By Judith Salkin
When it comes to A.M. drive time jocks, you generally gravitate to the ones that gently wake you up or make you laugh so hard that you’re ready for the office when you get there.
When it comes to 93.7 FM KCLB’s Casey Dolan, along with his co-host Kristen Kelly, for the past 15 years he’s used humor and all the knowledge he picked up on his long trek to a college degree.
And he says he loves getting up at the crack of dawn for his 6 to 10 a.m. drive time slot to wake his listeners up.
We caught up with Dolan, 36, after he’d returned home from a doctor’s appointment for a knee injury he incurred some months ago. “It’s a little strange when you’re in a waiting room filled with people who you know are all on Medicare, and you’re the only one who’s not old enough for it.”
Dolan, who is known for his insightful commentary on what’s going on in the valley and the country, claims he doesn’t talk a lot outside of his job.
“I spend most of my time off-air reading,” he says. “People would probably want to hit me if I always talked the way I do on the show.”
Like a number of the radio and television personalities here in the valley, he got into radio almost by accident. Or at least via construction.
Growing up near Big Bear Lake in the mountain community of Moonridge, Dolan says he didn’t appreciate at the time the life most kids would have loved; snow and water skiing, hiking, all in his backyard. “But growing up I thought where I lived was too isolated and awful,” he says.
He spent his summers working as a construction laborer as a teen. “One day it was 98, and of course now I know 98 is not that hot, but at the time I thought, ‘Why am out I here?’,” he recalled.
He went to the radio station across the street from the job site, “And I begged them for a job; I told them I’d mop the floors, anything to get out of the heat,” he said.
So he was hired to mop the floors, but when the station was sold a couple of months later and most of the air staff quit, “They offered me an afternoon spot until they shut it down,” he said.
After high school Dolan “went to about nine different junior colleges around Southern California,” he says, moving to different communities as he changed jobs or apartments. “At 18 you don’t have the luxury of going where you want to,” he says. “You go where you have a job or cheap rent.”
He finally ended up in San Diego, doing a semester at San Diego State, but the cost of living there was too rich for Dolan.
At the time he had some friends in the Coachella Valley, “I knew I didn’t want to live where it snowed and in the desert you don’t have to shovel heat,” he said.
For his first few years here in the desert he sold time shares and radio advertising until he finally got an on-air spot on KMRJ and then KKUU. These days he shares his KCLB mornings with Kelly, and the rest of his days, too, as the hosts are an off-air couple.
“There are a lot of couples who are on radio and TV,” Dolan says. “I think it’s because you share a similar sense of humor and you both love the hours.”
Told that KMIR news anchor Gino LaMont had nice words for the morning host from his time working with him from 2003 to 2006, Dolan was appropriately touched by the tribute. “But you know, he NEVER says that to ME!” he said with a tear in his voice, “But he was in a tough place; I’m glad he learned something from his experience.”
LaMont learned where to find good child care for his son since Kelly is the boy’s afternoon nanny. “I got him a job and he’s responded by giving one to Kristen,” he says jokingly.
Outside of the radio gig Dolan often fills in as the moderator for Q/A sessions at the Cinemas Palme d’Or in Palm Desert. “I took a semester of film school and I love movies,” he says of the work.