listened to all of the Elliott
and Woodside air checks and at 54 years old I became very
emotional. WPGC was the highlight of my entire 30 years of broadcasting
experience. I remember when Elliott
and I went from worst to first in 6 months. How did we do it?
By being ourselves. No bits, no sound effects, no smoke and mirrors,
just relating to our listeners. Who allowed that? Dan
Mason. He was a great friend and genius radio manager.
'Congressman Cottonpicker' :
'You'll get richer quicker with Cottonpicker'! I came
up with the concept. One morning Elliott
turned on his mic and asked me a question and I used a Southern
voice and he asked who I was and I told him Congressman Buford
T. Cottonpicker. And the rest is history. At the time
Dick Marriott owned the station and asked that we do the bit
twice a morning because he loved it. We burned the poor
congressman out after three months. I even went to personal
appearances dressed up like Cottonpicker and nobody knew it
was me because we were such a new morning show!
the Armadillo Country Amusement Park:
is just another example of how creative Dan
Mason was. The three of us were talking, and he said something
to the effect: Guys, your Armadillo Country Amusement
Park bit is fantastic and I cant believe the thousands
of people that think its a real amusement park here in
the area. We never gave out a location. Our tag line
on those fake spots was always: Take the Beltway and follow
the signs. Turn left at the first arrow and go another 5 miles
to the entrance.
had Dave Foxx do one of those
real fast tag lines. It was great because listeners were always
calling up asking where the amusement park was. They wanted
us to elaborate on the directions which made for great phone
bits. Some people would call and play along like they had been
there. We would play along with them as well.
the Thanksgiving Day Parade:
Mason suggested we do a fake
parade in DC for Thanksgiving day. Why dont
you guys record your show for Thursday so you can have Thanksgiving
with your families? Since there wasnt one in
DC at the time, we decided to put together an entire theater
of the mind parade. We promoted it for about two weeks before
the event so that we could stir up the monkeys a
the time Thanksgiving day came around callers blew out the request
lines trying to find out where the parade was located. We embellished
everything, used crowd effects, marching band sound effects,
made up the name of the floats to relate with what was going
on at that time. I believe the other jocks were a part of the
parade as well and were supposedly on the scene filing reports.
you remember when we did the UFO stories at WPGC in the fall
of 1978? Well, I did a bunch of research and did a lot of sound
bites with a lot of people in the know. I must have
hit a nerve because the FBI had me followed and even tried to
find out where I kept all of my research. It scared me so bad,
that I had to go into hiding at Elliotts
house for 3 months after we finished the UFO special. Thats
one of the reasons I loved DC because you just never knew who
when Dan Rather became the CBS anchor and began wearing sleeveless
sweaters I once said on the air that he looked gay and that
you could take any person off the street and put them in front
of a teleprompter and they would do better than Dan. Well, his
daughter called crying and later tried to sue me and the station
I was kidding on the air with Elliott
and told him that when I was at a picnic over the weekend one
of the guests was Tip ONeal and all he did was keep taking
food off of my paper plate. I was kidding of course and trying
to relate because thats when there were a bunch of fat
jokes about Tip. Well, his grandaughter called in tears. I put
the little 5 year old on the air and before the end of the interview
we were all crying. That was the magic of Elliott
and Woodside. We were allowed to be ourselves.
are hundreds of stories like that. My favorite was when I paraphrased
an article in the Washington
Post about Chip Carter having an affair with a DC socialite
in the private quarters of the White House. I got sued for 4
million dollars and Marriott freaked out. It took 5 years back
and forth before it was settled out of court for a mere $30,000.
like I was always in trouble. Thats when Mason
and Marriott and Potter
labeled me as a loose cannon. Had they not been
so paranoid they could have hired me back somewhere after the
debacle and I would have excelled like never before. It would
have been good for both of us. But they never really recovered
from when we left WPGC and I think they were always bitter about
we were the ones that contacted Alan Burns 18 months earlier.
We met but couldn't come to any agreement. Alan told us to leave
the door open and call if anything ever changed. Their first offer
was to find out how much we were making at 'PGC just so they'd
know how to play their cards the next time if it ever came up
offered Elliott a job without
me in September or October of 1981 just a few months before we
went over to Q107.
Jim $80,000 to move. He came
bact to 'PGC and told them what had happened So 'PGC raised his
salary to $80,000.
made a mistake by telling me what had happened so I went in and
asked for a raise too. After all, Kingston,
Giddens, and Potter
said that we were a team and putting our strengths together is
what made us"bulletproof" at the time.
remember going into Steve Kingston
the PD at the time,
and asking him for a raise. He told me to give him back 60,000
dollars and whatever was left is what I was worth. The next day
I called Alan Burns at Q107
and told him I was interested in leaving 'PGC. He asked if Elliott
would consider coming to Q too. I told him yes, and he arranged
a meeting the next day at the old Hamburger Hamlet in Potomac.
Thats where we agreed to sign a five year no cut contract
Kingston says he was kidding.
He wasn't kidding and he knew it. Since he was my direct supervisor
he was reflecting management's feelings towards me. How else should
I have taken that? I felt that I had been a major contributor
to the morning show. Everyone told me that but Kingston,
so when he hit me with that statement in his office, I was devistated.
feelings were really hurt and then I got pissed. That's when I
picked up the phone and called Alan and told him I was ready for
a change. I told Elliott what
Kingston had said and that
I had called Burns. Elliott
said he'd go to the meeting because he had no loyalty with Potter
or the Marriotts. Hell, he said if he could get more money and
I could get more money from ABC then we should test the waters.
The next evening I met Ernie Fears at midnight at a gas station
in Chevy Chase to pick up my contract. Never let a lawyer look
at it. Elliott and I met with
Alan and Ernie at Alans house on a Saturday morning before
Christmas and signed the deal.
freaked out. We told him right before Christmas that we were giving
him 2 weeks notice. He started screaming and said: Why dont
you get the hell out of here now if thats the way you feel.
We left the building by 10:30. Charles
Giddens was on vacation at the time. I had loaned him my luggage
rack for his road trip. He had to come off of vacation four days
early when the shit hit the fan. He drove over to my house and
the last time I saw him was when he slung the luggage rack into
my front yard and sped off in his car. Wow, he was pissed and
I always thought that you were supposed to go through the chain
of command. Isnt that why there are PDs. Arent
you supposed to communicate through them? Hey, Kingston
didnt want to give me a raise, and I wasnt under contract,
so why would I want to be where I wasnt liked or appreciated?
Scott Shannon was my PD
before Kingston and obviously
the better of the two.
I believe Scott Shannon
is the best and most creative person that I ever worked with.
A consultant once suggested that Shannon
hire me when he was at Pirate Radio. Well, he must have known
it was ready to crash and burn and told me that Id be very
unhappy. He also said that if he hired me my wife Cyndy would
kill him. He saved my ass at the time.
remember getting a call the next day from Glenn
Potter who was on a ski vacation with Dick Marriott. I missed
the call. They wanted me to change my mind and stay at 'PGC. He
called later and we talked and I told him that I shook hands with
Ernie Fears and Alan Burns and gave them my word that I would
accept their 5 year contract offer. The only thing you have in
life is your word and your handshake. I couldnt go back
on that no matter what Marriott was offering.
Mason, who by then was GM of a KFMK
Houston called on behalf of Marriott and Potter
and told me that if I stayed they would double what Q107
was offering and even gold plate the damn radio tower for me.
It was the hardest decision I ever made in my broadcasting career.
Had I not given my word to the Q107
guys I would have backed out and gone back to WPGC. They only
asked me. Not Elliott.
we left WPGC, I took all of our drops. I mean everything. Three
reel to reels full of stuff. I received a cease and desist letter
via registered mail saying that I couldnt use any of those
drops on Q107.
This was after I explained to the guys at WPGC that I couldnt
come back after giving my word.
the Mega Bucks Offer From Q107:
told us later that our contract was the highest amount ever paid
to radio talent at the time and as a result they had to raise
Larry Lujack's salary and Harden and Weavers. Why? Q leaked our
contract details to the Washington
Post and when word got out everyone had to be bumped up in
salary. We were also the first radio talent to ever be given a
no cut contract. 5 years too!
amount of the contract was so high that when
Elliott and I agreed to sign, Ernie Fears had to call ABC
president Leonard Goldenson to get his permission to do his deal.
Leonard was playing golf in Bejing, China at the time and had
a satellite phone on the course waiting for Ernie's call.
to stay at WPGC would have been a whole hell of a lot of money.
My contract was damn good. I cant remember the exact figures
but I do remember that they gave us each a $25,000 dollar cash
signing bonus. My contract totaled right around $900,000 dollars
for the entire 5 years. I can only wonder if Dick Marriott and
Glenn Potter would have doubled
that. Elliott made more on
his contract. His was a little over a million. After all, a DJ
is so much more talented than a news guy. Right? That was typical
radio management mentality back then.
I'll tell you this. If I've learned anything over the years, money
is not the answer. That's the most money I ever made in 30 years
of broadcasting but those five years at Q107
were horrible. I hated every minute working there. Everyone knew
how much we were making and everyone at WMAL and Q107
were totally resentful of us being there.
Union Issues with AFTRA:
had to let Elliott cross over
to Q. They fought it, but ABC worked something out with Evelyn
Freyman. He was allowed to work at Q but he was not a part of
AFTRA. ABC paid his dues. When I came to 'PGC from Georgia I was
non union. During the AFTRA strike I freelanced in NY and made
a tiny fortune. When the strike was over an agency called me and
congratulated me on becoming the new on camera spokesman for Ford.
When I told them I was non union they told me to join.
tried, and the guys on Wisconsin Ave kicked my ass right out of
the door. It took me two years going before boards and union members
to be allowed membership. I still carry the AFTRA and SAG cards.
Dont use them, but Im proud to be a part of the union,
especially SAG. Some day Ill get back into acting. Who knows,
but for now the pen business seems to be doing just fine.
Making the Move to Q107:
was the worst mistake of my life. When they brought us over they
tried to change us overnight. Little did we know that the only
reason they did what they did was to cripple WPGC so that Q would
be the only top forty station in the market. They cut back on
our talk, they added a bunch of that early MTV music that really
sucked, they told us what to do and when to do it.
and Alan knew what it would take to ruin 'PGC. They never hired
us because they liked our act. They hired us to "blow up
WPGC." They never intended to let us do at Q what had made
us successful at WPGC. We weren't allowed to do anything but play
the hits and do the news. The music sucked, and we just sat there
every morning doing a few breaks every hour. It came down to this:
We did whatever they wanted as long as they paid us the money.
became whores for the money. Just went through the motions every
morning. They took away our fire. They ruined WPGC
and they ruined Elliott and
Woodside. Elliott and I broke
up with about 18 months remaining on our contracts. Q paid us
off entirely. They didnt want to but the AFTRA forced them
the Demise of Elliott & Woodside at Q107:
did the team break up? I broke up the team. Elliott
was doing boatloads of cocaine and wouldn't stop, so I organized
a confrontation. The show sucked because Elliott
was fried every morning. Back then everyone in broadcasting knew
that drugs were being consumed but it was an unspoken thing. Management
didn't want to hear about it nor did they want to deal with it.
story short, the team broke up and I was pretty much black balled
in broadcasting for turning Elliott
in. PD's were afraid to hire me thinking that I was a snitch and
would be causing trouble. Hey, I did cocaine too. I'm no angel
when it comes to that. But I stopped doing it when I found out
what it was doing to me. Elliott
continued. Elliott has admitted
to me that I was responsible for saving his life.
far as the cocaine is concerned. I quit about a year after joining
promised me that if we did cross over to Q that hed quit
doing coke. He lied. It was really horrible. I kept doing it,
then quit cold turkey. Quit smoking and cocaine the same day.
was it hard to find work after that. PDs and GMs wanted
to hire us individually but wouldnt because they wanted
to pay less money. I guess they didnt want to embarrass
Returning to WPGC:
I was hired to go back to WPGC when it was changed to WCLY and
work with Jeff Baker. Boy was
that fun. That lasted a year. Then Jerry Clifton came
in and cleaned house and let me stay and do mornings by myself
for 6 months. One day Mason
came in and said: Son, I hate to be the bearer of bad
news but youre the last white guy left at the station and
we need to replace you with a black guy. I left with
6 months severance and then a year later was asked to move to
Atlanta to do mornings at WZGC.
no longer talk to Mason and
he doesnt talk to me. He fired me from WZGC
in the late 80s for reasons I still dont know and
that just about did it for our friendship. I was told if I moved
to Atlanta and reunited with my old partner from the 70s
that I could stay there forever. Well, 2.5 years later I found
myself on the street. Had to sell my house and wow did it suck.
last job in broadcasting was a freakin traffic reporter.
Talk about the bottom of the food chain for a seasoned broadcaster.
That lasted three years. Thank goodness the pen company took off
in the meantime.
the Glory Days: