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A glimpse behind the voices of the morning "Wake Up Club"

By: Kenny Ehman

Date Posted: 1998-04-12

Their voices are much more familiar than their faces, and they have probably been a part of most people's morning routines here on Okinawa. They are Norris Agnew and Laura Pingree from AFN's "The Wake Up Club" radio show, which airs every Monday through Friday on FM 89.1, from 6 am until 9 am. The duo brings us our morning music, entertains us, and sends us off to work with some needed energy.

Agnew and Pingree have been doing their live morning radio show together since July of 1997. However, the two didn't start off as the great combination they are now. Pingree explained, "It was really hard at first. Our boss even told us a few times after the show how bad we were. We just didn't know enough about each other when we started." They were able to find a connection during a typhoon last year when the two were up all night doing news updates. "We started to get silly because we were up so late, and during our show we forgot about the microphones, just let go, and had fun," remembered Pingree. It was the turning point for both of them according to Norris, who added, "It was the best show we had to this day. We relied less on structure, and more on just having fun. There are a lot of things you can fake, but you can't fake chemistry. The more we got to know each other, the more chemistry we had."

"The Wake Up Club" is a great morning show to start off the day - a phrase you have probably heard before, but it is Norris' and Pingree's attitude towards the meaning of the phrase that makes you want to tune in. "I love starting off a person's day. I really like people, but I am actually kind of shy. For me, radio is a good way to interact with people," said Norris. "Even though we here some complaints, people for the most part realize that we do what we can, and they appreciate it. I like being a part of that," explained Pingree. They both have also come to rely on each other to pick up the tempo when one of them is slow getting started. "Trying to be upbeat all the time can be hard. The good thing about a two person team is that one person can always pick up the slack," mentioned Norris, who used to DJ solo before the edition of Pingree.

Listening to Norris' smooth, low tone voice blending together with Pingree, who really does a good job of keeping the energy level up, one might think that their job is easy. It is anything but easy. Being on the air live, means being prepared for the unpredictable. Norris has the keen instinct to handle any type of situation, which makes things seem to flow so easily. Pingree also mentioned the fact of constantly being aware of what you are saying is very important during any live broadcast. "As soon as you make a mistake it's done - it's over. But, you learn from it, and you make sure you don't make the same mistake again."

Veteran DJ Norris, grew up in Mississippi, where he also attended University and received a degree in Broadcast Communication. The 26 year old gained his experience from college radio, and some overnight spots in his home state. He came on board at AFN in 1996, and has been crooning the airwaves of Okinawa ever since. Outside of the studio, Norris likes to visit some of the "out of the way places" like Hiji waterfalls, but he considers himself more of a "city person." "I like Tokyo. It's one of the best cities I've ever been to." He takes much pride in his job, and enjoys involving the listeners the most during his show. Norris also appreciates the feedback he gets from his listeners, and tries to put forth the best quality work he can. "I don't want people to say that it's pretty good radio for the military, that it's good for Okinawa. I want them to say that it's pretty good radio...period," said Norris.

Pingree, who grew up outside of Las Vegas, is still a young 21 years of age. She wishes to get a degree in broadcasting, and is getting ready to leave the military soon. Pingree was formerly in the field of print journalism before she switched over to radio, but she also had some experience as a part-time country music DJ prior to coming to AFN. She enjoys biking and jogging occasionally, but said, "I'll miss my job the most when I leave."

If you haven't joined the "Wake Up Club" yet, you should give them a try. Some good tunes, a few jokes, and before you know it, you're on your way to work with a smile. That's what Norris and Pingree do best.

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