A Portland salsa maker with no radio experience has been hired to join the Coast 93.1 morning show.

Kelly Towle of Windham, owner of Plucked Fresh Foods, will join Blake Hayes on the Portland radio show beginning March 2. Co-host Eva Matteson is leaving the show after 15 years. Her last day is Feb. 28.

In confirming Towle’s hiring Monday, Randi Kirshbaum, the brand manager for Coast 93.1, said that Towle is not technically replacing Matteson because “she’s irreplaceable.”

Kelly Towle Photo courtesy of Kelly Towle

Towle admitted Monday that her initial interest in getting on the radio was to promote Plucked Fresh Foods, a 6-year-old salsa company she runs with business partner Chris Fawcett. In December, Coast 93.1 staged a contest looking for listeners to fill in for Matteson while she was on vacation. Towle, who was a singer in the Portland funk band Sly Chi, sent in a video submission and was picked as a fill-in. She did talk about salsa, but a lot of other things too, with Hayes.

Her time on air convinced station officials to have Towle fill in for Matteson a couple more times, as an audition for a permanent spot on the show, Kirshbaum said. The station got “hundreds” of applications for the opening and interviewed about 15 candidates, Kirshbaum said. Five did on-air try-outs.

Towle said Monday she’s excited about the chance to try something new. She said she’ll continue to work at Fresh Plucked Foods, mostly in marketing and sales, while also working the radio. The business began in her basement, and now the salsa is sold in Hannaford and Whole Foods stores.

But as a musician, mother, step-mom, business owner and Mainer, she figures she’ll have plenty of things to talk about on air besides salsa.

Matteson announced in early January she’d be leaving the show to deal with “mental, physical and spiritual” health issues. She said she needs to have a schedule that allows her to sleep regularly and focus on taking care of herself.

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