A Pint With: Eric Worden

Radio DJ, Voice Talent, Artist

What made you pursue a career in radio?

My dad. He was a newscaster — a correspondent, who went to Vietnam twice to cover stories about Oregon infantrymen and spent some time in the DMZ. He worked for numerous local AM stations in a town called Roseburg, Oregon. He put his FM radio station on the map up in Roseburg in 1970 — first FM there and still the only one.

I went to work for him as a 14-year-old, and that’s how it happened.

What brought you to Hampton Roads?

I’d been programming a rock station in Eugene, Oregon, and one of my former independent record reps knew there was an opening at The Coast (WKOC) in Virginia Beach. Most people in Oregon don’t even know where Virginia Beach is. Nor did I! And I came out for the interview, got the job, and then drove cross country to start my new life. I really expected, you know, “When something in Portland or Seattle opens up, I’ll be gone.” But I fell in love with the area, had a child, met some great people, and started a second career in voice. It turned out it’s where I am supposed to be.

Eric Worden. Photo by Jessica Shea.

What Hampton Roads stations have you worked for?

The Coast WKOC. The Fox. The Point. BOB FM WKOC and The Tide.

You are also a voice actor. What things would we recognize your voice from?

It’s not just broadcast — there was a show on Speed for a while called “Dangerous Drives,” and I was the host. You never saw me on camera, but I was the voice of all the episodes. I’ve been the Trojan Man — kind of crazy. Not the guy that says “TROJAN MAN!” but the guy that comes on afterwards.

Probably most right now is the STIHL thing. It has been amazing. And what’s really funny is they are a local company, but they didn’t choose me locally. Their agency is in Omaha or somewhere, yet I ended up getting the gig, which makes me feel good.

What was your best interview with a celebrity?

The best, most refreshing interview was John Mayer. And he was just brand new. His album “Room for Squares” had just come out. He was remarkably clever, even though he was a boy and

super talented. I really enjoyed that interview, mostly because he was so untainted by the industry.

In the last five years, I would say doing an interview with Stewart Copeland, of The Police, was remarkable mostly because he was there to promote his reworking of “Ben-Hur.” He had done the music for a silent version of “Ben-Hur” and performed it with the Virginia Symphony (Orchestra) here in town. After the interview, which was 30 minutes on the air live, we just talked, took photos; he autographed a lot of my Police stuff.

What was your worst interview?

The worst, oddly enough, was with (Stewart’s) friend and former band mate, Andy Summers. You were thinking I was going to say Sting?

At the time, The Police just split up. He comes in — he’s been working with (guitarist) Robert Fripp on a couple of projects, doing some film scores, he’s even been doing some acting — and he has a new solo album that nobody’s playing. The story is The Police, I’m sorry.

He entered the studio and says (Eric with a British accent), “First and foremost, I am not going to answer anything about The Police.” And boy, he was offended if we were even going to go there. Where was I supposed to go after that?

Where do you see radio in the next 10 years?

Part of me says I wonder if it will be there in 10 years; I wonder if it will be there in five years. Terrestrial radio is under attack like it’s never been before. They said that television was going to end radio. Then they said MTV was going to end radio. And you’ve seen how radio has stayed with it. But now that a full generation or two are close to not really knowing what radio is … ?

So maybe the saving grace of radio is going more local and taking a note from past formats?

I love the idea of being local, but when stations are shutting out music from local musicians like Nate Sacks or Major and the Monbacks then you know … gosh!

Look what happened with The Last Bison. They got signed to Universal (Republic Records) and you couldn’t get anybody in our market to even play their music. Don’t tell me it isn’t good enough. So that might be really what the saving grace of what radio could be, finding a place to really be local.

Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?

I wonder that every day. Am I done with radio? Somehow, I don’t think so. But I don’t want to settle for just being a DJ. This last chapter (at 102.1), while it ended differently than I would have wanted, it was the first taste of real in a long time.

Am I a talk show host? I don’t know. I’ve got a lot of loves. I love art. I want to take some time to create more and see if there are some legs for that. I know there is satisfaction in that. It may not make up for the salary I just lost, but it will give me some peace of mind.

I just like making people happy. And after being in radio for 43 years, you know if this is the end of the run as I knew it, I gotta be happy with the effort that was made and the path that I followed.

What do you think of the craft beer movement?

I love it. I think it’s great for tourism; it’s great for those of us who love the culture. I love the creativity, the different flavors, the graphics you get on the beer cans. It’s a great culture.

What are your favorite local breweries and brews?

The Ibrik series from O’Connor’s is great, Coelacanth’s gose is wonderful, Pineapple Grenade from Young Vets. There are a lot more to discover, there are so many great brews around here, and I look forward to that.

Beers consumed during interview:
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6 Hop IPA – Rogue Brewing Company
Sea Quench Ale Session Sour – Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Ready Set Gose – Uinta Brewing Company
Free Flow IPA – Otter Creek Brewing Company
Quayside Kölsch – Fairwinds Brewing Company
Notch 9 DIPA – Smartmouth Brewing Company

Check out Eric Worden’s artwork, “Guitart,” which he makes using guitars below:

Author: EJ Toudt

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