Sit Down Series: Mike Karolyi

Mike Karolyi has been best known as an integral part of The Rock 106.9 WCCC, essentially the voice of the station. This year for him has played out like a movie, boldly going from disappointment to triumph. It all began with the format change at WCCC to classic rock. Then came the final broadcast on August 1st, 2014 and the end of an era. However, Karolyi delivered on a huge announcement this week with the launch of iRockRadio.com, an internet/app exclusive radio station that will maintain the beloved and original format of WCCC, along with the in-studio acoustic performances, popular personalities, ticket giveaways, and much more.

With all that said, I sat down with Mike Karolyi recently for an amazing tell-all interview. We discussed everything from the Big Gig, the emotional night at Christmas Chaos, 6 Concert Questions, Dead Sara, the format change in 2013, the final broadcast, musicians that were disappointing to meet, the future for iRockRadio.com, and much more! You DO NOT want to miss this!

Alex Obert: How did you first get into radio?

Mike Karolyi: When I was a teenager, I loved music so much. I wanted to be involved with music, with bands, anything I could do. But I had no ability to play guitar. (laughs) I have no talent whatsoever as far as playing an instrument. And so one day, I got a flyer in the mail for the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. It was one of those things where they said classes start in December and they could have you on the air by March, something like that. And I’m like, “Yeah, maybe I can do this.” So I went to the school, I did my audition, and I got into the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. That was my way into radio. It was more to be involved with bands and music than it was to be on the radio, that was my avenue. That’s how I got into it. And it’s just gone from there. I’ve been lucky, it’s been a nice run of time where I’ve been able to achieve a lot of the dreams that I always wanted to through radio. It’s been pretty cool.

Alex Obert: Who were some of your mentors when you were getting into radio?

Mike Karolyi: I had an instructor named Andy Geller, who was at HCN back in the day. He had a show there and his name was Ranger Andy. And he was my main instructor at the school. He would have become by the station and watch his show, it just seemed like the coolest thing ever. “Wow, this guy’s on the radio. Talking about music and playing some great songs.” It just seemed like an amazing job, it seems like the coolest thing in the world to do. And of course, Howard Stern is a guy that I was aware of. As far as radio guys go, Howard would be the guy. He did it differently and he did it better than anybody. There were guys who did stuff like Howard. Imus was doing a show kind of like Howard’s, but then Howard came and just took it to a whole nother level. The stuff that he was doing just broke all the molds. He did things his own way. And I’ve never modeled my own show after that, but I’ve always admired that. I always saw that he was a great communicator. He could talk to his listeners because he just related all of his life experiences, which were very similar to a lot of his listeners. So I always admired that. As far as radio guys go, for me, Howard Stern’s the king. The king of all media.

Alex Obert: Outside of radio, who are some of your favorite entertainment personalities?

Mike Karolyi: Obviously musicians. I love music, especially rock music. Just the energy of it. I’m a lyrics guy, I love artists that live and breathe their lyrics. You have some people that are actually really good singers, but they’re just kind of going through the motions. They can sing a song well, but they don’t live the lyrics. I’m wearing a Rage Against the Machine shirt, those guys live their songs. They always come out on stage, tuning their instruments, and then BAM! They would bust into a song and the energy level would just skyrocket. Stuff like that is what I get excited about. You go see a band like Tool play live, they’re incredible musicians, and you just feel that go through you. Whether it is lyrically or musically. I love that rush of the live performance with the band. So for me, musicians are my favorite entertainers because they’re conveying their thoughts and emotions through song and connecting with you. Happy, sad, angry, for whatever reason it may be. The craft of writing a song is not easy. To put something down in lyrics, it sounds so simple and easy, but it’s not. So musicians are the ones that I admire the most.

Alex Obert: Seeing as WCCC played the latest rock songs, which bands really wowed you when you first discovered them?

Mike Karolyi: The bands that were doing something a little bit different always piqued my curiosity. I remember back in like 1998 when Atlantic Records came to me with the Kid Rock record. And honestly at first, as much as I thought it was cool, it bothered me a little bit because of what I thought the audience might think. Here’s a guy who’s doing rap and rock together. The funny thing with that is back then, rap was the enemy of rock to some degree. Rock fans didn’t like rap and vice versa. And here’s a guy putting them both together. I didn’t really know how that was gonna work. But songs like Bawitdaba and Bullgod, they were just so big and sounded so exciting on the radio that I figured we had to give this a shot. If the listeners don’t like it, fine. And I remember we did a Christmas concert in ’98 or ’99 at the Webster Theater, it was the WCCC Nutcracker. There was a band called One Minute Silence opening the show. And then a band called Second Coming, they were from Seattle. And then Kid Rock was third on the list. Then it was Godsmack. And the headliner was Sevendust. It was a great lineup, but now, you’d flip it all around! I don’t even know the first couple bands exist anymore or not. Kid Rock certainly ended up being the crossover mainstream mass appeal success story. Godsmack’s a huge rock band. Sevendust, one of the best live rock bands I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen a bad Sevendust show. And you know how many bands Sevendust took out themselves and gave their first break to? The list of bands that Sevendust helped out over the years is endless. Good guys, great musicians. I love Sevendust. We’ve had so many shows and so many memories with that band over the years, they’re one of the best.

Alex Obert: And I know how glad you are that you discovered Dead Sara later on in your career.

Mike Karolyi: Dead Sara’s another band that just excited me. From the first note that I heard until today, that band just has something very special. They’re a polarizing band, that’s what I found out. (laughs) We put them on the air at CCC and we gave them a shot and I thought everyone would automatically love it. For whatever reason, they are one of those bands where either you love ’em or you hate ’em. There’s really no middle ground. And I don’t know why that is, but that’s just the way it is. I would play a band like that on the radio any day over the bands nobody really cares about one way or the other. “They sound good on the radio. Eh, it’s okay. I don’t love it, don’t hate it.” That stuff, we used to call those wallpaper songs because you know it’s there and you don’t care about it one way or the other. So I would play a band like Dead Sara and they at least elicit passion one way or the other. I don’t care which way it is, people react to that band. So I was at a convention out in San Diego and I was actually going to meet Mike Mushok of Staind. I was out there to interview him at this convention, they were debuting the new album and I was gonna interview him about it and play cuts from it. So we were gonna meet up to talk about the interview and what we were gonna do. On my way from my room to meet Mike, I heard a band soundchecking. It was at an outdoor venue where the convention was being held at. So I hear this band soundchecking and I just heard the riffs that Siouxsie was playing and I heard Emily’s voice, it literally stopped me in my tracks. I know it sounds silly to say, but they really did, they stopped me in my tracks. I stood there and I watched their entire soundcheck from a bit of a distance, I wasn’t really that close. They played one song after another and I just couldn’t stop listening. I’m like, “Man, this band’s really good!” So I walked down, walked right up to the stage, and I asked Siouxsie if I could get a CD. So she hooked me up with her manager, Isaac, and he gave me a handful of CDs. And because I had to leave early, I said, “I’m leaving tonight. My plane is gonna leave, I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to see the set tonight, but we’ll be in touch.” And he’s like, “You’ve gotta see the set!” (laughs) So we did some finagling to get me to be able to stay.

And it worked out well because Dead Sara took the stage that night, I was able to see their entire set, which I thought was amazing. They started off with Sorry For It All, went right into Test On My Patience, ended it with Weatherman. To this day, I remember the setlist and that was a few years ago. I was just blown away. I remember thinking, right then and there, that there’s no doubt I’m gonna be playing this band on CCC. I planned to listen to the album some more when I got back to get comfortable with it and figure out which song works. There was no doubt to me that I would be playing this band on the radio, they were just that good. And sure enough, when I came back, I picked Weatherman. I thought that track fit CCC the best at the time out of all the songs on the album. I actually think there’s better songs on the album, but to me, that song fit CCC. So we put it on and it took off. And that became the single that they released coast to coast. And we’ve been friends ever since. I’m waiting for the new Dead Sara album, they told me it’ll be in the early part of 2015, so fingers crossed that’ll happen. It’s gonna be good, I have heard some songs and what I’ve heard is really, really good.

Alex Obert: I remembered that they opened for Puddle of Mudd at the Webster shortly after you started playing them on the air.

Mike Karolyi: We had given Dead Sara so much support by playing Weatherman and getting that song up and running that their manager, Isaac, said they wanted to come do a show for us. And we just had to figure out where and when and all that stuff. Puddle of Mudd owed us a show. (laughs) They had a show at the Webster that summer, it was in 2011, and it did not go well. Played a couple of songs and walked off the stage, then it was over. So we worked it out that they were gonna come back and do a full show to make good to the listeners. It was gonna be a free show. So I thought that would be a nice vehicle to get Dead Sara in to open for them. It was November 14th, 2011, I remember because that band is very special to me. I do like Puddle of Mudd quite a bit, I think they write great songs and when they’re on live, they’re on. But in my personal opinion, Dead Sara just blew them away that night. I felt that the majority of the audience there that night was there to see Dead Sara. And I think they felt the same way. Earlier that day, we had them at Pig’s Eye Pub in Hartford for one of our acoustic performances. I interviewed them and they played three songs acoustically. That was the beginning of our relationship with Dead Sara.

Alex Obert: You talk about the fact that you consider them to be polarizing. Who else have you played over the years that you consider to be that way as well?

Mike Karolyi: There’s a bunch of bands like that. Limp Bizkit was a band that was always very polarizing. Some people loved Fred and some people liked Break Stuff. How could you not like Break Stuff? It has that heavy riff and all that anger, you wanna just punch somebody in the face when you listen to it. (laughs) But Fred also did some goofy stuff too. So that all just made them a polarizing band. To some degree, Staind was a polarizing band. When they started, they were so heavy. Mudshovel, Just Go, all those songs were heavy. Then they started to become more melodic, more soft and ballady. And that made them polarizing. Some people still love the band, some people tore ’em up for being the ballad band. But man, they sold a lot of albums and they sold a lot of concert tickets, they’re still a draw. Hopefully they’ll do another tour together soon. I think that band plays good live and they sound great on the radio, but they’re another one of those bands that are polarizing. Aaron Lewis, himself, is kind of a lightning rod. There are opinions on his solo music because he broke off into the country world. The country people are like, “Is he the real deal?” They won’t to let you into the club unless you’re really country. And the same thing in reverse, the hard rock and metal guys are like, “He’s doing country? Now he’s gone from us.” But I give him credit because he’s following his heart. And he’s real honest, he loves heavy music and he loves country. I think we all have likes and dislikes. Being in the public eye, he just becomes a lightning rod for that. He puts himself out there. He’s Mr. USA and then he messes up the national anthem, that was kind of tough to take. (laughs) I felt really badly for him because what I’ve heard from all musicians that I talk to is that’s one of the hardest things to perform live. All eyes are on you and he’s at the World Series, it’s a lot of pressure.

Alex Obert: What are some of the most memorable concerts that WCCC held?

Mike Karolyi: Well all the WCCC shows were special to me for a number of reasons. What we always tried to do with our shows, we tried to put together something that wasn’t already a touring package. We would bring in bands from all over the place to come to Hartford and do a show for us, we always thought that it was a cool thing. Back in the day when we did the Rock Expos, they weren’t these nice and shiny and polished bills that you would see at the Civic Center. (laughs) We put together a rough bunch of bands, but it just made for a great night. We had everybody from Buckcherry, Kittie, Hatebreed, we had so many different bands over the years. Seether played one of the Rock Expos. What was cool about it was that was a show you couldn’t see anywhere else. They played together that night and the next night, they were all off on their own separate tours, and that was it. So it was a very unique experience. Obviously the Big Gigs that we did were really special because we started them smaller, they were always at the Comcast, the Meadows, the XFINITY Theatre, whatever it’s called now. (laughs) It was always there, but as each year came along, it got bigger and bigger. We added bands. We made an all day festival. That last year, the attendance was around fifteen thousand people. And the first year we did it, it was about half that. That was only in three years where we doubled our attendance, that’s pretty cool. So to sit there and see what we did by putting twelve bands into Hartford from noon to midnight, two different stages, and have people come out and watch it and like it was very rewarding for all of us. It was quite an accomplishment. We thought we were doing something on the same level as Ozzfest or Mayhem Festival, and we’re doing it here for everybody in Connecticut. It made me very proud that we could do something and give back to the listeners here in Connecticut with a show like that. It was always cool.

Alex Obert: I remember listening one day with the announcement of the major changes from Big Gig 2011 to Big Gig 2012. What was that year of planning like in regards to the format and the bands?

Mike Karolyi: Putting that Big Gig together from year to year was a lot of work, it was a full-time job in itself. Luckily, we had a lot of resources. There were really three main people putting the show together: myself, Jim Koplik from Live Nation, and Gary Spivack. Gary’s out in California and he runs a company that does radio festivals. He also does Rock on the Range out in Ohio, he does Carolina Rebellion as well, he does a show in Philadelphia for a radio station there. So he has this cool business where he helps radio stations build their roster of artists for a show, routes them in, all of that stuff. The three of us together worked on the Big Gig. Each year, we wanted to grow this and make it bigger and bigger. We got to a point with the last one we did where we felt we could do two stages, make it an all day festival, and really put together a nice show for everybody. But it requires an awful lot. You’ve probably heard this before when they talk about a festival like Ozzfest, “As soon as Ozzfest is done, the next day, we’re planning next year’s Ozzfest.” It went like that with the Big Gig as well. So much work went into it, planning and timing and everything, you really had to get started twelve months out. A lot of the bands knew they would be touring a year later and about when. You’d start with a dream list of bands you’d want. You’d submit that and it would come back and most of them said no. (laughs) You would chisel away until you had your lineup.

Really what you wanted to start with was your headliner. You needed a band that was the marquee name and drive ticket sales. And then you could fill out the roster underneath it a lot easier. You could say to a band like Hellyeah or Volbeat, “Hey, we’ve got Godsmack and Staind co-headlining our festival.” And then they want in on that. Once you can secure that, things start to fall in place quickly. But then it’s about picking the date and routing everybody, getting hotels for bands, taking care of catering and media passes, photo passes, ticket giveaways, set times. I don’t think most people realize that some of the bands earliest in the day, and even early on the main stage, only played a twenty minute set. Think about that, they drive from far away to Hartford, and they get there, and they do a twenty minute set. And it’s over. But they’re selling their merchandise and they’re being exposed in front of tens of thousands of people. It’s all a building block for bands. But it is interesting. To fit twelve bands in in twelve hours, some of them have to play twenty minute sets. (laughs)

Alex Obert: You went on the main stage at that show to address the fans. What was that feeling like?

Mike Karolyi: Doing a stage announcement at a show is awesome. I try to be humble and I try not to be too ego-driven or anything, but man, taking the stage at a concert and doing a stage announcement is a huge rush. It’s no wonder these bands wanna keep touring forever because that feedback you get gives you an adrenaline rush that’s just almost hard to describe. When you put on a show like the WCCC Big Gig, any one of us that walks out there, we’re heroes in way because we made this happen and the audience is having a good time. As soon as you hear the call letters and you get that reaction back, it gives you goosebumps. It’s pretty cool. And it’s a short time, we’re given about thirty seconds to a minute to say what we gotta say. We always try to keep it short and sweet, but that thirty seconds is pretty cool.

Alex Obert: On the topic of concerts, how did 6 Concert Questions start?

Mike Karolyi: Well when I did the show with Jim Koplik about doing the concert questions and all that stuff, I guess it goes back to before I was in radio. Jim Koplik used to do a show called The Concert Scene with Lich. And I used to listen to that with my buddies, that’s how you got your concert information back then. There was no Internet and you didn’t have access to a lot of that stuff, so I would listen to that show every week. It was my favorite show on the radio. So fast forward however many years and now I’m doing a show with Jim Koplik on the radio, it’s really surreal to me. I still think of myself as the guy in the audience. I think of myself as the listener, as the concertgoer, all of that stuff. I’m from Winsted, Connecticut. Small town. And I’m sitting here thinking, “How does a guy from Winsted end up on the radio and end up doing a show with Jim Koplik?” This is a guy that I listened to forever and I just thought it was so cool. One day, I just happened to call him, we’d known each other for years because I was in radio for so long that we got to know each other. I called him up and I said, “How’d you like to do this show?” And he’s like, “Absolutely!” (laughs) It was really that easy. And so we put it together.

I wanted to do a little bit differently than what I’ve heard before. Everybody said, “Why don’t you have the listeners on the air asking questions and all that stuff?” And we would do that from time to time, but it seemed to flow better with me taking questions from a bunch of listeners and find out what bands people wanted to know about the most. I’d filter through it and just ask the questions for the listeners. Jimmy seemed to like that format, I seemed to like it, and we packed it into six questions. We covered everything and we moved on. That was a lot of fun, we did that for seven or eight years total. It went by very quickly. It’s almost hard to believe we did it that long. It seemed like it was just a year or so that we did it. And he became a good partner with CCC and myself, putting all those shows together. He was great. We get a lot of scoops on the show too. He would tell us about ticket info before he was supposed to announce it. He even got in trouble a couple of times. I remember there was a Guns N’ Roses show he was alluding to in their manager called him and was like, “What are you doing?” (laughs) But that’s how far-reaching that show was. It wasn’t just on air, the show was online. We’d do a podcast of it too. And so the audio would get back to the manager of Guns N’ Roses. (laughs) Not too many people get Jim Koplik in trouble, so I don’t think he was too concerned. But those things happen.

Alex Obert: Being such a prominent figure in the area, do you have any memorable interactions in public with people locally? Do people recognize you by your voice alone?

Mike Karolyi: (laughs) It happens in a variety of different ways. Sometimes it’s with voice and people will be like, “You sound so familiar.” I’ve been on the air for twenty eight years, so I guess that will happen. Sometimes when you pay for something, they’ll read the name and be like, “Is that the same Karolyi that’s on the radio?” And I’m like, “Yup!” And in more recent years, we did so much more with Facebook and social media that our pictures were out there a lot more than they were before. That made us even more visible. So that would happen. The week after we signed off from WCCC, I went out to dinner with Concert Kidd, he was at WCCC and HCN before that. We went out to dinner at Wood N Tap in Farmington, we’re just sitting there bullshittin’ and stuff, then this husband and wife came over. And she’s like, “Are you Mike Karolyi?” I’m like, “Yeah.” She’s like, “We can’t believe what happened to that radio station. We’re so bummed out.” And she actually started to tear up. That is pretty amazing. She gave me a big hug and they bought us a couple of beers. It was a really nice moment. It was really, really sweet. I’ve been there twenty eight years. Stephen Wayne had been there twenty years. Craig and Raven and all those guys put in fifteen, sixteen, twenty years a piece. And even still, I don’t think we realize the impact that the radio station had on some people until moments like that. I still get it to the state. People are like, “What happened? How could this station that I grew up with be gone?” So those are the interactions I’ve had, especially recently, with the listeners that have made the most impact on me. You realize how much that station affected people.

Alex Obert: With all the people you’ve met and interviewed throughout the years, who was the most disappointing to meet?

Mike Karolyi: I would say ninety nine percent that I’ve met have been awesome. I always looked at our relationship as a partnership and a friendship. And it wasn’t like, “Hey, I’ll do this for you. Will you do this for me?” As a radio station, we love these bands. All of them. I was excited to play their music on the radio. I was excited to put on a show where they could come and play in Hartford, whether it was at Toad’s Place or the Webster or a huge venue like Mohegan Sun. I was excited that we were bringing that to our listeners. And they would reciprocate. It was just natural, it just happened very organically. It was great. So I would say ninety nine percent of the artists that we interacted with have been amazing. The guys in Shinedown, they are so loyal to CCC and that brand and everybody that worked there, they were really disappointed that the station was done. Brent was on the air with me that last day and he was going on and on. He was really genuinely upset that the station was gone. Our interactions with the bands have been really, really good. Zakk Wylde from Black Label Society has actually asked about different guys at the station when he’s run into a listener or whatever, “Hey, how’s Craig and Stephen Wayne doing?” He remembers us, which is really, really cool. And I think it’s because of the way we did business, we were friends and partners, as opposed to this corporate brand. We were one of them in a lot of ways.

But there were a couple that over the years, for whatever reason, weren’t so great. When we’re dealing with them for two hours at an acoustic set or a meet and greet, they could just be having a shitty day, who knows? We had an acoustic session with Saliva at Pig’s Eye Pub in downtown Hartford. We got it all set up and everything was ready to go, then Josey Scott shows up. What I would typically do is I would introduce myself if I didn’t know them and I would try to make it as comfortable for them as possible. So I said, “Listen, we’re doing three songs today. Do you wanna do them consecutively? Do you want me to talk in between them? How do you feel most comfortable with this?” That’s what I would do with every band, just let them be in the most comfortable environment possible. And as I’m saying all that to him, he literally turned and walked away from me. At first, I thought maybe he didn’t realize I was talking to him. But it sounds stupid because it was just me and him. So I followed him and I continued that conversation. And he turns around and he says, “Hey man, we’re only doing two songs.” And I said, “Well, the agreement was three. We’ve got all these people here.” He goes, “We only know how to do two.” That’s not true because they’ve done five for us in the past when they were just starting out.

Then there was a situation where I had some other questions. It was me, Josey Scott, and their tour manager. I would ask the question, the tour manager would repeat my question to Josey, Josey would answer it to the tour manager, and then he would repeat it back to me. (laughs) We’re all right here, I can hear him. He’s right there. Is this really happening? It was crazy. But then he was not pleasant to some of the listeners. There was a meet and greet and they were asking if this was over yet. It was just a nightmare. I really didn’t care how he treated me, it doesn’t make any difference, but once it got to the listeners and he was groaning about signing a couple of autographs and wanting it over, that’s when I got agitated. But to his credit, I will say, he called me and he agreed to go on the air. He actually apologized to me on the air. I thought that was cool. He didn’t have to do that, he could’ve just been that guy. But he wanted to make sure that he apologized to me. I asked if we could do it on the air so the listeners could hear it and he said absolutely. To be quite honest, it was the last time he and I had ever spoken. (laughs) That’s not because there’s any bad feelings, it was just over after that. I think they write some cool songs and I think their songs sound great on the radio. They’re big and larger than life on the radio, but that day put a bad taste in some of our mouths.

Alex Obert: Didn’t Korn do something similar?

Mike Karolyi: (laughs) Yeah, there was something like that. It was Family Values at the Meadows Music Theater. We were able to arrange one of only two acoustic performances that they were doing on the whole tour. Again, it was supposed to be three songs. And then their manager called me that day and he said, “Well they’re only gonna do two songs.” Alright, but at least we got two songs. Whatever. After their first song, I’m like, “Alright, what’s the next?” “Yeah, we’re done.” (laughs) But you know what, it’s fine. We had Jonathan Davis out there doing a song for us that ended up on one of our charity CDs, so it all went to a good cause. We were all happy. Sometimes I find things like that to actually be funny. He wasn’t doing anything to be malicious, he was just doing one song. It was fine, who cares?

Alex Obert: Did you have anyone that was difficult to interview?

Mike Karolyi: The interview I struggled with the most was Maynard from A Perfect Circle. At that point, he was in A Perfect Circle and they were opening for Nine Inch Nails at the Hartford Civic Center. It was the first tour for the first album, around 2000. We had lined up an in-studio interview. At that point, the listeners only knew Maynard, they didn’t know the other guys because they were brand new. I said that we’d do it as long as Maynard is a part of it. And they’re like, “Absolutely!” Well that day comes and Maynard decides he doesn’t wanna do it. So I said, “That’s fine, we’ll just cancel the interview.” But the label was looking at it like they’re missing an opportunity. They asked if I could just interview the other guys. But nobody knows them, they are brand new. It would be tough. And we had agreed to have Maynard there. Long story short, it got back to Maynard and he’s now agitated and he’s like, “Fuck it, I’ll do it!” So you have a guy who’s agitated and angry anyway. And he’s coming to the station. Wonderful. (laughs) So the whole band was there. And they were cool, but I think more of my memory was the struggle of getting them to the station. During the interview, if you asked Maynard a question directly, he wouldn’t answer you. He would give you a one word answer, a yes or a no, and it didn’t necessarily fit the question. I was like, “Man, this sucks!” (laughs) But I’d ask the other guys a question and then I’d go back to him and he wouldn’t answer me. But if I asked somebody else a question, he would answer it. So in the end, he was fine. It was in my head and I knew he was agitated and it bothered me. So that was an interview that I struggled with. Other than that, most of them have been really cool.

I remember Sebastian Bach of Skid Row yelling at Rex. (laughs) Rex was our promotions director and he would take pictures at all the different events. Sebastian Bach was doing an acoustic song for us and when Rex took a picture, the flash went off. In the middle of the song, Sebastian starts yelling at Rex. And I felt awful for Rex because he had missed the part where Sebastian said no flash photography. (laughs) And then our guy from the station comes in and takes a flash and he’s pissed.

Alex Obert: On the topic of good causes with Korn, Christmas Chaos was the last major show for WCCC. And I bring this up because you did the tribute on stage for the tragedy that took place in Newtown that weekend. What was that feeling like for you?

Mike Karolyi: That was heavy. The WCCC Christmas Chaos was literally the day after the tragedy at Sandy Hook. That was the last time I did a stage announcement, the last time I’ve been on stage for show. There was a lot of concern about the show, should it happen, should it be postponed, or even canceled altogether. To Jim Koplik’s credit, he said the show must go on. Most of the bands felt the same way. Three Days Grace was the bands that we had to convince to play. And it was to no fault of their own, they weren’t trying to be disrespectful or being divas or anything like that, they were concerned about the audience and whether or not the lyrics they sing would be appropriate the day after all of this stuff. I remember all the bands showing up and the show had started, it was about 8 o’clock at night and I’m in the dressing room of Three Days Grace, I’m literally convincing them that they should play the show. And they weren’t sure. I’m like, “Listen, the show’s happening. It’s on. The audience is here and it’s a sold out show. Bands are already playing. We really think you should play. Listen, we’re from here. These are our friends and family and neighbors, we need this. We need this release, we need the show, we need this to happen.” It took a little bit, I talked to their managers, three different managers. I talked with the tour manager and then ultimately talked with the band. They finally said, “Alright, we get it. We’re gonna do this.” And they did. They ended up playing and it was amazing.

Before they went on, I went out and I did my stage announcement. I came up with the idea to have everybody out there, which is unusual, most bands don’t wanna be on the stage unless they’re actually performing. It’s like pulling that curtain back to see what’s going on, it’s not very showbiz like to do that, but this was a special set of circumstances. So I asked every band if they would join us on stage. You had the entire air staff, you had the girls of The Rock out there, all the bands came out and stood on stage with us. I tried to pay tribute to everyone who lost their lives the day before and try to bring everybody in the audience together. It was the most unusual stage announcement I’ve ever done. It was the heaviest one I’ve ever done, for sure. We needed to address it, somehow. And that’s the way we did it. I walked off the stage so full of emotions and stress, it was just so heavy. It was just surreal. And I’ve never been on a stage since then, kind of weird as I think about that.

Alex Obert: With all this talk about concerts, what are some of the best ones you have attended as a fan?

Mike Karolyi: Well the first concert I ever saw was KISS at Madison Square Garden in 1977. My mother took me to that. That will always be a marquee moment for me. Rage Against the Machine at the Meadows for the music, as well as the environment and the atmosphere. It was electric. I don’t condone this and Jim Koplik was pissed, people went crazy at that show. They started tearing down the fence and they started ripping up the sod and throwing it around and lighting the fence on fire. But that was a rock show. That was the kind of thing you hear about sometimes, it was chaos. It makes you wonder, “That really happened?” But it was cool. I love seeing a band that’s on their game. There’s certain nights that are just electric. We did a show back in like ’99 at Stage East in East Hartford and it was with Godsmack. It was right when Whatever had come out, it had been out for maybe six months or so, and the song was huge. We’d been playing it on the radio a ton. We did a free show over there. That was just one of those nights where there was an electricity in the air, just something really special about that night. The band was awesome and it was a packed house. Everybody talks about that show to this day. There’s probably ten thousand people who said they were there and we only had a thousand people in there because of the capacity. But it was just really cool. I remember getting my finger dislocated in the mosh pit and then Stephen Wayne popped it back into place for me. Some weird stuff happened that night. (laughs)

Alex Obert: With the WCCC format change, how did you handle all of the criticism from listeners on Facebook? How did you not take the criticism personally?

Mike Karolyi: It was difficult. I don’t think we handled it very well at all. (laughs) To be very honest and very transparent, I don’t think we, as radio station, handled the transition well at all. You have to understand that there were a lot of things going on internally. You had the air staff, who had been doing what we were doing for fifteen years, playing new rock and hard rock. You had ownership and upper management saying, “This isn’t working for us and we need to do something different.” It’s their radio station, there’s really little you can do about it. But we had this struggle between the air staff and myself and upper management. We weren’t on the same page, so that made things very difficult. The staff wanted to say a lot more on Facebook, but we couldn’t because it was our jobs. I think that’s one thing a lot of the listeners didn’t understand. Yes, we love what we do, and it’s fun and it’s cutting edge and it’s an art form, whenever you wanna say, but at the end of the day, it’s our jobs. Some of us have mortgages, some of us have families and kids, everything to take care of. You need to protect your livelihood. It’s not that we abandoned our listeners, we would’ve ran with that format for another fifteen years if we could have, but we really didn’t have a choice. So when it came to comments on social media and stuff, it was rough, man. There were times where you just wanted to say certain things and you couldn’t because it would come back on us. It didn’t matter what we posted, you could post a picture of anything, you could post a picture of a lightbulb and people would be like, “Yeah, that’s a nice lightbulb, but you guys suck!” (laughs)

So after a while, some of us, myself included, would get sarcastic in our exchanges. I tried to be as honest as possible. The way I look at the change in music, I didn’t agree with it and I will take that to my grave. I did not agree with changing to classic rock. You’ve got so many stations in Hartford playing the same thing. Why would we do the same thing all those guys are doing? It made no sense to me. So I fought it. To the owner’s credit, I will say, going classic rock turned the ratings around. What made me happy about that was that, for the most part, we had the same air staff doing classic rock instead of active rock. Active rock is when a station plays a lot of new music. What was rewarding about it was that we had success either way. That meant that our air staff knew what they were doing. They were a talented group of people. We could be successful doing the job of radio, no matter what the format was. So that was very rewarding to me. What was surprising to me was that with classic rock, it worked. We did very, very well. It’s hard to believe. But I still argued about why we’re doing the same thing PLR is doing. The thought process was, this is how it was rationalized to me, we had a tremendous signal at CCC and we were the only Hartford signal playing that. You have PLR in New Haven, you have AQY in Springfield, we were the only Hartford one doing that.

Alex Obert: But the format became so similar to The River 105.9 at the end.

Mike Karolyi: There were times I’d listen to The River, they were playing Staind and we weren’t. How does this happen? PLR picked up some of the newer hard rock songs, which was smart. They were playing some Avenged Sevenfold and bands that you couldn’t get at CCC anymore. I thought that was smart. But it was very surreal to hear some of those bands on other stations and we couldn’t play them anymore. We’re playing Foreigner and Styx. (laughs) It was hard. Listen, I’ve been around a long time and I’ve played all those bands. And I like some of those classic rock bands, it’s stuff I grew up on. I didn’t really have a problem with that, I wish that we were able to make an adjustment to CCC, but not go that far.

Alex Obert: I thought they were trying to make it a fair balance in the beginning.

Mike Karolyi: That was the problem. That was the trainwreck that was me and the ownership, they had their ideas and I had mine. We tried to split it in half. I’ll do half of mine, you do half of yours. It didn’t really work together.

Alex Obert: I had read that the protesters were told by upper management that they would play hard rock at night. That didn’t end up happening. What’s the story behind that?

Mike Karolyi: I don’t really know what happened there. A lot of what happened at CCC in the last two years was a lot of miscommunication and misdirection. It’s almost hard to remember how it all placed together. But yes, there was talk that after 7 o’clock, we would be basically the same station we used to be. That never really happened. The reason they were gonna do that, I think to the owner’s credit, he was trying to appease the listeners that were there before while also making some changes and broadening his reach. So during the daytime when the ratings count the most, he wanted to make it as mainstream and mass appeal as possible. And then at night when it mattered the least, he felt we could open it up and do some hard rock, some new rock, all that kind of stuff. But when push came to shove, we never really did it. And that bothered a lot of listeners because they felt they were promised something that they weren’t gonna get. So that created some animosity too. More and more, the owner and the vice president became known through social media. Then the direction came away from the air staff to some degree and was targeted on them. They tried to do the right thing, they wanted to post comments on Facebook and react to people, but it just didn’t work. It was a bad idea. Through that communication, they were trying to do the right thing, but then they became known and then they became targets. It took the burden off of us to some degree. (laughs)

Alex Obert: When the protesters were there, what was going through your head when you saw them in front of the building?

Mike Karolyi: It was crazy. I remember hearing about Save The Rock, the group that was gonna come out and protest. I remember thinking, “Are people really gonna come out and do this? And if they do, what’s gonna happen?” It was so surreal to be a part of that. And sure enough, they did. We had a group of people show up with signs and everything. We were told that we could not go out and interact with them, to just stay in the building and let them do their thing so we could continue business as usual and all that stuff. But as the day wore on, we realized these are our listeners and they just care about the radio station. That’s what it’s all about. They cared about that station so much that they wanted to do a protest. And it was an effective protest. And so eventually we went to management and said, “Listen, we just wanna go out and say hi to these guys.” And they were cool about it. Me and Craig and Sinnamin, whoever was around, we went out and we talked to them. It was just weird. It was weird because you got a bunch of people who felt the same way that you did, but we all felt helpless. We all felt like there’s really nothing we can do about this. We appreciated the support and the protest and everything, it was humbling. Really humbling. But at the same time, I really wondered if it would have any effect on the station at all or not.

Alex Obert: When WCCC did come to an end, what did you think of the tribute to WCCC on 104.1 after the final broadcast?

Mike Karolyi: I was very impressed with Holden Johnson at 104. He used to work at CCC, I worked with him for a number of years. Very talented guy. But you never know, the competition could have taken that opportunity to gloat and to brag and to dance on our graves to some degree. But to Holden’s credit, and I’ll give credit to their owner, John Fuller, as well, they took that opportunity and they took the high road. They did a really nice tribute and I thought I was really, really cool. Holden asked me if I wanted to go on the air with him and I just didn’t feel comfortable with it. I just never really felt comfortable going on another radio station in Hartford, it would feel weird, even though we weren’t competitors anymore. CCC was done and it would’ve been okay, but I just never felt right about it, so I just never did it. But I thought it was really cool what Holden did and I thought it was really cool that their owner let him do that. The fact that he played the Planet of Sound performance of Stillborn was cool, it’s the song that became the poster child of WCCC for a lot of reasons. It represented our first charity CD, it represented all those legendary acoustic performances we did, it gave us the connection to Zakk Wylde and Ozzy and all that, there was so much with that song. And people loved that song. That became our most requested song that year, by far, it wasn’t even close. I will always respect Holden and MRQ for doing that.

Alex Obert: Because it was the final song played on WCCC, what does Walk by Pantera mean to you?

Mike Karolyi: Well it has a whole different meaning now. All those years I heard it, I always loved the riff and I always loved the song, but it will forever have a different meaning for me now. I even had people telling me that when they heard that as the last song, they cried. Who’s gonna cry to a Pantera song? (laughs) But it took that song and gave it a whole new meaning. Now whenever I hear it, I hear that riff and it takes me right back to that studio and that moment. Man, it’s just heavy. Twenty eight years of my life and to know that that was the last song that I played on the radio station after all that time, all of us in that room and all of us that put a minute into that radio station, that was the end. You can’t help but think about that day and how everything was pulled out from under us, that song will always trigger those thoughts.

Alex Obert: With the end of WCCC and the beginning of iRockRadio, how did that begin and what are the plans ahead?

Mike Karolyi: So on Friday, August 1st, WCCC signed off and it was the very next week that I got a call from Connecticut School of Broadcasting. It’s a school that I went to, I’m a graduate of the school, and I’ve been friends with the Robinson family for thirty years. They asked to meet at the school in Farmington, which I did, and they asked me what I thought of internet radio. And honestly, I hadn’t given it much thought because I was a terrestrial radio guy. That was my career and that’s all I really knew. But I spent the last few months studying internet radio, researching it, and so has the school. We decided to form a partnership and we are gonna launch our own internet radio station. In this radio station is gonna be modeled after what WCCC was of a few years ago, not the classic rock version. This is going to be an internet radio station that plays nineties rock, new rock, and we’ll dabble into some classic rock because you can’t go wrong with some Zeppelin. (laughs) It’s going to be a rock radio station unlike anything you’d hear in Hartford, New Haven, Springfield, or for that matter, New York City and Los Angeles. This is going to be a rock station. And if you’re a fan of rock and a fan of WCCC and of what we did the last sixteen years, you’re gonna love this radio station. Check iRockRadio.com’s Facebook page. We have a Twitter account. We have Instagram. And obviously, our own website. Check those for all the updates, all the announcements, everything will be found all throughout social media and online. We’re really excited, man.

When I signed off at WCCC, one of the last things I said before I played Walk from Pantera was “I don’t know how I’m gonna top what I did here at CCC, but I’m gonna figure it out. I’m gonna find a way.” I firmly believe that iRockRadio is going to top what we did at CCC. We’re gonna be able to do things with this radio station that we weren’t able to do with CCC because of FCC rules and regulations and different rating systems and whatever. This is the internet, man. We can do anything and everything. You’re gonna hear a lot of familiar programming items such as acoustic performances because the listeners like that stuff. We’re gonna be at concerts because that’s where we need to be, that’s where we live and breathe. We’re gonna have artists on the air, interactions, all kinds of stuff. The sky’s the limit with iRockRadio.com. If you liked WCCC, you’re gonna love the station. Familiar personalities will be around as well, so some of your favorites from CCC will be on air here. It’s pretty exciting, man. It’s gonna be cool.

Alex Obert: What was your reaction when you found out this was going to be happening?

Mike Karolyi: The last few months have been interesting because I’ve been negotiating with the Connecticut School of Broadcasting and trying to figure out whether we were gonna be able to do this or not. So what we’ve done is approached some of our friends in the business community to see if they’re interested, see if they think it’s a good idea, and see if they’ll be a partner of ours. And the reaction has been absolutely amazing. George from Anderson Jewelers, Jim Koplik from Live Nation, those were the first two to sign up and be a part of iRockRadio.com. It’s guys like that that enable us to do this. The Connecticut School of Broadcasting takes internet radio to a whole nother level. Typically you’ve got internet stations that are decent stations because you have people like me and you who love music, they’re very passionate about it, and they’re doing as a hobby. It’s fun. But with the backing of the School of Broadcasting, we take it to a whole nother level. Our facilities are actually nicer than what we had at WCCC, as far as the equipment goes and all that stuff. We have twelve campuses up and down the East Coast, so we’ll have resources as far as concert reports from cities all over the East Coast.

The facility we have here at iRockRadio.com is very impressive. Production room, on-air studio, we have a performance room where bands will come, right here to Farmington, and perform acoustic like they would at any of our events before. We have a room for it right here at the studio. We have a whole video department, so we’re gonna do a lot of video content. When we interview bands, you’re not only gonna be able to hear it, but you’re gonna be able to see it. When it comes to on-air programming on the stream, when you log on to iRockRadio.com, you’re gonna get more music than any other radio station on the terrestrial dial could ever imagine playing. And that’s gonna be part of our appeal, we’re gonna keep our commercial interruption very, very short. You’re gonna get a ton of music. You’re gonna get the songs and bands that you haven’t heard for a few years. And you’ll never hear some of these stations in Hartford play these bands. You’ll never hear some of these stations play Tool or Rage Against the Machine or Avenged Sevenfold or Godsmack or Metallica, certainly not in any kind of consistent rotation. You’re gonna get all of that here at iRockRadio.com, just like you would’ve at CCC a few years ago. This is exciting.

Alex Obert: When you reached out to bands to let them know about iRockRadio and that their music will be active around here again, what was their reaction?

Mike Karolyi: Every band that I’ve talked to, every record company that I’ve talked to, every band manager that I’ve talked to has been extremely supportive. They’ve said, “Whatever we can do to help you out, we’re gonna be there to help you out.” We’ve had great relationships over the years. We’re picking up where WCCC left off a few years ago and we’re just gonna skyrocket this thing. Pop Evil will be coming in to do some special things for us. I’ve talked to the guys in Staind, they’re thrilled about this and they’ll be helping us out with interviews and whatever we can do. We’re gonna do all the things you expected WCCC to do and then some. So get ready, this is gonna be a ride.

Alex Obert: You had mentioned Nervous Rex earlier. I feel as though he and his contributions to the station have been overlooked. What is your relationship like with him?

Mike Karolyi: I just talked to Rex two days ago. I consider myself and the staff brothers. I really do. As cliché as it sounds, and it might be silly to some people, we were really brothers. And I think the same of the listeners. I mean that very sincerely. I would say after me and maybe on a level with me, there was nobody as passionate about WCCC as Rex. Nobody. That guy lived and breathed that radio station. I had been there for twenty eight years, so after a while, going to some of the bars and events and stuff, I had kids and I was getting older, it gets harder to get me out of the house. Rex went to everything. He was at bars, at the concerts, at the car dealerships. He lived WCCC. And it was devastating to him when the radio station signed off. I consider him a brother, we are friends for life, and he is the salt of the earth.

Alex Obert: The controversy that took place at the station prior to the format change was the morning show changes in 2009. What was that like for you?

Mike Karolyi: How do you replace Howard Stern? You don’t. You just don’t. I’m a fan of Howard’s and I believe he is the greatest radio broadcaster in the history of radio broadcasting, that’s my opinion. So how do you replace the greatest? You really don’t. But we went with a guy that had worked at CCC for a number of years, on and off in the past, and he’s a larger than life personality too. That’s Sebastian. So we had him come in and he did a really nice job for a while. If you look at the other stations around the country that were Howard Stern stations, most of them had replaced their replacement for Howard within six to nine months and the guy who took over for Howard was gone. And in a lot of cases, those stations changed formats right away. They went from being a rock station to a sports station or a Spanish station or whatever, they got out of the rock business. And so when we had Sebastian on, he did a really nice job for a while. I think he was there two or three years and towards the end, it wasn’t working as well. For whatever reason it was. The way they generate that information, it’s not the most tried and true, but it’s all you have. So who knows what it was? But we decided we were gonna part ways with Sebastian. He was one of those guys that was polarizing. You either loved Sebastian or you hated Sebastian, there was very little gray area there. He would elicit that kind of reaction out of listeners. I think that’s great. Same thing with the songs, I’d rather have somebody on the air that you’d live and die for or you’d wanna kill. (laughs) I’d rather have that than somebody who’s boring that people don’t care about.

Listen to the stations in Hartford right now, they’re filled with boring personalities. And that’s not patting myself on the back, that’s not what I’m trying to do. The way things are judged now in radio, you’re not rewarded for stepping out and being a personality. You’re just not. So you have to be kind of boring and short in your delivery and just in and out real fast, it doesn’t open up any room to be a personality. Damon Scott on TIC FM in the afternoon is one of the few that is rewarded for it. He’s a talented guy, he’s a funny guy, he does creative production. He does a show. And I wish more radio stations would take note of his success and say, “Maybe we should do that too.” A lot of ’em are afraid to pull that trigger, so it doesn’t happen. But Sebastian was one of those characters. He was certainly polarizing. After that, it was a revolving door of people that we just tried to make work. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.

Alex Obert: That was around the time that Miss Klonk really stepped up.

Mike Karolyi: She’s one of those people that CCC that, like myself, started as an intern and worked her way up. She did a little bit of everything. She was on air, she did promotions, she did productions. Radio has become like that where you have to multitask and you have to do multiple things. And she was able to adapt over the years. That’s how you become more and more valuable. The more you can do, the more you’re likely to stay around. She was put into a lot of difficult situations. High-profile personality leaves; Klonk, step in and do that. Now we’re gonna move you over here, then we’re gonna move you over there. That’s rough, that’s a lot of changes. She rolled with it, so I give her a lot of credit for that.

Alex Obert: What did you take out of working with the interns throughout the years? Did they remind you of a younger version of yourself?

Mike Karolyi: Some of them. (laughs) Interns are funny, man. Some of them we had for years, literally for years because they just loved being a part of the radio station. Others would be there for a month and they were gone. And we had so many over the years. Most of them really, really good people. Some of them have gone on to careers in broadcasting and some haven’t, it’s just the nature of it. I never used interns for my show. I feel I gotta do it myself, so I never had an intern in the studio with me to help me out. But we always used them, especially for concerts and promotions and stuff like that. We used them a ton. It was nice to see some of them graduate to being on air and stuff because it did remind me of myself. It’s cool. That was always rewarding when you were able to train someone to a point where they were ready to go.

Alex Obert: This is an interesting memory. I read about the time where WCCC briefly became The Lake 106.9 because of the change to The River on 105.9.

Mike Karolyi: (laughs) That was one thing about CCC being an independent station. As much as people said we were corporate at the end, the business structure of that radio station never changed. It was always the same owner for the last sixteen years and the same personnel for the most part. We were as independent on the last day as we were the first day. And we were as corporate the last day as we were the first day. Business is business, you call it noncorporate or corporate or whatever you want, we’re running a business. Being in the structure we were in with a private owner and a small staff compared to other companies, we were allowed to do stuff that the others wouldn’t even dare to do. There were times where we would go and make fun of other stations. Some people liked it and thought it was funny. Some people were mad at us for doing it. I thought the same, sometimes I thought it was hilarious and sometimes I would cringe a little bit. And that’s why when you asked before, when we signed off, what I thought of what Holden did, I thought it was great. I don’t know what we would’ve done, to be honest with you. I would like to think that we would’ve taken the high road and done something nice, but I don’t know. Judging from our past experiences, I don’t know how we would’ve handled it. (laughs) Hopefully we would’ve done the right thing.

Alex Obert: I’m curious about the physical rock in front of the studio. I heard rumors regarding its whereabouts.

Mike Karolyi: Picozzi took it. He got permission from everybody. He did the right thing and asked the owner if he could have it. He got it all cleared. He came one morning and he had a forklift and a flatbed, he scooped it up and it’s in his front yard. (laughs) There’s video of it somewhere on Facebook.

Alex Obert: Do you have any memorable stories with the WCCC Hummer?

Mike Karolyi: That’s a rolling billboard, man. You go down the road and people see that thing. When we were everyone’s favorite station, it was nice. People would always beep the horn and wave to us or whatever, that was cool. When we went classic rock, it was a much different thing. (laughs) We changed the logo on it and it looked cool. It was by a company called Quad/Graphics in East Hartford, they wrapped it for us and made it look really badass. But it was the classic rock version! (laughs) I felt bad for some of our sales guys, they would take it out sometimes on sales calls and stuff and they caught the brunt of it more than most because they were in it more than most. They’d get flipped off and stuff. (laughs) But you know what, I don’t blame the listeners. I don’t blame ’em. We changed their favorite radio station and they were pissed. I get both sides of it. Our owner had to do what he had to do for his business reasons and the listeners were upset because their favorite radio station had changed.

Alex Obert: What were the listener calls like once the format changed?

Mike Karolyi: I stopped taking calls towards the end. (laughs) They would just call you up and tell you that you suck or request something that we couldn’t play.

Alex Obert: How were you advised to handle that?

Mike Karolyi: We didn’t really have a lot of advice. We were just left to our own decision-making. I just said, “Why answer the phone if you’re just gonna be abused?” I get they wanna vent and all that stuff, but at the same time, it just wasn’t productive. I had a job to do, so I scaled away from answering the phone.

Alex Obert: What unusual calls did you get during the better days?

Mike Karolyi: We used to get calls, especially late at night, they’d call up and just say weird stuff. (laughs) We would get people that became characters on the radio station. I think one guy’s name was Crazy Dave. They would call up and they would end up being characters that Craig or Raven or somebody would put on the air and use them. They just said some weird stuff. Sometimes they were drunk and sometimes they were just plain crazy. I don’t know what was going on at night. (laughs) But we were a companion to them.

Alex Obert: Before we wrap up, I have to ask you, how do you want WCCC to be remembered?

Mike Karolyi: An interesting thing about how people are already remembering CCC, a lot of them seem to have forgotten that we were classic rock for about ten months. As people reflect on the radio station, they don’t even address the classic rock months. It’s like it didn’t even happen. I think that’s cool. What I would like people to remember about WCCC is that we, the on-air staff, the promotions people, everybody that worked at WCCC, were the same as the listeners. I think that came through in how we carried ourselves and how we acted. We were lucky enough to work there. I would like people to remember that everything we did, we did with the listener in mind. We did acoustic performances because we felt the listeners would love that. We did interviews because we felt the listeners would like to hear that. We would go to a concert, whether it was ours or somebody else’s, and we would always do what Picozzi always referred to as the show before the show. We wanted to put on a show. We wanted to be as much of an attraction as some of the opening acts. So we would set up our booth and our broadcast and we would make it larger than life. We would make the artists come out to our booth to be interviewed. Usually they don’t wanna do any of that, they wanna be backstage where they’re not in the public and we can do it quietly or whatever. We wanted to break all that down and we wanted to put the artist right in front of the listener. And we became known for that. People would get to a show early just to be at the broadcast. I remember once at Ozzfest, we had a stage that was as big as the second stage, it was huge. We had all the artists coming out. And the guys doing sound at the second stage were trying to get us shut down. The reason was because early on, we had more of an audience watching us than they were watching the second stage. So they were pissed. In the end, I just want people to remember CCC as a place where they came to for great music and fun personalities. It was a lifestyle. It was quite a ride. It was a pretty cool ride.

Alex Obert: If you had all listeners, past and present, in the same room right now, what would you want to say to them?

Mike Karolyi: I would thank them, first and foremost, for all the years they gave us. There’s no way CCC would’ve been a rock station for nearly forty years without the listeners. There’s no way we would’ve done these shows over the last sixteen years without the listeners. There’s no way. They were the most passionate and loyal group of listeners that any radio station could ever ask for. If I could shake every one of their hands, I would do it in a heartbeat. And I mean that sincerely. I would also tell them that rock is not dead, contrary to what Gene Simmons says. Gene likes to say things to capture some press and get himself in the headlines. And it worked. But I think at the same time, it also motivated some people to say it’s not dead and to listen to these new bands that are coming out, embrace them and support them. I think there’s a lot of really good new rock that’s out and available. New songs from already established bands and brand new bands, as well. I would encourage them to keep listening to bands, go see them perform live, do all that kind of stuff. Just keep supporting rock because it’s the same with the radio station, without them, it will die.

Alex Obert: It’s been great to talk about everything and I am looking forward to the future with iRockRadio.com. I’d love to thank you so much for your time.

Mike Karolyi: You got it, man!

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