My friends Amanda Suffecool and Rob Campbell make up the talented brother and sister team that hosts Eye on the Target Radio (supported by REALIZE Firearms Awareness Coalition). I had a chance to catch up with them briefly at the 2019 SHOT Show and discovered that they have been enjoying the growth and success of their show on syndicated radio. I thought this would be a great time to ask Amanda some questions. Here’s how that went:
How long have you been in the firearms industry?
There is “in the firearms industry,” where people know you, and there’s “in the firearms industry,” as in living the life. Rob and I were raised by gun people. I mean really, really gun people. My grandfather shot trap on the circuit from Ohio to Florida. My earliest memories were of him loading the trunk of his Ford LTD full of shotgun shells and head[ing] out for the winter. Grammy could only put three months of items in the back seat because the trunk was for his shooting supplies. A trunk full of shotgun shells really loads a car down! In the era before plastic wads were commercially available, he would give us a pillow case and have us walk the trap fields collecting the plastic wads. Then we would take them home and wash them in the washing machine, sort by color — which was caliber — and then he would use them for reloading.
Beyond our grandparents’ involvement in the industry, our mother taught hunter safety in Ohio. She was one of few women in the ‘80s who did this. And our father was a renowned collector of Ruger 357s — the first Ruger centerfire (commonly called the flat top, bridgetop or 3 screw). When Pop passed, he had the world’s most complete collection of all the manufacturing variations of these guns (manufactured between 1955 and 1973). So, I guess you could say we were raised in the gun industry!
How/when did Eye on the Target Radio come about?
In 2010, [my brother and I] started a one-hour-a-month radio show on a local FM station, answering questions and talking about guns. We filled a need and filled a niche of normalizing firearms in the northeastern Ohio region. Eye on the Target Radio came about because of these questions and the answers we provided. We started with a once-a-month show and then expanded to one hour a week … and then two hours a week.
That went along for years, until September 2018, when we were asked to join Salem Radio Network with a syndicated show. To me, syndication is the license to work harder. They offer the opportunity for the show to be nationally available. But the host has to grow that interest and cause stations to want to pick us up. That is where we are today — six stations and growing.
One of the interesting things is (and this was completely unplanned) our show is the first nationally syndicated pro-2A show where the host is female! While I don’t profess an uncommon knowledge in firearms, I have the ability to ask questions and make it make sense to the everyday gun user. There are so many people in the industry who assume that people know what they know, so they name drop and use jargon, etc. And as a listener, those are all things that would cause me to lose interest and change the channel. So, my “magic skill” —if you will — is to make them slow down, circle back and explain it in English!
What growth/changes have y'all experienced with the show?
We knew we found our niche when we took our local show — mind you it’s in the heart of Rock and Roll (Cleveland, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and all that) — to No. 1 in its time slot, quarter after quarter. This means that people were really looking for this information. Syndication has brought its own challenges. With the move to national, our local station did not come along. So, all of our listener friends and callers have had some difficulty finding us. We are no longer on that same space on the dial. This has caused us to change our format a bit. It took us eight years to build the award-winning show we had. And I believe we will rebuild the audience that is interested enough, brave enough (it takes guts to call in and say you don’t know something) and involved enough to fill our show with listener interaction.
What do you hope to see for the show (and for yourself) in the future?
Hopefully [for the show] it will be a year of adding stations [and] interviewing cool, involved and action-oriented 2A folks from across the country. For me, between working full-time in the aerospace industry, being a female pro-2A advocate of the DC Project, hosting four national concealed carry fashion shows and hosting a two-hour-a-week nationally syndicated radio show … not much different! Rob has a saying when we roll out that list of activities: “Hey, ‘Manda — Where ya’ going?” “Nowhere…” “What ya’ doing?” “Nothing…” Actually, we are just so blessed to be able to walk along with, give a hand up to and take a helping hand from a really long list of amazing people. And I want to say thanks for letting me play too.