Brando is small-town kid at heart
Whether they know it or not, people who tune in to 106.5 FM The Arch from 5-9 a.m. during the week can hear a local resident on the airwaves.
Brandon “Brando” Luttman is co-host of The Arch’s “Spencer’s Neighborhood” morning show.
Luttman, who grew up in Red Bud and now lives in Waterloo, has been at the station for 11 years.
Highlights of his tenure have included hosting an afternoon show and two morning shows.
He has been on “Spencer’s Neighborhood” since it began three years ago.
“It seems to be working pretty well,” Luttman said of the show. “People enjoy it. I think when a show is successful you know it in the room before you see it in the ratings.”
Luttman also served as emcee of this year’s Monroe County Fair Queen pageant.
The road to get to where he is now, on a major station in a market where as many as 700,000 people can hear him, has been a long one.
Luttman got his first taste of broadcasting in his hometown.
When he attended Red Bud High School, Luttman served as a manager on the basketball team. As part of that role, he recorded the games so the coaches could watch the footage.
Luttman and his friend who assisted him would get bored, however, so whoever was not holding the camera would pretend to announce the game like a TV broadcaster, albeit with a few jokes at the opposing team’s expense.
When the coaches heard the tapes, they found it funny so Luttman and his friend, Chad Stolte, continued. Then, the athletic director provided them with another microphone so the nascent duo could talk simultaneously.
Eventually, the athletic director set up Luttman and Stolte so they could broadcast the game live.
“That was the first time I did broadcasting, even if it was just in high school,” Luttman said.
After graduating from high school, Luttman went on to attend Illinois College to study broadcasting before transferring to Western Illinois University.
Luttman did not finish his degree at WIU, however, because he got an internship at radio station WJEQ in Macomb. Luttman then worked his way up, going from a part-time to a full-time employee by the end of his three-year tenure.
After three years, he said he felt ready for a change.
“I’d kind of grown as much as I felt like I could in Macomb and wanted to move on,” Luttman recalled.
The same week he quit WJEQ, another Red Bud native helped him get a job at WQLZ in Springfield, Ill. Again, Luttman worked until he became full-time.
He then moved to KQRA in Springfield, Mo., where he earned the chance to do his own show. It earned the highest ratings in the market until Brando and his partner were fired after eight months.
“It was funny,” Luttman said. “We had the number one show in town and they fired us. But that’s radio. That’s what happens.”
Luttman went back to Springfield, Ill., working for a company that would eventually become iHeart Radio. But his heart was not in it.
“Around that time I was kind of disillusioned with radio,” Luttman said. “We’d gotten this big break to do our show, had a number one show and then we got fired. Then you’re like, ‘what’s the point of this stupid thing?’”
So, Luttman went to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville to finish his degree. He did so in 1.5 years, obtaining his bachelor’s in 2005.
While there, he worked for the campus radio station, covering the St. Louis Rams and St. Louis Cardinals.
“That was cool,” Luttman said. “That was really my first chance to get to do radio in my hometown or at least in St. Louis.”
He still did not want to return to radio, however, so he got a job at Red Bud Industries and later a company in St. Louis.
In 2007, he applied for a part-time job at The Arch, which began broadcasting in 2006.
Luttman got the job and once again worked until he became a full-time employee, eventually landing where he is now.
Though he said he learned more at earlier jobs, Luttman said getting the job at The Arch was special.
“One of the best moments in radio for me was getting hired at The Arch,” he said. “With growing up here, I always looked at St. Louis and thought ‘that’s where I want to be.’ Then I realized the reality is just because you want that doesn’t meant they’re going to give it to you. You’ve got to slog it out to fight your way up to the top.”
Luttman, who briefly considered being a history teacher in college, said he chose this career because he can make a similarly decent living but have more fun.
“It has its ups and downs just like anything,” he said. “But at the end of the day I get to say that I get paid to make people laugh and there are so few people that have that type of job. That’s what I love about it.”
With all the ups and downs he has faced, Luttman said his upbringing in this area has proven an asset.
“I always felt that growing up in a small town, in a weird way, gave me an advantage because I don’t think I had the scope of the challenge I was facing,” he said. “I think growing up in a small town gave me the audacity to think that I could do what I wanted to do. Turns out I was able to, but had I known how difficult it would be I probably would have been scared off.
“I’m still just a small-town kid at heart. It’s what I know. It’s what I love. It’s how I view the world.”