Meet KMOD’s Lynn Hernandez
Rock ‘n’ Roll DJ and Dad gets personal.
Fans of Rock ‘n’ Roll know Lynn Hernandez as 97.5 KMOD’s Midday Radio DJ, but 4-year-old Atticus and 8-month-old Angel know him as “Dad.” Hernandez is also music director and community affairs director for Clear Channel, and has been with KMOD for nine years. Although parenting and rock music may not typically go hand-in-hand, Hernandez manages to strike a healthy balance. He dished to us on everything from changes in radio technology to potty training.
TK: Where and when did you start your career?
LH: I started in the late ‘80s while I was in college. I had no desire to be in radio at all. I was a marketing major – industrial marketing at that. I wanted to work for Speedway gas stations. That was my plan in life, and things were going great!
In my Psych 101 class one day, the kid that sat next to me the whole semester – we never talked. He wore his Theta Chi sweatshirts all the time, and I couldn’t care less, right? So, I never talked to him until one day, when he came in wearing a Rush concert t-shirt. I was at the concert the night before also, and it’s one of my favorite bands. So, it struck up a conversation, and we ended up being best friends for the rest of the time that I was in college.
He was a DJ at the college station, and he invited me to come by and just hang out. Even then, it never dawned on me to have my own radio show until he suggested, ‘Why don’t you get your own show and stop hanging out with me all the time!’
I asked the advisor who handles the radio station for the college, and he gave me my own three-hour show.
I went from there, worked part -ime at an actual, real radio station in northwest Ohio, and then I changed my major to Broadcast Journalism. I got a job in Austin, then Dallas, and then I came to Tulsa. So, it’s been about a 25-year span of chaos and mayhem.
TK: Have there been any major changes in the radio scene throughout that time?
LH: Oh, yeah. Well, technology’s changed, first of all. Obviously, there’re no more turntables. There aren’t even any CD players anymore. So, every time there’s a new piece of technology out that affects the control room – where I am all the time – there’s a learning curve. It’s always exciting to learn something new, though, and the technology’s always changed for the better.
Business-wise, yes, of course, radio has changed over the years. I’m with a station in Tulsa that has been on the air for over 40 years as a rock station – KMOD. So, the station itself has always played rock music, even though rock music has changed from the ‘70s to the ‘80s to the ‘90s to today. It’s always been rock music – it’s always evolving – and we hope that we’re continuing to perpetuate whatever rock music is thrown at us.
There are a lot fewer DJs in the industry now than there were a couple decades ago, mainly because of the technology I was talking about it. It’s easier to have DJs that are voice-tracked, and they can be on multiple radio stations. People like Ryan Seacrest can be on over 100 radio stations at one time, so it puts a lot of radio DJs out of work. That said, the owners like to have someone like Nikki Sixx, who’s our nighttime DJ. He’s a founding member of Motley Crue, so it’s kind of cool to have him on the radio every night here in Tulsa.
It’s nice to have local DJs on, too. I mean, I do an all-request hour every weekday at noon, and it would be almost impossible to do that if it was voice-tracked. I have a lot of fun doing that, and it’s great to be able to connect with the citizens of Tulsa and the surrounding area immediately on the phone or text messaging or Facebook.
TK: What do you like best about being one of the few “real” DJs with a local show?
LH: A very satisfying part of my job is when I make somebody’s day. I can’t tell you how many times someone has come up to me and told me that I played them a request in honor of their family member or friend that has passed away or even just a simple dedication from a husband to his wife on their anniversary. It really makes a special moment in a fan’s life. That can create a cool bond between my fans and me. That’s just one way that makes a local DJ valuable. You won’t get that on a daily basis from a nationally syndicated DJ or your iPod.
TK: Speaking of which, are there any listener calls that stand out to you as being particularly funny?
LH: Yes, absolutely! Well, a couple of years ago, it started out as funny and odd and weird. The caller was not making much sense, but you could tell that he listened all day because he talked about the morning show, which had Phil [Stone] and Brent [Douglas] at that time. He would talk about me and KC, who’s our afternoon DJ, and DC, who’s our night DJ before Nikki Sixx came on board. Some of these calls got abusive and potentially dangerous when he started threatening some of us, and he kept calling himself Jim Morrison. Like, Jim Morrison wasn’t dead – he was born again within him. Eventually, we had to call the Tulsa Police Department and have him taken care of.
TK: So, overall, what’s the level of interaction that you have with fans of the station?
LH: Oh, we have a lot of interaction! I mean, I went to the Motley Crue concert recently, and just walking around the BOK Center – you know, people know you. Ten years ago, DJs were really anonymous. We were only known by our voice, but now, with YouTube and social networking, people can actually point us out in a crowd. It’s always flattering – I never get tired of someone coming up to say hello or take selfies. Yeah, lots of selfies.
TK: Besides being a DJ, you’re the Public Affairs Director for the Clear Channel radio stations in Tulsa. What does that mean?
LH: That’s one of the most fulfilling parts of my job. I host a weekly 30-minute show called “Hot Topic” on Sunday mornings that focuses on helping the community of northeastern Oklahoma. Mayor Dewey Barlett is a regular guest. Charities I work with and support are Cancer Sucks, Oklahoma Blood Institute, Child Abuse Network, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Show Your Stripes, American Red Cross, Family and Children Services, Make A Wish, Up With Trees, March of Dimes and the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.
TK: Let’s talk about being a dad. Given the subject matter of some of the music that plays on KMOD, do you feel the need to keep your kids from hearing it?
LH: No, at that age, it’ll go in one ear and out the other. Doesn’t really matter. Nah, we’re still singing the ABC songs in the car and stuff like that. But I’m not worried if he hears a Tool song or Pantera because he’s only 4 years old. He’s just concerned with whatever toy he’s playing with at the moment. I know some parents can be, but I’m not concerned with that – not at this point in his life.
TK: What are some of the things that you two do for fun?
LH: My son and I? Oh, my gosh, we do all kinds of fun things! Two summers ago, the Tulsa Drillers asked me to go out before the game started and throw out the ceremonial first pitch, and I brought him with me. We got to do it again this year, so I have great pictures of him as just a 2-year-old toddler doing that, and now he’s four. You know, he’s grown, but we’re doing the same thing, and it’s just a wonderful collage of photos that we have on the wall of his bedroom.
We also got to drop the puck at an Oilers game in the middle of the BOK Center. All of the players are there in their skates – the game is ready to go – and here we are, my son and me, dropping the first puck. And I was a hockey player when I was a kid, so that was huge excitement for me. We love going to Bentley Park and all that – kid stuff. It lets me be a kid again.
TK: What’s the best part about being a dad?
LH: Watching my kids grow every stage of their lives. And being a part of that development. From being helpless little newborns that are completely relying on you to feed, bath and clothe them. From encouraging them to crawl, stand, walk, talk and build mental awareness. Teaching them their first words and how to go potty by themselves.
One of my happiest moments ever was when Atticus, without saying a word, got up from where we were playing, quietly went into the bathroom – of course I was watching the entire time – then he came back and exclaimed proudly: “Daddy! I went potty by myself!” Parents reading this know the feeling; it was all I could do to not start crying I was so happy! Not to mention the light at the end of the “diaper tunnel” was finally in view.
TK: Has being a dad changed you in any way?
LH: Oh, yes. It will change anyone – in a positive way. First of all, I have much more respect for those who have raised children; and not the Bradgelina or British Royalty way — using a team of nannies and private teachers. We all need the help of friends and family – and social services like Family and Children Services are great, too – but I respect parents that truly get up twice in the middle of the night for feedings.
I care for myself more now, at least maybe by default because I don’t have the ability, time, or money to do all the nighttime activities I once did like concerts, bars, movies, vacations. Now it’s diapers, formula, clothes and college fund.
TK: How do you treat Atticus differently from Angel?
LH: Angel is still so young that our playtime is much different than Atticus’. At 8 months I love helping her stand and walk and giggle! With Atticus it’s all about running! And tickling. But no, I don’t treat them any different. I’ll hug and kiss them both very tight and discipline them also equally.
TK: What’s Atticus’ favorite song right now?
LH: We like to watch movies. He’s like any child that once he latches on to one he wants to watch it over and over. It used to be Willy Wonka – not the Johnny Depp one! – there are so many great songs in that, but now it’s Pirates: Band of Misfits and many cool songs in that also, like The Clash: London Calling. We love it!
And at the end of every movie we get up and dance in the living room to whatever song they have during the ending credits. The end of Shrek is awesome because Joan Jett is fun to dance to. I also like making up my own songs with my kids, especially while putting them to sleep.
TK: Are you looking forward to bringing Atticus to his first concert? How old do you think he’ll be by the time you take him to one?
LH: I’ve had some KMOD fans say they would love to see him at Rocklahoma. And I wouldn’t mind bringing him during the day because there’s lots of room to run, but I definitely wouldn’t want him there during all the parties in the campgrounds at night. When he was a baby, Jesse James Dupree from the rock band Jackyl held him for a picture!
I was eleven when I saw my first concert – 1977, Rush! – and these days kids are going at a much younger age because concerts aren’t as crazy as they used to be. They are still way too loud, so he would have ear plugs in but most venues don’t even allow smoking so I don’t know, depending on where and what it is, but maybe in the next couple of years.
TK: And, Hernandez knows the value of having great child development information. Besides TulsaKids Magazine, here’s his recommendation:
LH: I’d like to give www.babycenter.com a big thank you. It’s a great website that can help determine if your baby is on track with normal growth and it tells you what to expect soon.