Robert Counts

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In This Episode:

  • What Living in Franklin, Tennessee is Like
  • Robert Talks About His First Songwriting Experience
  • Why Kids Are Like Baby Trees
  • Robert Discusses His Single “Backseat Driver”
  • The Difference Between a Sellable Hit and a Self Indulgent Love As a Songwriter
  • Why Robert Thinks His Singing Voice Is So Different From His Talking Voice
  • Why Robert Doesn’t Really Write Solo In Nashville


“Nashville, especially Country music, it’s not a talent competition.” – Robert Counts

“I told Sony I wanted to run with it as my first single and they just didn’t feel like it would translate.” – Robert Counts

“It was good for me to be a little bit sheltered.” – Robert Counts

“Everybody loves talking about their Crossfit career.” – Robert Counts

“I think it’s shocking people all the time and I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing.” – Robert Counts

“You’re never gonna out write the town.” – Robert Counts

Guest’s Bio:

When Robert Counts released his self-titled, debut EP in October 2019, he was marking the end of a decade filled with career changes, life adjustments, and personal growth. Experiences like those helped inspire the five-track project and continue to guide Counts’ masterful songwriting into new creative territories. With his latest release, “What Do I Know,” Counts goes deeper than he has before, tapping into his working-class roots to deliver a rock-forward anthem purveying the values of hard work and simple living. The tune, which he co-wrote with Jake Mitchell and HARDY, marks a stylistic pivot from the smooth grooves and lighter volumes of Robert Counts, raising the energy level while maintaining the thoughtful lyric-writing of his debut.“

I wanted to explore a little different side of what I do,” Counts says of his newer music. “With ‘What Do I Know,’ I also wanted to shine a light on the sort of people I grew up around. They build something for themselves … they find success by working hard and showing up every day. ”

Counts grew up in rural Franklin, Tennessee, just 20 miles south of Nashville. He started playing guitar and singing at his church, where he led worship throughout his teens, but it wasn’t until after he graduated from Lee University with a degree in Biochemistry that he committed to a career in music.

After winning a songwriter’s round at Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant in Downtown Franklin, he earned a cash price and the attention of an industry publisher who offered him his first songwriting agreement. From there, he went on to write professionally on Music Row, eventually inking a management deal with famed writer-producer Jimmy Ritchey who encouraged him to pursue a career as a performer.“

He was the one who planted that seed in my head,” Counts says of shifting from songwriting to performing. “I hadn’t even thought about it, but that’s where it happened. Long story short, we wrote some songs together, and he introduced me to people at the label.” Through Ritchey, Counts landed a meeting with Sony Music Nashville’s A&R team. After an in-office performance, he received a record deal offer on the spot. Today, the artist continues to prolifically craft new tunes, pulling fresh inspiration from his life experiences in the tradition of true country music storytelling.

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J.T. Harding

By Music No Comments

Also In This Episode:

  • J.T. Shares What Kenny Chesney Said at the Party for Their Number One Song
  • Tips and Advice from a Hit Songwriter in Nashville
  • How J.T. and His Co-Writers Came Up With The Tempo For “Sangria”
  • Why J.T. Used To Put Lyrics in His Socks
  • How J.T. Ended Up Writing a Song With Darius Rucker Over Zoom


“I wrote ‘Somewhere with You’ which was a three-week number one from Kenny Ch.esney.” – J.T. Harding

“He didn’t know I was joking, so Kenny Chesney spins around like the girl from The Exorcist, looking at me with wide eyes.” – J.T. Harding

“…That’s why I write songs; it’s cheaper than therapy.” – J.T. Harding

“…Like, the after-party last night, masks were required, pants were optional, but masks were required.” – J.T. Harding

“He and the girl gave me up for adoption when I was born, my birth certificate is framed, it’s an apology from a condom company.” – J.T. Harding

“I never met Darius Rucker, we wrote a song called ‘Beers and Sunshine’ over Zoom last year.” – J.T. Harding

Guest’s Bio:

J.T. Harding was born and raised in South Detroit. Loving MTV, he put together high school bands then chased his dream to California where he made his first demo tape with money he won on the game show “VH1 Rock ‘n’ Roll Jeopardy.” His movie scene, 3-D lyric writing caught the attention of Nashville. JT has written number one hits for Blake Shelton a Keith Urban, Uncle Kracker, and many more.

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Sam Van Zandt

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In This Episode:

  • The One Time Gary Had To Use a Fake Name
  • What It Was Like Interviewing Michael Jackson
  • One Of The Worst Interviews Sam Ever Did
  • What Darius Rucker Told Gary About The Younger Artists
  • The Story Of When Kenny Rogers Flirted With Gary’s Girlfriend
  • How To Be a Better Interviewer and the Power of Shutting Up
  • The Time Sam Did an Interview Simultaneously With a Competitor
  • The Story of When Sam Grabbed Kenny Rogers’s Butt


“I never got to tell you the story about the time I accidentally grabbed Kenny Rogers’s butt.” – Sam Van Zandt

“I was nervous as could be to interview Chuck Berry, I had heard he punched Keith Richards in the nose.” – Sam Van Zandt

“In country music, I find that people are a lot more open and willing to talk about anything, and they’re just people like us.” – Sam Van Zandt

“He’s been drinking out of a coke cup the whole time and I pick it up and it’s full of whiskey.” – Sam Van Zandt

 “I had a cameraman with me and we were allowed to stay for 3 songs and then get the hell out.” – Sam Van Zandt

“I got to spend, pretty much, a day with Peter Frampton.” – Sam Van Zandt

“We did a big debate with Dianne Feinstein on wether gay people should be teachers.” – Sam Van Zandt

Guest’s Bio:

Sam Van Zandt was born in San Jose California and grew up listening to local San Jose radio with his mother and father, who loved country music. Sam loved all music, but especially Rock and Roll.

While at Abraham Lincoln high school Sam took a speech class to get over his fear of talking to an audience. It worked! Sam was soon on KSJO in San Jose as the narrator of a high school radio program. Sam graduated at 17 and got his first job at KPER in Gilroy. He worked there while going to San Jose State studying broadcasting.

Sam traveled around pursuing his career including a year in Texas at a small country station, and a year at KDON in Salinas, before being hired in San Francisco. From 1972-2005, he worked at KCBS-FM, KIOI, KYA, KSFO, KGO, KNEW, KBGG (Big98), and KFRC.

In Sacramento, Sam hosted a morning show on KOOL 101, before joining Lissa Kreisler as cohost of KBAY’s “Sam & Lissa in the Morning” program in 2005. Sam retired from the KBAY morning show in 2016 but stayed on running Public Affairs programming until 2018 when new management eliminated it.

Sam is “old school” about radio, so he has overseen Public Affairs on most of the radio stations he’s worked on, and participated in hundreds of community events for nonprofit groups. Sam also performed stand-up comedy throughout the ’90s and hosted several local TV shows.

He was a regular on Candid Camera from 1994-2004, doing gags, audience warmup, and announcing for the series on CBS-TV and PAX TV.

Sam has four successful grown children, Janet, Brandon, Justin, and Jonah, and is celebrating 30 years of happy marriage to his lovely wife Carol McKinney.

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Tony Michael

By Music No Comments

In This Episode:

  • The Passed Out Drunk and The Worst Golf Course They’ve Ever Been To
  • How Tony’s Radio Name Came To Be
  • What The Job Was Tony Wasn’t Allowed To Talk About
  • The Guy Who Impersonated Gary
  • Who Was The Worst Studio Guest Gary Ever Had
  • How To Be Favorable Within the TikTok Algorithm
  • What Gary Told Everyone At His Wedding, Private Planes, and a Bachelor Party
  • Some of the Difficulties of Having a Son In The Marines
  • The Importance of Giving Kids Enough Support
  • The Story of Tony’s Teacher Hitting Him With a Belt In School
  • Why Age Isn’t The Instant Qualifier For Respect


“When it comes to TIkTok, you just have to find a niche that the algorithm supports.” – Tony Michael

“If I wouldn’t’ve gotten fired, I might have been in that picture.” – Tony Michael  

“Sometimes we settle for the comfort of being in a relationship.” – Tony Michael

“The kids’ mamma and myself are divorced, but we live together.” – Tony Michael

“My dad had no problem laying down discipline and it actually grew into respect and it grew into discipline for myself.” – Tony Michael

“That 6 year old kid is nice, that 40 year old guy beats his wife, so who gets the respect?” – Tony Michael

Guest’s Bio:

He grew up in Milpitas and now lives in Fremont with his 2 children, Cheyenne & Tyler. He’s been doing radio for 40+ years. He’s worked for KSJO, KWSS, KLLY, KYCY, KFRC, KATM, KRTY, and a few others. He loves radio and has a great passion for what he does. He always loves sports, the Niners, the Giants, the Warriors, and many others. He also enjoys working out, golfing, and hanging with friends.

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