FM MORNING SHOW SIDEKICKS ARE RADIO’S UNSUNG HEROES
Miami Herald, The (FL) – Wednesday, October 28, 1987
Author: LINDA THORNTON Herald Radio Writer
On most FM morning shows, one deejay is the “star.” But across the console from many of these air personalities sits a faithful sidekick, without whom the show wouldn’t be quite the same.
I’m not referring to morning teams who get co-billing, such as Herman and McBean or Rick and Suds, or to news anchors who joke occasionally with the jock, but to the ever-present second bananas who often don’t get enough recognition from the public, and who usually earn only one-third or half of what the main deejays make.
At Y-100’s (WHYI 100.7 FM) morning show, Sonny Fox has two primary sidekicks among a cast of five: Ron Hersey and “Footy,” a.k.a. “Athlete’s Foot,” real name John Kross. Footy’s main role is sports reporter, but he’s also the voice of characters including Monte, the gossipy waiter, and “Jackie Stewed.” Footy is well known to local listeners, so Kross says he doesn’t mind if Fox gets the most attention when they’re out in public. (“I would like to make as much money as him, though,” Kross said.)
In addition to being morning news director, Hersey is a vital contributor to the show’s humor, with his impressions of various personalities including PeeWee Herman, Don Johnson and the fictional “Buford from Davie.”
“Sonny and I almost have the same sense of humor,” said Hersey. “When he comes up with a set-up, I can almost tell what the punch line is going to be.”
However, Hersey’s name probably isn’t as well known to the
average listener as Footy’s, as he’s usually identified by his real name only when reporting the news.
“When there’s five people on the show, you can get lost in the crowd,” Hersey admitted.
The situation is similar at Power 96 (WPOW 96.5 FM), where Bill Tanner shares the studio with “Mark and Mindy” and G. Michael McKay. Mindy Frumkes, who has a quick wit and talent for ad-libbing, reports the news and does various accents and voices including Dr. Ruth. “I wouldn’t want to be a regular deejay, just pushing buttons and playing songs,” she said. “I’d be bored to tears.”
Mark Moseley is probably the best impressionist in South Florida. He does a multitude of characters including Eddie Murphy, Johnny Carson and Pee Wee Herman, as well as fictional Power personalities Red Wood and con artist Tyrone.
While Frumkes does the news and McKay the sports, Moseley is rarely out of character. This is sometimes frustrating for him, especially since he was the main jock on the show before Tanner joined Power.
“It’s kind of an identity crisis, because I rarely speak on mike as myself,” said Moseley. “That’s why Tanner now sometimes identifies on the air that I do certain voices.”
One of the most talked-about sidekicks in local radio these days is Glen Hill, who’s also known on Neil Rogers’ morning show on Zeta 4 (WZTA 94.9 FM) as “The Bird.” Hill, who originally worked at Zeta when Rogers was still at its sister station WINZ, edged his way into a permanent spot on Rogers’ show by dropping into the studio and laughing in the background. Hill now doubles as Rogers’ producer and sidekick.
“I’m there to fill in the gaps, for Neil to have someone to talk to. When a comedian like him is by himself in the room and tells a joke, he may know it’s funny, but if there’s someone there to laugh, that adds something,” said Hill.
Don Agony has played second fiddle to morning host Greg Budell for six years, first at WAXY (105.9 FM) and now at Love 94 (WLVE 93.9 FM). Agony sometimes acts as straight man, correcting or chiding Budell, and at other times, hams it up along with the host and news director Keith Allen. Agony, who’s also music director at Love, has these tips for being a successful sidekick:
“You must be able to play off the host, with compatible humor and timing, and to add to the show in your own way, rather than just laugh,” he said.
Bill Marshall at WSHE (103.5 FM) and Jim Schuyler at Hot 105 (WHQT 105.1 FM) have also worked with their respective headliners at other stations. Marshall and Joey Reynolds worked together in 1984-85 at WFIL in Philadelphia. Marshall is also morning show producer at WSHE. Like most other sidekicks interviewed here, Marshall and Schuyler had their own radio shows in the past, but say they now prefer being part of a team.
“I’d rather be on a team, being a support player to a performer of top strata,” said Marshall. “If a listener doesn’t know what my name is, it doesn’t matter.”
“It’s a lot easier. You feel like you have more creative latitude, and can produce any comedy material you want to without worrying about segueing records and things like that,” said Schuyler, writer/producer and sidekick to Dan McKay at Hot 105. “I just have fun.”
This Halloween, you can let someone else greet the trick- or-treaters, and get away to one of several holiday events being sponsored by radio stations. Costume contests will be featured at all the following events:
Zeta 4’s “Masquerade Madness” party, co-sponsored with the City of Fort Lauderdale and benefiting the National Kidney Foundation, takes place from 5 p.m. to midnight Saturday at Bubier Park, located at East Las Olas Boulevard and Andrews Avenue in Fort Lauderdale. Events include a costumed Tunnel Fun Run (call 761-5385 to register), and live entertainment. Admission is $1.
Majic 102.7 (WMXJ-FM) will take part in Miami Beach’s “Trick or Treat Street,” with live entertainment hosted by morning deejay Shawn Burke from 6 p.m. to midnight Saturday at the main stage, located at 301 41st St. Admission is free.
Love 94 will celebrate Halloween on land and at sea. Love deejay “Hutch” will appear from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday at Boodles, located in the Sheraton Design Center in Dania. Admission is free.
Love’s Halloween cruise to Nassau aboard the S.S. Galileo leaves at 4:30 p.m. Friday from the Port of Miami, and returns at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, hosted by morning deejays Greg Budell and Don Agony. Eight winners received double passage. Others can join the cruise for $119 per person. Call Love 94 (WLVE-FM) at 654-9494 in Dade or 426-4600 in Broward for more information.
If you’d rather be home on Halloween night, WRMF (97.9 FM) is planning a seven-hour cruise that departs from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale at 7 p.m. Friday (boarding begins at 5 p.m.) and returns at approximately 1 a.m. Saturday. The event will be hosted by WRMF morning deejay Kevin Kitchens. Cost is $55 per person (including dinner), with partial proceeds to benefit United Way of Broward County. Tickets are available at BASS outlets, or call WRMF at 977-8888 in Broward, or 838-4300 in Palm Beach County, for reservations. Etc.
Chuck Bortnick, general manager and vice-president of WSHE, is leaving the station Friday. He resigned to become general manager at KKHT-FM in Houston, owned by the Malrite Communications Group. Bortnick has been with WSHE since 1980. He began his radio career in South Florida, first in sales at the former WBUS (now Love 94), and then for four years as regional sales manager at WINZ AM and FM.
“It was a tough decision. This station has been like family to me. But considering the size of the Malrite Company and the Houston market, it was a good career move,” said Bortnick.
When it’s your birthday, you ought to do exactly as you please. That’s the theory of WTMI (93.1 FM) host Alan Corbett, who’ll celebrate his birthday party on his The Open Road show
from 3-6 p.m. today. Corbett’s “Radio Birthday Party” of “music and mayhem” has proven very popular with listeners. On the annual program, he goes beyond WTMI’s basic classical music format to play his own choices of show tunes, jazz, novelty songs and rock and roll, as well as classical music and “things that are so wonderfully goofy.” The show will include songs by Leontyne Price, Patti LaBelle, and comedians Eddie Murphy, Madeline Kahn and Carol Burnett, as well as a Bad Music Sweepstakes and Dance-A-Thon.
Caption: photo: Mindy Frumkes (n)
Record Number: 8703220103
Copyright (c) 1987 The Miami Herald