When she was in fifth grade, Taryn Daly convinced her parents to take her to a local Circuit City store, where KUBE 93.3 was hosting an event with longtime Seattle DJ Eric Powers. Daly wanted to meet him.
“He was the first radio DJ that I felt super connected to,” she says. Nearly 20 years later, Powers is a weekday afternoon host at HOT 103.7 Seattle, and “when they told me he was going to be on-air on one of our sister stations, I fan-girled so hard.”
These days, fans wait in line at promotional events and music festivals like Pain in the Grass to meet Daly (’07 Comm.), the weeknight DJ at 99.9 KISW “The Rock of Seattle.” Her signature tagline: “Taryn It Up.”
She’s known for her on-air energy and enthusiasm as well as love of Rush, local India pale ales, animals big and small, the Seattle Seahawks, and, last but not least, Washington State University Cougars. “My four years at WSU were four of the best years of my life, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything,” Daly says. “I love being a West Side Coug.”
Daly lives in Stanwood and typically commutes to the station in downtown Seattle, a drive that takes about an hour each way. “It’s the best of both worlds,” she says. “I get the city life and the country life. Everything I love is represented by where I live and where I work.”
Since the novel coronavirus pandemic hit, her commute has changed “from upstairs to downstairs,” where she’s set up a home studio. “It’s not the same as being in the moment in the studio, pushing buttons, and looking at the traffic driving by on I-5. But we’ve turned that into part of the storyline,” she says. “It’s our way of adapting.”
Radio had already adapted to the digital age by the time she started her career. “We still push buttons on a board, but it’s a touch-screen now. There’s no switching out reels and playing records anymore,” says Daly, who also serves as KISW’s assistant music director. “It’s all done digitally, which gives us more time to connect with our listeners outside of listening to us on the radio.”
Daly runs Facebook Live chats to interact with listeners while hosting her show, which runs from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. She also serves as social media director for the station’s parent company, Entercom Seattle, overseeing digital strategy for five brands: KISW; the urban throwback station HOT 103.7; The Wolf 100.7 country music station; KSWD 94.1 The Sound and its soothing contemporary favorites; and 107.7 The End, Seattle’s alternative station.
She’s introduced and interviewed many of today’s top rock groups, including the members of Alice In Chains, David Draiman of Disturbed, Taylor Momsen of The Pretty Reckless, James “Munky” Shaffer of Korn, Kevin Martin of Candlebox, and Geoff Tate, the former vocalist for Queensrÿche.
“I think radio keeps you young,” Daly says. “You’re listening to new music. You’re paying attention to what’s going on in the world. And your adrenaline is going a million miles an hour when you’re doing a live show.”
Daly aims to come across the airwaves as “kind of your next-door neighbor. I’m a mom. I have dogs. I live on five acres. I have goats and chickens. I’m a commuter. I’m a rockaholic. I like to spend time outside. If I’m not outside or at work or at home, you can typically find me at a brewery, trying a new IPA. I connect with listeners because I am one of them.”
Daly celebrated five years as KISW’s weeknight host in July. The station will be celebrating its fiftieth anniversary in 2021, and Daly says, “We’re going to be celebrating in a really big way.”
Meantime, Daly writes for the station’s Rock Blog and Taryn’s Wreckreation Guide blog. She also gets recognized at the grocery store. “People will say, ‘I recognize you from Facebook.’ And it feels so weird, but that is where we spend our time. Everybody’s on social media now,” Daly says. And, “Everyone who works in radio wears multiple hats. My show runs four hours, but I do a ton outside of those hours.”
Lately, she’s been learning to balance being a new mom while working from home full time. Her son, Barrett, named for Barrett Martin, former drummer of Seattle band Screaming Trees, was born at the end of August last year. Daly and her partner, Brad Cash, work opposite schedules. He’s a DJ at 92.9 KISM in Bellingham, on air from 5:30 to 10:00 weekday mornings. So he watches their son while she works, and vice versa.
Daly comes from a Coug family. Her father, Craig Daly (’75 Socio.), participated in eight Dad’s Weekends in a row from 2003 to 2010 while Daly and her sisters—Elise Jones (’09 Comm.) and Laine Haugstad (’11 Crim. Just.)—were attending WSU. All three were Delta Gamma sorority sisters. “My mom happens to be a Husky,” Daly says. “We try not to judge her.”
At WSU, Daly worked at Cable 8, the award-winning student-run television station, as a producer as well as on-air talent. The experience helped her land her first radio job out of college, doing voiceovers, sales, and promotions.
“I took every opportunity that fell into my lap,” Daly says. “I worked nights and weekends and holidays and missed weddings and baby showers. It’s like anything in life; if there’s something you want to do, you have to go after it, be persistent, and work your butt off. I got my dream job at my dream radio station when I was 30 years old. I hit the lotto of radio. I feel incredibly lucky.”