Alumnus moves from student radio station to KISS-FM

By Shardae Smith

Four years after graduating from Columbia, Scott Corchin, a former radio broadcast major, is making his mark in the music world as an on-air personality for Chicago’s Top 40 radio station 103.5 KISS-FM.

While attending Columbia, he was a host of WCRX, the college’s student-run radio station, better known as “Scottie C.” Now he’s resurfaced as Special K and went from driving a pink Volkswagen Beetle for the KISS-FM traffic segment to hosting a nightly show. Corchin was also recently promoted to music director for

the station.

The Chronicle: How did you get your position at KISS-FM?

Special K: I started in traffic. I kept in contact with another Columbia alumnus who still works [at KISS]. Scott Strasser, production director, came in to talk to my freshman [Introduction to Radio] class, and four years later recommended me for my position.

The Chronicle: What experiences did you take away from Columbia, and how do you apply them to your position?

SK: Columbia gave me a lot of real-life situations, and I think that’s the most important thing to doing a radio show, especially in a city that’s so real and has so many different people. That’s the thing I like about Columbia too. It’s so diverse, as far as where people came from and where people want to be. Everything from the music people like, to the way they dress, to the people they hang out with, everything was just so unique.

The Chronicle: How long did it take you to move up the ranks?

Special K: When I was in traffic, I had the worst traffic job ever (laughs). I was driving a pink Volkswagen Beetle. I have a picture of it too. It humbles me, reminds me of where I came from. [The picture is] in my office. I drove that thing from six until nine in the morning in traffic and that was the worst thing I ever did in my life because I hate driving in traffic. Not to mention I was driving a very stylish, pink Volkswagen Beetle. [I] love you Volkswagen! But I did that for almost two whole weeks, and then I went over and talked to KISS promotions, worked my way up through promotions to start working on the night show doing anything that was around, basically producing the show until there was an on-air slot open. I kept dropping [my] tapes on my boss’s desk over and over and over, and then I was doing the weekend [show]. It took a total of four years to be where I am now.

The Chronicle: You offer internships to students at Columbia and not just radio majors. What is the number one thing you want them to take away from their experience here?

SK: Everyone that comes in here, I feel, has a passion for whatever it is they want to do. There are certain things I need while they’re here at the internship as far as working and doing stuff for the show, but I also want to make sure they leave here with some sort of direction on how they can get to where they want to be.

The Chronicle: Your position at KISS is more than being on air from 8 p.m. until midnight, so what does it take to do your job?

SK: It’s a constant motion, and my job kind of never quits. [With] the on-air part, my brain is always going 24/7. Anything I see could be brought up on air because it’s real life. My brain is always going 100 mph, which is annoying to a lot of people in my life. I’m always typing little notes into my phone and things like that. But then there’s the music director side too, which is more the business side of how the radio station works and the music that’s getting on it. I’ve had a lot of great experiences and met a lot of great people around the country [including those at] record labels, artists and really seeing everything that goes into someone trying to make it big, especially being in Chicago. There are only two other people who are more influential in pop music than me at this point, [those people being] music directors in Los Angeles and New York. It’s kind of a big responsibility to know that you can make or break someone’s career. You have to have a passion for it and not do it half-heartedly because it’s important. Every day I put everything that I have into it.

The Chronicle: Where did the name Special K come from?

SK: While working on the night show with Mack at Night in 2006, he said I look like a character from the ‘90s teen movie “Can’t Hardly Wait.” A lot of people say I look like Seth Green, but in that movie his nickname was Special K. When my boss wanted to put me on air, we were discussing my name, so I was like, “I don’t know what I want to do,” and he was like, “Go with Special K. Special K just do it, you’re like the party guy now.” I was like, “OK, you hired me; I’ll take it,” and it just stuck.