After years as a late night DJ, Kevin Manno '05 is finally working the day shift—and enjoying a promising promotion to television personality. He now co-hosts a daily live show for MTV called "The Seven" from a sunny studio overlooking Times Square in New York City. For years, Manno was a force on late night Chicago radio at WKQX-FM 101.1 (known as Q101) and before that, as co-host of "All Ages Radio" on WONC-FM 89.1. The highly respected show earned Manno and friend Gordon Mays '05 Silver Dome Awards from the Illinois Broadcaster's Association.
Fast forward to 2010. Now a typical day involves delivering upbeat "news" stories deemed as seven important things MTV viewers (ages 12-24) need to know. "It's a unique show, there's nothing quite like this out there," Manno says. "It's aimed at a young audience and we're live from New York. That makes us different from other shows."
"The Seven" mixes up punchy scripts with fast-paced graphics, prerecorded stories and on-set interviews with celebrities like Drake, Russell Brand, Jenna Ushkowitz (of "Glee") and Nicole Richie.
The day begins with meetings about the show's material, followed by recording voice tracks for stories. Then Manno heads off to wardrobe to put on that day's trendy plaid shirt, followed by hair and makeup. A rehearsal prepares cast and crew for the live show, which is energized by a studio audience. "The audience members help us so much because we feed off them," Manno says. "If we have a quiet audience, I never feel like that show was as good."
More than two years ago, a talent scout from MTV came to Q101 to find radio talent for potential television opportunities. Manno stayed in touch and then was eventually contacted to audition for "The Seven." "I figured there were 5,000 people sending in audition tapes for 3,000 new show ideas," he says. "I thought there's no way this is going to pan out."
Manno says that the transition from radio to television hasn't been difficult because Q101's staff videographer was continually making videos of Manno and his DJ brother, Ryan Manno '03, for the web site. He also credits long hours researching and hosting "All Ages Radio," which built a nationwide following thanks to Internet listeners and support from John Madormo, North Central's assistant professor of broadcast communication and general manager of WONC.
"The freedom and trust that John Madormo gave us set us up for success," he says. "You have to take advantage of those opportunities."
"The Seven" airs on MTV at 5 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday, and at 10 a.m. EST Saturdays. n