“I believe that everyone has a story,” says KC Armstrong, a 20-year broadcast veteran who has launched an inspirational Internet radio station, WMAP, which rightfully stands for World’s Most Amazing People.
“I interview people who are helping other people, or entrepreneurs who didn’t have anything given to them and they just worked their balls off, who made something of themselves,” he says of some of his intriguing, inspiring guests. “Also, people who help animals, doctors who help people…it’s all positive.”
Add to that guest list the chief of the Maasai tribe. KC’s mom, Virginia, is a retired English teacher and journeys to Africa [Kenya] to teach, in classrooms with dirt floors. The chief, named Joe, often comes back to Long Island, and KC sits down with him for a one-on-one. You never know who is going to drop in, and who is going to inspire you.
In this era of bad news, Internet trolls and general weary cynicism, WMAP is making quite a positive impression. KC, who many people remember as a cast member of Howard Stern’s terrestrial radio show back in the day, comes to this pursuit carrying some damn dramatic baggage.
“I had a real bad drinking problem,” he says, “I had pancreatitis. I had been in and out of the hospital over 30 times. I had bled out one time and almost died.”
Bad news, which led him to good news.
“I don’t want to say that I had an epiphany,” he says, “but I realized that there are some really positive things you have to look for.”
The Long Island native is now back home after a soul-searching journey across America, which included a few bad relationships and failed attempts to self-medicate. KC traveled through the dark side and survived. His show, and its content, reside decidedly on the sunny side of the street, and are heard worldwide.
He says, “After I was fired from Howard – that was due to a pretty severe depression -- I went to go get some help at Newport Coast Recovery [Newport Beach, California]. I ended up staying out there for about eight years. I was living hand to mouth, and I was homeless at times. I got involved with some bad people and made some bad choices. I went to jail about three or four times. I ended up being arrested in Alaska. I followed a girl there. It was a very low time. I started drinking very heavily. Before I knew it, my pancreas was going.”
Although KC figured his story was over at that point, the stars were aligning in the sky for him, despite his talented knack for self-destruction. With time, he found faith, and his voice again. But did the old KC sense of humor that we remember from K-ROCK evaporate in the process?
“I’m still crazy,” he assures us. “It’s still me 24 hours.”
He took one of his weaknesses – a failure to see the good in himself – and turned it into an asset.
“I was always one to see the good in other people, but never in me,” he says. “Bringing out the best in other people, I feel that that’s what my role here is. I know I make a lot of people feel really good. And selfishly, it makes me feel good too.”
As KC’s audience builds worldwide, and his inspirational interviews continue to spread good vibes, his jock/jocular persona is still comfortably reminiscent of his days working with The King of All Media.
“I haven’t really talked to Howard in a while,” he says, “but I have nothing but good things to say about him. I now listen to myself 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and I see myself doing a lot of things that he did. I learned so many things from him. The content situation is totally different -- everything is positive. I don’t put anybody down. I don’t do anything like that. But I often see in my cadence that I’ve learned so much from him.”
Part of what he learned from Howard is total, non-negotiable honesty, at all times.
“I’m always very honest with the audience,” he says, “and I let them know what’s going on. People seem to appreciate the honesty. People feel good after they get off the phone with me. I try to find something good in everybody, even if they don’t know it.”
The project is not a podcast – it’s an Internet radio station, and a serious business. It never turns off. KC has learned that it’s heard regularly in at least 14 different countries, and counting. The average listener is listening for 47.2 minutes each time they tune in.
“It’s crazy how it’s really blown up,” he says. “In 30 days, we’ve improved over 4000% with listenership. We’re heard in foreign countries, like Bangladesh. I’ve also signed a contract for a series of books [based on WMAP guests], which brings more clients and advertisers. The 17-18 hours a day I put in really paid off.”
Like any other entrepreneur, KC is taking it one day at a time and learning as he goes.
He says, “As an entrepreneur, you are going to have so many ideas that are just great, but you need that one idea where you don’t see any downside. It’s that idea that is going to make you work your ass off. There’s going to be a big learning curve. I didn’t know anything business wise. I made a lot of mistakes, but I learned. If you really want something, you are going to hit some speed bumps along the way. It’s there for you. You can definitely do it. It’s just hard work. And it’s also treating people with respect. And doing what you say and saying what you do. Those things go a long way.”
Of the current emotional temperature of our beleaguered culture, KC says, “Everything is so negative. We get so beaten up.” As an alternative, he suggests, “Turn on my channel.”
KC is always looking for interesting guests with stories to tell, and who want their message to reach a broad audience. Find out more, get in touch with KC, and give a listen to WMAP here.