Tuesday, June 1, 2010
No hit records, but a huge audience
We check out his Facebook page: Links to The Bryan Suits Show on 570 KVI, where he is executive talk producer. Video of a Pearl Jam concert (he’s seen every Seattle-area show). Pictures of him with celebrities: Carrie Fisher, Stacy Keach, a 7-foot Homer Simpson.
We check his online photos. Yeah, he’s handsome with tousled hair and a three-day stubble. Of course, his wife is beautiful. And, naturally, his hundreds of Facebook friends look fresh from the Nordstrom catalog.
Not too shabby for a 32-year-old guy who dropped out of high school. That was in 1993. Jeremy Grater wanted to be a rock star. He wanted to be Eddie Vedder. (“That guy rocks.”) Instead he slogged through jobs in movie theaters, video stores and coffee shops.
The journey from wage slave to media maven started in 1999 at a party, where he was introduced to a radio producer. “He offered to let me see the show live,” Grater says. “I accepted. That day I knew I wanted to work in radio.”
He applied for a job. The first test? Showing he could talk fast: “I had to explain to the hiring manager how my movie theater background would somehow translate to radio production,” he says. “For some reason it worked. I think my first title was weekend, part-time, vacation fill-in board operator.” More... Once they let him in the building, it didn’t take him long to move up. He produced popular talk shows as well as Mariners and Seahawks broadcasts for KIRO. He became afternoon news editor at KOMO Newsradio, where he interviewed everyone from Nancy Pelosi to Dan Aykroyd, from Slade Gorton to Howard Dean.
He never got any gold records, but he did get a huge audience: At KOMO, up to a million people a week, and at 570 KVI, about 100,000 a week.
What he didn’t have was a “bus ticket.” He was able to get high school credits in community college while earning an associate’s degree. He thought about a bachelor’s degree – “I always felt sort of haunted by my lack of formal education,” he says – but put it off. Then he talked to a friend about working for a U.S. congressman. You’ve got the skills, the friend said, but no four-year degree. Without that “ticket to get on the bus,” he advised, the options are limited.
“That was all it took,” Grater says. “I knew I wanted to get on the bus.”
When you want something done, they say, give it to a busy person. Grater has a family, a demanding job, a busy life. No problem. He got on the virtual bus, and joined the online degree program at Washington State University in 2007.
“The instructors really understand who online students are,” he says. “We can’t sit in lengthy lectures or always be in the same place at the same time. Our pets get sick or work gets too demanding. Life just gets in the way. The faculty gets that.”
But don’t expect to slack off, he warns. “You’re not let off the hook. You still have to do the work, but you are treated like a real person with real responsibilities.”
Grater studied politics and earned his social sciences degree in August 2009. When he talks about it, he gets a little Vedder-esque: “Earning an education is earning a sense of freedom,” he says. “You can’t move freely in the world around you without understanding it. WSU makes freedom accessible.”
With all his freedom to move in the world, has this big-city über-cool radio producer ever come east to visit WSU? Nope. Never.
“Someday,” he says.
Yeah, right. When he’s not busy with hobnobbing with glitzy celebs. When he’s out of lentils. We’ll be sure to leave a light on.
To be fair, he has participated in lots of West Side WSU events, such as football games and seminars.
“There’s a great sense of community,” he says. “WSU is a really great school with a wonderful and supportive distance program. I love being a Coug and I’m proud to have my degree from WSU.”
Well, OK. We feel better now. We’ll see about sending him some cheese.
By Richard H. Miller/WSU Online
Posted by WSU Online at 9:52 AM