AIRWAVES BUZZ WITH TALK SHOW CONTROVERSY (May 2, 1985)

AIRWAVES BUZZ WITH TALK SHOW CONTROVERSY
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Miami Herald May 2, 1985
Author: LINDA THORNTON Herald Staff Writer

In radio, it’s said, any publicity is good publicity. Neil
Rogers may have proven that this week, unintentionally becoming the
toast of South Florida’s talk show circuit.

A controversial profile of the talk show host in Tropic, The Herald’s
Sunday magazine, had the airwaves buzzing early this week with calls from
listeners defending him — and not just on Rogers’ own station, WINZ (940 AM),
but on the competitors as well.

Rogers says he remains miffed over what he regarded as his unfair
portrayal in the magazine.

“(Tropic) slandered me all over the place and misquoted me blatantly,”
Rogers said of the article, which described him as an “obese, offensive
homosexual atheist” whose listening audience has been gradually diminishing.

Even competitor Tom Leykis of WNWS (790 AM), who acknowledges that “Neil
and I have had our differences,” took

Rogers’ side on his Monday night broadcast. “For me to come out and
defend (Rogers) is unprecedented, but I was on the air supporting him,” said
Leykis. “My callers were overwhelmingly in agreement with that, because they,
like I, felt a hatchet job had been done.”

Herald Executive Editor Heath J Meriwether said the newspaper stands
behind its story. “Mr. Rogers has said himself, on his own show, almost
everything that we reported in the article,” he said.

The Tropic story included brief descriptions of other area talk radio
hosts, some of whom also took umbrage.

“To claim I have no audience was ridiculous,” said David Gold, 6-9 p.m.
weeknight host on WGBS (710 AM). “We did have a bad (Arbitron) book last fall,
but even a (1.5) audience share averages out to thousands of people.” (Tropic’s
report was based on Gold’s zero rating in The Birch Report for last winter. The
1.5 figure is from fall Arbitron ratings.)

But talk radio veteran Alan Burke, host of WGBS’ 9 p.m.-midnight show,
was tickled by his contemporaries’ rush to defend Rogers.

“I thought it was totally inaccurate, but I’m amused at the other hosts’
response to the article. They blew it totally out of proportion,” said Burke.
“The Herald, with all its wealth, could not have purchased the publicity it got
this week on every talk show in town.”

Love in the morning

Beginning Monday, disc jockey Lee “Baby” Simms will take over as leading
man on Love 94’s (WLVE 93.9 FM) 6-10 a.m. weekday morning show, filling the spot
vacated by Dave Caprita two months ago.

Simms, a veteran of contemporary music radio, was heard a decade ago in
this market on the late WMYQ-FM (which later became 96X). Simms’ latest position
was at album rock station KFOG-FM in San Francisco.

Love 94 program director Beau Raines describes Simms as “a storyteller
who believes in being a companion in the morning.”

Raines is considering introducing Simms to the area in a unique way,
perhaps having the disc jockey “wash up on shore” or arrive via parachute.

Radio fund-raisers

There’s still time to register for the annual Coconut Grove Bed Race to
benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Sponsored for the third consecutive year by SHE (WSHE 103.5 FM), the Bed
Race has become an extremely popular South Florida outdoor event. Some 30,000
people turned out last year to see dozens of teams wheeling decorated beds down
Bayshore Drive.

This year’s Bed Race, taking place on May 19 from 11 a.m. until
approximately 2 p.m., has been expanded to allow up to 100 entries. Trophies
will be awarded in three categories — the bed parade, in which beds and teams
will be judged on appearance; the open division, where speed is what counts;
and the “just for fun” category, where almost anything goes — last year, one
entrant put a grand piano atop a bed. The entry fee of $400 benefits MDA;
$1,000 will also buy admission to the Bed Race Club, which includes a suite at
the Mutiny Hotel and other goodies. Of course, it costs nothing to watch.

Call the MDA at 624-3714 in Dade, 962-4117 in Broward, for more
information.

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