By Laura Latzko, March 2016 Issue.
“Do you have what it takes to be on the radio?”
That’s the question that Lady La and Joey Boy, co-hosts of LIVE 101.5’s “The Morning Mess” asked the Valley of the sun as they set out on a quest to find their third cast member just over a year ago.
“LIVE 101.5 is looking to make The Morning Mess well … Mess-ier! Have you ever thought about working in radio? We’re looking for the next radio superstar to join our team,” was the job posting that appeared all over social media.
The application requirements were simple: shoot a video that expresses why you’re the right fit for the job, upload it to YouTube and complete a web form and a formal application. No experience necessary.
The response, as you may have guessed, was an overwhelming amount of applicants, followed by round after round of live auditions.
By late March the station had made a decision and the world was introduced to Aneesh. Since then, “The Morning Mess” trio has been hitting the airwaves from 6 to 10 a.m. every weekday morning on LIVE 101.5. And slowly, but surely, listeners are discovering why this entertainment industry hopeful stood out from the crowd.
Aneesh was born in Queens, N.Y., to what he describes as “traditional Indian parents,” making him and his younger sister first-generation Indian Americans.
Coming from a different background than other people he knew, Aneesh recalled feeling like an outsider looking in – to which he attributes his drive to stand out.
“I’m sort of the black sheep in my family. I am the most extroverted. I’m the one who likes to be out there,” he said.
Aneesh grew up in Arizona and, even as a kid, had a passion for digital art and dabbled in theater. While attending North High School in Phoenix he helped the cheerleading and dance teams with audio editing of dance mixes.
“My entire life has been about me having this very individual experience,” he said. “It’s always been me trying to figure out how to not just assimilate with everyone else, but to flourish.”
Aneesh went on to graduate from Arizona State University with a degree from the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics in 2012.
Most recently, Aneesh held an office job at a local college and worked in customer service and sales positions before that. But his interest in the entertainment industry was ever present.
An Ear for Entertainment
Ultimately, his knowledge of entertainment and pop culture combined with his signature sass and innate ability to stand out turned out to be the magic recipe the station was looking for.
During his audition, the 26-year-old was given two minutes to make the CBS radio crew laugh.
“What’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told?” Lady La asked Aneesh in his live audition. To which he replied, “That I’m straight.” That certainly made them laugh, and opened up the door for him to finally pursue his dream. One he’d almost given up on.
According to Aneesh, he’d almost given up on a career in entertainment before deciding to audition for the position with LIVE 101.5; however, he credits working for the radio station with giving him a greater sense of confidence and drive.
“When this happened, it completely turned me upside down. I was like, ‘Wait a minute. I can actually do anything I’ve been wanting to do?’” he said. “The job has awoken this passion and this drive in me that I didn’t know I had.”
On The Air
Since accepting this job, Aneesh said he’s taken his work very seriously and has spent a great deal of time learning the ins and outs from other radio hosts, especially Joey Boy and Lady La.
“I feel like I’m such a student when I’m around the two of them,” he said. “I’m constantly observing how they handle themselves when they are on air and off the air.”
Already, Aneesh’s unique style is standing out in the mainstream radio community because, as an openly gay man, he brings a very different perspective to the team and to the listeners.
Aneesh joins the dynamic of Joey Boy, a straight married man and Lady La, a straight woman who is in a relationship. And needless to say, they don’t always agree on every topic.
“Disagreement is where the gold is. So, when we have a disagreement on something, that’s where the conversation is,” Aneesh said. “We have this dynamic with each other, where we balance [out] each other very well.”
While he’s always felt welcome on the show, Aneesh said that joining a team of two radio hosts who knew each other so well was challenging at first.
“Joey and La are very forward in making sure I have time to speak, and I have time to contribute my ideas,” he said. “From day one, they wanted to know, ‘What do you want to bring to the table?’ There’s a great level of respect from all of us.”
In addition to his quick rapport with his co-hosts, Aneesh’s humor and willingness to open up about his life have earned him a fan following in his first year on the job.
He’s also a little bit of a fan himself. Since joining the LIVE 101.5 team, Aneesh has taken part in phone interviews and in-person interviews with Nick Jonas, Becky G., Iggy Azalea, Diplo, Christina Milian, Steve Aoki, Angela Johnson, Adam Lambert and Britney Spears – just to name a few.
Putting the LGBTQ in Radio
Being a voice for the LGBTQ community was important to Aneesh from the first day he started at the station. When he was hired, he asked to be able to discuss LGBTQ issues and not just act as the “funny gay guy” on the show.
“As long as there’s a great sense of LGBT awareness [at the end of the day],” Aneesh said he feels he is doing his part, “whether it’s through humor or me being serious, like me crying on the air when the Supreme Court hearing was announced or [getting] the opportunity to talk about the Caitlyn Jenner photo shoot when that was released.”
The radio host is very open about his personal life and discusses dating, weight loss trials and tribulations and sexual preference on the air. In some cases, Aneesh will take the lead on less news-related topics, such as the gender neutrality of a store’s toy section.
The importance of these topics to the radio personality prompted him to get involved in the LGBTQ-themed podcast “Bottom of the Mainstream” (bottomofthemainstream.com) during which he and his co-host discuss such issues as domestic violence, body image issues, ageism, racism and LGBTQ community news. Additionally, he made a cameo appearance on an episode of “Let’s Have a FeFe” with Felicia Minor and Freddy Prinze Charming (bit.ly/1SJqqDK).
In his career to date, Aneesh said he has been most influenced by Charlamagne Tha God, Ryan Seacrest, Howard Stern and Carson Daly as well as podcasters Megan Tan and Kid Fury.
Off The Air
Off the air, Aneesh has had the chance to interact with fans at concerts, pool parties, Phoenix Fashion Week and charity events throughout Arizona.
Within the LGBTQ community, Aneesh has volunteered for such organizations as one n ten and Phoenix Pride. In June, he co-hosted a Gay Days Arizona pool party with Miss Gay Arizona America 2015 Nevaeh McKenzie, and added that he hopes to do more in the community in the future.
“I am not as involved with the LGBT community as I want to be,” he said. “I really want to be ingrained in the LGBT community here. I want the community to know that we as a station are pro-LGBT.”
Exploring the world of improv comedy is another new endeavor for Aneesh, who has taken comedy classes with Jester’Z Improv in Mesa since joining the LIVE 101.5 team because he knows the value in being able to come up with funny material on the spot.
Admittedly, there aren’t enough hours in the day to conquer all of the goals Aneesh has set for himself. After admitting that he often stays at the station for 12 hours a day and comes in on days off, he added that he hopes to continue to develop his ability to operate the sound board and hone other aspects of his craft.
Meanwhile, his alter ego, “Jonathan,” who talks to people suspected of cheating by their significant others as part of the weekly “Staycation” segment, and his football-inspired “Fruit Ball” bit during which he picks winners based on random thoughts and life occurrences, are evidence that Aneesh was the perfect third perspective for “The Morning Mess.” But don’t just take our word for it …
For more information on LIVE 101.5 or “The Morning Mess,” visit live1015phoenix.com. To keep up with Aneesh find him on Facebook at facebook.com/anditsaneesh or on Twitter at twitter.com/neeshiminaj and Instagram at instagram.com/neeshiminaj.