Steamboat Springs When Eli Campbell talks into the microphone at radio station KFMU, he envisions he’s just sitting in a car talking to a close friend.
But he said when he meets people on the street and tells them his name is Eli, the common response is, “Oh, ‘The Prize Guy.’”
Although he doesn’t see the people in the community he talks to during his afternoon DJ sets, his voice became a recognized tone in Steamboat while he was the promotions and marketing manager for the NRC Broadcasting radio station.
“I’m mildly famous in a 30-mile radius,” Campbell joked about his five-year stint on local radio and television. “When I tell people from high school what I do, they’re surprised because I was the shy kid. I was the kid at parties just watching everyone else talk. Now, I talk for a living.”
On Tuesday, however, when Campbell signs off from his afternoon set at 6 p.m., it will be the last time for a while.
Campbell will leave NRC Broadcasting next week to pursue new endeavors, including marriage and six months of traveling the world.
“It’s bittersweet, but when I started off, I never meant this to be a career,” he said.
Rob Shoaf will fill Campbell’s position, but with no history in radio, Shoaf said he wouldn’t take over Campbell’s weekday on-air slots right away.
“It’s big shoes to fill,” Shoaf said. “Eli’s been a tremendous asset and is so well-known that people will miss him. He’s built some great relationships over the years.”
Campbell said it was a long and lesson-filled road that led the freestyle skier to such stages as the Steamboat Free Summer Concert Series that he has emceed for several years.
“When I started, I was 24 and a ski bum,” he said. “I really learned a lot about the career world. And all the events I’ve helped out with along the way — like Family Fun Fest — and just helping local businesses be more successful.
“This job is so rewarding because you really get to see the fruits of your labor.”
He’s known around town by his disc jockey handle, Eli the Prize Guy, but there still are a few people who know his original nickname was Eli the Prize Fairy for his propensity for showing up at local events with concert tickets and CDs to give away. His mother helped adapt the name to make it rhyme.
“Being shy by nature, this job sometimes forces me to just get out and meet people,” he said. “Just being out in the community, I’m going to miss that.”
KFMU account executive Cristin Frey said losing Campbell would be the loss of a friend for many people in the community.
“How is anyone going to get any prizes anymore?” she joked. “He’s been great, and he’s had a lot of creative ideas.”
But for Campbell, it’s not him people will miss as much his presence and voice coming through their speakers.
“To a lot of people, radio is a friend to them when they’re in the car,” he said.