WIOD Van Troubles?
by AK - July 18, 2013
Ok.. since I owe people a story, here’s another…
Please keep in mind… Jorge has WAYYYY more Neil stories than I could possibly have. I worked in the building… with Randi, and Chris Baker, and Rick&Suds.. and the garden guy and Defo and Maddog and others part time.. I saw Neil every weekday between Aug 91 and the day he left the station and went to QAM… and wandered into the studio and talked with him during breaks and handled his remotes when I was in promotions. But I don’t have the nitty-gritty down-and-dirty stuff that’s probably really good reading and way more interesting…
So this was one of my proudest moments as a producer.. One Monday, I come in around 10 or 11am, and I walk into the control room to say howdy to my bud Jorge..”Sup dooood”… And Neil is ranting about something to do with the station and the programming, and the sales department ba-ba-ba-ba, sees me, and punctuates the rant with something like “And letting that goddam Chris Baker drive around in the god dam van on Friday night”.
I just smiled ear to rear.
See, first of all, I know either Neil had a spy report about the Friday show with Baker (whom I was producing since the night Randi quit…which FYI, if you’re keeping score was the night of the OJ Bronco Chase… that’s right… while all that craziness was happening, we had Best of Randi Rhodes talking to the kid who plays the violin in Tampa and a whole bunch of mouth breathers who wanted Randi to talk dirty to them while she played queef noises).. or… Neil was listening and heard it.
I just happily shivered and laughed all over inside…just smiling.
What I knew, that apparently Neil hadn’t, was that every Friday night Chris Baker left the station.. usually in the van, (once from a boat at the Isle of Dreams), and went somewhere, broadcasting from wherever we went. One Friday we went to a comedy club while Chris got on stage and 2 girls near the broadcast booth talked so loudly you could hardly make out his act… or to a bar to play pool with people, or on that one occasion a boat into the bay. It didn’t matter much what we did.. but it was just something to pass the time, and it was different. It always started the same way.. the first half hour we talked about where we should go, decided, got the wireless mic, and the van with the big antenna, and went. Yeah, it crackled and spitted static most of the trip… but it was just something to do.
That past Friday night, the van broke down on the side of the road with a flat, and Chris had to change the tire while on the air, but the spare was too flat to drive on, and we spent the whole rest of the time on the air trying to figure out where we were, taking calls, and how the engineers could pick us up as cars and trucks wizzed by and honked.
So why was I laughing?
Because NONE of it was real. It was all done with sound effects on carts. An endless loop of static and crackling. The sound of a van door opening, shutting, vehicle starting, running, driving. The sound of a flat tire blowout, tire flapping. Traffic zooming by and honking. All fake. Even my going on the air as the poor, exasperated producer stuck in the control room giving Chris the names of the callers waiting on the line and yelling the keep the 2 girls talking over his stand-up routine. All fake.
During the break, after Neil’s rant, I walked into the studio, and told Neil it wasn’t real…none of it. We never left the studio. He just stared at me, blinking. I think he’d bought into it too. He didn’t nod. He didn’t smile. He just looked at me, still holding his mic in his hand, elbow resting on his pupik. As I finished my story, the spots ended and the rejoin began and without missing a beat as the music ended (“double you eye ohhh DEEEEEE”) he popped on his mic, swiveled in his chair and said “Adam says Chris baker’s a liar… Sunrise.. Hello…” and that was it. He didn’t mention it again or ever talk about the Friday shows again.
3 weeks later, on Chris’s Saturday show, without any of the carts or production or any of that stuff, he decided to announce a fake news story that thousands of Cubans were washing ashore in Tampa… I wasn’t there, but apparently panic happened, the batline rang, people rushed into the studio and Chris got in trouble for starting a “War of the Worlds” type panic, and we were banned from any more Friday Night trips since we were already on the Justice Department’s radar or some crapola like that.
That’s how I remember it anyway.
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