No doubt that enduring popularity contributed to O‘Shea‘s choice as “Best DJ“ for Northern Michigan by readers of Northern Express Weekly.
O‘Shea sees the “oldies“ as good “clean,“ fun music that is growing in popularity today. He notes that success of the past is hard to argue with.
“Elvis had 117 top 40 hits in his career; no one has come close to that,“ said O‘Shea. “The Beatles in 1964 had 19 hits; these things just don‘t happen anymore.“
O‘Shea who is on the air from 2 to 6 pm at WCCW 107.5 (part of the Northwestern Radio group that includes WTCM and the new Smooth Jazz station), believes the oldies sound will always be around.
“I never tire of the music, it is fun, has a good rhythm and there is a lot of diversity to it,“ said O‘Shea. “We play songs from the ‘50s to the ‘70s and the music doesn‘t all sound the same. There are big differences between Bobby Darin and Bobby Goldsboro or Cher and Ray Charles.“
WCCW has seen strong growth in radio ratings in recent years and O‘Shea points to the music‘s popularity coming from being heard on current TV commercials and appearing in popular movies. He sees a strong, committed air personality staff at the station a part of the success as well.
“We are about personality radio, and our listeners appreciate that,“ said O‘Shea. “We all have a lot of experience and are very knowledgeable about the music and our listeners like that.“
O‘Shea considers it a challenge for all radio stations to keep the listeners‘ attention.
“We have become a ‘scanified‘ society and it is easy for a listener to hit that scan button,“ said O‘Shea. “It is important to make the commericials interesting and of course it is important for the person on the air to be interesting, informative and creative. That is where the whole personality radio thing comes in.“
O‘Shea attributes his own success in the market to his good clean humor, his voice and understanding the essence of radio.
“Radio is a theater of the mind. You have to create mood and emotion and a feeling that you are connected to the listener. When I am on the air I am talking to someone, the guy in the Buick, the gal at work. Rather than talking to air, I am making that connection to the listener.“
His deep and authoritative voice has a soothing feel to it that has made O‘Shea not only popular on the air but also for emceeing community events, spinning records at dances and serving as an auctioneer for several non-profit benefits.
“My voice is a tool and I have worked to develop it. My voice is very connected to my emotions and listener experiences that.“
O‘Shea now 57 had other plans as a teenager growing up in Alden on Torch Lake. In 1960 he won a scholarship to attend the Interlochen Center for the Arts hoping to pursue a career as a musician and bandleader.
“I saw myself becoming the next Eugene Ormandy,“ said O‘Shea. “It became apparent that while at Interlochen that wasn‘t going to happen so I joined the Coast Guard.“
While in the Coast Guard, O‘Shea got involved in radio. He began to sense a career opportunity in radio broadcasting. After the Coast Guard he attended broadcasting school in Milwaukee. In 1967 he returned to Northern Michigan and took his first radio job with WCCW.
O‘Shea spent one year at WCCW and left for Detroit. After a few years in the Detroit market he came to Cadillac to work as the noon news anchor on TV 9 & 10. He would eventually return to WCCW as the morning personality for six years. In 1980 he went to Kalkaska to start up WKLT. In 1983 he left for Oklahoma City to host a morning show. In 1994 he was asked to rejoin WCCW as the morning host.
He did mornings until 1-1/2 years ago when he took over the drive home show. He made the adjustment to the afternoon show with ease.
“I love it, and it sure beats getting up at 3:45 a.m. to do mornings as I have done for 23 years.“
He sees himself continuing his on-air show for another five years, but remaining active after he retires.
“I have a lot of hobbies; I shoot professional trap; I work with leather, making gun holsters and belts, and I also do gun work and love to travel,“ said O‘Shea. “My radio work is a big part of me as well, so after I am done with my show I will continue to do public events.“
O‘Shea sees himself announcing car and go-cart races when he retires. Doing dances, working as an auctioneer and emceeing events in the area. He has taken great pride in his commitment to helping organizations and individuals in the community.
“Radio has afforded me a lot of opportunities to help others,“ said O‘Shea. “It makes your heart weep when callers tell you how your voice or show has helped them in times of need.“
O‘Shea is proud of the fun and good clean programming he and his colleagues present to radio listeners.
“There is a lot of stuff out there that deserves no comment because it is vulgar and trashy,“ said O‘Shea. “However, people like the Captain in his day and the folks at WLDR, Interlochen Radio, our morning show at WCCW and the new smooth jazz station are worth listening to.“
Having a mild heart attack a few years ago and recently learning that he is a diabetic has put O‘Shea‘s focus on his health. He has lost weight, improved his diet and has been told by doctors that he is good health.
His comedic well-being remains healthy as well. O‘Shea continues to be humorous on the air, poking lighthearted jabs at his listeners, callers and even himself.
“I laugh a lot and try to create that fun upbeat attitude while on the air,“ said O‘Shea. “I just continue to live my life using what God has given me.“
While the industry scratches its head trying to find the right formula to attract listeners O‘Shea has known it all along. Good, wholesome, upbeat rhythmic songs made in the ‘50s and ‘60s mixed with a little humor and a lot of personality soothes the heart and soul. Then like the songs, for O‘Shea “the beat goes on.“