Thirty years ago, I was 19 years old. I had a (mostly) full head of moppy brown hair, a 32 inch waist, and dreams.
Of what, I can’t really remember. It was, after all, 30 damn years ago.
That was the year these clowns began their morning show on WLZR FM-102.9 in Milwaukee, WI. Bob and Brian. This past weekend, I was flown up there from Washington D.C. to help throw them a surprise party at a local bar.
It was amazing. And if you are not one of my listeners/readers from Wisconsin, here’s a little 15 minute video of what their run at “Lazer/The Hog” has been all about.
Just about every person involved in their run at the station was there to hoist a glass. Except one poser PD who famously said that hosting a charity golf tournament was pointless because: “Our listeners don’t golf. They go to rock concerts, and get drunk.”
Boy, was he wrong. These guys have run the biggest single day golf outing in the state of Wisconsin for 25 years running now. Well, let me restate that. It started as a much smaller hard-scrabble affair at a local run down municipal course. NOW…. well… it’s a double-shotgun at the premiere resort in southeast Wisconsin, Grand Geneva Resort and Spa.
It sells out in a little over 25 minutes each year. It raises a shitload of money for kids with cancer. Boom. Winning. Fuck that PD. Moron.
I have been a part of this show for coming up on 23 years now. I was a young and hungry 26 year old working at One-on-One Sports in Northbrook, Illinois. A sales executive at our place – Greg Noack, who I had gotten to know through us both being avid golfers – knew the then GM of Lazer, one Tom Joerres. Their existing “sports guy” was Mark Patrick (his real name, “Storen” and yeah, his kid is the former Nats reliever, Drew) and he abruptly left Bob and Brian’s show to take a more lucrative offer from another station “across the street” in town.
It lasted about 8 months. Meanwhile, I got a tryout. And somehow, got the gig. And it’s been a helluva a 23 year ride for me.
But let’s get back to Bob and Brian. These guys are nothing short of amazing. How do you stay relevant, fresh, and likable for that many years? How do you not MURDER your co-host at some point, just being sick and tired of looking at them across the console?
More importantly, how do you not end up sideways with somebody in management along the way, and get shown the door?
As I told these guys at their party last weekend: “I’ve just been in the sidecar, throwing beer bottles and yelling at other motorists along the way.” When anybody says that my segment of the show is their favorite, I understand fully that it’s really just me getting to play a sports guitar solo in front of an amazing backing band.
Bob is the show’s muscle and the big laugh. It’s genuine. Never forced. He knows funny. He is funny, and he never tires of it. Brian is like the rational force that cannot be defeated. His brain works 3-moves faster than yours. He’s amazingly well read for anybody his age… much less… for a stupid FM dee-jay! I feel like they are my big brothers. Both about 10 years older than me.
What doing their show all these years has done for my ability and style as a sports talk show host, cannot be understated. I believe it helped mold me into a sports radio host who isn’t obsessed with suffocating the listener with angry arguments, or mind numbing stats all the time. I learned that it’s okay to be a little stupid. To sometimes not care. To remember that most “sports fans” really don’t follow all of this shit as closely as we think they do.
And they sure as hell don’t care about the “issues” that many in my biz want to climb onto a soapbox and rant about. They wasn’t to be entertained. Nothing more, nothing less.
Whenever I look for topics for Bob and Brian, I always try to figure out what is the most widely relatable sports stories of the day. They have a massive audience – not just #1 in all key demos, but almost DOUBLE that of the 2nd place show in town on any given ratings book – and it’s an audience full of women. Women who KNOW their sports!
You’ll never fully understand how sports obsessed the upper midwest is, until you spend a little time there. It’s amazing. And that has made my job with these guys, an easy lift most mornings – like playing in a band, really loud, and really fast.
The most common question I get from listeners, is whether or not we “plan” or “script” some of the things we do. The answer is no. Not because it’s in any way “cheating” or an admission of a lack of talent. Nah. It’s because we’d just fuck it up if we tried. In fact, the most common thing heard as we are chatting before the On Air light goes red, is the following phrase: “Hey, hey hey… Shut the hell up! WHY aren’t we talking about this on the air???”
At most, it’s a way to tap an oil vein of a topic, before quickly capping it off in case we can turn it into a gusher.
By now, after 23 years, we know each other’s “moves” and pet peeves so well, that it can be like a good 3-way wrestling match where we take turns body slamming each other, en route to a logical pinfall somewhere along the way.
I don’t know how much longer these clowns have in them, but I wouldn’t bet the “under” that’s for sure. And I plan to hold on to the seat of this sidecar until somebody throws me out of it. Boys, it has been, and continues to be, a helluva ride. I know I’m almost 50, but I still feel 26 in my head.
Here’s to 30 more.