It‘s all part of Jolly‘s radio show, broadcast every morning on WTCM AM 580 from 7 to 10 a.m. from “the top floor of the Paul Bunyan Building“ in downtown Traverse City. No matter that it‘s a tiny one-story building we‘re all in on the joke, and that‘s just the way Jolly likes it. And he couldn‘t be more appreciative.
“I run into people who say they listen, and I think, ‘Wow, that‘s cool,“ he says, amazed that he has a fan base, much less one that includes thousands of loyal listeners throughout Northern Michigan. Those fans propelled Jolly to the honor of “Best DJ“ in the Northern Express annual Best of Northern Michigan survey.
Jolly grew up in Dearborn listening to radio stations like CKLW, KEENER13, WABX
and W4. He spent some time in the restaurant business -- including a stint as manager of the Soup Kitchen Saloon (“Detroit‘s Home of the Blues“) in the warehouse district -- before entering Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts in Southfield.
His first D.J. job was at WTWR (aka Tower 98) in Monroe in 1983, where he spun tunes by Culture Club, Michael Jackson and other MTV generation start-ups. In the mid-‘80s, Jolly moved to Traverse City and held jobs in both TV and radio formats. In 1993, he moved to Lansing to dabble in talk radio, then back to Traverse City in 1995 to launch his current show.
A brief stint a few years ago at the Michigan Talk Radio Network convinced him that a local show was where he belonged. “I found myself talking to people in Flint and Mt. Pleasant, but I just didn‘t have the passion for it,“ he says. “I like the local...I guess I‘m provincial that way.“
Jolly loves it when callers express opinions on all topics, and he has a special interest in politics, something that stuck with him after working as a congressional page in the House of Representatives when he was a teenager.
As for music, any listener will tell you that Jolly has some of the best bumper music around, and his own tastes vary widely from one genre to the next. Favorites around his house include Lyle Lovett, Burt Bacharach, Dionne Warwick, the Fifth Dimension, Joni Mitchell, Elvis Costello, Miles Davis, and an assortment of classical music. He laments that radio music has taken a turn for the worse in recent years and strayed from good old rock like Crosby, Stills & Nash. “You just don‘t hear that stuff anymore, and it‘s too bad,“ he says. ““I think WTCM AM
plays better music than the rock stations.“
So does he ever get tired of all the talk and want to disappear? “Yeah, once a day,“ he laughs. “That‘s when I go home.“ But even though his job entails getting up at 4:45 a.m. every morning and, at times, driving through white-outs to work, he wouldn‘t have it any other way.
“Here‘s the good thing about my job,“ says Jolly. “If I didn‘t work here, I would get up in the morning, have a cup of coffee, read the paper, surf the net, and just check out what‘s going on out there. Well, now I get to do that and share it with people. What I‘m finding out in the morning at 7 o‘clock is news to me, too, so that‘s the great part about the job.“