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 little bit.
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 was listening.
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 for slander.
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
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
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
Actually, we were the ones that contacted
Q-107 program director 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 WPGC just so they'd
know how to play their cards the next time if it ever came up
a job without me in September or October of 1981 just a few
months before we went over to Q107.
$80,000 to move. He came back to WPGC and told PD Steve Kingston
about the offer So WPGC raised his salary to $80,000.
He made a mistake by telling me what had happened so I went
in and asked for a raise too. After all, Kingston,
said that we were a team and putting our strengths together
is what made us "bulletproof" at the time.
I remember going to Steve
Kingston 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
and told him I was interested in leaving.
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.
That’s where we agreed to sign a five year no cut contract
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 shocked.
But you have to remember that during that time in radio, news
directors were not considered talent, and it was extremely difficult
for management to pay a news person the same money as the DJ.
picked up the phone and called Alan Burns and told him I was
ready for a change. Elliott
and I talked and decided to go talk to Q107
leadership as a team. Long story short,
we agreed on an incredible 5 year no cut contract. Shook hands
next evening I met Ernie Fears at midnight at a gas station
in Chevy Chase to pick up my contract. I never had a contract
before and there weren’t really any contracts anywhere
in the mid 80’s in radio. Elliott
and I met with Alan and Ernie at Alan’s
house on a Saturday morning before Christmas and signed the
deal. We both met on Monday afternoon at Riggs bank and received
our $25,000 dollar signing bonus in cash! After the signing
of the contract General Manager Ernie Fears said: “Gentlemen,
you are both now making more money than the President of the
When I went back to WPGC to give my notice two weeks notice
you can imagine that conversation. 15 minutes later I was filling
up a box with my belongings and escorted out of the building.
remember getting a call the next day from
Potter who was on a ski vacation with
Dick Marriott. I missed the call. They wanted me to change my
mind and stay at WPGC. 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 couldn’t go back on that no matter what Marriott was
by then was GM of KFMK
in Houston called on behalf of Marriott and Potter
and told me that if I stayed they would double what Q107.
It was too late to go back. 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.
the Mega Bucks Offer From Q107:
At the time our contract was the highest amount ever paid to
radio talent within the ABC family of radio stations and as
a result they had to raise Larry Lujack's salary in Chicago
and Harden and Weavers in DC. Why? Q leaked our contract details
to the Washington
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! More than $1,000,000 over the five year period!
The amount of the contract was so high that when
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 China at the time
and had a satellite phone on the course waiting for Ernie's
And 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
were very difficult for me. Everyone knew how much we were making
and everyone at WMAL and Q107
were totally resentful of us being there.
Union Issues with AFTRA:
AFTRA had to let Elliott
cross over to Q. They fought it, but ABC
worked something out with union boss 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 WPGC 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.
I tried to join 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 am proud to say
that I’m an active member of SAG-AFTRA and have been since
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 to.
the Demise of Elliott & Woodside at Q107:
Why 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 ran out of steam
for the obvious reasons. 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.
Long 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
has admitted to me that I was responsible
for saving his life.
We were known as a team and it was extremely difficult for me
to find another position in radio. Our success was based on
chemistry with each other and putting the best of two people
together was the key. Individually we just didn’t have
the same “power” than when we were together.
and I are friends and we speak from time
to time. I do believe that if we ever did jump on the air together
that the chemistry would re-ignite and it would be like no time
Nothing lasts forever and we all move on from time to time in
life, and that’s ok. That’s perfectly ok.
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: