Randy Malloy, general manager, president and owner of WWCD 102.5 FM, clears away an assortment of papers and envelopes from an orange futon in his office and adds them to another assortment of papers and envelopes on his coffee table. Malloy describes his office as a “frat house that threw up.” With low-hung ceilings and enough stuff to furnish an entire apartment, it’s filled with stacks of CDs, bottles of wine, band posters and shelves upon shelves of miscellaneous knickknacks and concert memorabilia.
Malloy sits down in his desk chair, secures his long brownish-gray hair behind his ears and begins reliving his rise to the top of Columbus’s Alternative Station.
He headed west from New York in 1987, en route to Ohio State to major in communication. By the fall of his senior year, Malloy was president of the ski club, which he said was the largest collegiate organization in the nation at the time. CD 102.5 was operating under the frequency 101.1 and was only 2 years old. Malloy had dialed in 101.1 before and thought it was “cool,” especially the independent alternative station was one of very few of its kind. The radio station decided to do a promotion with the ski club, and by the end, Malloy was offered an internship.
Malloy riffles through a bulletin covered with a hodgepodge of concert tickets, magazine clippings and press lanyards until he finds an old Polaroid photo.
“They took this on my first day here,” he explained as he hands over the picture. Printed in black Sharpie, the caption below says, “Randy Malloy 1991-?”
Malloy described his experience as an intern as “really, really fun. I was getting paid to do the same stuff I was already doing, going to bars and shows and getting free stuff.”
When many other graduating seniors at OSU were scrambling to secure jobs after “Pomp and Circumstance” played, Malloy had landed a position as assistant to the promotions director at the station.
Malloy worked his way up through the ranks, occupying nearly every position there is to offer at the station. He recalled when he was handed a manila envelope that revealed his elevation to “boss” and thinking, “f— me, I’m the boss?” But still, Malloy said with a laugh, “I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.”
CD 102.5’s live broadcasts stream from speakers throughout the building at all times.
“We’re like a 7/11, we’re always open,” Malloy said in regard to the long hours logged by the employees at CD 102.5. Malloy said he once worked 110 hours in one week.
“Someone could come up to you at a concert and say ‘you literally have the best job in the world,’ and you’re just like ‘I’d rather be at home doing laundry,’” Malloy said. He proceeded to open the top right drawer of his desk (where people often store pencils and staplers) to reveal an assortment of toiletries. Malloy motions to the orange futon with a laugh and divulges the fact that he has spent a night or two sleeping in his office. “Everybody here sacrifices a lot, more than people would think.”
An uncomfortable night’s rest is not the only downfall for someone in Malloy’s position.
“It can be very taxing on relationships because it can be very hard to have anyone understand how difficult it could be to drag them along,” Malloy explained. “A lot of times, we have very dysfunctional relationships.”
Malloy is married, but he said his own friends are sometimes unable to keep up with his hectic lifestyle.
“It can also be very taxing on the liver,” Malloy said “There’s definitely a lot of stuff we do that involves alcohol.”
Malloy said the most challenging aspect of his job is managing people.
“Technical situations are easy — you detect the problem, isolate the problem and fix the problem. People don’t work like that. There are personalities and agendas and quirks that make us so complex,” he said.
Malloy said he finds his job exceptionally gratifying when he sees his employees happy. He recalled a time when he first began at the station and the staff would meet for annual meetings where one, simple question would be posed: “Are we still having fun?”
Some Ohio State interns have noticed the way Malloy has shaped the atmosphere at the station.
“He’s a character,” said Julia Danda, a fourth-year in strategic communication who cohosts the station’s 7-9 a.m. weekday morning show.
“I feel like he’s my uncle,” Danda said with a laugh. “He seriously treats me like family.”
Andy Ross, a third-year in English, is a marketing intern at the station and said he quickly realized the atmosphere would be more laid-back than he expected. At first, he said he dressed professionally for work, but after a week or so, he changed to wearing band and festival T-shirts, he said.
“It’s been really great,” Ross said. “Everyone who works around you is a huge music fan.”
And count Malloy among them. The first concert the owner attended was a Liza Minnelli show in the mid-’70s. During the years to follow, Malloy rode the train to New York City and would take in hundreds of concerts to quench his thirst for the enticing and ever-changing music scene. “I saw everything from heavy metal to country stars to southern rock. Lynyrd Skynyrd to Grateful Dead to Judas Priest to Ozzy Osbourne to The Ramones because I was exposed to all of it. I never really found stuff I hated,” Malloy said.
It was long before his experiences with live performances that Malloy developed his passion for music, though. He remembers the constant sound of classical music being played in his childhood home.
“Music elicits a passion in people that you don’t find with other things,” Malloy said. “You never use the example of, ‘what were you watching when you had your first kiss?’ Don’t know. ‘What book were you reading when you had your first kiss?’ No idea. ‘What song were you listening to?’ Oh! You know it. It throws you back. It literally just picks you up and vaults you back to that time and space where that song has so much connection to you.”