A chat with openly gay radio personality Miguel Fuller

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Annie Murphy: How did you first get started in radio?


Miguel Fuller: It’s been a long process. I started when I was a child. I was the classic, with the tape recorder, recording the "Miguel Fuller Show." I would play the parts of the host, the audience, and the guests. I would make my poor mom listen to them all.


I was living in Atlanta at the time, and was part of the Majority to Minority program, where they would bus black kids from south Atlanta to the northern suburbs. The school I went to had their own very small, campus-only radio station that would broadcast that day’s announcements to the students. I would be the one to read these and they would be repeated throughout the day.


It was while I was attending South Georgia College I had my first true radio experience. I was a board operator for The Big WDMG, 97.9. The first time they actually let me on the air was for election night on location in Brockston, GA. I got to report the ballot results live from that precinct.


AM: How did you end up involved with Kramer?


MF: I met Kramer during my four years at Georgia Southern working at WVGS 91.9 The Buzz, doing college radio. He was a year older than me and after he graduated in the spring of 2006, he moved to Savannah. I graduated spring of 2007, then moved out to Savannah and ended up living with Kramer. Shortly after I moved, he was offered a job in Panama City Beach, leaving me in Savannah.


AM: When did you start working in a commercial radio setting?


MF: I worked at a top 40 station in Savannah doing promotions and some on-air weekend shows. After graduating from Georgia Southern, I started working full time on air and doing traffic reports for the AM talk station. Meanwhile, in Panama City Beach, Kramer had started his morning show, which eventually included Holly.


AM: How did Holly come in to the mix?


MF: There was a nationwide casting call and she was one of many women that applied for the job. Her tape was not the most technical, but you could just hear that something special in her voice.


AM: When did you start with the show?


MF: A year after Kramer, I moved to Panama City Beach and worked part-time for Island 106, doing just about anything they asked. Holly had come in December of 2007. Then, in March of 2008, Kramer and Holly went to an annual morning show conference. I hadn’t been part of the show, but they convinced me to go with them and pretend that I was a part of their show. We instantly noticed the chemistry between the three of us.


After the conference, I started sending the program director air checks, asking him questions about ways that I could improve myself professionally. Shortly after, a part-time on-air spot came open, and I managed to slide my way in to the morning show with Holly and Kramer.


AM: How did you end up in Tampa Bay?


MF: [At the] end of spring 2011 our contracts were ending in Panama City Beach. We were all starting to get a little restless and we weren’t sure what direction we were going to go. We got a call from a radio contact simply saying, "We know a guy who might be working at a big South Florida city new radio station." After a series of calls, we found out this potential show was in Tampa. It wasn’t too long after that we got a call from CBS corporate. They flew us to New York to meet with the CBS radio executives. We had been offered a spot in either Charlotte, NC or Tampa. We visited both cities and Tampa really felt like home.


AM: Have you always been openly gay as a radio personality?


MF: Yes, although most other stations I worked for made it something that wasn’t really talked about. When it was brought up the typical response from the stations was, "We’ll see how it goes…" With Play 98.7, it was important to me that my program director was comfortable with me being myself, an openly gay black male. He made a point of making this something that was just as important to him as it is to me.


AM: How has being openly gay on the air impacted your personal life?


MF: It’s difficult because I’m so open about everything on the radio. When you go out on a first date, you’re meeting people and establishing a connection. First dates sometimes come off like an interview from me, because they tend to feel they already know me after listening to the show. Sometimes it almost feels imbalanced. I like to be as informed as I can about the guys I date. I will [use] Facebook, Twitter, or, if I have to, go back to their old MySpace account to find out what I can about them.


AM: How do you typically meet the guys that you date?


MF: Mostly I meet them through various dating sites. Funny enough, I actually have never met a guy just out in the world. I usually don’t catch someone’s attention until I’m with a group of people and my personality has a chance to shine through.


AM: Have you ever been set up on a blind date?


MF: No. I’m a little more reserved now and maybe even a little picky. I used to feel that having a great boyfriend would make everything perfect, and I learned during a previous relationship that it doesn’t. I realized the old cliché of loving yourself before you can love someone else, is true.

I try to maintain some amount of privacy for the people I date. I have a tendency to talk about my relationships on the air, but strictly from my perspective, as the guy I’m dating doesn’t have a similar public forum. I live very much by the old standard of do unto others as you would have done to yourself.


AM: How do you feel that being openly gay has impacted your listeners?


MF: I feel this sort of burden in making sure to bring a voice to the gay community. Growing up gay in the South, you tend to feel like there is no one like you. The great thing about our show is we try to make you feel like you are a friend, and we truly are friends to our listeners.


During the rash of gay youth suicides I made a video for the station's website saying, "If you are at that point that you feel like you don’t have any other option, call me." I wanted to make sure that anyone listening or looking at the website knew they had a place to turn if they were feeling they had nowhere else to go.


I make a point of letting our audience know that being gay doesn’t make someone any different than anyone else. We all have a lot of the same issues and when it comes down to it, we are all the same.


If you want to hear more from and about Fuller and "'That Guy' Kramer Show," tune into Play 98.7 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. They are very quickly becoming the next generation of morning radio in Tampa Bay. You can also find him on Twitter @miguelfuller and on Facebook.

Toward the end of summer 2011, Play 98.7 introduced a new morning show to the Tampa Bay area. The '"That Guy' Kramer Show" features three shining radio personalities: its namesake, Steve Kramer, Holly O’Connor, and Miguel Fuller.

From the start, the obvious chemistry between these three individuals made it a morning commute standout. And as a plus for the local LGBT community, Fuller is the area's only openly gay radio personality.

My first encounter with Fuller was part of a show "stunt" of sorts. He was in central downtown St. Petersburg wearing a sandwich board that read "Free hugs from a black man." After listening to the show for only a few weeks, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to stop and get a hug from him.

I recently had the chance to sit down with Fuller to talk about his experiences working in radio, and how he and the show ended up in Tampa Bay.

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