Since former SiriusXM programmer Jon Anthony brought him into the fold in the late 2000s, Storme Warren has transitioned nicely from a longtime role as the host of GAC’s Headline Country to the host of the morning show on contemporary country channel The Highway. It’s actually something of a return to the radio fold for Warren, who was a board operator and air personality in his teens. While his primary role is on-air, Warren has fed a little music into the system, helping get records by Ryan Kinder, David Fanning and Old Southern Moonshine Revival onto the playlist.
You have become the public face of The Highway. How does that fit with what you wanted to do with your life?
Radio was always my first love. I started way back in 1983 in Tulsa [Okla.], and then my focus turned to entertainment news reporting for CNN and Showbiz Today, and then on to TNN Country News and This Week in Country Music and all that stuff for Jim Owens and Crook & Chase. I thought radio was done for me, but in the back of my mind, it was like, “Geez, it’d be so good to be a part of that again.”
What did you study at Cal State-Northridge?
I started in radio, TV and film because I was working at Pirate Radio in Los Angeles and CNN in Los Angeles all through college. But being a rather cocky freshman or sophomore, thinking I’m learning more on the job than I am at school, I got frustrated with the classes and changed majors to leisure study and recreation.
That sounds like you just quit.
No. Actually, I found a program called Wilderness Survival, and it was the most amazing two-and-half-years of my life. The program is developed to get kids off of academic probation, and it had a 99.9 percent success rate by bringing kids … to the woods, bringing them up to the Sierra Mountains for a couple of three-day trips during the semester and a summer trip of nine days. I kept repeating the course because I enjoyed the work so much that I became almost an adjunct professor. It changed my life. What I learned in that course I’ve taken with me in every aspect — it’s not afraid of falling, approaching your fears head on, confidence. If you want to just go out and hug a tree and trust yourself in the woods, you’d be amazed at how much stronger you become as a person.
When you jump into the business you’re in now, and every small detail is the most important thing in the world, that probably has kept you grounded in a really odd business…
It is a very odd business, and you’re surrounded by insecurities. And it’s very easy when you’re in the public eye to cripple yourself by the nuts and bolts of what you think you have to do on a second-by-second basis trying to entertain an entire continent every morning. But what you learn: Don’t stress the small stuff. And don’t stress the big stuff, either. Whatever’s going to happen is going to happen, and it’s [about] how you react to it and prepare for it, as opposed to freaking out over what does go wrong.
How do you manage to sound upbeat on the air all the time?
At the root of it all, I like being happy more than I like being upset, sad, angry, bitter. Happy just feels better. That’s always been the case. From the time that I was a kid, my parents tell a story that I woke up every morning, whether I had a poopy diaper or whatever, I’d be standing up in the crib with a big smile on my face going, “Hi!” It’s kind of carried through, and I like it. I do my best to keep the negativity away from my life as much as I can.
I understand that you’re now making some of the music choices on The Highway. How extensive is that?
Not very extensive. I am proud to say that I have brought some music to the table. John Marks is our program director. He makes the decisions. But … we do have that mutual respect, where if I do find something that I believe is Highway-worthy, there’s an open channel, where he’ll take the time to listen. And I also have the respect for him that I’m not just going to shoot him a new band or a new artist every day.
I’m going to weed out the ones that I think are truly going to make an impact.
This article first appeared in Billboard’s Country Update — sign up here.