By Craig Stocks / Photography by Craig Stocks
When Courtney Bickerman goes on the air as “CJ” on Peoria’s Lite Rock 107, she wants you to feel like you’re with a friend. Most of us listen to the radio while we’re driving. We listen because we enjoy the music, we listen to be entertained, and sometimes we listen because we need traffic or weather information. Whatever we’re listening to, it’s the on-air personality who ties it all together and makes us feel comfortable.
A native of Chillicothe, Illinois, Courtney always enjoyed music. She once even called the hosts at a local radio station to ask what it would take to have a career in radio. At the time, she loved the show “ER” and started college thinking nursing might be a good career. However, she soon discovered the coursework just didn’t fit her interests. When an aptitude exercise suggested broadcasting might be a good fit, she quickly changed her major and graduated from Illinois Central College with a degree in broadcasting.
Initially, Courtney didn’t think of herself as an on-air personality. She started working part time as a floor director at WMBD-TV but soon switched to radio with the JMP Radio Group. Courtney had the opportunity to work in a lot of different positions, from running the control board to producing and directing. Gradually she started to do more and more work behind the microphone and recently moved to afternoons on Lite Rock 107.
Recently, Courtney also branched out to do voice-over jobs both locally and nationally. With the help of modern communications, she can work in her home studio and record jobs for clients in Phoenix, Los Angeles and New York. She even voiced the role of the TV Reporter in a YouTube video done by a student group.
“People think we just sit around and listen to music, but, we’re always busy, browsing the internet for new items and keeping up with the Lite Rock Facebook page,” she said. “Everything we do on air is planned in advance. You have to know how you’re going to start it, what you’re going to say in the middle, and how you’re going to end it.”
“My overall goal every day is to talk through the microphone like I’m talking to my best friend,” she said. “I’ll tell stories about my family or my dog. My goal is to sound like I’m just there hanging out with you.” She said the best part is the people who call in because there are “a lot of fun people to talk to. I try to have as much fun as possible.”
You can hear Courtney weekday afternoons from noon to 8:00 PM on WSWT Lite Rock 107. Visit the Lite Rock web page at www.literock107.com to learn more about their programming and “Like” them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/literock107fan. You can also find Courtney’s voice-over information at voice123.com.