The Wings 94.3 DJs
After growing up in South Alabama (Red Level, AL – population 500), Ben Taylor is one of those guys who “came to Auburn, fell in love and never left.” While a student at Auburn University, Ben aspired to be the next ESPN SportsCenter anchor but after securing a part time job in radio at age 19, he fell in love with the medium and never looked back. “Radio reminded me of the days when my dad would put on one of his many records that he brought home and saved from his time in the Air Force. He loved to share that part of his life overseas where the music reminded him and the other troops of home.” From age 19 to now, Ben has been in the radio business in some capacity, including here at the Auburn Network where he worked from 2003 – 2007 with our sister station, NewsTalk WANI. Ben has been involved in radio as an on-air talent, in sales, management and even consulting. Now, with Auburn Network Inc., Ben is involved in sales and marketing as well the serving as the host of Ben and Friends, the weekday morning show on Wings 94.3.
Ben Factoid: My late grandfather (Murry Johnson) graduated from Auburn in 1957. The diplomas given to that graduating class, however, were labeled “Alabama Polytechnic Institute” or API.
What is the best concert you have ever attended? My very first and before two of them ever became famous (Reba, Brooks and Dunn & Faith Hill).
What is your favorite Wings band? Bon Jovi!
What was your most memorable day on the job? Being offered a full time position while still in college.
If you weren’t playing music what would you be doing? More than likely coaching or in some sort of education administration.
If you had your own band what would the name of it be? “All About The Benjamins”
What is something about yourself that no one else knows? Even though I’ve always been a sports nut, I actually did some stage performing and was a decent singer!
Is the name you go by your real name? If I told you, a lot of agencies that use letters in their names would be at my doorstep.
What is your favorite spot in Auburn/Opelika? Home with the wife, kids and animals sipping a bourbon and watching Auburn, the Atlanta Braves or some sort of golf tournament.
What is your favorite movie? Bull Durham
What one word describes you best? Sarcastic
What is your favorite restaurant? Mom & Dad’s (a small Italian place in Defuniak Springs, FL)
What is your favorite movie quote? “I’m too drunk to taste this chicken!” – Ricky Bobby, Talladega Nights
From the moment her parents gave her the names Layla (from Derek and the Dominoes) and Michelle (from the Beatles), they unwittingly doomed their poor daughter to a life of obsessively studying rock & roll –and dominating trivia night at the local bar. As a child raised on the Fab Four, Zeppelin, and the Stones, young Layla’s musical tastes differed significantly from that of her schoolmates – but that’s okay, New Kids on the Block sucked, anyway. After graduating from Auburn University, she tried her hand at being a legitimate journalist in the TV news biz, but the siren’s melodic call was simply too strong; it beckoned to her like a flame to a moth, and she soon conceded that a life of hanging backstage with rock stars was infinitely superior to chasing tornadoes and covering city council meetings. It was a choice she has never regretted. Layla is a doting wife, the exhausted mother of two rambunctious little boys, and the owner of two sweet dogs who constantly beg to go out only to scratch at the door to be let right back in.
Layla Factoid: Layla is a huge baseball fan, and has attended a game in all 30 MLB ballparks. Her favorite experience was watching the Cubs at Wrigley, and her least favorite experience, coincidentally, was watching the White Sox at US Cellular Field.
What is the best concert you have ever attended? Paul McCartney, twice, in Toronto and New Orleans. He played 3+ hours both times — no breaks. Maybe there is something to that vegetarian diet of his….
What is your favorite Wings band? The Beatles
What was your most memorable day on the job? When Hurricane Ivan came through East Alabama in 2004. I took turns going live over a 36-hour period, keeping everyone informed about its projected path, as well as tornado warnings and power outages. It was the first time (and probably one of the only times since) that I felt like what I was saying might actually matter to people’s safety and well-being.
If you weren’t playing music what would you be doing? The Stay-at-Home-Mom thing. Except – bless my heart, I’m a terrible housekeeper. I’m a great cook, but I hate doing dishes. Laundry isn’t my favorite, either. Alas, all those little boy Underoos ain’t gonna wash themselves….
If you had your own band what would the name of it be? Wingardium Levio-SAH
What is something about yourself that no one else knows? I have always secretly resented that, as an Auburn fan, I can never wear houndstooth.
Is the name you go by your real name? It’s on my birth certificate and everything!
What is your favorite spot in Auburn? The lemonade counter at Toomer’s. I’m also pretty partial to hanging out on the AU campus and pretending that I’m still young enough to be there.
What is your favorite movie? Forrest Gump, Pirate Radio, and basically anything with a good soundtrack. Also, Field of Dreams makes me misty-eyed – every dang time.
What one word describes you best? Feisty!
What is your favorite restaurant? I could seriously eat at Momma G’s every single day. Gimme a freshly-steamed Momma’s Love and a cold Yuengling, and I’m one happy camper.
What is your favorite movie quote? “I’m an American citizen and I don’t give a hootenanny damn about your nitpicking limey laws. I intend to broadcast from this ship 24 hours a day until the day I die…and then for a couple days after that.” -Philip Seymour Hoffman in Pirate Radio
John Garrett grew up in Pell City AL where he listened to Mark & Brian out of Birmingham while working as a well digger’s apprentice. When his radio heroes landed a big-time gig in LA, John realized there was money to be made running one’s mouth as opposed to ruining one’s Reeboks, so he traded in his hip waders for a pair of headphones and the rest is history. John’s radio career has included memorable stops in Birmingham, Montgomery, Jackson MS and Knoxville TN. And not-so-memorable stops in Greensboro and St. Louis (where he spent a month one night.) Today, in addition to hosting afternoons on Wings 94.3, he operates his own voiceover company and is heard on car spots (“zero percent interest for 60 months with approved credit!”) and is the staff announcer for a bunch of TV stations across America (“it’s 6 o’clock and this is Channel 2 Eyewitness News!”)
John Factoid: John’s favorite Wings Classic Artists: Van Halen (prefers Sammy to Dave), The Beatles (prefers Paul to John) and AC/DC (prefers Brian Johnson to Bon Scott.)
What is the best concert you have attended? Journey in Birmingham 11/2006
What is your favorite Wings band? Van Halen
What was your most memorable day on the job? Al Mason and I had lunch with Shania Twain at the Famous Elite Cafe in Montgomery back in 1995, before she was famous, and neither of us got an autograph, picture or anything… Boy we were/are DUMB
If you weren’t playing music what would you be doing? Maybe a sitcom writer, but I’m not funny – maybe I could write for “The Office”
If you had your own band what would the name of it be? You-Hoss
What is something about yourself that no one else knows? In the winter, I take long baths and listen to soft rock like Chicago and Air Supply… not everyday, but often —HAHAH
Is the name you go by your real name? No, my real name is Julie Burns
What is your favorite spot in Auburn? Cheeburger-Cheeburger
What is your favorite movie? Jurrassic Park 1 (still a great flick), and Jaws, and any made for TV movie starring Kirk Cameron
What one word describes you best? Nerd
What is your favorite restaurant? It changes, but Country’s BBQ lately
What is your favorite movie quote? “Eat my shorts!”
Mike Hubbard became enamored with radio at the age of 13 while on a field trip to WKLY radio in his hometown of Hartwell, GA. In the summer of 1975, he began his career as a DJ when he gave the time and temperature and then played Philadelphia Freedom by Elton John. He worked at WKLY through high school and continued to hone his radio announcing skills working part-time at Q105 (WAGQ-FM) in Athens, GA while earning a degree in radio and television from the University of Georgia. Although Hubbard has dabbled in other areas – helping run a successful Heisman Trophy campaign, building a sports radio & television network, serving as chairman of the Alabama Republican Party as well as a State Representative and the first Republican Speaker of the House in Alabama in 136 years – he never got the whole radio DJ thing out of his system. That’s why he has played Classic Hits while holding down the Saturday morning airshift on Wings 94.3 since the station went on the air in 2007. Incidentally, he often plays Philadephia Freedom.
Mike Factoid: Mike’s college roommate, Terry Hoage, was an All-America football player, finished 5th in the 1983 Heisman Trophy balloting, played for 13 years in the NFL, is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and is now a winemaker in California.
What is the best concert you have ever attended? The Doobie Brothers in Clemson, SC while in high school in 1978 and again in Montgomery a few years ago.
What is your favorite Wings band? Aerosmith
What was your most memorable day on the job? September 11, 2001.
If you weren’t playing music what would you be doing? On Saturday mornings? Probably cutting grass.
If you had your own band what would the name of it be? The Mayberry Machine, a tribute to The Andy Griffith Show, the greatest TV show of all time.
What is something about yourself that no one else knows? Kim Basinger, the actress, is my cousin. I have never met her, though.
Is the name you go by your real name? Yes. But I’m considering changing it.
What is your favorite spot in Auburn? The recliner at my house.
What is your favorite movie? Airplane!
What one word describes you best? Loyal.
What is your favorite restaurant? All of the ones that make the wise decision to advertise on Wings 94.3, NewsTalk WANI, ESPN 106.7, 96.3 WLEE or East Alabama Living magazine.
What is your favorite movie quote? “Surely, you can’t be serious.” “I am serious….and don’t call me Shirley.”