is apparent, as she excitedly shares job details and joy about connecting with listeners. During her 15-year career, her warm, down-home delivery has been her calling card.
Valentine and Tack hadn’t worked together before being paired on the afternoon drive-time show, but it didn’t take long for them to connect. Their chemistry has resulted in high ratings and responsive listeners.
“We just clicked. We’re just big radio nerds. We have the same sense of humor, and the same drive and ambition,” she said.
They arrive three hours before their 3 to 7 p.m. shift to prepare for their weekday show. Although they plan, not everything is scripted in advance, and can keep things loose, she said.
“We try to keep it super-fun. People have had a long day at work, so we want them to relax and enjoy our show on their way home. We keep it more light-hearted,” Valentine said.
They include a silly bit called “Beat the Bear,” which must be accomplished in 20 seconds, and a trivia contest at 5:25 p.m., which is a rolling jackpot if no one answers the five questions successfully.
“There’s a lot of things vying for people’s attention these days. We try to take all that knowledge we’ve learned in the business, and make our conversations relatable. We try to live life in the now,” said Tack, who also stayed after work to chat.
They make it a priority to be active on social media. They began broadcasting road trips on Facebook Live this year. Their first one took place on summer solstice, June 21.
“Because it was the longest day of the year, we wanted to see how long we could stretch out sunlight. We left Ohio early in the morning, and made it to Denver, to see the sunset over the Rocky Mountains. It was a 19-hour drive. It was really cool,” she said. “We took listeners with us. We took phone calls in the car, and we were live on camera while we were driving.”
Valentine left the metro-east in 2003 for her first full-time radio gig in Paducah, Kentucky. Since then, she has worked in Denver, northern Illinois, upstate New York and Oregon.
“I believe the key to relating to the audience is being authentic. That’s why I don’t hold back,” she said.
When she worked in Rochester, New York, she performed comedy improvisation for three years, and later, two years in Denver.
“Improv is really fun and helps with my on-air delivery,” she said.
She is always striving to improve. She has been a fan of the medium since childhood.
I’m glad I grew up in a small town, it really helps put things in perspective as an adult.
Amanda Valentine, Millstadt native who won a CMA award
As a youngster growing up in Millstadt, she was a big fan of morning DJs Steve and D.C., who broadcast in the 1990s and 2000s on Q104 and KIX106.
“It was my favorite show. They were very entertaining,” she said.
Wanting to be part of the business, she contacted the Belleville radio station, WIBV, and offered to work there for free.
“I just always loved radio. I would write these hand-written letters to WIBV, offering to work for free. I never heard back. I was 12,” she said, laughing.
In 2000, she graduated from Belleville West High School. She was in the band, and played alto saxophone.
While attending Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey, she interviewed KSHE personality Favazz on the campus radio station, WLCA. He inquired if she would be interested in a part-time job at KSHE.
“Heck yeah, I did!” she said. She worked as a board operator, and has been working at stations ever since.
The daughter of Dave and Vickie Valentine, she is grateful for Midwestern roots.
“I would describe my childhood as pretty uneventful, which is good,” she said. “I’m glad I grew up in a small town, it really helps put things in perspective as an adult.”
Meet Amanda Valentine
- Job: B-105 radio personality with her afternoon drive-time partner, Jesse Tack in Cincinatti, Ohio
- How to listen: The radio show can be listened to from anywhere – just download the phone app
- Family: Husband James Loy, works part-time at a sister station, Mix 94.9, and full-time at Miami University at Oxford as a writer. “We work all the time,” she said with a laugh.
- From: Millstadt
- Resides in: “Cincinnati is really a cool city. It reminds me a lot of what we have at home. It’s a lot like St. Louis. It has the same kind of personality, vibe. It feels a lot like home,” she said.