Tune in for 20: DJ team celebrates anniversary

DSC_8736 FTWBy Rebecca Fiedler

After 20 years of sharing news, telling corny jokes and providing McLennan County with a wide variety of country music, local disc jockeys of Waco 100 country radio station Zack Owen and Jim Cody are throwing a party to tell their listeners “thank you” for all the years of tuning in.

Zack & Jim’s 20th Anniversary Blowout will take place at 6 p.m. this Saturday at the Extraco Events Center, featuring a concert including A-list country stars Easton Corbin and Dustin Lynch. The event is free and open to everyone, and floor seats to the concert are $6.

Owen and Cody have been working with Waco 100 for 20 years as of January. Owen is the station’s program director and is a regional programming manager for Clear Channel, a national company that owns radio stations such as Waco 100, for the surrounding areas. Cody is the morning show producer. Both men DJ the station’s morning show together. Waco 100 was tied for about second or third place in ratings when Owen first arrived, Owen said. Owen hired Cody to the station shortly after arriving at Waco 100, and within the first few months of the two working for Waco 100, the station’s Arbitron ratings set Waco 100 as No. 1 radio station in McLennan County, and Waco 100 has been No. 1 ever since, Owen said.

“Unless it’s brand new, every song you hear on Waco 100 was a hit,” Owens said.

Waco 100 is considered a “mainstream country station,” which means it is one that plays about 45 percent current music, which is music that is on the charts now, and 55 percent gold music, which consists of songs that have been hits anywhere from around 1989 to the present, Owen said.

“I’ve been in this business a long time,” Owen said. “There have been a lot of radio stations all over America: in Texas, in Dallas, in Houston, that have put on what they call ‘classic country,’ and that’s all they play. They don’t play any new artists. They’ve failed – they’ve all failed. It’s like rock music. There’s classic rock, and there’s people that like classic rock, but it’s a very small niche. It’s a small audience. What we want to do on Waco 100; we want to play stuff from the 90s, 2000s on up, so we’re trying to give you a wide variety of new and old. And we will throw some of the old stuff in.”

Waco 100 plays a wide variety of country music and carries one of the largest playlists. Most American radio stations play fewer than 400 songs total, Owens said. Waco 100 plays around 2,600 songs on a regular basis and has a daily lunch hour period dedicated to playing music from the 1960s, 70s and 80s, Owen said.

Allison Sorley, local Wacoan and Zack and Jim morning show listener, said she loves listening to Owen and Cody, and has attended their anniversary blowouts ever since she graduated high school in 1999. She still listens to them a few times a week while driving in her car.

“They’re really fun characters to listen to,” Sorley said. “They’re not full of themselves. They’re huge names in Waco and have been around for a long time.”

A lot of morning shows don’t play a lot of music, Owen said, but they function more like talk radio. Waco 100 plays at least 10 songs every hour on the morning show.

“We realize that we need to be entertaining – at the same time, I try to think about me as a country listener,” Owen said. “I want to hear music. I don’t want to hear all talk. I don’t want to hear all music. We try to come up with a good balance.”

Owen and Cody have been to Iraqi war zones twice for their show. Owen has been to Afghanistan for the show. Owen and Cody try to have some humor, Owen said, and also to provide information like weather, sports and news, and include stories from their lives.

“For 20 years our lives have been an open book,” Owen said. “Personal stories can be funnier than anything, so we tell about ourselves and make fun of ourselves. We’ve had a crazy life. If you’re in radio for 36 years, you meet a lot of people, you do a lot of stuff – a lot of crazy stuff.”

Sorley said her dad was always playing Waco 100 as she grew up, which she said shows good local support of the station.

“It’s a good station for Waco and they’re good representatives of it,” Sorley said.

Even though Owen is Cody’s boss, they still are best friends and are like brothers, Owen said. The two hang out together, and there are times they don’t want to see each other, which is just like being a brother, Owen said. They have a very similar sense of humor, Owen added, love to party, have been married multiple times, and been in radio, as the blowout celebration suggests, a long time.

Doors open at 6 p.m. and floor seat tickets can be purchased in advance at the Extraco Events Center.