Every morning as people all across the country begin their day, they turn on their radios and listen to Danielle Monaro’s voice fill the airwaves.
It was senior year of college in professor Larry Pitilli’s advanced speech class when Monaro received a life-changing phone call that would eventually jumpstart her career as a celebrity radio personality. Z100, New York’s self-described hit music station, wanted Monaro for an internship.
“I never left there,” she said. “Honestly, I was very, very lucky.”
Monaro is known for her notorious laugh and quick wit as a co-host on the nationally syndicated show, “Elvis Duran and the Morning Show.”
On Wednesday, Oct. 2, Monaro spoke to students in the D’Angelo Center about her time at St. John’s, her career and her advice to budding professionals.
Although Monaro’s voice is broadcast all across the country and she has interviewed celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Adam Levine and Michael Buble, she remains both humble and thankful for her St. John’s education.
“It all started here at St. John’s University,” she told students.
Monaro grew up in the Bronx. Her senior year of high school she took a journalism class through St. John’s and she was sold.
“I fell in love with St. John’s,” she said. “I didn’t apply to any other colleges. I knew I wanted to go here.”
Monaro thought she wanted to focus on television in college, but after someone approached her in the elevator in Marillac about joining WSJU, she decided to give it a try.
“To be honest, I had no interest in radio at all,” she said. “I started doing news and I never left the radio station…I just fell in love with radio.”
But things did not just happen over night for the host. After interning with Z100 and graduating from St. John’s in 1995 with a degree in communications, Monaro accepted a job with the station answering phones. She said she was making less than $5 an hour.
“I kept saying, ‘I am going to stick it out’,” she said. “I was very lucky because in the end it all ended up working out.”
Monaro worked long hours, with little pay, but that did not stop her. She said she was willing to do whatever it took to be noticed in the office, even if it meant coming in at 5 a.m. and leaving at 5 p.m.
“I wanted to be there,” she said. “And I said, if they saw my face enough, if they saw I was interested enough, they would say, ‘Hey, you know that girl who always comes around and asks for help? You know that position that just opened up? Maybe she would want that position?’ So I wanted to make sure they knew I really wanted to be there.”
Monaro said interning is what put her on the map. And she said her greatest advice to current students is to do the same: intern, intern, intern.
“When you leave here, have some experience under your belt,” she said. “While you are interning, it is so important you try to intern at a place you really want to maybe end up being at. So many internships, they hire from within.”
Pitilli agreed that Monaro’s internship was a major factor contributing to her career success.
“She got this job through an internship and she wouldn’t have gotten that internship if it wasn’t for St. John’s,” he said. “It is a big note of encouragement for our students.”
Eventually, Monaro moved up the ranks at the station. She began hosting her own mini show and ultimately made her way into the Morning Show cast.
Elvis Duran is now broadcast in 60 markets and is one of the most listened to radio shows in the country. It can be heard from New York to California.
Monaro is happily married and has two children. She commutes from New Jersey and gets up for work around 3:30 a.m. each day—but none of that slows her down. She said she truly enjoys what she does and her career is her calling.
“I love my job,” she said.
Pitilli, who has kept in touch with Monaro throughout the years, said he remembers her as a standout student. She was always someone who was nice and encouraging to other students, hard working and friendly. He said despite her fame and success, she has remained that same kind and down to earth girl.
“She is incredibly successful,” he said. “She is a very, very good friend. And a dedicated friend to our community.”
Monaro’s words of advice for students besides interning: never give up, be persistent and always be passionate. And living up to her college reputation she said— just be nice.
“It doesn’t matter how big you get or whatever, always be nice,” she said. “Always make time.”