To say E Street Radio Host Jim Rotolo is a busy man would be an understatement. His daily schedule is nothing short of “completely booked” and “totally jammed.” Jim gives all new meaning to the word multi-tasker. He’s a radio host, a producer, a manager of a rock band (Ten Ton Mojo) just to name a few tasks. So when I sat down with him for a Lee Lee’s Room post, I felt compelled to ask… “Jim- do you even have time to sleep?”
Although he granted me an interview back in March, it took four months to actually happen. Yes, there were some minor scheduling obstacles on both parts. I live in Rhode Island and Jim lives in New Jersey. I’m incredibly busy with three young boys and Jim’s obviously super busy hosting and producing shows. Shows with an s…that’s plural.
Praise the Lord…the stars were aligned on the morning of August 1st. That’s when Jim and I met in Jersey at a diner. A diner…I know…how Jersey is that? I wanted to talk BRUCE and find out about Jim’s amazing career over breakfast and coffee. A diner is so much better than a stuffy office! Let me tell you…it was so worth the wait! Plus the food was great too. Jim’s story is a fascinating one and his BRUCE stories…well, they’re just outrageous and beyond fabulous!
He’s enjoyed lunch with the rock legend (turkey sandwiches in fact) and oh yeah…he’s even enjoyed working with the Boss in Bruce’s very own recording studio. It was all part of a session for E Street Radio. Not a bad gig! Don’t we all wish we could’ve been a fly on the wall!????!!!! Something tells me however, that Bruce doesn’t have flies in his recording studio. LOL All kidding aside, the opportunity of a lifetime (working with the one and only Bruce Springsteen) wasn’t just handed to him…Jim earned it. He’s been a devoted and dedicated employee at Sirius for nearly 10 years. And more importantly, his relationship with Bruce and the E Street Band developed through trust, respect, and hard work.
Before I get to the interview, a little rewind is necessary…
I call Jim’s show, “The Wild and the Innocent” all the time. I’m what some consider a “super fan.” Whether it’s a dedication show or a favorite album show, it absolutely rocks! Besides calling in practically every Friday, I also had the privilege of being interviewed by Jim… LIVE on E Street Radio… at the VIP screening of “Springsteen and I.” I’m in the film for a brief, shining moment. It’s a great honor and I’m so thrilled to be part of a Ridley Scott Production about my local hero. Going on the air with Jim from the premiere was a bonus treat.
Back to breakfast and coffee talk…
Since the film event took place just a few weeks before our breakfast meeting, there was no need for introductions. When Jim and I met at the diner we greeted each other with a hug. He has such a warm and engaging personality. No wonder he’s on the air!!! Could be a Jersey/Italian thing too. We both grew up in neighboring communities in Northern Jersey and share the same Italian background. I realize I only just met Jim but, it feels as if I’ve known him for quite some time.
Our conversation kicked off with some simple Bruce facts…
Although he attended his first Bruce concert during the Human Touch/Lucky Town Tour, it’s thanks to his brother Joe that he started listening to the Boss in the late 70s. He remembers identifying with the song, Darkness on the Edge of Town because of Bruce’s reference to the town of Fairview. Jim grew up just minutes from Fairview, New Jersey. He says he’s never stopped listening to Bruce over the years and that Springsteen’s music is the “background soundtrack” of his life. Bruce tunes may be the background soundtrack to Jim’s life but ambition is the background soundtrack to Jim’s career.
While earning a degree in Communications at William Paterson University, Jim earned experience as a DJ too… at the college radio station WPSC. Upon graduation, he received the golden ticket… a job at New York’s Z100. As an assistant DJ, he spent most of his time screening song requests for the radio host. Two years into his radio career at Z100, Jim was fortunate enough to produce one of the top rated shows in New York- Love Phones. The show was also a nationally syndicated. However, since the entertainment industry is a rather fickle one, Love Phones played out more like a summer romance. The show was eventually cancelled.
Jim’s next move? A pre-production job at MTV Radio Networks/Westwood One. Jim missed live radio and being in a studio but his new “behind the scenes” job turned into a rewarding one. He built up his resume and built wonderful relationships in the industry. Since laziness doesn’t fit into Jim’s work ethic or vocabulary, he also worked weekends producing Country Gold.
After a few years at Westwood One and anxious to pursue a live radio career again, Jim transitioned into a job at a start up online talk radio company… E yada.com He spent a year and a half there before taking on another pre-production position at MJI Broadcasting. Thanks to all of his career moves, Jim certainly understands all aspects and departments of the radio business. A sort of Jack of all Trades, Jim has worked on a wide variety of shows too…from politics… to a gay and lesbian show …to a show dedicated to fashion and beauty. Yes, he can talk to any fashionista! Jim’s undoubtedly paid his dues in the radio business!!!
Along with a natural talent to host and produce shows, Jim has also dabbled in the acting profession. He helped create a script for an off-broadway show titled, “Crazy, Sexy Disco”. He played a role in the play as well and thoroughly enjoyed performing on the stage.
By 2004, Jim finally landed a dream full-time radio job…at Sirius. As producer of Kick out the Jams with Dave Marsh, he developed a close relationship with the Springsteen expert and biographer. Just one year later, he established himself as talent and was feeling great about his future in Radio. In 2009, everything changed…for the better. After Bruce’s performance at the Super Bowl, Marsh came up with an idea for a show… “Live from E Street Nation.” With Marsh’s idea and Jim’s experience in Radio…E Street Radio hit the airwaves with new programming. AND Jim hit the airwaves as Marsh’s side-kick, co-host, and co-producer.
Jim was anxious to expand the ideas and voices on E Street Radio. This drive and motivation turned into the creation of his very own show… The Wild and the Innocent with Jim Rotolo. The show is a huge success and Jim beams with pride as he admits he’s “loving it.”
As our breakfast interview came to an end, Jim humbly tells me that he needs to continue to do more and more in the business. He adds that he must “keep going forward and that there’s no other way to go.” I’m certain Jim’s show and voice is here to stay and won’t disappear from the airwaves anytime soon!
I’m so grateful for the interview and even more grateful to call Jim a BRUCE BUD. Thank you my friend!