Brad Mullen, who under the name “Cuzzin Brad” brought an absurdist humor to Utah radio stations for three decades, has died.
“Everyone’s just in shock,” his friend and colleague Chet Tapp, now the morning host on The Wave, said Thursday. “Nobody [at the station] knows what to do, what to say. Nobody saw it coming. … Some of us, like myself, still can’t quite process it.”
Mullen worked at rock and pop radio stations in Utah for more than 30 years. His last posting was at KLO, where he hosted The Wave’s morning show for several years and recently worked the weekend shifts, while continuing to host two of the station’s signature shows: “The Newer New Wave” on Wednesday nights, and the Sunday night industrial show, “Unrest on the 7th Day.”
“He was one of the few radio people I enjoyed listening to,” said Kerry Jackson, co-host of X96′s “Radio From Hell” morning program. Jackson said Mullen — once a colleague and more recently his competition — “was one of the most creative and funny people I’ve ever met.”
“You never knew what he was going to do next — but it would always be funny,” said Todd Nuke ‘Em, program director at X96, who compared Mullen’s humor to the avant-garde comedian Andy Kaufman.
Tapp said Mullen’s humor was dry and “super-sarcastic.”
“It wasn’t the typical laugh-track kind of stuff, people laughing at each other’s jokes in the morning, blah, blah, blah,” Tapp said. “He just wasn’t your standard radio person. I think that’s what made him stand out among radio people.”
Brad Lee Mullen was born June 14, 1972, in Salt Lake City, to David and Mary Mullen. A year earlier, his older brother, Evan, died when he was three days old.
He grew up in Roy, and graduated from Roy High School. He attended Weber State University, and worked at the college radio station, KWCR Wildcat Radio.
According to his family, when Mullen was in college, he also worked the overnight shift at the Country Cousins convenience store in Roy. He would call in to radio station KJQ, and ultimately convinced the overnight host, Dom Casual, to do a nightly check-in, called “Cuzzin Brad’s Country Store Chat.” The nickname stuck.
Mullen then made a demo tape and sent it to Casual’s boss, program director Mike Summers, and pestered him into giving him his first job, working the weekend and overnight shifts at KJQ in the early ’90s.
According to Tapp, Mullen was one of the last people left behind at KJQ when most of the on-air talent quit over a management change. Much of that talent landed at the newly launched X96 (KXRK-FM), and Mullen joined them a short time later, Tapp said.
After eight years at X96, mostly on the overnight shift, Mullen moved to Spokane, Wash., lured by Casual with an offer to host a morning show — “the ultimate radio mistake,” Tapp said. That job lasted 18 months, and Mullen returned to Utah. Mullen worked for awhile at a media business, Tapp said, then returned to radio at KENZ (101.9 The End), and later at an online station Tapp had started.
Tapp said he convinced KLO to adopt his online station’s format, focusing on the New Wave hits of the ’80s — which in 2016 became 103.1 The Wave. Tapp introduced Mullen to KLO’s management, and soon “Cuzzin Brad” started hosting The Wave’s morning show. More recently, Mullen moved to weekends on The Wave, while working a day job at Overstock.com.
In 1998, Mullen married Shauna Nanell Gottwald; their marriage ended in divorce in 2017. A year later, Mullen met Lisa Westwood, whom the family describes as “the love of his life.”
Mullen is survived by his girlfriend, Lisa Westwood; his mother, Mary Mullen; his sister, Amy Mullen; his brothers, Eric Mullen and Andrew Mullen; and seven nieces and nephews. His father, David, and older brother Evan, died previously.
A private funeral service, for family and close friends, is set for Friday, July 9. Plans for a public celebration are still in the works, Tapp said.