Come out, come out, wherever I can see you

by AK - August 22, 2013

Thursday Night Bedtime Story: Come out, come out, wherever I can see you.

One morning while working Rick and Suds, the hotline rings. It’s Johnny Dolan. He’s filling in on the Coast-fm morning “show” for David K. Schwarts or whatever his name is. He tells me some terrible, corny joke in reference to whatever is going on with Rick and Suds, and I fake laugh, ask him what he’s doing, he tells me he’s one door down on the Coast, (“just on the other side of the wall!” he says, banging on it twice BUMP BUMP like you’d say hello with a car horn) and I make up some story like “I gotta go, Johnny.. Suds set himself on fire again”, say thanks, and hang up.

Six minutes later, hotline rings again.

Now the hotline is a red flashing light on the two phones in both the control room and the studio. So Rick sees it ringing, cocks his head inquisitively but keeps talking to a caller and Suds , I scrunch up my face and shake my head in a “don’t worry about it” non verbal communication, and pick it up again. Johnny Dolan again. A corny joke again. A fake laugh again. A lame excuse again. A disconnection again.

Commercial break. I tell Rick it’s Johnny Dolan filling in at the Coast, and he must be bored playing Ozark Mountain Bluedevils “Jackie Blue” for the 12th time this hour, and he’s listening and totally loving the show, and he’s calling in to tell jokes. Bad ones. The corniest, unfunny, lame “dad jokes” imaginable… and by “dad joke” I mean the kind that even as an adult are so obvious and unfunny and been said 100,000 times that you roll your eyes at the joke teller unsure if you’re sad or embarrassed for them for telling it. Ok, maybe I can explain it easier this way; they’re Al Rogers-esque.

The show comes back on, and the hotline rings again. Rick’s eyebrows furrow… I answer. “Hey, Hey, It’s Johnny…..” another corny joke.

“Listen Johnny, ” I say. “We’re trying to do a show here, and every time the phone rings, the hosts think it’s the PD or someone important, as in not you, telling corny jokes from the Coast studio. So please don’t call the hotline anymore. If you’re bored, call a regular studio line and we’ll put you on the air so we can make fun of you, go for it. We’re working over here. And how the hell did you get the hotline number anyways?“. Midsentence into his response, “Ub, ub erm,..” I hung up.

For those of you who don’t know, Johnny Dolan was and is a South Florida radio legend, in his own mind. He was on all these old music radio stations that were once giants but as they died out, or changed format, Johnny Dolan was always there. When WQAM flipped from music in 197?, “Shotgun Johnny Dolan” was there spinning his pukey “stacks and stack of incredible tracks melting the wax”. When Power or Y or any of those stations big named talent went bye bye leaving a huge hole in their ratings conquering domination, Johnny Dolan was there. And 25 years later, now with jowly cheeks and a crossed eye and a shock of grey curly hair, still with the same pukey voice, the same old school “Disk Jockey” attitude. He’s like a Simpsons character of the 70’s pop radio guy. But I digress…

So after I did the ole “hang-up” to Universe Famous Johnny Dolan, he loses it… and now he’s BANGING on the wall on purpose.. And CRANKING the music in the Coast so loud, Gloria Estephan’s mustache is quivering at home. And the hotline is ringing, and hanging up. And wall pounding. And hotline. And Gloria. And pounding.

Ok… no more mister not-usually-nice guy.

Next commercial break I walk the 20 paces down the hall and swing the huge, wide, 100lb door WIDE open, and say, “Johnny you fucking has-been nobody.. Some of us have actual goddam jobs and we’re trying to do it. You wanna play fake radio you go….”

And he cuts me off… “I’m doing a show right now. Please leave my studio”.

“Ok, Chumley” I say, because he reminds me of Chumley from the Tennessee Tuxedo cartoon… I’ll be back at 10am.” and I leave. A “show”. Har-dee-har. Funniest thing he’s said all morning. The guy gets a list that outlines every song and every commercial he plays in order, timed out on a list, with only a 12 second break where he gets to read a sentence off a prepared 3x5 card written by the program director. Some “show”

I’m PISSED when I get back to the control room.

“Where’d you go? Who keeps calling the hotline? What’s that THUMPING through the walls?” Rick asks in rapid succession.

“That, is Johnny Goddam Dolan who’s filling in today on the Coast… he’s telling lame jokes. I asked him to stop calling, and he resorted to blasting music and pounding the wall. But I’ll take care of it at 10”

“Why? How?” asks Rick.

“Because at 9:59 as the out music is playing, I’m going to thump 30 years of no talent hack out of that guy forever”

Rick and Suds laugh.

At 9:59 as the out music is playing and Jorge takes his seat in the control room, I head back to the Coast studio. In the hallway is a huge 6 foot wide by 3 feet tall double pane glass window. I can clearly see in there. And Johnny sees me. And his eye crosses, and his jowly cheeks turn red. And he’s fumbling around with carts, and cds and papers he never usually touches. And in walks beanpole Wendy Bennett who takes over at 10am, and Johnny’s not leaving. Talking to Wendy who’s looking through the glass at me the way Rick had 2 hours prior, like “wtf is going on?“. I just stare at Johnny. Calmly. Unblinking. Stonefaced.

And 5 whole minutes goes by. And I’m staring…staring.. Staring… into the window into the corn filled soul of that fat walrus… and he won’t look at me. And a crowd is gathering… waiting… watching..

Production Director Mark Hoffmann was there… standing in the doorway leading to his production headquarters…waiting.. Waiting… and Johnny is STILL in there pretending to fumble around with things like he’s just takin care of his “post show wrap up” which actually would only consist of standing up and walking out. It’s the Coast for chrissakes.

And as I’m staring, and the crowd of 2 or three watching… General Manager Bob Green comes lively walking up the hall. I don’t even avert my glare from Johnny. And as Bob passes, he looks at Mark and inquisitively asks, “What goin’ on?”

“Adam’s gonna kick Johnny Dolan’s ass” says Mark.

“Okay” says Bob, who proceeds down the hallway without missing a step.

And Johnny never came out. At 10:30 I went back to post production and Johnny snuck out of the building, and I didn’t see him for 9 years. I never got my retribution… until…

In 2006 I was hired back at WIOD as the morning executive producer for the Brian Freeman morning news magazine show. And on the first day I walk into the control room, to start barking order of how things needed to change and what I was gonna do and what I was going to need done, and express in detail who’s in charge around here……and who should I find as the board op? Formerly Famous Shotgun Johnny Dolan. And that was alllll the revenge I needed.

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