Monday, September 25, 2023

‘Talking into a box’: How an MTSU student runs an award-winning radio show


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Photo courtesy of  Facebook / The Justin Reed Show

Every Thursday morning, before most students wake up and before many have even gone to sleep, MTSU graduate student Justin Reed begins preparing for his weekly radio show.

The Justin Reed Show, the only country music show in  Murfreesboro,  has been broadcasting live on 88.3 WMTS, MTSU’s student-run radio station, from 7-10 a.m. every Thursday for five-and-a-half years.

“Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to have all kinds of guests, go all kinds of places and play all kinds of music,” Reed said one morning after a live music show with guest Ben Rush. “I’ve had a lot of people that made their radio debut, and I’ve had people who have been in the business for 40, 50, 60 years.”

Country music star Emmylou Harris poses with MTSU's Justin Reed (Facebook/ The Justin Reed Show)
Country music star Emmylou Harris poses with MTSU’s Justin Reed (Facebook/ The Justin Reed Show)

By 6 a.m. each week, Reed is in the studio lining-up the week’s music and preparing for his guests who range from country music greats like Dolly Parton to other musicians like Cyndi Lauper to notable MTSU alumni like Luke Caccetta.

Members of the MTSU and Murfreesboro community will recognize him at one of his remote broadcasts or by his voice, a part of the job which Reed says still catches him off guard.

“It’s humbling you know,” Reed said. “I’m talking into a box with people walking by making faces at me and the phone rings and you never know who’s listening; that’s the part that blows my mind.”

While Reed only speaks humbly of his show, his notable guests and wide range of performances have landed him dozens of awards and award nominations, including Golden Microphone awards for best live music and best celebrity interview from the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System.

For Reed, who began his broadcasting career doing high school sports announcements with his dad, the incentive is not the celebrity or the awards, but rather a love for radio.

“I love it you know,” Reed said. “I get to come in here and be a voice people hear on their way to work, or class, if they’re having a bad day or if they just love music.”
When he isn’t working towards his masters degree, meeting celebrities or delivering puns on air, Reed keeps his wheels spinning with a plethora of other jobs.

Justin is heavily involved in ministry in his native Woodbury and Murfreesboro as a part time pastor and Christian bookstore associate, but his bread-and-butter is his work as Justin Reed The Balloon Dude.

Since 2005, Reed has attended local parties, festivals and community events twisting his way into a sweet gig as the area’s go-to balloon artist.

MTSU Student Justin Reed, "The Balloon Dude," poses with a balloon parrot and a real parrot in Manchester Tennessee (Facebook / Justin Reed The Balloon Dude)
MTSU Student Justin Reed, “The Balloon Dude,” poses with a balloon parrot and a real parrot in Manchester Tennessee (Facebook / Justin Reed The Balloon Dude)

“There’s not a weekend in the next two months I don’t have at least one job,” Reed said. “I’ll be out there at a festival and the kids and even the parents will just get so excited trying to figure out what I’m going to make.”

While Reed has very little downtime, he says he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I’m a busy person, and people tell me to slow down, but I’m not good at sitting still,” Reed said. “This past Saturday I had the day off and I didn’t know what to do with myself.”

While he intends to work in radio throughout and after his college career, for Reed, radio will always be a passion rather than a job.

“It’s fun, it is just so much fun,” Reed says, beaming at the control board. “People don’t realize it. People tell me they have fun listening to the show, but I probably have more fun doing the show than they do listening.”

To contact Lifestyles Editor Olivia Ladd email

For more updates, follow us at, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter/Instagram at @Sidelines_Life.

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