Bli Summer Jam 2023 Lineup – Andrew Sykora, better known as “Syke,” is the host of “Syke & MJ in the Morning” on Long Island 106.1 BLI. His radio career spans more than two decades and seems to be slowing down. We talk to Syke about breaking into the industry, the importance of social media and its role in connecting with your audience, giving back to the community and the highly anticipated Summer Show tomorrow!
LEG: It’s rare in this business to work at your hometown station. How did you get started in radio and what is it like working for hometown station WBLI? What advice would you give to people wanting to get started in radio today?
Bli Summer Jam 2023 Lineup
S: I started in radio in high school in St. John the Baptist in West Islip. BLI was my home station growing up and I started getting the radio bug at 13. When I found out I had a high school station I thought “how cool?” and decided to go in! Fast forward a few years later and here I am working for a major station! It was an unreal experience and something I wouldn’t trade for the world. My advice to people wanting to get started in radio today is the same advice I always give — do as many gigs as you can, take the night shifts you can (that’s where you can be most creative) and learn what you can. all you know Radio is not just about talking. There are many things you can learn behind the scenes that will help you along the way.
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LEG: You are a celebrity interviewer for BLI and have interviewed Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Katy Perry, Ed Sheeran and more. How do you prepare before sitting down with such superstar artists and what’s the secret to getting the best interviews with them?
S: Believe it or not, I always prepare even though I don’t try to prepare. It’s hard to stay out of the world of pop culture when you have a Twitter and Instagram account. To get a good interview, make the artist trust you. Ask questions, make them laugh and be human. Be yourself! Not a funny thing. Sketches are good, but come on, if you have to tell the artist how to act or what to say, you’re already drowning. Let everything happen naturally! Before you start, ask them what they really want to talk about! The interview is not about the interviewer, it is about the interviewer. Find the button they want to press. Oh, and also, don’t compliment the artist. Everyone knows they are talented. You’re a tester first, a fan second.
LEG: The WBLI Summer Jam is June 14th at the Jones Beach Theater and is one of the biggest shows of the summer! Audiences will enjoy special performances from The Jonas Brothers, Ellie Goulding, Bebe Rexha, Mark Ronson, Ally Brooke, Bazzi, Fletcher, Why Don’t We, Bryce Vine and Jake Miller. What part of Summer Jam are you most looking forward to?
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S: We have so many stars every year and I can’t wait to see the Jonas Brothers and Ellie Goulding perform…but I love meeting the audience the most. It is very important to get out into the crowd and make yourself available to people who listen to you every day. It shows you the real importance of your brand and the value of your station. Don’t underestimate children’s handshakes and kisses! We are politicians… minus the big controversies. TPT!
LEG: Aside from waking up before sunrise, what was the hardest part of the transition from hosting the night to hosting the “Syke & MJ in the Morning” show?
S: I wouldn’t say it was a challenge, but it’s important to remember that you have to be 100% in the game. Our audience starts the day wanting to have fun before going into work that they may find frustrating, uncomfortable or wish they could do better. We are the ones running away. We must not forget that.
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LEG: You are known to be an active member of the community and support many charities and events, including Special Olympics, National Children’s Health System and Children’s Brain Cancer Research, “AppleADay4Kids” and many others. What kind of perspective does your presence and participation in such an important foundation and initiative give you?
S: Community involvement is key to doing what we do. It is our duty to inform, educate and give back. We have a platform where we can help people in need, give a voice to the voiceless! It’s that simple. If we don’t use this platform in this way for these reasons, what is the point of doing what we do? It is service to others, not service to ourselves.
LEG: WBLI is hosted by Jeremy Rice, who has been with the station since 1998. He is also Cox Radio’s Top 40 format director and is widely regarded as a successful leader, contributor and programmer. What is it like working with Jeremy and what valuable lessons have you learned from him?
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S: I learned a lot from Jeremy, not as a leader, or as a mentor, or as a programmer… . He and I have become close over the years and it has been an honor and a privilege to work under him. He gets almost no credit for his work. The most valuable lesson I learned from Jeremy was to “keep it boss”. It taught me the importance of professionalism, clear thinking and understanding, not emotion. I’m still learning, as we all are, but being around to show these examples is a valuable experience.
LEG: Effective communication on social media is one of your strong points. Can you tell us what role social media plays in building your brand and supporting the Morning Show and the Station?
S: FREE. BE. EDUCATION. WITH OUT. MARK….both you and the station.! Stay on your social game. It is urgent. When you go off the air, keep the conversation going. Always stay ahead when on social media. It is easy to implement and many people take it for granted. I’m a big believer in connecting with your audience through social media, even if it’s just a simple response from “hello” that makes your channel and show the #1 choice if that’s their choice, those listening.
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LEG: For someone who seems to be growing in all areas of their career right now, is there anything that has failed you personally or professionally that you can share? How did you overcome it and learn from it?
S: I am the most nervous and self-critical person in the world. I don’t know if it counts as a failure, but I put a lot of pressure on myself when it comes to showing preparation, performance and communication. The lesson I have learned is that there is always another day and there is always a chance to turn it around. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Taking time to slow down, realize that there is an opportunity for success and living in the moment is very important.
LEG: The Lakeside brand we developed represents doing what you love, working hard but playing hard, and valuing time and leisure reflects life. What do you do for fun in your spare time when you are not working?
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S: My husband and I bought a house, so for the next week and month I’ll be saying “yes baby” to whatever project he wants to take on. hand… it’s strange, if the house is moving and there is no need. In reality though, I still love spending time with my family, friends and my dog DJ. I am an exerciser, usually at the gym 5-6 days a week. I love a good craft cocktail and watching horror reality TV.
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