Spotlight: DJ doesn't need a "radio name"

Base Info
Sgt. Andrew Branstad
Sgt. Andrew Branstad

Spotlight: DJ doesn't need a "radio name"

by: Sgt. Andrew Branstad | .
AFN | .
published: May 22, 2012

Name:  Andrew Branstad


Age: 33


Rank: Sergeant

Q: What’s the deal with the nickname?

A: I was a radio DJ in Iowa before I joined the Army and was encouraged to pick a “radio name.” I’ve never liked being called “Andy” and couldn’t have gotten used to going by “Steve” or some crazy first name, so I just shortened it to Drew and picked the last name Kelly almost at random from the phone book.   Here in Korea we aren’t allowed to go by nicknames. We’re strictly business, I guess, so I’m Sgt. Andrew Branstad on AFN the Eagle. It’s probably for the best, anyway, since it turns out that Drew Kelly was the real name of a pretty burly college wrestler back in Iowa. I was always kind of afraid he’d come pounding on the door at 2 in the morning, angry and looking to take back his name.

Q: What is the best part of your job?

A: I love being a soldier who gets to talk and play music on the radio. If I had to pick one thing that I like best, I’d say it is making the commercials that run on AFN. Radio is powered pretty much by audio and imagination, which has allowed me to be a genie, captain a submarine, and introduce some of the greatest bands in the world with nothing more than a cool idea and a few sound effects.

Q. What is the key to being a good DJ?

A: Tom Petty sang that a DJ should “play what he wants to play.” That backwards advice is exactly why Tom sings the songs instead of playing them on the radio. A good DJ should play the kind of music that you, the listeners, want to hear. That said, we have to cater to a diverse audience. I try to be like the ice cream man. You know, “all my flavors guaranteed to satisfy.” That’s one Tom Petty reference and one David Lee Roth reference, for those of you keeping track at home.

Q: Do you have a message for your fans?

A: I’ve gotten a lot of flak over the past few months for my love of a chili and cinnamon rolls, which grade school cafeterias all over Iowa served every Wednesday. (No not mixed together! Chili for lunch, cinnamon rolls for dessert.) All I’m asking for is vindication, because people are starting to treat me like I’m crazy. Somebody out there has to step up and be on my side here. It is a great combination! 

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