By Nina Huang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
From skydiving, stock car racing, to collecting over 10,000 Girl Scout cookie boxes for the troops overseas, Bryon Mengle has had quite the share of unique on-air radio experiences.
Mengle is the new voice of Everett’s KRKO station and is pumped to be on the show. He debuted as the new morning personality in August.
Mengle took on the show after longtime Seattle radio personality and best man at his wedding, Tim Hunter, retired from broadcasting.
“I’m happy to have a place at the radio table. I’m trying to just make your morning a little bit better and I love being part of that diversity in the Seattle radio market,” he added.
“I just have fun and make people’s mornings a bit brighter. I have 12 times over three hours to do it, four times an hour, so I do my best to make you smile, laugh, consider, ponder, and come back for the next time,” he said.
Unconventional path to radio
Despite being on the air in some capacity since 1998, his path was unconventional.
Mengle was born in Japan and adopted when he was 6 months old.
He grew up in Federal Way and had a phenomenal childhood. He attended public schools from elementary all through high school, then went to Seattle Pacific University.
During his time there, he took on an internship for a radio morning show at a local Seattle station. It worked for his schedule and he interned for three months. The station offered him to stay on and Mengle toggled that with school and that’s when his passion for radio and broadcasting took over.
Before that, he had always wanted to be a middle school English teacher.
“I always wanted to go into education and I wasn’t looking to get into broadcasting, but it was a required internship. It was so fun and I was so passionate about it and decided to change career paths,” he said.
Mengle shared that some of the challenges he experienced back in the day was related to how veterans of radio had gone through formal schooling and broadcast radio education to get their jobs. He got his start because of an internship requirement and was constantly running to learn and catch up while doing the job.
“Everything I’ve learned has been scrappy and self-motivated hustling. Great radio mentors helped me along the way and gave me advice. I didn’t sit through radio broadcasting classes and it was a challenge to get here the nontraditional route,” he explained.
Being in the radio spotlight
What Mengle loves the most about being on air are the intentional listener interaction and the ability to change the trajectory of someone’s day.
“It’s a solo show and my partner is you, the listener. It’s a one-sided conversation. I’m not a comedian, but I want to be funny enough where I hope the listener can get a giggle out of my despair. I want to be like the neighbor next door that you can borrow an egg from. I’m quick to laugh at myself. I want to put my family in the spotlight as well. I want to be transparent in a real way,” he shared.
Mengle has a daughter, Alyssa, who has always wanted to be a marine biologist and is an all-star volleyball player. In addition, Dylan is Mengle’s son in 7th grade who is very much his mini-me, outgoing and loves being in front of people.
He also shared that now more than ever, people are the busiest they’ve ever been and commutes look different.
“Listenership is different as far as patterns go. I’m constantly aware that the radio show I did 20 years ago would not fly today. How do I evolve and make myself relevant again for that one second? Another challenge is the constant evolution of radio content,” he added.
At the heart of his career and some of his proudest moments have been anything involving children and charitable causes. He’s a huge proponent of using his media platform for good.
At a previous station, he partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to help grant a child’s wish to go to a Seattle Mariners game. The child was battling terminal brain cancer and Mengle remembers being hugely impacted by the child’s mother and how thankful she was for the Make-A-Wish Foundation to have created this memorable experience for her family.
Inspired by life
Mengle said he finds content inspiration from his life. He constantly jots down things in his notes app on his phone.
“Anything that happens in my life is fair game,” Mengle said.
The other day, Mengle was driving and gave the car in front of him a friendly honk to turn, and the driver flipped him off with both middle fingers.
“When I was parked, I put it in my notes app. I haven’t been flipped off in two decades,” he laughed.
Mengle shared that there aren’t a lot of minorities in the room at radio events, especially Asian minorities. He does wonder how an Asian American would be received on an oldies station in Everett.
People have told him that he doesn’t look like what he sounds.
“I got to take the show from one of my best friends and I hope to represent culture and a different look on radio. To be out and about at events and to say I’m on the radio as a morning show host and a person of color, I’m excited about that. I think it’s a small, gentle way of continuing the conversation. I love the idea of a person of color having a spot at the table—like hey, we can do morning shows, too. I think I like that idea,” he said.
Nina can be reached at email@example.com.