For a period of my radio career I was considered a “shock jock”. One of radio’s crude, rude misogynistic band of bastards glued together with sensationalized tactics to generate attention. The things I said and did on the air have given my therapist two new houses and a nice boat on the Willamette River in Portland.
I forget about it most of the time and learned to ignore the internet saying bad things about me long ago, but occasionally a website with nothing new to say will bring up a list of the top shock jocks in America. I won’t even research it for this blog enough to know where I land, but I do know I am amongst the likes of Opie & Anthony, Bubba The Love Sponge and The King of All Media and the reason I wanted to be on the radio, Howard Stern.
I never set out to be a shock jock or become a Howard clone on the air, I guess it just happened. I don’t think ill of anyone on the list of “America’s Top Shock Jocks”, I just don’t think it was ever me. I certainly learned a lot from Howard Stern about being honest and truthful on the air. I just forgot to be myself sometimes. I was having the party it sounded like I was having off the air and sometimes that didn’t lead to much time for proper show prep. So my life became the show. I was doing things then I would never do now and even if I was I probably wouldn’t share them on the radio anymore. Then I didn’t care. I was crude, rude and paid well to say outrageous and usually obnoxious things.
I had no leash and there was never a consequence except for maybe a paid week off that gave the offended the illusion I was being punished to stop somebody from suing my radio station or pulling advertising. I ran my show anyway I wanted and because I got high ratings my bosses let me do whatever came to mind without batting an eye.
I am believe it or not a very shy introverted person. If I seem normal socially in anyway it’s because I am pretty good at putting on an act. I’ve never thought of myself as famous, but more of a person who people knew they were annoyed with before they ever met me. I felt like the Jar Jar Binks of local radio anytime I was introduced to new people anywhere. I would get “Wait, you’re that asshole?” - “I hate your show.” Or “WTF is wrong with you?” This was my welcome at a strangers backyard BBQ in NE Portland my friends would drag me to.
I would get on the elevator in my building and hear random neighbors saying stuff like “Did you hear what those idiots on KNRK did today?” It weirded me out because I have zero self esteem and had an on air persona that lead people to believe I was an egotistical maniac. The truth? Everything effected me and I started using prescription medication (oh a cliche, cliche) to get me through doing what I feel now were certainly not the proudest moments of my broadcast career. Sometimes I was so numb I don’t remember huge events or crazy shows that should have gotten me fired a million times over.
I wanted to get out of the show but the company kept promoting me and giving me more money to keep up the act. An act that they had no clue was slowly killing me inside. (another cliche) I was signed to 7 years to upgrade the show from afternoons to mornings with a move and a syndication plan from the company’s flagship ALTERNA station KNDD where I would try first to entertain both Seattle and Portland simultaneously. This was considered to be a huge move for my career and major nod from one of the largest broadcast companies in the country. I hated every minute of it. I did everything in my power from day one to get them to fire me. It sort of worked as the Seattle station changed formats and we were moved back to Portland 3 months later. Once I returned I was upset that I had to continue this charade of playing meathead morning man and I came up with excuses not to come in and used all vacation time and personal days I could to stay away from the on air demon I had created.
[to be continued]