Lancaster Spotlight: Fun 101.3
You’ve read their food reviews as Fine Living Lancaster’s resident “Fun Dining” columnists, and listened to them each morning as the radio personalities on Fun 101.3. But with a recent national award nomination and almost a decade of working together to boot, we decided it was time to turn the spotlight back to Dennis Mitchell and Michelle Cruz. Thankfully, the two agreed to open up to us about what it’s like to have their show recognized at a national level, where their careers began, what they hope is next, and of course, what their lives are like when the microphones turn off.
This year, Dennis and Michelle were nominated for the prestigious Marconi award. First established in 1989 and named after Nobel Prize winner Guglielmo Marconi, it recognizes stations and individuals for their excellence and performance in radio. The two were nominated for small market personality of the year.
“This is like the Grammy Awards of radio,” Dennis explained. “Our company flew us down to Austin, Texas for the award show, where we sat next to the owner of our company, Art Rowbotham. It was so surreal. I kept thinking, I can’t believe we’re here right now.” Michelle echoed the sentiment, saying: “I always thought the line ‘It’s an honor just to be nominated’ was a lie, but it really is true… At the Marconi Awards, the announcement came toward the end of the ceremony and we just needed to know: are we were going to have to make a speech or can I have a martini? Let’s just say, I had the martini.”
Dennis and Michelle first met in the early 2000s, while Dennis was working at Cat Country 106.7, and Michelle was at their sister station, 105.7. Dennis said that their bosses noticed their chemistry as friends, and decided to try putting them on the air together. Needless to say, a duo was born. “We’ve been best friends ever since,” he said.
Dennis was born and raised in Elizabethville, not to be confused with Elizabethtown, which is currently where he and his wife of 20 years reside. Dennis has 3 children, and calls himself their full time “Uber driver,” juggling everything from piano to soccer to baseball practices. Michelle was born and raised in Langhorne, but met her husband, Andy, while attending Millersville University. They now have two daughters, who are both involved in sports and the arts.
Dennis’ first introduction to radio came right after high school, when he attended the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. “That’s when I was really bitten by the radio bug,” he said. “It’s been pedal to the metal ever since.” As for Michelle, radio wasn’t even on her radar until one day in college, when her sorority was hosting a Hurricane Relief Drive for Andrew victims in Florida. The local radio station put her on the air while covering the story, and she ended up landing an internship with them. She graduated with a degree in public relations, and has since gone on to work at stations everywhere from Philadelphia to Baltimore to Harrisburg.
Though the early hours aren’t always ideal, both agree that they appreciate their work for the great people they get to meet and the impact they can make on their community. “Making a difference in someone’s life,” Dennis responds when asked what the best part about his job is. “Being out and having someone come up to you and say ‘When you guys were talking about ______, that made me laugh so much.’ Knowing that people depending on hearing what you have to say EVERY single day. Sometimes you take that for granted, but it’s pretty amazing when you stop and think about it.”
Michelle agreed: “I have great stories for my kids about artists I have met over the years. However, the best part about being in radio is the reach when it’s time to help people. Lancaster County is the most generous area. When we tell our listeners someone needs help, they are always there with donations.”
As for what they hope is next? Well, growth is on the horizon. “We’d like to continue to entertain and inform like we always have, but there’s room to grow as professionals and human beings,” Dennis explains. “Our lives and the show are constantly evolving. When we first started together, there were no smartphones or social media. We never envisioned having to come up with multimedia content but we’ve enjoyed adapting and hope to keep that excitement,” Michelle added.
So whether they’re dishing on some of Lancaster’s finest meals, talking you through your morning commute, or just trying to keep up with their kids, Dennis and Michelle seem every bit as humble, hilarious – and deserving of national recognition – as you’d imagine they’d be. We’ll have to stay tuned to see what happens next (to Fun 101.3, of course!)