JB Hager and Sandy McIlree, the popular morning radio team, have worked together for nearly 19 years. We sat down with them to talk about their families, their downtime and the five months they were off the air.
Tell us about your families.
JB: I’ve been married for 16 years [to his wife, Erin], and we have a 12-year-old daughter, Raleigh…and a pig and two dogs and a lot of fish and a lot of gerbils and a revolving door of critters.
Sandy: I’ve been married for six and a half years [to his wife, Tricia]. I have a five-year-old daughter named Landry, who keeps me very, very busy. With [mine and JB’s] hours, we’re home a lot more than our dads ever were, because we leave the house so early, and then get home by 1:00.
What music do your kids listen to?
Sandy: It’s funny; I feel this responsibility to introduce my kid—even though she’s only five—to cool music, you know? But you can’t jam it all down their throat. The other day we were driving down the road and she had her iPod, and Pharrell Williams’“Happy”came on—and I hate the song—but she was so happy, you know? She just loved the song, [and] I’m not gonna take anything away from her that she really likes. She likes a lot of the pop stuff, but she also likes classic rock, believe it or not.
JB: Raleigh’s 12, so she’s outgrown the pop station. I got her an old 70s stereo system and we go vinyl shopping together, which is fun. She buys new stuff and loves Lana Del Ray—loves, loves, loves Lana Del Ray. She loves The Neighborhood. It’s funny; she finds new music on whatever’s behind videos and then tracks it down. Then we try to find the vinyl version of it.
What do you like to do in Austin with your family?
JB: My daughter’s a pro wake surfer, so [we’re] on Lake Austin probably five times a week. And if not that, we’re vinyl shopping. I love this new store called The Sound Gallery on South Congress, or we go downtown and poke around the 2nd Street district, and then we’ll eat on a patio somewhere.
Sandy: We’re swimming a lot in the summer. We like to get out and do stuff together. She calls it a Daddy-Daughter Day, and last week we went to InnerSpace Cavern—which was cool, I’ve never been. She likes to go to the movies; she loves to ride her bike and her electric scooter, and that’s when I wish I were a younger dad. I’m 46 years old, and riding the bike and the scooter, and getting up and down off the ground, and swinging, and all that stuff…
JB: Trying to skateboard…
Sandy:…trying to skateboard, and the playscape and all that stuff. We stay busy.
Your show has been around in one form or another for a long time. Why do you think you resonate with your audience?
Sandy: We’re just local guys who live in Austin and deal with the same issues that everyone else deals with, at home and with life. We love living here. We’re the biggest advocates for this city. We’re not a yuk-it-up, laugh-a-second show.
JB: Our goal is just to get people to work in a good mood with light-hearted things. I think that’s what people want.
You were off the air for five months. How did that situation come about?
JB: I wasn’t invited back, when my contract ended at the last station. They were trying to cut costs. I wanted to stay here.
I kept thinking, “I don’t want to move my daughter.”Luckily, the day after Sandy announced that I wasn’t going to be back, radio veteran Bob Cole called me and said, “It’s going to be all right. We’re going to put something together for you.”
What’s the deal with the station’s signal?
JB: It’s a baby radio station, but the plan is to grow it. In the meantime, the game has changed, with people using apps and having systems in their homes, or streaming from their computer all day at work.
Do you have any side projects going on?
Sandy: I do a show on Sirius XM radio on Mondays. It’s a golf show with Rich Beem, who is an Austinite [and] was a professional golfer for 15 years. On Sunday mornings, I do a golf show with the same guy. It’s a terrestrial show that’s syndicated from Austin. And I do some stuff with Sony and DC Comics, some voice-over stuff for their online gaming.
JB: My real side job is being a boat driver for my daughter, which I love. Raleigh’s a two-time world champion wake surfer. I’ve seen her grow up through the rear view mirror on a boat, which has been really fun. And then I have a music series downtown in the 2nd Street district called On-Airstreaming. We bring artists in to play, and film them and that’s at onairstreaming.com. I’m part of a mobile video app called Ferris, that just got funded by an L.A. firm, so the company and all my partners moved out there. I could have stayed with that and moved to L.A., but it goes back to where I wanted our daughter to grow up. So those guys are going to continue it out there, and it was a very easy decision to take less of a role there, to just be able to stay here and do this.
by Sherida Mock