Faces in the Crowd: Corinne Williamson

October 28, 2019

Corinne Williamson with one of her Bouvier des Flanders
Corinne Williamson at a Craft Show in Harrison

A couple of months ago, Damon DuBois, the Executive Director of the Clare Area Chamber of Commerce, introduced me to Corinne Williamson at a Bike Night event at the Budd Lake Bar in Harrison. I met her a second time when I was invited to attend a meeting at the Clare Railroad Depot. This time, I asked her for an interview, especially when I learned that she is the Integrated Marketing Consultant who works for Black Diamond Broadcasting. We scheduled an interview for a few days later at Cops & Doughnuts.

Corinne was born in Mt. Pleasant in 1959. She attended the Mt. Pleasant public school system from K-12, graduating in 1977. She pointed out that many of her classmates are still good friends of hers today.

After graduation, Corinne attended Central Michigan University, starting out with a general education that would eventually lead to a specialty in interior design. This plan was sidetracked a year later, when she decided to take a job in radio. Corinne had been taking ballet lessons for 12 years at that point and also wanted to become a professional ballet dancer; however, life interfered, and she took a job as Traffic Director in 1978 with radio station WCEN (94.5) in Mt. Pleasant. The station later moved to Saginaw. Incidentally, she continued taking ballet lessons for 23 more years! She is adept at other dance forms as well, and she continues to dance today.

What does a Traffic Director at a radio station do? First of all, “traffic” refers to the station’s paid advertisements and commercials. Advertisers buy airtime during specific time periods, such as morning shows or lunchtime. Corinne was responsible for scheduling the ads, making sure that they don’t run one after the other, and also leaving room for station-promos, etc. She also ensured that all ads meet Federal Communication Commission standards. She worked closely with the sales department, reconciling advertiser commitments against the commercials aired. She worked well under pressure and dealt with a wide variety of people. Essentially, Corinne was a Commercial Czar.

Corinne added that during the late ‘70s and ‘80s the station employed a blind disk jockey who could not read the “commercial log” she typed, (yes typed) so the man’s wife converted the commercial log into Braille, which suited him perfectly.

In 1990, Corinne left WCEN and moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where she started working for television station WVEU as a Traffic Director. She was soon promoted to a PI (Per Inquiry) Director. In this job, she earned a commission on items sold, so the better she did, the better the station did. For example, for a show on fishing, she would choose and insert ads for the Bass Master. Atlanta was one of the top 10 markets in the country, so everyone wanted their products inserted in the stations inventory; thus, Corinne had dozens of products coming in for her to try each month. A product you probably all remember would be the Suzanne Somers – Thigh Master.

In 1994, she was promoted to Program Director. In this capacity, she chose the movies that were shown nightly, assisted with the purchase of new and yearly programming, assisted in live local programming that included live shoots for WWF and WWE Wrestling, a local morning talk show, and many other duties. For four days each year, she shopped for television programming at the NATPE Convention. During her 7-year stay at WVEU she met many celebrities, including Michael Landon, Ed McMahon, Joan Lunden, hosts from all the Shopping Networks, actors and actresses from “Designing Women,” and many others. She was part of bringing Howard Stern’s TV show to her television station’s airwaves, which she said did very well in the late night ratings. All in all, Corinne says, “It was a fabulous time in my life.”

In 1998, Corinne’s husband decided it was time to move back to Mt. Pleasant. Corinne took a position at WUPS (98.5) as they were moving their studio to Mt. Pleasant. She loved the stations format and music! She started as Traffic Director, and then moved to sales, where she sells and writes commercials, plus offers digital advertising opportunities. The company was sold several years ago and Corinne now works for Black Diamond Broadcasting stationed in Houghton Lake, which represents the following radio stations:

WUPS (98.5) – The Classic Hits Station
WMKC (102.9) – Big Country Hits
WGFM/WGFE Rock 95.5 – WGFE, Grand Traverse Region
Rock 105 – WGFM, Petoskey/Charlevoix/Straits Area
Rock 103.7 – Alpena
WCHY/WGFN (97.7/98.1) – The Bear
WWMK (106.3) – MAC-FM
WCBY (FM 100.7/AM 1240) – Big Country Gold
WTWS (92.1) – The Twister

For the past 10 years Corinne has organized Bike Nights – a large group of motorcycle owners that gather regularly at various locations throughout mid-Michigan. It gives attendees the opportunity to enjoy camaraderie, perhaps to buy or sell bikes, perhaps to raise money for a charity or promote their event, and to share their common interest. The group continues to grow each year. Corinne herself owns a Harley Davidson Fat Boy.

For the past 20 years Corinne has owned Bouvier des Flanders — large, powerfully muscled, heavy-boned dogs accented by beard and mustache. They are known for their sterling character, huge heart, and keen intelligence. Corinne has entered them in dog shows. One of them is a TDI (Therapy Dogs International) Therapy Dog that visits the elderly, visits students at local universities & hospitals, reads with children and attends the Special Olympics, bringing joy to all. Corinne’s fiancée has also gone through the training to certify their Bouvier, Daisy, for hospice work.

I asked Corinne if she had any pet peeves. She responded that it bothered her when her disc jockeys told her there was “too much information” in her commercial scripts, meaning they are too long…..She laughed, and said “it’s a radio thing.”

I then asked her if she could be anywhere else other than at this interview, right this minute, where would it be. Without hesitation, she answered, “With Mom and Dad in heaven.”

I asked her what she would order if we went to happy hour. She said, “A Bloody Mary, extra spicy with two big olives.”

How would she like people to remember her? “That I cared about the little things.”

If she used only 3 phrases to describe herself, what would they be? “Fun, Caring, and Not Afraid to Try Anything.”

I asked her what she is happiest doing when she is not working. She responded with one word, “Shopping.”

The causes she especially cares about are therapy dogs & all animals, veterans, and disabled people, and she devotes time and effort to such causes.

When Corinne has spare time with her friends, she likes to shop, garden, and do craft projects with them. She loves creating and decorating table-top trees and wreaths for Christmas. She will be at the November 16th Craft Show at the Venue in Clare in the evening and at the “It’s a Girl Thing” in Harrison during the day.

Finally, I ask her for a personal motto that she lived by. She responded, “Remember to stop and smell the roses.”

It’s very likely that you’ve seen Corinne Williamson somewhere around Clare, Harrison, Mt. Pleasant, Farwell, Midland or even more distant cities. She’s been selling radio commercial time in the area for 26 years now. She appears in many businesses and is a frequent visitor to the local chambers of commerce. The next time you see her, you will realize that she is much more than just a face in the crowd.

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