The Washington Post, Bobby Bones, 33, has become the host of the biggest country music morning radio show in America, heard on more than 60 Clear Channel stations, with a daily audience in the millions. The newest — and biggest — market he can be heard in is Washington, where WMZQ 98.7 FM airs “The Bobby Bones Show” weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m.
An Arkansas native, born Bobby Estell, he has been working in radio since age 17. Bones is honest to a fault, to the thrill of his fans — and to the occasional confusion of program directors and new listeners who don’t know what to make of the guy who talks in startlingly detail about his life.
His co-hosts regularly laugh with him, laugh at him and regularly make fun of him. If it sounds like they’re just a group of friends hanging out, that’s exactly what they are, and Clear Channel executives pinpoint that as the reason for the show’s widespread popularity. In addition to Bones, his best friend Amy joins him along with sidekicks Eddie, Ray and Alayna. And what group would be complete without someone named Lunchbox? Bones, the only one with a radio background, says the goal is to sound as real and normal as possible.
As a result, listeners develop a strong bond, something Clear Channel noticed when the program was in Austin and the crew had a morning show on a Top 40 station. The show felt different from anything else on the radio with its casual atmosphere, and Bones appealed to a coveted younger audience.
“We really wanted a show that was hip and current,” said Clay Hunnicutt, Clear Channel’s executive vice president and general manager of national programming platforms. “We just wanted an entertaining morning show. It didn’t have to be a country morning show — it just needed to be an entertaining morning show that the listeners could relate to.”
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“When we first go on anywhere, we’re pretty much not liked. We’re awkward-sounding at first because we’re so different,” Bones said. He likes to save the negative comments and then repost them six months later. He says people frequently call him back and say, “I was completely wrong about you guys.”
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