Spinning music, meeting A-list celebs…it’s all in a day’s work for Ernie D. The super popular on-air personality for Radio Disney spoke exclusively with Celebrity Parents about his work, being a stepdad, and what his biggest parenting principle is.
What is a typical day like for you?
A typical day is split in half. As the Creative Director of Programming, I have creative content meetings with the other DJs, and I do that in the mornings. Numbers crunching, things like that. I don’t use creative energy during the day; I save all that for the afternoon and my show. The afternoon is all about letting loose and having fun.
You’ve been with Radio Disney for a long time, right?
I’ve been here since 1997. They make it super easy; they make it so you don’t want to leave! I’m an ambitious guy, and I constantly feel like I’m learning. I’ve grown up here. When I was 20, Disney gave me my first real full-time job, and I’ve just grown with them.
I would think that DJing for Radio Disney makes you a rock star in your house.
You would think! [laughs] I have a 16-year-old stepdaughter and an 11-year-old stepdaughter, a 5-year-old and one on the way. Obviously, going to the events and movie premieres is fun and it’s great to have that one-on-one bonding time. And sure it’s a perk, but when we’re home, I’m the Dad. For me, there’s no room in parenting to be a friend. You can have sympathy for what they’re going through, but you have to be strong for them. The teenager asked me once why I don’t act at home like I do on the radio! [laughs] They see me having two different ways of dealing with kids and family; there’s the fun Ernie D way of being, and the Dad who tells them to clean their rooms!
What is your biggest parenting principle?
The big thing is finding something to bond over. I drive carpool every day, so I will sit in the car with my kids and their friends and talk about music. That’s what we bond over. But parents can bond with their children over anything. The goal is to find something that you both like and make it a point to spend quality time with your kids.
I find that we’re teaching the same lessons all the time—to be responsible and do what needs to get done. It’s the same life lesson for me—you don’t get to do the fun stuff until you get the other stuff done first. For them, it’s doing homework. I tell them, “Hey, I don’t get to be on the radio until I get all my work done in the morning!”
How are you able to find your balance?
I had no problem balancing things when we were in Dallas. Having work-life balance was fine because I would come in, do the show, and go home and have dinner with the family. I lived 8 minutes from the studio. When we moved to California, it became harder to manage my time, but in my family, we always make it a point to have dinner together, even in the midst of soccer tournaments and choir. The cool thing is that Radio Disney wants to make sure that you do get that balance.