From UW-Green Bay to the Airwaves: Alum Ryan Fantozzi (’10) Got His Broadcast Start at WGBX

Ryan Fantozzi (second from right) poses with band Fivefold at 97.7 QLZ


Ryan Fantozzi (’10) has always loved the Packers. That love brought him 500 miles from Ohio to study at UW-Green Bay. Initially dreaming of becoming a sportswriter for the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Fantozzi’s path changed as he embraced new opportunities during his time as a student. Instead, he found a passion for broadcasting through WGBX, the former internet-based student radio station. The path that followed was challenging but gratifying for Fantozzi, who now hosts the 97.7 QLZ morning show in Springfield, Illinois.

As he talked about his UW-Green Bay experience from his home in Springfield, Ryan Fantozzi proudly donned a Packers cap. “The Packers pretty much led me everywhere,” he said, smiling. In his first year at UW-Green Bay, a friend who knew Fantozzi loved sports suggested he co-host an NFL draft special on WGBX. He decided to give it a go. That decision sparked his interest in radio. “It took me three weeks to go from ‘okay, well, I do love to write,’ to ‘this radio thing is cooler,’” Fantozzi recalled. From there, he hosted his own WGBX show for three years, which won him a Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Student Award for Excellence and cemented his interest in the radio industry.

UW-Green Bay played a crucial role in developing Fantozzi’s skills and confidence. Practical opportunities were instrumental in his learning. “When you’re a creative person, sitting in a classroom is good, but […] the best way I learned was being hands-on with it,” Fantozzi explained. He gained experience with WGBX, the Fourth Estate student newspaper and Phlash TV, the student-run cable television program. These experiences were complemented by practical classes with professors like Danielle Bina, who provided real-world insights by taking students to local radio stations.

After graduating in 2010 with a degree in Communication, Fantozzi navigated various roles and locations. He interned for Mino and Nick on 1440 WNFL, but found few opportunities to do sports radio locally. Rather than look for sports broadcast jobs out of state, Fantozzi pursued his other passion, music. “I didn’t want to end up in Minnesota and talk about the Vikings because I wasn’t gonna be passionate about it,” said Fantozzi, “So the music passion won out.”

Photo courtesy of 97.7 QLZ

His journey included stints throughout the Midwest before landing in Springfield. His adaptability and eagerness to learn different aspects of radio operations—from scheduling music to managing social media—proved essential. “There are a lot fewer radio jobs out there right now than there were 15 or 20 years ago. It’s very competitive to get in,” he noted, adding that having experience in all facets of radio production gave him an edge.

Fantozzi’s current role as morning host for 97.7 QLZ has allowed him to embrace his passion for music. He has had the opportunity to interview members of some of his favorite bands, including Judas Priest, Papa Roach, and Sevendust. Despite the rough exterior often associated with rock and metal, he emphasized the artists he has interviewed are, “some of the most kind people in the world.”

Fantozzi also finds fulfillment in the community aspects of his job. From issuing weather alerts to raising the profile of starting artists to interacting with local causes, his work extends beyond just playing music. “You still see the impact you can have in the community in a positive way,” he noted. Whether it’s hosting local bands or supporting charitable events, Fantozzi’s role allows him to make a meaningful difference in his community. “It’s one of the coolest things you can do out there,” he said.

Reflecting on his journey, Fantozzi credits UW-Green Bay with laying the foundation of his career. He recalls fondly his memories at WGBX, both his education and connections made. He still talks about the time he and some friends staged a fake broadcast to get into a sold-out Resch Center when the Phoenix upset the Wisconsin Badgers in 2009. “I think it’s been long enough I can share that publicly now,” he added with a laugh. He was heartened when he learned that student radio had returned to UW-Green Bay as Radio GBX and that the Fourth Estate made a comeback, giving current students opportunities for the same hands-on education that shaped him.

Looking ahead, Fantozzi hopes to continue his work in Springfield, enjoying the stability and community connections he has built. His advice to aspiring radio professionals emphasizes the importance of versatility and a positive attitude: “Learn as many skills as you can and don’t be afraid to share what you know how to do,” Fantozi said, adding, “Be confident, not cocky.”

For Ryan Fantozzi, what started with a love for sports became a career in music radio broadcasting. The journey was challenging, but Fantozzi has no regrets—and despite living in rival territory, he remains a loyal Packers fan.

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