For Mequon radio DJ, new gig in Vegas still smacks of a surreal life
Podcast: DJ Brett Andrews talks about life as a Milwaukeean in Vegas
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March 12-18 is Milwaukee in Las Vegas Week on OnMilwaukee.com. Last month, Funjet Vacations sent our editorial team to Vegas, where we sought out connections between Brew City and Sin City. These are our stories ...
LAS VEGAS -- Just one month into his new job as afternoon drive DJ at a Las Vegas Top 40 radio station, life could hardly be any more different for Mequon native Brett Andrews.
It's a big change from his internship at Milwaukee radio stations KISS-FM and 99.1 WMYX, and it's an even bigger departure from his last gig in Wichita, Kan.
"Radio jocks in the beginning of the careers tend to be nomadic," says Andrews, who graduated from UWM in 2005. "Right after college, I moved to Lincoln, Neb., because I found a full-time job."
Andrews, 25, says he would've stayed in Milwaukee had a job become available, but for him, career came first.
"I didn't want to move, but I moved out of necessity," he says.
Andrews found himself struggling in Nebraska, missing the diversity of Milwaukee.
"Everyone was old and white," he says.
His next gig sent him to Kansas, where he spent the subsequent year and a half as morning host and assistant programming director.
"A goal of every radio DJ is to be heard by as many people as possible," he says.
Which is what brought Andrews to Vegas, where he now works in a high-profile job -- Hot 97.5 FM is actually the top-rated English speaking station in the city. In fact, Las Vegas is considered the 32nd largest market in U.S. radio -- compared to Milwaukee, which currently ranks 36.
"I've paid my dues and done the small market thing and lived in places like Lincoln, but yeah, I feel pretty accomplished for a person of my age," he says.
Andrews says it's not just crazy to be a Milwaukee native living and working in Las Vegas -- it's crazy for anyone to find themselves in Sin City full-time.
Never mind the casinos and the 24-hour party scene -- Andrews' office is literally across the street from the glitzy Mandalay Bay Casino -- but he came to town just in time for the NBA All-Star Game, a debacle on just about every level.
"You couldn't get something to eat without waiting for two hours," he says. "Hundreds of thousands of people were here -- it was ridiculous. It's calmed down a little bit, but it's never really calm. You can get in a traffic jam at 3 a.m. on a random Tuesday morning on the strip."
But he also points out that people who live in Vegas have a life outside the strip. Andrews says the school system is actually quite good -- and it's always thrilling to live in a city that looks nothing like home.
"I love waking up every day and walking outside and seeing a big-ass mountain next to me. That's really cool."
For the white, Jewish kid from Homestead High School -- who can turn on the "hip-hop" voice at the drop of a hat -- Andrews realizes he's living the dream (even though he says he listens to James Taylor and Jack Johnson at home).
"I was always the kid who got made fun of for liking hip-hop, living in the suburbs," says Andrews. "And now I'm making money off of it.
"It's just relating to your audience, and I love this music. You adjust your show based on what radio station you're working for. People are crazy, people like to party in Vegas, so I do the party atmosphere kind of thing on the radio."
Andrews says he'd like to return to Milwaukee someday, since most of his friends and family still live in Wisconsin. But he notes that his hometown friends have suddenly taken an interest to visiting him at his new home.
"I've got people calling me that I haven't heard from in years who say they miss me," he jokes. "They didn't miss me in Wichita."
I remember when he worked for kiss. He would always play gravedigger by kane west!!!
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