Local disc jockey ready to begin the next chapter in life


One local disc jockey’s recognizable voice has been broadcast over the airwaves for nearly 29 years.

Robert Becker of Seymour said he’s not as young as he used to be and has no idea what he’s going to do the rest of his life, but he figures it is time to move on.

Becker started the WJAA 96.3 radio station Sept. 23, 1991.

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After his shift Aug. 28, the 68-year-old DJ hung up his headphones and passed the microphone over to his successor, Becky Schepman, who along with her husband Brent has taken ownership of the radio station.

Schepman has a background in radio and until recently was executive director of Seymour Main Street. On May 4, she returned to the radio world, becoming president of Radio 96.3 WJAA.

Initially, it wasn’t radio that Becker wanted to make a career in, but somehow, it circled back to being radio.

“I grew up in Chicago, and I’ve always loved radio ever since I was a kid, and I’d sleep with the radio on,” Becker said. “I went to college at the University of Wisconsin for their radio, TV and film department.”

Becker also went to graduate school at New York University in the film department because he was more interested in film at that time.

“I worked on some films and was writing screenplays, and finally, one got optioned, but it never got made as most films don’t,” Becker said. “My screenplay was optioned by Adam Nimoy, Leonard Nimoy’s son, and we were going to try to get it made, and it just never happened, but it was fun.”

Becker said his search to buy a radio station brought him to Seymour.

“In looking to buy a station, you work with brokers around the country,” he said. “I heard there was a frequency available in Seymour, and I’d heard of Seymour because of (John) Mellencamp.”

What better place than “I was born in a small town” Indiana to start a small town radio station, he said.

“We built the station because the frequency existed, but the station didn’t, and there was Q95 classic rock in Indianapolis and some rock stations in Louisville, but no rock station in between,” he said. “There were plenty of country stations around and oldies, so I figured classic rock would be the perfect format. Classic rock is old school, and I like it.”

Becker’s day at the radio station would start around 6 a.m. when he would spend about an hour doing show preparation, like getting news stories together, including entertainment, sports and community events.

His radio show, “Breakfast with Bob,” was live on the air from 7 to 10 a.m. Then after Schepman started at the station, she joined him on the air from 9 to 10 a.m. for “Breakfast with Becky and Bob.”

“Having a co-host has been different because I’m used to only talking with someone if I have a guest in or if Jim Plump is coming in to do sports, but I’ve enjoyed it,” Becker said. “The show was impromptu and not scripted, so it was fun to surprise Becky or embarrass her a little.”

Becker said he felt lucky to find Schepman to take over for him with her having a background in radio, and being connected to the community, she was a perfect fit for the job.

“People can kind of get their music from anywhere now, so it’s important to connect with the community in any way that you can,” he said. “It’s your local station and your local people, so someone at the radio needs to be connected with the community.”

Becker said they also like to get as many people involved in the station that they can, whether it’s the hotline, doing a live broadcast or calling in with requests.

A few of his personal favorite musicians are Bruce Springsteen, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles.

“For the last 20 years, I’ve had this ongoing dream where I’m in the studio and can’t find a CD and the music’s running out and the machine won’t work,” he said. “We’ll see if that dream goes away after I leave here.”

He said being on the radio and talking to people is very intimate, so it’s different from other things and takes unique skill and ability to be able to do that well.

Becker wore several hats at the radio station: Owner, general manager, DJ, news guy and Cool Bus driver. It’s a small business, so he did a lot of things.

Schepman said it was great to work at the radio station with Becker for a few months, meet the listeners and be a part of the Summer of Fun.

“I also got to meet the clients that are currently advertising with WJAA and introduce myself to them for a smooth transition,” she said. “Bob has been a staple rocking Southern Indiana, and I know he will be missed.”

She said Bob has been in radio for more than three decades, and his style is very calm and relaxed. His favorite saying is, “It’s not brain surgery. It’s just radio.” Being a perfectionist herself, she hopes his laid-back attitude will rub off on her.

On Aug. 27, Schepman announced that Jeff Campbell is joining the radio station and will be her co-host for “The Morning Blend with Beck and Jeff.” Besides announcing news, weather and sports, they will have giveaways and lots of listener interaction with the question of the day.

Besides broadcasting from the radio station, it was not uncommon to see Becker driving through town in the 96.3 Cool Bus or see him doing a remote broadcast with the bus nearby. Becker said he will miss driving that bus.

Most radio stations have a van with their call letters on it, but he wanted something more interesting.

“We happened to be in Brownstown one day, and Bob Thomas had some old Brownstown school buses, and I thought that would be perfect,” Becker said. “So we got an old bus, painted it and decorated it to show we were classic rock.”

He said Maureen Pesta was the first one to paint the bus, and she came up with the name the Cool Bus. She says it’s still one of her favorite projects.

Becker said when he’s out in the Cool Bus, people wave, kids stop and wave and it just seems to make people happy.

He thinks he will probably miss being a DJ, both the music part and being involved in community events.

“When I leave here, I don’t look at it as retirement. I see it as the next chapter and not sure what I want to do and maybe I’ll miss being on the radio,” he said. “I don’t know and maybe I won’t miss it at all, but you don’t know what you’ll miss until it’s gone.”

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“When I leave here, I don’t look at it as retirement. I see it as the next chapter.”

Robert Becker on recently retiring from Radio 96.3 WJAA


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