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A conversation with Scotty Cox and Carissa Loethen

Hosts of "Scotty and Carissa in the Morning" discuss their recent CMA win

Benjamin Zack

November 3, 2011 | 12:00 a.m. CST

Country music radio hosts Scotty Cox, 44, and Carissa Loethen, 25, have worked together for three years since launching their morning radio talk show, “Scotty and Carissa in the Morning” on Clear 99. They’ve had ample time to establish a relationship that resembles that of a bickering married couple. But their friendship always takes precedent. No matter how much they squabble, they always make up by sharing some snack foods and moving on.

A surprise call came from guitar-strumming, award-winning country superstar Taylor Swift on Oct. 17. She announced that the duo had won “Personality of the Year” in a small market from the Country Music Association. Their big win initially came as a shock. But, now that the reality has sunk in, the co-hosts will jet to Nashville on Nov. 8 and broadcast their morning show live from the Country Music Awards on Nov. 9. It’s time to face the music.

How are you preparing for the awards?

Scotty: We’re going to go dress shopping.
Carissa: He doesn’t get to go because he’s the kind of guy who says, “That looks good, that looks good, that looks good.” So my mom will go with me, instead.

How were you nominated for the CMA award?

Scotty: We put an entry together that was based on highlights of the year, ratings information, promotional involvement in the country music industry and community involvement.
Carissa: And then they have an “anything else you think we need to know” category. I said that I was in a Blake Shelton music video. Last time I was at the CMAs, a friend and I volunteered to be in the video. We got about 0.4 seconds in the video, so I used that claim to fame.

What did you do in the video?

Scotty: Smacked her butt.
Carissa: (Laughs) Sung the words to Blake Shelton’s “Kiss My Country Ass.”

Describe your relationship.

Scotty: We have different strengths, and we try to handle the stuff we’re good at. But those lines blur, and it’s not super definitive.
Carissa: Our relationship is a lot like a marriage. We’re with each other all the time; more often than with our friends and family. We’re really good friends and talk about everything, but because we’re with each other a lot, sometimes we bicker. But like a marriage, we’re stuck together, so we just have to get over it because we’re going to see each other the next day. An hour goes by, and we’ll forget it ever even happened.
Scotty: I don’t forget. I won’t ever forget. I have a list in my head.
Carissa: Whatever, I can win you over pretty easily with some Sprite and Cheez-Its.

How do you pick the topics you discuss on your show?

Scotty: Usually, we make a master list of what we think is interesting. We try to judge the “hot topic” of the day and try to figure out what people are going to be talking about when they get to the office.
Carissa: Sometimes the listeners choose the topic because of some goofy thing I say or some silly question he asks. Someone will call in, and then it builds off itself.

What has been your most memorable show?

Scotty: One day, Carissa smelled a skunk on her way to work, and she made a comment about it on-air. People started calling in to give suggestions on how to get rid of the smell. Sometimes the show takes a life of its own, and we just get out of the way. People have come up to us and said, “That was so funny when Carissa smelled that skunk.” We just scratch our heads, wondering why that show was such a big deal, but it was.
Carissa: I remember feeling crazy because no one else smelled the skunk, but some people called in and said, “I smelled that same skunk on Highway 63, so don’t feel crazy.” To get rid of the smell, people suggested that I smell coffee grinds or a lemon and wash out my nose with saline solution.

What’s one song you both love?

Scotty: That’s one of those things we disagree on. It’s not love and hate. She’ll just say, “Oh, I love that song,” whereas I’m lukewarm.
Carissa: He’s opened my eyes to the way I listen to music. I’m better at picking out songs that could make it on the radio. Now, I listen to the words a little bit more, and I respect artists that make great songs, such as Sugarland. That’s another thing though, because every artist will make you happy and proud, but they’ll disappoint you, too. Some Sugarland songs I love and others not so much.

What would you be doing if you weren’t radio hosts?

Carissa: I don’t know. I got into radio because of country music. I wanted to be apart of the industry, but I can’t sing a lick. I love country music, and I won’t ever get sick of talking about it.
Scotty: I’d be working at Taco Bell. The first time I applied for a job, it was in radio. But I was in high school, and I didn’t get it. A year later, they called me, and I had just applied for a job at Taco Bell a day earlier. I always joke that if it hadn’t been for those 12 or 14 hours, I’d be managing a Taco Bell somewhere. Radio is all I’ve ever done. That’s why we work well together — she’s a country music geek, and I’m a radio geek.

Who’s exciting in music right now?

Carissa: I think Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert have both become closer to mainstream music. Even people outside of the country music industry know them. I think they’re likeable because they aren’t doing stuff for show. You really feel like the fact that she’s so protective of their privacy makes them seem even more genuinely in love.
Scotty: They’re interesting. It sounds silly, but they hunt. The food they had at their wedding reception was food they’d killed. People are also enamored with couples that are famous. But Blake and Miranda are just country, hometown people who live 40 miles outside of a town.

Who are your favorite musicians who don’t play country music?

Carissa: I like the Black Eyed Peas, Usher and Justin Bieber.
Scotty: I’m hooked on Adele’s new CD. I’m a big Norah Jones fan. Her first album was like Adele’s new album, where I would just listen to it over and over. I’ve worn out Norah Jones’ Come Away With Me album. Their voices are smoky, husky and emotive.

What have been the most exciting developments in country music since you have been on-air?

Carissa: I think the fact that you know a lot more about the artists and their personalities because of social media. Artists have taken on Twitter and do online videos and off-the-cuff interviews. I think in the past, you got to know the artist through their music only, but now there are so many more avenues to get to know them.
Scotty: Albums are not as important as they used to be because now you can buy songs one at a time. Before my time, people would produce theme albums, but now people don’t have the time to sit down and listen to an entire album.
Carissa: That depends on your passion for the artist. If you’re a die-hard fan, you probably want to listen to all the songs. But the fact that artists do six-song albums now shows that the storytelling element isn’t as important.

What was the first country song you each fell in love with?

Scotty: When I was in my 20s, there was a jukebox at a place in Poplar Bluff, Mo., called Lonnie’s, and we’d go there to shoot pool and eat cheeseburgers. I was attracted to a song by Leroy Van Dyke, who’s from Sedalia, called “Walk On By.” I would feed that stupid jukebox over and over to play that song. That flipped a switch in me, and I became a huge old-country music fan.
Carissa: My family had a record player, and we’d play the Achy Breaky Heart record and Diamond Rio’s “In a Week or Two.” My parents had a jukebox downstairs, and my dad played every old-country album. When I was eight or nine, I bought my first CD with my own money. I got a country variety album, and I memorized every single song on that CD. Diamond Rio’s “Meet in the Middle” was the first track on the album, so that was one of the first songs I really latched on to.

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