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I Love My Job: Grayson Kelly of CD102.5

Regina Fox

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Every day, people all around Columbus drive/ride/walk to their jobs, eager to contribute their passion and talent to the city. This series aims to highlight those people and give them a platform to spread their love for their careers. Welcome to I Love My Job.

Grayson Kelly may never be as punk rock as Tom Butler, but at least he works at CD102.5 with Tom Butler. A CD102.5 listener since his childhood in Granville, Grayson was inspired by his favorite DJs to pursue his love of radio at Ohio State. He quickly started running the online college radio station, AROUSE OSU, and caught the ears of CD102.5. Grayson’s dream came true in late 2018 when he came on as a weekend DJ.

Here is why he loves his job so much:

614: What do you love most about your job? 

GK: This is a tough one to answer, because everything rules at CD102.5. 

I think my favorite moments come when the station is extremely busy—I’m talking a New York Stock Exchange kind of busy—because that’s when the most excitement comes; all the fun gets concentrated into one moment. 

When there’s a band upstairs in the Big Room, while I’m taking a caller for a prize, and I have to hit the air in 30 seconds to talk about that new Foals? There’s nothing else going on in the world in that minute, and I can live entirely in the moment, within the microcosm of our station and its wonderful listeners, and I can’t think of anything else that’s more fun or fulfilling. 

Photo by Alexandra Adcock

My other favorite part is meeting those listeners out on the town. Some of them have been tuning in since before I was born! We think listener feedback is so important, so it’s extremely cool to meet the people that tune in, and to bring their ideas right back to the station. This is truly the best job in the world — and our listeners are the whole reason we’re here — so I’m really grateful for them every time I’m fortunate enough to meet one.

614: When did you know this was what you wanted to do with your career?

GK: I’ve been listening to the station for as long as I can remember, and I think it shifted me way more than I realized on some subconscious level. When I graduated from Granville High School in 2012 (shouts out to my fellow Blue Aces, I know you’re out there), I knew I wanted to be in the music industry, but I didn’t know where — until I took a couple gap years and found out that radio in other cities… Tends to suck. I knew then what I missed the most: I wanted to come back to my favorite city and work for my favorite station, in any position they’d let me.

614: What parts of your job do you find most challenging?

GK: Signing off on a Sunday evening, because most of the time, I know I won’t be back in your radio until the next weekend! I’d do this for for days at a time if Mase asked me to… But for your sake, I’m glad he doesn’t.

614: How does this job play to your strengths?

GK: Something I find interesting about radio, in particular, is it allows me the chance to satiate my desire for public speaking, without actually seeing people and getting that immediate feedback. I don’t know if I’d have the courage to drop half the bad puns that I drop on the air if I could hear our audience’s deafening silence that undoubtedly follows. 

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614: What’s the best story you have from your time at CD102.5?

GK: I asked a similar question to our owner, Randy Malloy, before I was hired. He said it was silly to name a “best time”, but then rattled off a dozen epic tales about seeing the Ramones at CBGB, chilling out with Iggy Pop, and so many other absolutely insane stories. I was baffled by that answer.

But I think I get his point now. I can’t give any definite answer, because so much has happened over the last year — as soon as I think of one, someone will remind me about that extremely fun interview with Liam Gallagher (of Oasis), or getting to introduce The 1975 to 10,500 of their amazing fans at our Summer Warm-Up.

To be honest, I think the funniest moment came before I was hired. Randy introduced me to Tommy Stinson (of The Replacements), and I was massively starstruck. He proceeded to grab me by the shoulders, and title me a “So So Glo”, before immediately passing out on his tour bus couch. I’m still waiting on my album credit.

614: If you weren’t a DJ, what career would you have chosen?

GK: If I ever get fired, you can find me living in a log cabin in the Upper Peninsula, trying to last through the winters on a diet of hand-caught fish, working on a beard, and wearing only flannel shirts. Really, I have no idea — but wouldn’t that be fun? 

Photo by Kendall Smith

614: Who has been the most influential mentor in your career so far?

GK: Way too many to mention! The folks that work here are all so inspiring, and the atmosphere is so wholesome.

I’ve been really grateful to get to know our owner, Randy Malloy — he’s a total workhorse. The dude broke his leg falling off a ladder a couple weeks ago — then climbed back up to finish the roof before going to the ER, and I’m sure he’s still pulling 60 hour weeks keeping us afloat. He sets a really good example for work ethic and attitude. 

But when I was 17, I took a picture with Tom Butler, and I think it’s still the coolest picture I ever did take. There’s just this pure joy on my face that I got to meet the guy that lived in my radio and showed me all these amazing artists, before we’d ever met. Today, I can’t explain how fortunate I am to work alongside him and look up to him. No matter what kind of bad day / week / month I could have, I know he’s always there to offer some pretty sage advice.

Mase is alright too, I guess.

Bonus question: Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?

GK: Matty Healy from The 1975 really changed my perspective on this. If you think about a duck’s quack, in relation to the size of the animal… Then scale that up to a horse, you’re in what he calls “ship horn territory… [and] it would be relentless”. Then he chose the huge duck. I’m gonna need these ears to keep working, so I think I have to try my luck at the 100 tiny horses!

Grayson can usually be heard on CD102.5 Saturdays 1pm- 6pm and Sundays 3pm -6pm. For more on Grayson and the rest of the jocks at The Alternative Station, visit cd1025.com.

When I'm not weaving a beautiful tapestry of words, I'm likely digging through jewels and vinyls at an antique shop near you.

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Coronavirus

Penzone shares: what to expect with salons

Julian Foglietti

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With the closing of Hair Salons on March 18th, buzz cuts and bowl cuts have made an appearance on the heads of Ohioans, young and old. Luckily for those desperate for a do, Dewine has announced that hair salons may begin to reopen on May 15th. To guide us through the transition, I spoke with Debbie Penzone, President and CEO of Penzone Salons, about serving on the Governor's salon advisory board, dealing with the business effect of the virus, and what we can expect from hair salons moving forward. 

I understand that you served as the chair of the Governor's committee board regarding reopening salons. What did you do in that role? 

On the committee, my role was pulling from my experience as a cosmetologist and business owner to assemble a group of individuals that represent our business in Ohio. We had everyone from 10 person salons to one person barbershops. braiding salons and nail salons, to schools and three health commissioners. From there, the job was building an agenda and listening to members while consulting health professionals on how to expand upon existing sanitation guidelines.  The Ohio State Board of Cosmetology has been enforcing for years. Beyond that, it was a lot of keeping time, guiding the conversations, gathering information and reporting it.  We also wanted to build plans if something did happen in a salon, and make sure that everyone could abide by these practices so we can remain safe and open.

In what ways has the virus caused you to rethink the way salons will function moving forward?

One of the things we did was go through a COVID specific certification process with Barbicide, which produces a lot of the sanitation products already used in salons and barber shops. A lot of people don’t realize that in the Ohio Administrative Code, there are very specific sanitation guidelines that you have to follow when you get your license, and there is a major component of constantly learning new sanitation practices all the time. The main difference you’ll see is us taking that sanitation to the next level: social distancing between booths, or barriers put in place, as well as reduced capacities in many salons. There will be more emphasis on reducing contact points and sanitizing things like doorknobs and counters as well. The biggest change will be the way we interact with our clients. We're a very emotional industry. We’re huggers, and we’re very close with the people we work with. Our clients are like family to us, so having to distance ourselves and not engage in that way will be different. 

What has been the greatest challenge to overcome over the past months? 

It’s really been adapting to the constant change we're all facing. We might spend all this energy sharing with our team new knowledge, but the next week it will change again. It’s been difficult to coordinate and continue to train everyone and update them with the new practices, as well as provide support for them while we're all distanced from each other. We're all scared right now, and it’s important to not lose our community so we can give each other confidence in the direction we’re heading in.

What have you witnessed over the past few months that gave you hope?

The biggest hope for me was serving on this committee. I’ve always felt so strong about our industry, so bringing so many people together and supporting one another during this difficult time. This whole thing has really brought us together as an industry, and shown that we can work together to support each other and raise each other up. There's enough clients for everybody, and it’s beautiful to see the incredible diversity of salons and see us all coming together to work with one another.

Are you worried about customers returning?

We’ve opened our booking today, but were not opening on the 15th, because we want to have a few days to go over the new procedures with our teams before we start to bring clients in. Every salon will only be operating at 50% capacity, and then we’re extending the hours to make sure everyone has the same hours they used to, and some of them are already booked out to July.

What would you say to ease the concerns of customers?

Really that we’re regulated by the state board and have so many sanitation practices in place. We have printouts posted showing the guidelines for clients that come to the stores, and for those who are high-risk, we are opening up early so they can be the first people to come in right after the salon is sanitized. What's important to remember about salons is that the regulators randomly check our spaces to make sure we're complying, and as we build on regulations, these checks are going to be taken to the next level. 

As a hairstylist, do you see any hairstyle trends emerging from this?

I definitely think there's gonna be a boom for bobs and pixie cuts, ‘cause people are just done. Maybe some bold colors, because everyone just wants to come out and say, “I’m back, baby.” Maybe just a little more attitude with the cuts people are getting.



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Coronavirus

Meet the Saviors: from doctors on the front line to PPE makers

Mitch Hooper

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While searching for Columbus’ helpers, we found that they come in many different shapes and sizes. And this month, we are telling as many of their stories as we can.

These are the stories of the saviors on the front line, working at hospitals, and assisting patients on a day-to-day basis. Or these saviors are at home and providing essential resources to these same folks on the front line. These efforts are quite literally saving lives and risking their own in the process.

Saviors: Pauline Vales, COVID-19 ICU Nurse at Riverside

It was just a little more than a week before Gov. Mike DeWine announced the state would be going into social distancing orders when Pauline Vale and her husband had already begun leaving for a vacation to Texas. And when she returned home on March 10, the events preceding have been a rollercoaster ride of long days and nights, moments of sacrifice, and above all, bravery in the face of danger.

“We have to be mindful about what we need to do each time we enter a patient room because we can’t just run in and out when we need something. It’s harder to connect with our patients because they can’t see our faces, we can’t hold their hands without gloves on, and it’s harder for them to hear us talking through a mask,” Vales explained. “It seems like there is something new every single day, so we have had to adapt and evolve many times over in the last weeks. And there is just more stress and worry in general, but my unit has really come together as a team and done so many amazing things.”

The challenges are seemingly endless for nurses in the ICU like Vales. She said beyond medical professionals having limited contact with patience, hospitals are not allowing visitors unless it's a life situation or fits a different protocol.

There’s also the battle of resources; now more than ever, folks on the front line need protection like gloves and N95 face masks. Luckily, that call is being heard by larger corporations who can do something, such as Battelle. Battelle now works with hospitals, including Riverside, to decontaminate face masks for these front line workers.  And coincidentally, Vale’s husband works as a virologist at Battelle while she was also a former microbiologist for Battelle.

“I have been able to share my knowledge about virus research and testing with my co-workers at the hospital. It has been very helpful to understand the challenges in developing reliable testing and treatments,” she said. “When we first realized that PPE supplies were a real concern, we were worried about how we would be able to protect ourselves and still care for our patients. The relief of having enough PPE available was really palpable on the unit.”

Vales also faces challenges in her personal life. As a mother to a six-year-old boy, the outbreak of COVID-19 has severely changed his day-to-day without much preparation. Like most young children, social distancing is stopping him from going out and playing like he normally would.

“It’s difficult to convey the situation without scaring him,” she said.

But still, Vales and the rest of the team at Riverside continue to fight on the front line, day-in and day-out. And through all the adversity and tough times, she is still taking a moment to recognize the silver lining on these cloudy days.

“The outpouring of support for health care workers has been amazing and people have been so generous to our unit. We have gotten sweet treats, thank you cards, coffee, and so many encouraging words, which has been very much appreciated,” she said. “Different departments in the hospital have been doing kind things for each other, and our food service staff have been a huge support. I have seen many kind acts across Columbus as well. Food drives, to organizing financial help for families in need, to the support of local businesses. It has been great to see so many people doing what they can to help others.”

***

Saviors: Travis Ulmer, MD, FACEP

Sometimes the battle against COVID-19 in Columbus means taking your talents elsewhere; and that’s what Travis Ulmer, MD, FACEP, is doing. And even then, it’s an uphill battle.

“The toughest thing I’ve had to deal with is that I’ve been applying and registering to help New York City for multiple weeks,” Ulmer said. “But extensive red tape has prevented me from being where the healthcare workers are truly overwhelmed and need us the most.”

Ulmer specializes in emergency medicine here in Central Ohio. As someone who has worked on the front lines here, he’s been reminded of the importance physicians like himself can have—especially during an international pandemic. And all the extra steps medical workers have made to further protect their families, he said the outbreak has been eye-opening within his own life.

“I will never take for granted the impact and importance of being present for our families when we are home,” he said.

But, while there have been many struggles, he’s found the silver lining in moments like this.

“The most beautiful thing I’ve seen is that so many people appreciate the entire medical staff, not just us as physicians. There is an incredible workforce that collectively cares for patients. I am so glad they are being recognized and appreciated for the heroes that they are.”

***

Saviors: Kim and Kallie Mallett, Mask Makers

Life was normal for Kim and Kallie Mallett just a few months ago. While Kim worked at Burn Boot Camp, Kallie was busy as an American Sign Language interpreter. And then in a flash, as it has been for most of us, life was far from normal.

Gyms were one of the first of businesses to close due to COVID-19 so Kim was out of work. And Kallie was also temporarily laid off from her position. Though the financial losses have been tough to manage, the biggest thing the two said they miss is getting to interact with and help all the people they meet through their jobs. So it makes sense that the two found a way, even through social distancing and shelter-in-place, to help by making face masks.

“I have been sewing off and on for years so when an EMT friend expressed a need for homemade masks as a way to extend the life of hers and her fire stations N95 masks, we felt called to help,” Kim said. “We quickly realized how significant the shortage of PPE was across all essential workers and just kept going. In the three weeks we’ve been making masks, we have completed almost 700.”

Through mask making, they’ve been able to raise more than $900 in donations—$700 of which will be donated to the Mid Ohio Food Bank and the rest will be used to purchase more fabrics to make more masks.

“It’s been amazing to see Ohio come together and lend a helping hand to their neighbors—from six feet away, of course,” Kim said.

“I’m further reminded of how interconnected we all are and how we need to continue to rely on each other because we truly are all in this together.”

And of course, they’ve learned lessons along the way.

“I’ve learned to take it slowly and one day at a time,” Kalie said “I will be more appreciative of time with friends, the ability to workout with my gym family—really, just normal life in general.”

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Govt & Politics

NY Times lauds Dr. Amy Acton with video tribute

614Now

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If you live in Ohio, you'd have to have been living under rock these last 6 weeks to not know who Dr. Amy Acton is. Now the NY Times is making sure the rest of the country knows too with this nearly 7-minute tribute video titled, "The leader we all wish we had".

As the state's lead spokesperson on the healthcare side of the pandemic, Acton has received wide praise from both near and far. Despite recent protests that occurred outside of her Bexley home, most Ohioans believe she has been a shining star in these dark times.

She has a tribute t-shirt, "Not all Heroes Wear capes" created by Homage

Her own (Ok, Gov. Dewine too) tribute parody video

Her very own bobblehead from the Bobblehead Hall of Fame

A Facebook Fan Page with over 133,000 members

Here's our profile piece from the April issue of (614) Magazine - the cover of which is featured in the NY Times video. Very cool, Sarah!

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