The Preston and Steve Show might seem like mostly hijinks, but beyond the revelry is a serious devotion to fans. Preston Elliot and Steve Morrison—along with Kathy Romano and producers Casey Foster, Marisa Magnatta and Nick McIlwain—can rest easy knowing their show is deeply entrenched in the lives of listeners. This year, the show is celebrating 20 years on the air. And right now, there’s also the annual Camp Out for Hunger, which runs Nov. 27-Dec. 1. Last year’s event raised over 1.6 million pounds of food for Philabundance.
MLT: What drew you to radio?
PE: I was a failed rock star. I desperately wanted to be a musician, but that didn’t work out. I was a huge, huge fan of listening to music on the radio, and I was encouraged by my mom to go to a broadcasting school in St. Louis.
SM: I was playing a comedy club on Long Island, N.Y., and they asked me to go to the local radio station and do some audio segments for a commercial. The guy in the production department had gone to school with me. He asked if I could do some comedy for the radio station’s morning show. Once I started doing radio production for air, I sort of fell in love with it.
MLT: What does it mean for the show to hit 20 years?
PE: It means that the hard work and the ethics we’ve had from the beginning to now have paid off. A lot of people [in radio] end up having to move around the country. It’s not lost on us that it’s a rare thing to be in one market for such a huge amount of time and be successful. It’s surprising, it’s encouraging, and it’s exciting.
SM: We have a limited celebrity—it’s a wonderful deal that allows us to be ourselves. We love living the lives we live here, and I think that comes across on air. We just let our instincts kick in, and that’s served us well.
MLT: How do you read your audience’s interests?
PE: We kind of read ourselves—it’s what we would be entertained with. For the most part, we’ve kept it light and fun and open to a lot of different people—different socioeconomic categories, genders. Something everyone can get a piece of and relate to. It’s just us being us.
SM: You know what we’ve been getting a lot of lately? We get people coming to us saying, “Thank you for not talking about politics.” Now more than ever, you have a multitude of places to go if you want to engage that—we are the respite from that.
MLT: Any favorite moments from the show?
SM: There are so many of them. We love the guests, the stunts, the stupid stuff we’ve done. But being on-air talking in the morning, the conversation, and thinking of us and the listeners as one big carful of people going to work together is a big joy.
PE: After 20 years of doing a show like this every single day, you forget about a lot of the things you’ve done. What’s great, though, is one of us says, “You remember the time we …?” You relive that moment and how much fun that was.
SM: We’ve done some raucous freaking stuff that’s almost gotten us canned. The time we brought a horse into the studio; the time we shot hot sauce into our intern’s butt as a punishment.
PE: That time we dropped bowling balls on a car for a contest.
MLT: Anything you haven’t done but want to?
SM: I have something, but it turned out it’s illegal. I’m quite good at operating a forklift. I have long stated that I could insert a rectal thermometer in a human being if it was strapped on the end of a forklift.
PE: Oddly enough, management has never let us do that.
MLT: How did Camp Out for Hunger come about?
PE: We felt we should do something to give back to the community. Our boss, Jim McGuinn, had the idea of camping out for a week until we raised a certain amount of food. We never anticipated that it would get to where it is now.
MLT: What do you anticipate for the future of the show?
PE: We’ll continue to have a good time, make new friends, live here in the Philly area and grow old.
SM: As long as it keeps going, we’re here.