Chad Evans' voice well known - including for that 'Shamokin State of Mind'
HUMMELS WHARF - There's a radio studio in the Susquehanna Valley Mall. It's got microphones, a sound board, digital recording software and the iconic and immediately identifiable "On-Air" sign - a warning to all, behave or be broadcast a fool.
It is not, however, a furniture store.
"Some people don't know what this place is," Chad Evans says of Max Media's studio - Sunbury Motors Studio, complete with corporate sponsorship - in explaining that one woman believed it to be a place to shop for end tables and ottomans.
To Evans, it's his office.
Behind the glass that separates shopper from live talent, the 32-year-old Overlook resident lounges in an office chair. He chats easily of everything but does so while going about his job - introducing a block of songs, recording the 5 o'clock traffic update and reading live advertising promos.
All of it without missing a beat. All of it with the fluidity of a seasoned pro.
"I'm kind of lucky to do it because there's not many outlets to do radio and there's no outlets to do TV," he says of the local market. "I mean, they pay you to talk on the radio. ... It's a great job."
From X-ray to Disney
Evans began his career in radio by studying X-ray technology, which is to say he had no ambitions for broadcast communications after graduating from Southern Columbia Area in 1998.
The X-ray thing lasted a semester. From there, he became a DJ for weddings and bars, and got the itch to work in the entertainment industry.
He studied recording engineering at Luzerne County Community College and landed an internship at Walt Disney World. After that, it was on to radio - where he can now be heard on Y106.5 and the local ESPN Radio affiliate, 92.3 FM.
Radio seems a natural fit given his made-for-broadcast voice, one he jokes is cultivated each weekend with Jack Daniels.
He may have gotten the voice from his dad.
Everyone told Charlie Leisenring (Chad's true surname; Evans is his radio handle) that he had a knack for radio, Evans says. So, naturally, his dad ran a glass shop in Elysburg, he says with a laugh.
It's a voice Evans throws given the assignment. He can do smooth and easy, a sound fit for low-key commercials. He's got the cheesy, over-excited car commercial voice down to a "T," too.
As he tells it, he needed practice to rid himself of some colloquialisms native to anthracite coal country - correctly pronouncing the letter "w" and the words "mountain" and "creek," and not putting the word "the" before each reference to places like Geisinger and Wal-Mart.
"It actually took a while to kind of get over the coal region vernacular. I still struggle with that," he says.
'Shamokin State of Mind'
His voice is recognizable to local radio listeners, but as Evans tells it, it's a YouTube video parodying Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind" that has strangers approaching him now and again.
"Shamokin State of Mind," featuring Erica Perrige doing her best Alicia Keys to Evans' Jay-Z, is an homage to the city of Shamokin. It has a fair balance of respect and goofiness to elicit a tinge of pride amid a laugh or two.
"It was just supposed to be a joke," Evans says of the song.
It ended up on Y106.5 last fall and the reception was positive. And with Max Media's video department just getting off the ground, it was a perfect time to shoot an accompanying video.
"Shamokin was really easy to do because there's so many things about Shamokin, so many nostalgic pieces and history and little fun things you could poke at," he says.
As they were filming in the city's Fifth Ward, more than a few residents poked back.
"They're like, 'What're ya doin'?' 'Well, we're shooting a video for YouTube.' 'Won't see it, don't have Internet.' And that was it! I was like, 'OK!'"
"More people come up to me about the Shamokin song than they do about radio."
The song hardly went viral, but at more than 12,760 views it certainly wasn't ignored.
Evans and Perrige teamed up again this year, parodying "Good Feeling" by Flo Rida to espouse the virtues of fun, food and fantasy - "Gotta Go to Knoebels." That song, too, is catching on as it's topped 10,992 views since being uploaded July 18.
But a career in hip-hop seems more than a stretch.
"I'm not a rapper. I'm a tall, lanky white guy. ... Look at me, I've got a Hollister T-shirt on. Dork."
Stiffed by 'Ellen'
He was almost a DJ, however, for Ellen DeGeneres's daytime talk show.
One of four finalists in a nationwide search, Evans boarded a plane for California for an interview and left the Golden State feeling pretty good about his chances.
In the end, the show's producers went in another direction and left Evans off the show, and holding the bag for the plane ticket.
"Six-hundred and eighty-seven dollars. And I said, 'What about the plane ticket?!' They're like, 'We're not obligated to pay that.' Ellen's making like 30 million.
"But you had to. You had to get on that plane and go," he says.
The experience was a positive one for Evans, who says he can take away the fact that he was good enough to get a shot in Hollywood.
Evans is a multi-tasker at Max Media. Apart from being on-air for the music and sports stations, he's also director of video production and assistant program director for Y106.5 and handles a bit of advertising.
His favorite job of all of them allows him to chat away on sports talk radio. Each Friday at 6 p.m., he and Chris Schmouder host C&C Sports Factory, giving their take on the week in sports.
Aspiring to be Harry
In his role at the ESPN Radio affiliate in Selinsgrove, Evans has done play-by-play for Philadelphia Phillies spring training games in Florida each of the past three winters.
That gig allows him access off-limits to most Phillies fans. With a simple lanyard strung around his neck, he's able to walk the field, visit the clubhouse and saddle up to any player for an interview. Before the first pitch is thrown, he takes his position inside the press box.
"Ever since I was a kid I wanted to be like Harry Kalas," Evans says of the late great Phillies broadcaster. "Just to be that close and to be in the same booth he was at when he was in Clearwater doing the games is just remarkable."
Outside of the studio, Evans can be seen Aug. 17-19 playing the role of the Tin Man in the Anthracite Citizens Theater production of "The Wizard of Oz" at Mount Carmel Area High School.
It's a hobby, he says, and the second go-round for him with the local acting troupe. He portrayed Oscar in the 2010 production of "The Odd Couple."
Evans is married two years to his wife, Tara. The couple have a bulldog as old as their marital union, named Chooch after Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz.
He's been in radio the past 12 years. Where it leads him next he's not sure. The Golf Channel or ESPN's mother network would be nice, he says. But he's comfortable at Max Media, which has afforded him plenty of opportunity to work creatively.
"You never know where it could take you, but where I'm at now is pretty cool," he says.
Family: Wife, Tara; parents, Charlie and Eleanor Leisenring
Education: Radio and engineering, Luzerne County Community College
Job: On-air talent, Y106.5, ESPN Radio 92.3 FM; director of video production, assistant program director at Y106.5