It must be hard to be a radio personality. Sure, we regularly see guys like Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh and Imus making millions and making it look all too easy. You get a few strippers on the show, come up with a few sound bytes, a couple sketches, work up a crew of personalities to exchange witty banter with and -voila! - you have a hit show.
The trouble is you don't see the tens of thousands who go to broadcasting school, endure the parental criticisms, work the overnights at some college radiostation for minimum wage, take a second job just to survive and end up working 10 years in the industry and topping out at 18,000 per year.
It is a brutal business.
The market has been in a consolidation for the last 10 years - ClearChannel Communications Inc (CCU), Cox Radio (CXR) and Citadel Broadcasting Corp (CDL), are the heavy hitters in the industry. Citadel just reached a $2.7 billion deal to merge with Walt Disney Co's (DIS) ABC Radio.
Via FoxNews, advertising revenue for the Radio industry was flat at $21.5 billion in 2005.
The Chicago market, much to my chagrine, has ManCow. ManCow is difficult to listen to because the show is based on utterly false pretenses. You never know if interviews are being held where they say they're being held, you don't know if the bits are for real, you don't know if the phone-in interviews with "experts" are just some voiceover actor that ManCow hired - basically, the listener can't trust much of what is broadcast on ManCow's show. Each "character" on the show fulfills some role. Just like professional wrestling has a Good Guy and a Bad Guy, ManCow's Morning Madhouse has a role for every conceivable slot. He has a black man, an asian, a mexican, a woman ... etc. Each one comports himself in the most egregious stereotypical fashion in keeping with his 'role'.
As they say, the show is pure fluff. It is all form and no substance.
One of ManCows more memorable characters was "Brian the Whipping Boy." Brian played the "gay" character on the Morning Madhouse. When Brian the Whipping Boy left ManCow (due to contractual issues or ego conflicts - not sure), Brian the Whipping Boy became plain old "Brian" at 94.7FM The Zone - doing 5 to 9 morning broadcasts. ManCow's show defines the term "Vapid." It is literally just a loosely held string of barely-funny routines and adolescent potty jokes that gets too old, too quickly. Brian, Bill and Wendy at 94.7 had a more cerebral show. Filled with wisecracking snippets, personal foibles and some decent skits - it was infinitely better than the ManCow rant.
I'm proud to say that I haven't listened to ManCow in over 7 years. "Hi, my name is Michel and it's been 7 years since I heard a stupid, predictable gag on the ManCow show." However, I was coming home tonight and I flipped on WBBM News Radio 780 to catch the weather report "on the 8's" - and lo and behold - who did I hear doing the traffic report?
Brian the Whipping Boy.
I think that he was introduced as Brian Perot, though I couldn't get any confirmation at the WBBM website. He is not listed as a personality.
To go from doing primetime morning drive shows to overnight Traffic reporting must be a quite a step downward on the radio foodchain. I caught myself wondering what happened? Did Brian get caught up in a spiral of cocaine abuse, banging strippers and having to go into Rehab? Is he so fucked up as a result of getting dumped by two major market shows that he became suicidal and had a nervous breakdown?
I've always been a sucker for the under-dog. I always like to see the "local boy does good" angle. After hearing Brian the Whipping Boy get skewered on ManCow's show for years, I thought it was cool that he got a shot at having his own show. That's why I was certainly shocked to hear him doing traffic on WBBM.
Whatever the reason it was interesting to entertain the innumerable permutations of why Brian the Whipping Boy is now doing overnight Traffic reports at an AM newsradio station.
Oh how far hath the mighty fallen.
And don't get me started on how Roe Conn fucked over Garry Meier, that is for another blog altogether.