Andy Ellis boasts that he "was pretty darn good at staying quiet" in the WGUC-FM studio as a kid. Thankfully, he's over that.
Ellis, 35, son of former WGUC producer Bruce Ellis, returns to the station as 4-9 p.m. classical music host on Monday, Aug. 26. He made his radio debut at age eight on the station, and worked here as an announcer-engineer from 2003-2011.
"There used to be a show that my dad would host called Pops Salute (which is ironic because I call him 'Pops'), and he let me intro the theme song to Superman. It was the biggest thing that had ever happened to me in all my eight years," says Ellis, a 2002 Highlands High School graduate. The Fort Thomas native lives in Covington with his wife, Lauren.
"I'm sure that a couple squeals or laughs could have been broadcast throughout my childhood just because I spent so much time at the station, but I was pretty darn good at staying quiet when that 'On Air' sign lights up."
Ellis fills the vacancy from the March 19 death of longtime midday announcer Frank Johnson. Starting Monday, Elaine Diehl will host 11 a.m.-4 p.m. following morning host Brian O'Donnell.
"When I found out about the position being open, I felt it was something that was almost meant to be," Ellis says. "There is a core group here that have known me since I was a kid, and I’ve always kept in touch. I wanted to come back to the area to be closer to my family, but I also missed the community."
Shortly after high school, Ellis joined Cincinnati Public Radio, where his duties included executive producing The 90 Second Naturalist, the locally produced national nature program featuring Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard. He also has worked for the Cincinnati Opera and Playhouse in the Park. In 2011, he moved to Midland, Texas, to work for a pump company.
The station announcement praised Ellis for his "excellent on-air and production abilities." Ellis acknowledged that he learned about radio, sound, listening and engineering from his father Bruce, a 30-year WGUC-FM employee who engineered live jazz shows from the Hyatt downtown, recorded animal sounds for 90 Second Naturalist and even rescued old Oscar Treadwell's Jazz With OT tapes by baking them in an oven.
"Yes, he did heat them in the oven! I’d go over to his house and he’d be 'baking tapes,' " Ellis recalls with a laugh. (Here's a link to part of my 2008 story about heating the tapes on the All About Jazz site.)
"He loves radio. Everything about it. He really taught me to use my ears. I remember editing an interview one time and asking for his help and he came back with, 'Use your ears!' (and that wasn’t the first time I’d heard that). I also remember going backpacking with him and he’d bring recording gear to record the creeks, birds and rainstorms.
"The main thing I learned from him was that if you are going to do it, do your best. Spend the extra hour getting it right. He always did," Ellis says.
With his parents working in public radio, Ellis grew up in a home where "90.9 was on a good amount at the house growing up," he says. But not always.
"Mom and dad are both musicians, so I got to listen to about everything. Mom would play some Linda Ronstadt or some Joni Mitchell, Pops would switch it over to The Eagles or Chicago, then it was back to WGUC in the evening."
Now Ellis will be the evening voice of WGUC.
"I love this community and I'm excited to come home and bring great classical music to the entire WGUC audience," he says.