By Allie Daugherty / Photos by Jeff "Turbo" Corrigan
The star of The AJ Show - AJ Machado - loves his job.
"I take the job of having fun seriously," he says, "and I'm not just being cute when I say that." The rest of the morning show's crew, producer Hula Ramos, assistant producer Tonya Castillon and entertainment reporter Dorothy Tran, nod in agreement.
"Getting up in the morning can suck," Machado says. "It's a time when you could be beating yourself up, and if we can change that into maybe having a laugh or being engaged, that's an awesome way to make a living. I really try to put on a show every day that will do the job people ask of it."
Machado began his San Diego radio career at Channel 933, where he stayed for nearly a decade before moving to Star 94.1 for a three-year stint that ended in July. Since September, he's been the morning show host for the new station Energy 103.7.
"I'm excited to be here, because this is a full-service, built-for-San-Diego, live-andlocal radio station," says Machado. "All our DJs are live, we're super involved in the community, and it's the kind of radio I
got into radio to do."
He says his show has stayed the same despite the relocation.
"It's real life," says Ramos. "If you're driving in your car you can relate to one member of the show. We each individually represent somebody out there."
"Radio kind of precursed reality TV," adds Machado. "Good morning personalities were sharing their lives on the radio long before 'Survivor' came along. Reality TV isn't as real as radio. We're not heavily edited and coached. Reality TV is kind of fake. Radio is still actually real."
The AJ Show is also real in the way it gives back via its annual toy drive, AJ's Kids Crane, in which Machado lives in a crane until enough toys have been collected for Rady Children's Hospital. Last year more than 100,000 toys were donated.
"Without the San Diego community, I'm just a maniac in a crane," he says. "It was amazing to me, when we had our window of time when we were between radio stations, the [second] biggest question I got by far was, 'Wherever you land, are you going to do the crane?' The listeners, they're a part of it now."
The team, whose new home at CBS Radio is down the street from Rady's in Kearny Mesa, will host the 11th annual AJ's Kids Crane early this month. "What I like most is the specialness of what we do," Machado says. "If someone comes up to the guy who plays Sheldon on 'The Big Bang Theory' and says, 'I feel like I know you,' they're saying they feel like they know Sheldon. But when they come up to us and say they feel like they know us, they feel like they know us because we're not playing characters on the air. That's the highest compliment you can pay me."
Where the team eats after the show
AJ - Roy's, in La Jolla
"They have great food, it's a nice dining experience and it's
where I ate the night I told my now wife that I love her."
Hula - Barona Buffet
"Coming from a Pilipino family, we're all about saving
money and eating buffets, and that's one of the best
places to do it."
Dorothy - Pearl, in Rancho Bernardo
"It's a really good Chinese restaurant, they have really
good dim sum on the weekends. They're really nice and
Tonya - La Bella's, in Chula Vista
"I grew up in Chula Vista, so that's the place you'd go
after Pop Warner games, after your high school football
game or just to get a slice of pizza."