By Mariann Martin
Take some local news, a downtown sidewalk, a few jokes and add in plenty of laughter. Drop it in hot grease and you have the “Southern Fried Morning Show.”
“We give people something to laugh at and help them through the day,” host Benji Greeson says. “And we have fun doing it.”
Abbeville’s local morning radio show, which celebrated its one-year anniversary in September, has become a beloved part of the surrounding community. People call, text, send emails and comment on the show’s Facebook page. In an era when many channels are switching to national shows, the mixture of music and talk brings in listeners from more than a dozen states.
In their studio in downtown Abbeville, co-hosts Greeson and Amy Botts discuss community events, bring in guests to promote fund raisers, announce local birthdays and anniversaries and challenge each other to crazy competitions, like saying their ABCs in reverse or balancing a spoon on their nose. “It helps me get my own day started,” Botts says. “My favorite part is the reaction we get out of our listeners. Who doesn’t want to make someone happy?”
The show started last year after WZLA switched the channel to a country music station. Greeson says the owners came to him, looking for something to add variety to the morning music.
Greeson had interned for a radio show in high school, and he also does an afternoon sports show one day a week. He loves radio and was immediately interested in giving a morning show a try. “This has snowballed way bigger than I ever thought it would be,” he says.
Botts, a longtime friend, was an almost accidental addition after she came in as a replacement guest. The two had a chemistry the audience loved. She now comes in for two hours every day. Being on a radio talk show was never something Botts thought she’d do, but she feels at home behind the microphone — as long as she doesn’t think about the hundreds of people listening.
“We stick out our necks sometimes, and it can get interesting,” she says. “But it has become second nature. I can’t imagine not doing this.”
These days, the two are often stopped in the grocery store or at their childrens’ sports games as people recognize them from the show. Kids want pictures with them, and their friends’ parents and grandparents stop to say hi. But they protest at the term “local celebrity.”
Realizing how important they are to the community and how many people listen to them every day keeps them accountable, Greeson says.
“We are that show that people in the community trust,” he says. “People here have embraced a local voice and a local outlook.”
Southern Fried Morning Show
Tune in from 6-10 a.m. Monday through Friday:
WZLA 92.9 FM
TuneIn Radio app
West Carolina TV channels 20 & 27
Hosts Benji Greeson and Amy Botts say they love hearing the reactions their antics get from their listeners.