"Kimberly Ray has always been fascinated with radio.
“I was obsessed with the radio even as a toddler. When I was six years old I used to have a transistor radio attached to my little purple bike that I played while I rode around the neighborhood.
“It only tuned into AM stations. Does that make me sound old?” she laughs. Today, she keeps her grandmother’s radio from the 1940’s as a memento in her bedroom at her home in North Greece.
Kimberly laughs when she recalls that when she was about 11-years-old growing up in Missouri, she won a call-in contest on the radio.
“I was the 10th caller,” she says. “I won Bob Seger’s Night Moves album. I was over the top that I won. But it was about a forty five minute drive to the radio station so my dad said he wouldn’t take me to go get it. He said it would be cheaper to just buy me the album than to drive there to get it. What he didn’t understand is, I didn’t want the album. I just wanted to tour the radio station and meet the people that I heard talking on the radio.”
Today the obsessed kid is now the queen of Rochester radio, having moved here in 2001 to do a morning show with her then brand new partner, Barry Beck.
Kimberly explains how the duo ended up together. “I was doing a radio show in Cincinnati and my contract did not get renewed. Barry was in Columbus. I found out his morning radio partner applied for MY JOB. So I called him and said – ‘hey you might be looking for a new partner soon.’”
The two met for dinner.
“My first impression was that he was nice, but I wasn’t sure about working together. It’s hard to find a guy in radio who is okay with you being half the show,” she said seriously. “Some men want their female counter-part to look dumb or weak, or want the woman to put on a bikini and go out and give-away money as a stunt. And I had to do my share of that stuff kind of stupid stuff to break into radio. But Beck has always let me be myself and he wasn’t threatened by my personality. Beck never tells me what to say or what I should think. He let’s me just be me.”
The two talked about applying for future jobs together. They had already separately applied for a job in Rochester, NY, and to their surprise, they were selected to be the two finalists for the show. They both moved here from their separate homes in Ohio to start working together.
And together, they worked. For more than 12 years the two dominated the morning airwaves until May 2014, when Entercom suddenly let them go for comments they made on their show called “The Breakfast Buzz.”
Their listeners were in shock. It seemed like a harmless joke was blown way out of proportion. Avid fans banned together on social media creating two social media groups: Bring Back Kimberly & Beck! and K&B Roc! Both facebook groups are still places that their fans, who they call the 4th man, gather to talk about the show and interact with the hosts and other listeners.
Fans were relieved when iHeartMedia hired the duo in September of that year, meaning they would still be on the air in the Rochester market where they already had a following. Now Kimberly and Beck dominate the afternoon airwaves on Radio 95.1 FM. Their show airs from 2 to 7 p.m. on weekdays. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays a “best of” show airs with highlights from the previous week.
Kimberly truly loves her job.
“I get to talk to people about what’s going on around me and in my life every day,” she explains. “For five hours I am talking with the 4th man, my co-workers and getting everything out. It’s like every day is therapy.”
“Plus I am in the business I have always adored. I studied at Northwest Missouri State University to work in radio.” A fan asked her what her plan B was. “I was supposed to have a plan B?” she joked.
Kimberly says she is a morning person, and still gets up before 6 a.m. to start preparing for the day’s show, saying she doesn’t think fans realize how much prep goes into producing an interesting show. She goes to all of the local news internet sites, Drudge, Fox News, the Daily Beast, social media and more to find news that is either locally focused or unusual enough to talk about on the air.
She brings in tons of notes each day, but is proud that the show is unscripted. The radio duo and their listener-callers are known for engaging in unfiltered chatter about news of the day. They also talk extensively about their personal lives including children, pets and significant others. Listeners know where they ate dinner, what movies they watched and their exercise routines. No topic is off limit… even sex.
“We always have ideas of things we can talk about, but we mostly engage with the topics our listeners want to talk about. And we don’t pretend to be anything but our unfiltered selves. We talk about our lives, our families, our friends,” she says. “I think that’s why our fans love us. We are the people on the air that we are in real life.""