Buzz Berry says he always wanted to run his mouth for a living. Since he was a child, he was always fascinated by broadcasting. “I remember being ‘that guy’ who volunteered to do the afternoon announcements over the P.A. in high school,” he says.
Born and bred in Charleston, Berry went to a technical school near Clemson that focused on radio and television broadcasting – and while studying picked up part-time jobs at local radio stations. As soon as he graduated, Berry went to work for WYFF channel 4 in Greenville as assistant producer in the creative services department. “That was perfect for me because I never wanted to do news. I always wanted to be on the entertainment side of television.” He learned everything he could about commercial production and got a solid grasp of how the process came together and eventually became a producer in the same department.
He later transitioned into a television program called “PM Magazine,” what Berry calls a locally originated, nationally syndicated show. “PM Magazine was all over the country, and [they all] worked together in providing stories to other PM Magazines – but you had your local hosts for these. I was associated with the PM Magazine in Greenville, through WYFF.” This gig allowed Berry to do quite a bit of traveling.
Berry stayed busy after this – working for independent production companies, and juggling radio and television gigs. “I have always been fortunate to have been able to do both,” he says. Other television work included WHNS in Greenville/Spartanburg, WCTP in Charleston and WBFX [now WTWB] in Greensboro, N.C. “But radio stations have kept me busy too – from morning shows to afternoon drive – to middays or 7-to-midnight – it’s been a lot of fun over the years.”
And while doing radio, Berry saw that local listeners loved to win things. “It didn’t matter what it was,” he says. “It could be something as simple as a biscuit.” And they enjoyed listening to themselves or friends or family members.” It was the local connection that impressed Berry. “I learned that it wasn’t about me. It was about the listener.”
In 1998, Berry hatched plans for a local television game show called Sqrambled Scuares, which encompassed what he already knew local audiences loved – having fun, being on the air and winning prizes from local sponsors. The show made its debut in the Greensboro/Winston-Salem, N.C., market via WBFX in 1999. The show later aired in the Boone, N.C., Wilkesboro, N.C., and Hickory, N.C., markets before making Myrtle Beach its home last year.
Sqrambled Scuares tapes from its self-contained studio location at the Myrtle Beach Mall on Friday evenings and is broadcast weeknights at 7 on HTC Digital Cable Channel 4.
“We are a true game show,” says Berry. “It is not trivia and we are not a quiz show. There is luck, strategy and skill involved, while folks are having a good time. People can come and be a part of the studio audience, and it’s all free.” Contestants are selected from the audience as well – and Berry encourages locals and visitors alike to become part of the experience.
“I was joking with somebody the other day about the ‘bucket list:’ let’s climb Mount Everest. Let’s go tour Europe. Let’s be on a game show as a contestant. It’s something you can mark off your bucket list,” he says. “Your chances of being on a television game show on the West Coast are slim to none. Yes – there are some people who have been able to do it, but the opportunity to be on a local television game show is very high.”
Berry’s excitement comes through when he mentions the fact that the audience can sit and watch a program come to life right before their eyes. “We want Sqrambled Scuares to be a fun experience for everybody. When people walk away, they want to come back and do it again.”
When not wearing the hats of producer and host, Berry is most comfortable on a skateboard. He still travels the skateboarding circuit and says that this is a big part of what he is about. He had the opportunity to meet his childhood heroes, skaters Tony Alva and Christian Hosoi, along the way. “I skate pools, half pipes and mini ramps - not so much street skating. I am what is called a transition skater.”
Sometimes Berry shows up at local skate parks. “Of course they think I’m somebody’s dad – but then it’s not too long before they are asking me to teach them how to do an invert or a sweeper – or a Smith grind. This is great exercise, but it’s also a good way to socialize. It’s just fun.”
Berry intends to keep Sqrambled Scuares on the Grand Strand as home base, but plans on taking the business model into small and medium-size television markets across the U.S. “I really feel at home in Myrtle Beach,” he says. “This goes back to the word ‘fun.’ People are here to have fun, and so am I.”
Know of a local with an interesting job or career that should be given the Working 4 A Living treatment? Contact Roger Yale at firstname.lastname@example.org