Each week, we will profile an esteemed member of the local media and ask them five questions, for better or worse.
Name: Laura Reynolds Employer: CBS Radio Title: Assistant Program Director/Traffic Reporter
Laura Reynolds wears a lot of hats for the various CBS-owned radio stations including 610 AM, 650 AM and 100.3 FM. She screens and hires producers, writes copy, schedules talent and does a ton of promotional events. But most know her for her daytime traffic updates across the dial. For someone who has made a name for herself doing traffic, Reynolds has managed to carve out a remarkably long and stable career in what could most kindly be called a volatile industry.
One way she has distinguished herself is through her Friday afternoon "Sexy Traffic" segment she does on KILT 610, the leading sports radio station in town and home to both the Texans and the Rockets. Every Friday afternoon at 5:30 p.m., Reynolds pants and moans her way through a suggestive reading of the day's congestion woes.
We asked her about that and her career in radio in this week's five questions.
How did you get into media/traffic, etc?
Long story short: In high school I was president of our FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) club. To promote the club, I went on the local morning show on a station in Columbus, Nebraska. What was supposed to be a five-minute interview turned into more than two hours on-air. The morning show host hired me on the spot for weekends DJ'ing. The same host pushed me to get my journalism degree from Mizzou, which I did.
So mostly I've been a DJ at various formats. I loved anchoring the news -- the governor of Missouri used to listen. I know because he'd call me and my co-host directly if he didn't like something. I also enjoyed being a TV reporter and a weather forecaster, so much so I eventually went to Mississippi State for meteorology.
Traffic reporting? I've only reported the traffic in Houston and I took that job because I needed to pay rent. I never treated it like "just the traffic," though. I like to make people smile (or grimace) with my antics during the reports while delivering as accurate of a report as I can. These reports led to a full-time job with CBS Radio Houston.
How did "sexy traffic" get started?
In Missouri, I wrote similar innuendo-themed commercials for a candy store. I knew I was on to something when listeners would call up asking for the commercials to be played as opposed to making a song request. Since then I've applied the same concept to other advertisers, sports flash segments and, yes, traffic reports. No idea is ever truly new in radio. The radio industry shares ideas around the country through publications such as Inside Radio, Radio Ink, R&R and Web sites such as "All Access." Morning show prep services include ideas for contesting, promotions and bits that have worked as well. Listeners have sent me similar reports from around the country. One report from Pennsylvania I thought was pretty cool because the traffic reporter not only did the innuendos but used the traffic cameras and special effects to enhance it.
How close have you come to saying something during that segment that was just too far?
That's a great question for my boss, Gavin Spittle. Typically I hide on Fridays while I'm writing Sexy Traffic; otherwise I hear him say, "You can't say THAT." My reply always is..."But Gavin...it's FUNNY!" Do I get edited? You bet! So yes, my job is to push the envelope. Gavin's job is to rein it back in so we don't receive an FCC fine. When asked about Sexy Traffic, Spittle says, "I'm scared I'll lose my job every Friday at 5:30 p.m."
One of the most recent times I've been lectured is due to this excerpt: "... Remember, boys, with all the flooding it only takes four inches...of moving water to wash your car off the road and wash out the road...THAT'S one hole you don't want to plunge into..."
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What is the most suggestive street name in Houston?
I could go for the easy answer..."The Loop, because it always gives me two 'O's' every time I ride it." I could say the most suggestive town in our listening area is Humble..."because you swallow the "H" when you mouth it." Hands down, though, I like "El Camino Real"...nothing sexy about the name...I just like the way it rolls off the tongue. I'd pay hard-earned money to hear Sophia Vergara say "El Camino Real" slowly ten times.
Use it in a sentence.
Geez. I dedicated an entire Sexy Traffic report to El Camino Real. Here's an excerpt: "...I'm just going to ride that wave until El Camino Real peaks at Wavecrest...oh, don't stop...oh, we're almost there...you are coming, right? Go down Bay Area Boulevard, oh, more, Titan, Apollo, Gemini, NASA Parkway, oh, ignition and liftoff! Or as the brainy guys at NASA would say...your rocket is go for launch!..."