In Search of…25 Years for Keith and Sam
La Crosse radio team marks their silver anniversay together
LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — It is so early on this weekday morning, the sun hasn’t even made an appearance. But that’s not stopping two of our favorite voices from helping the rest of us rise and shine.
Keith Carr and Sam Strong are starting today off like they have so many other days over the past 25 years. It is a perfect partnership, that truthfully started a little rocky.
“I actually met him when I was at a different radio station,” said Strong. “I was talking to a man he worked with and he came up and said ‘Hey! We gotta go!’ And he just looked at me and just nodded. He didn’t say a word to me.”
Carr responds,”Happy hour was about to start. It’s time to go.”
The second meeting, while both working for the same station, wasn’t much better.
“We were doing the Maple Leaf parade and we’d been there for hours and he gets dropped off like somebody on the red carpet. He walks by and says ‘I hate parades. We’re doing remotes. Come on let’s go!’ And I’m like, ‘Don’t make me go with him. He’s scary!'”
So he was intimidating at first?
“He’s intimidating now!” Sam said with a laugh.
At 6 a.m. on February 8th, 1990, Keith and Sam debuted as the new morning team on Z93. They were an instant hit – a pairing Keith says he knew would go the distance.
“Yeah. For this long? Yeah. Some of us are built for the long haul.”
Sam said she never even thought about it.
“I don’t know that if you had said you’d be on the radio with Keith for 25 years that I would have laughed or cried.” Keith added, “We were just trying to get through the first break. Then the first hour, then the first day.”
For 17 years they were the voices of pop music in the La Crosse area. But in 2007 a crossroads. It was becoming more apparent that while they kept getting older, the age of their target audience stayed the same.
“They’d tell us, ‘Don’t mention anything that happened more that 4 years ago.’ And we’d go, ‘Let me see was this six years ago or was it four??”
So they made a switch. They said farewell to Z93 and hello to Classic Hits 94.7.
“At first we were hesitant because change is uncomfortable. But with Classic Hits 94.7, we know every song we play.”
When you work three feet away from the same person for 25 years, you learn a few things.
“She is as nice as she sounds,” Keith said. “Seriously she is. That’ll be a dollar.”
Sam added, “He is such a solid person. He is so reliable. He chased off some boyfriends or pointed out how loser-ey they were. He just is part of everyday. I don’t know what I would do without him.”
“She’s very stable and in an unstable business and that is so rare. She’s talented and we seem to compliment each other. That is to say we work well together – not to say we actually compliment each other. That never happens.”
They are extremely grateful to the listeners for being so loyal over the years.
“I think it is so lovely about this business that you can have this kind of connection that’s very family like. So thanks for being my family!”
Looking ahead, they say they are a lot closer to the end than the start.
“He says that all the time. Cause it’s true! Their won’t be another 25. But seriously we don’t talk about it. Because we don’t want to focus on the end, we want to focus on today.”
For 25 years we’ve let them in to our homes and cars and bathrooms to help start our day off right. And for that Keith and Sam, we say, “Thank you.”
Midwest Family Broadcasting will be throwing a big party to celebrate Keith and Sam’s 25 years together and they would love to see you there! Here’s the info:
Thursday, March 5th
Freight House, La Crosse
There will be food and a cash bar