by AK - August 15, 2013
Thursday Midday Bedtime Story: Randi’s departure; a slow speed chase.
As always, all I can do is offer up what I remember from all those years ago… anyone with other, more, or better information is always free to correct me….
Randi joined WIOD in September of 1992 after Hank Goldberg told the Program Director to copulate with himself because he (Hank) didn’t want to do any more Hurricane Andrew related shows a month after the storm. My guess is, as was common practice, that after she won over everyone, they gave her a 1 year contract for the job, with a 1 year extension if the company wanted to keep her. So 2 years later, in June of 1994, it was renegotiating time. And Randi wasn’t the unemployed former trucker anymore.. She was the successful nighttime host on WIOD who’d made a name for herself. So when it came time to renegotiate, it wasn’t Randi and Jim handling it, it was Howard Stern’s agent now. So Randi had absolutely no interest in being pushed around. She was going to ask for whatever she deserved, and wasn’t going to back down. And she had the pit bull of all agents to handle it all for her.
The problem was that the show, and the station was costing a fortune to keep operating. Millions to the Dolphins, Canes, Reineri, Rick and Suds, Neil, a news staff of 20+, a stable of producers and board ops… and now the night show wants a Lexus and a house with a pool and a private bathroom and a helicopter? Unlikely. When you’re Neil, and have his ratings, and his audience, and his endorsement, you can ask for more than what you want and get it, because you deliver a humongous audience who’s buying power is worth it. But Randi? On at 8pm? Talking about her vaginal secretions and Jim’s bowels? Good luck.
And don’t forget…not too long before Randi got shafted when they put her in afternoon drive as Rick and Suds went to mornings, then after a few weeks they gave the slot to newcomer Phil Hendrie and Randi got sent back to the darkness of nights. So she was ready to rake them over the coals if they wanted to keep her. Good for her! Good for me.
The negotiating table is a dance. And it’s not nice. It’s like a divorce proceeding where couples try and stay together fighting over every little thing in order to remain married. “You get saturdays off, I get to pay you less money” - “No, I get saturdays off, and you have to get me a car endorsement within 3 months” - “No, You can have saturdays off, but we’re going to change your shift to midnight”…on and on and on, all done thru lawyers and agents over mailed correspondence that takes weeks and months. Its really very nerve-racking and can drive you crazy. And Randi didn’t have far to go to begin with. But she was having success, and felt she deserved more than she was making, and deserved to be treated more like the talent she was, and most of all, I think she wanted their respect. Sadly, in a negotiation, that’s the last thing they’ll give you. You’re a cog in a machine. You’re one part of a much bigger picture, and if this wheel squeaks too much and requires too much maintenance, you eventually replace it….
Unless, behind the scenes, the wheel is getting offers to wok in a much smaller machine, with much less daily grinding and pounding, so you don’t need to squeak any more.
Which is exactly what Randi did.
For weeks now Randi had not only been driving herself crazy, she was driving everyone around her crazy, Jim and myself included. Because when Randi isn’t happy, or comfortable, or secure, or self confident, nobody around her can feel happy, or comfortable, or secure, or self confident. She’d been giving me updates here and there on the status of it all, and although I wasn’t involved in any way, shape or form, I really didn’t care much either way. Stay or go. I have a job either way, and there were benefits to both outcomes. Stay and we go back to doing the night show, which despite the craziness, was still, at times, enjoyable…or.. Leave and I get a new host to try and work with.
Meanwhile, the whole Nicole Brown/Ronald Goldman murder story, only a few days/weeks old, was a regular topic on the show leading up to that fateful night. And in prep for the show that evening, a Friday Night Show, I;d done my normal stuff… carting up clips, preparing new sound effects, gotten all my tapes and stuff ready, etc
Around 5p, Randi walked in.. With Jim.. Walked right into the studio, grabbed a few things, stopped to tell me she was done at WIOD, she’d turned down their offer and decided to take a job in West Palm Beach at WJNO. I wasn’t surprised at all. She’d mentioned on several occasions doing that, talking to different stations, etc. Now that she was on the map at WIOD, it wasn’t like she was spinning Bon Jovi records any more.. She was a full fledged talk show host, with a record and ratings. So again, I wasn’t surprised at all. She said goodbye, we hugged, I shook Jim’s hand, said good-luck, and they walked out. And Randi and Jim were gone, off to the hoity-toity world of Palm Beach.
Because Ultimately, Randi kinda had the last laugh in it all.
The Program Director told me later that we’d be running Best of Randi that night; he didn’t tell me that Randi was gone for good, but I don’t think he thought I didn’t know. He just told me matter-of-factly. “Run Best of’s”
What a shame, though… earlier that afternoon in California, at a press conference, the Police announced that OJ Simpson was a suspect, and was wanted for questioning. Randi would have had a blast with this one.
When the Bronco chase started and all networks went to it live, we had on Best of Randi Rhodes tapes of her talking to Bubba the teen fiddle player calling in from Tampa, highlights of her interview with and performance of Kipp Winger in studio, an assortment of old monologues (much of her show was a monologue since she didn’t get a ton of calls), and the like. Jackie Bales, the spritely blonde news woman was only scheduled to do news at the top and bottom of the hour, but the phones, tonight of all nights, were now ringing off the hook. So I spoke with Jackie and we agreed that she’d go on the air every 15 minutes with updates…
So while the world watched Al Cowlings drive a white bronco at 20 mph down a California interstate with former All-Star Heisman Trophy winner now wanted accused murderer OJ Simpson in the back seat with a wad of cash and a gun to his head, tailed by 45 police cars, 3 helicopters, and people lining up on foot along the highway to wave and hold up signs saying “RUN JUICE, RUN!”, on News Talk WIOD you heard Randi popping the cherry (“squeeeeeek-POP!”) of a 58 year old man calling in to talk about his psoriasis, and Randi doing impressions of her jewish mother.
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