Sunday August 11th, 2013 – Chicago, IL
I’m starting to get the “radio Jones” again, and it scares me. I’ve been involved in radio almost as long as I’ve been a comedian, so there’s some history there. It started with me doing a comedy bit on a morning show in my home town of Milwaukee in the ‘80s when Miami Vice was on TV.
It was on the Reitman and Mueller show on WKTI, and the bit was a two minute feature called “Milwaukee Vice”. A comedian friend of mine and I each played cop characters, and used lots of local flavor and references. It was probably a good idea in theory, but the bit was pretty terrible.
I was in my early twenties then and nowhere near comedically competent or radio experienced enough to know how to pull it off, but it was a great education and I’m glad I did it. The program director was Dallas Cole who I really respected – one of the most creative minds I’ve ever seen.
We got along great, as he saw the raw potential in me. I wish I could’ve stayed with him longer to develop my skills but he left for a better gig and the new guy and I butted heads. That’s been a much too common storyline throughout most of my radio adventures, and it leaves a bitter taste.
Like most creative types, I have a distinct vision of what I’m looking to do in a situation. Stay the hell out of my way – especially if you’ve never done it before – and we’ll never have a cross word between us. Sit me down and force feed me your stupid ideas and we’ll fight like roosters.
It really isn’t that difficult, but I’ve had to fight this scenario constantly and it takes the breeze out of my sail in a hurry. I get brought in a situation by someone who gets it, and then he leaves and in comes some pinhead wannabe who never got past reading pork belly futures in Nebraska.
Under the right circumstances, radio can be unbelievably satisfying creatively. I’ve had flashes of it, and it was enough to make me want to keep coming back. For what it was, ‘The Mothership Connection’ on AM 1050 WLIP in Kenosha, WI was a wonderful experience. I had a total blast.
One of the main reasons I did was because nobody told me what to do. John Perry is the person in charge, and he and I have known each other since our days at 93QFM in Milwaukee. We have a very good relationship, and he knows what I’m about. He gave me free reign from the start and never ONCE has he told me how to do the show. Over five years it has progressed tremendously.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to turn a single buck with it. Fun is fun, but we all have bills to pay. If I could just squeak out a living wage, I’d be thrilled. I’ve grown immeasurably over the five year run as a talk host, and like in comedy I’m at my creative peak but it won’t last forever.
In a perfect world, I’d be able to get one last shot at doing a morning show somewhere. I have paid my dues and then some in radio just as I have in comedy, and I finally feel I’d know what to do if I got the shot. Milwaukee Vice was horrible, but I knew I was green and had to work it out.
I’m ready now. I could start tomorrow, and build a fun morning show that would showcase my talented friends and sound smooth from day one. Johnny Carson used to bring people on to shine for a few minutes, and then bring on someone else. That’s a proven formula, and I would borrow it from the start and everyone would win. If I have any one talent at all, it’s recognizing talents of others and putting them in place to shine the brightest. I’m the maestro, but they’re the ones that play the actual music. It worked perfectly on The Mothership Connection, and it will work again.