LEE COUNTY NEIGHBORS:Surfing the airwaves

 

PHOTO: (Thomas Wells)

Craig Horton brings music and humor to morning listeners at radio station WSYE-FM (Sunny 93.3) in Tupelo.

By Sheena Barnett

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Look! Up in the sky! It's a newspaperman! It's a DJ! It's a news anchor!

It's all of the above, courtesy of Craig Horton.

Horton, a Lee County native, has done it all in media, from writing to getting his voice or face over the airwaves. Now, he’s a DJ with Sunny 93.3, and he gets listeners going in the morning with a mix of rock, pop, disco and singer-songwriter tunes.

"I'm just one of those people that you see or hear or read about that knew what they wanted to do since they were little," Horton said. "I was so young when I started that my mother had to give me a ride to work – I was 14."

Getting the basics

Horton, 43, landed odd jobs at area radio stations as a teen and also pulled a stint at the Daily Journal before heading off to the University of Mississippi.

He worked at the Ole Miss student newspaper, The Daily Mississippian, but also kept a radio gig on the side.

"I was also DJing dances and parties," he said. "I've done thousands of those."

Horton’s worked in newspapers, radio and television since leaving Ole Miss.

Despite the various media he's pursued, all of his jobs have come down to one thing: writing.

"A lot of people don't realize how much creative writing goes into all these media fields. It all boils down to writing," Horton said.

Morning waves

Horton’s day begins at 3:30 a.m. His shift at Sunny 93.3 goes from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., and during that time he’s cracking jokes, taking requests and taking a call from someone who’s becoming North Mississippi’s most-talked about person, LaCharelle. Horton won’t disclose the true identity of the comedian, but he said that part of his morning show is growing in popularity.

"It's had a lot of success," he said. "I would like to thank people for the success for that."

Horton said he was an early riser even before his morning gig.

"People ask me, 'How do you get up so early?' But I've been doing it for so long, I can't not get up early."

He gets his listeners – and himself – going each day with the music he plays. He gets to chose what songs he plays, he said.

"I sort of base it on the day of the week and what the weather's like outside," he said. His favorite artist is the Dave Matthews Band.

"I'm all about me some Dave Matthews," he said. "My wife and I try to find Dave every summer."

That personal connection

Horton had spent about 10 years at WTVA when he left in 2005. It was time for him to move on, he said.

"I had so many people call and write to say, 'Where are you?'" Horton said. "I want to thank everyone who said things like that. Leaving the television station, I didn't realize there were that many people that cared."

But he didn't leave without learning a couple of lessons first. Kay Bain, his former "Morning Show" co-host, "has a natural love of her viewers," he said. "She taught me, love your audience, and most of them will love you back."

Horton lives in Lee County with his wife, Jennifer, and their six children, and it’s that local connection that helps him relate to his listeners.

"I think, 'Would my mom laugh at this?' or 'Would my wife laugh at this?'" he said. "I try to think of things I might want to hear if I were on my way to Action or the hospital."

See more photos of Craig Horton and read more about his career in today's Lee County Neighbors. Check out Lee County Neighbors today in the Daily Journal.

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