INDIANAPOLIS 1977 TO 1982 RADIO DAYS
1977. I got invited to come in to play my favorite songs/records on a Friday "Celebrity DJ Night." I get to the studio carrying a mess of my favorite albums. PD Chris Connor, the station engineer and others (I no longer can remember who) show me how to run the board, what knobs/buttons/etc. controlled what. I pay no attention because I figure someone will stay with me and run the board and the technicals. Following their instruction they all exit the room leaving me alone to my performance solitude.
I'm rollin' some of it right but, for most of it, I'm playing two records at the same time...three or four commercials going at once...talking over the songs' vocals. Me along with everything is and was caught in the chaos. Upon the shift's completion, I depart totally embarassed at my own perceived lack of entertainment value. I'm fearing that I'll never hear from anyone at the station again. WNAP, it's staff and management supported our band and our first album and it's releases prior to my on-air debacle. How could I let them down after all they'ed done for the band and our "place/status" in the city. I'm very disappointed in myself. The following Tuesday, however, station management contacts me and is offering me a job, my own on-air shift. I'm dumbfounded. What? How? Why? "We loved your rawness" they told me. Neither processed nor refined. Kept it and keep it that way. The good years there were good years amongst creative, innovative and great broadcast talents on and off-the-air. What a way to kick off my 40 years (so far) on Show Biz broadcast stages.
WNAP MORNING SHOW
THE LONE RANGER
It was unfortunate that I had to leave WNAP. I didn't want to but, I had too. You can only take so much maltreatment, insult, misrepresentation and in the end (straw that broke the camel's back) not being true to your word. In those days (1979/1980) beyond the written contract, "between men,"a handshake was your word, your word was your truth/your deal...beyond any written contract. I'll tell the whole story in another spot, at another day. For now, suffice it to say, after the behind the scenes disrespect and their not upholding their word, their deal...I broke my paper contract deal. At the end time, I was approached by new cross town rival station "KISS-99" (WIKS-FM).
My attorney/representative negotiated the deal to move on. Indiana being a "Right To Work" state, the thought was that that would negate my "radius clause" on the WNAP contract. They then went on to sue me for $1.5 million because my departure did them that level of monetary damage. Funny to think that the final insult that forced me to leave WNAP was management's breach of promise, breach of trust on my delivering beyond the ratings that they stipulated in order that I get a raise from $12,500 per year to the $14,000 that I asked for. A raise of $125 per month, $32 per week was all I asked for (they made more than that in one commercial). Maybe they didn't think that I'd walk...but, funny to think that they could sue me for $1.5 million but, wouldn't come up with $125 per month to keep me there. following a widely viewed and heavily followed court case (every media person in town was going to contract renegotiation). The Judge sided with WNAP and the written contract. I had to sit out and couldn't speak on-the-air for the six months of the radius clause. That time period consisted of me not saying a word on-air. Instead, I went in on certain station dayparts and honked horns, blew whistles, buzzed buzzers and such making sounds instead of talk responding to the DJ's questions. A breach of trust and a Judge's decision to shut me down turned into a huge promotion for me and...
THE KISS-99 BED RACE
KISS-99 INDY 500 CAR & FELLOW DJ'S
THE SMASH...DICK CLARK...CHUCK CRANE
YOUNGSTERS BE "DIGGIN' THE SMASH"
KISS-99 BED RACE WITH JOE THEISMAN
KISS-99 BED RACE WITH PRESIDENT CARTER'S BRO BILLY
(SELLING "BILLY BEER")
KISS-99 STATION "MASCOT" LORELAI
SMASH..ROXANNE TURNER...CHUCK CRANE
...Like WNAP, KISS-99 was loaded with great air talent. I was partnered with my friend Dave Dugan in the morning. A great show, if I do say so myself. A great portion of the other day parts were populated with guys who came over to WIKS from their spots on album rocker WFBQ. Jim Owen was PD. Mike Tinnes (RIP) and Tom Robinson (one of the great voices ever) helped make up a killer array of on/off-air talent playing all the contemorary higs and being massively community involved. Was there a little over two years, before it was time to move on.
WASHINGTON, D.C. 1982 TO 1988 RADIO DAYS
While I was at KISS-99, I started doing voiceovers around the country for a number of "AOR" (Album Oriented Rock) radio stations. One of those was DC-101 in our nation's capital. I did that for a couple of years for them. I was the announcer for "The Howard Stern Show" on the station. Management flew me to town to record some liners for the station. They also invited me to audition for the Afternoon Drive slot which was open. They thought Stern in the Morning with Smash in the Afternoon would be a great combination. I wasn't really familiar with Howard and his show stylings until the Sunday night before my next morning audition. Here's a link describing and looking at what I saw, heard and experienced...my initiation to Howard Stern. There's more and the whole show on You Tube. . Coming in from Indiana with the definition of "controversial" in the Hoosier State's radio standards, I was astounded at what Howard was "gettin away with." At the same time I saw it as a new "freedom" coming my way (if I passed the audition). I was wowed! Howard delivered from his angle and Petey knew just how to play. The next morning I'm sitting in as Howard's partner as Robin Quivers sat out. Great fun. Quite the education. Quite the experience going back and forth with Howard. The show was great. Management offered me the gig because, as G.M. Goff LeBhar told me, "you didn't try to steal the show away from Howard." You gotta know your place/role and how to be a positive partner to all involved with the show. Reaching the pinnacle, going as far as I could go...it was time to leave Indianapolis, my hometown. Took six months to negotiate that contract.
First morning in D.C., my wife and I are waking up listening to Howard and he's going off on G.M., Goff LeBhar. We are stunned, yet amazed at what we were hearing. I arrive at the station for my 10am meeting with Mr. LeBhar. I'm told that Goff would be with me upon his conclusion with Howard. Two and a half hours later...Mr. LeBhar will see you now.
First thing Goff says, "I just fired Howard. You start Mornings tomorrow." Whaaaat? I came to DC-101 to do Afternoons to Howard's Mornings. Disappointed yet excited at the same time. I sat in for two months handling the hate calls while facilitating the transition to D.C. Mornings with "The Greaseman." His reputation preceeded him. Way different than Howard but, an outrageous level of controversy and entertainment value too. Slow at first until things kicked in. And when they did, we ruled the 80's in D.C.
But, it was an effort to gain the acceptance of the D.C. Rock & Roll community in the early on. The anger at Howard's departure along with the unfamiliarity of Greaseman and his unique storys, content and sense of humor along with The Smash sound, style and delivery was "acquired taste" generating...and once it all landed the whole crew at the station owned the city. And I do remember acceptance happened for me when soon after I arrived in D.C., the station sponsored a concert at The Capital Center that featured friend & fellow Indiana Hoosier, John Mellencamp. I was friends with the whole band from my days at Indiana University. In mid show, John invites me on stage to sing back up vocals with him. I did. Photo:
I've always been grateful to him for that because that invitation was an endorsement of sorts that the D.C.-101 fans bought into and then accepted me as a part of The Rock & Roll Community. That was 1982. Above was the pic from that moment...below is John and I most recently, after his show here in Phoenix 2016.
<< Eddie Money
Rob Halford of "Judas Priest"
We had a great on-air line-up and community prescence. I was glad and honored to have been a part of it all.
Along with the great music and Rock & Roll lifestyle purveyed and delivered, names like Program Directors Don Davis and later Dave Brown (YDB) understood the listener and the D.C. area (including Virginia and Maryland) and we did the basic "give the people what they want" and they gave us reaction that translated into massive amounts of ratings and revenue. Dwight Douglas and Lee Abrams were THE consultants of the era. It was General Manager Goff LeBhar who understood entertainment and knew how to sell it (in this case...first on the personalities... then...on ratings...the combo of both yielded huge revenue). The on-air staff was stellar.
Along with the unique unbelieveability of The Greaseman, names that included YDB, Bill Scanlon, Rich Levinson, Sandy Edwards, Linda Mondesire, Rusty Brainpan (Sean Donahue), Ernie Kaye, Carl Foster, J.C. Corcoran (yeah St. Louis, J.C. and I worked together at DC-101 prior to the Gateway Radio Wars), Betty Jo Cohen, Joan Kornblith plus THE Dean of DC music jocks, the unparalled Cerphe Colwell. If I missed someone...my apologies...must be the "Smasheimers" coming on. Of course, a big salute to the sales departments, promotions, engineering, marketing, sponsors and fans not only at DC-101 but, at ALL the radio stations I've been priviledged to be on. AND...(there's got to be an "and") last but ain't no way not least...I could not have had and enjoyed the success that I was blessed with in DC if it wasn't for my friend and agent Robertson Caswell Casey (Rob Casey/RIP) at James Turner Productions in Alexandria, Virginia, along with my friends and musical compadres who made up the number one party band in the nation's capital at the time...Smash Band D.C. It was a great run...but, if I wanted to step up, I had to step in to Morning Radio somewhere...St. Louis, here I come!!
ST. LOUIS 1988 TO NOW RADIO DAYS
Indianapolis' Emmis Broadcasting owned/owns KSHE-95 in St. Louis. I knew the folks from the company and they knew me from our days growing up in Indianapolis. They offered me opportunitys to join up with them in Indy and then St. Louis starting in 1984. I was enjoying my time and thriving in D.C. doing DC-101's Afternoon Drive and didn't want to change that to wake up at 3AM doing Morning Drive anywhere. But, the time came to make that career change/adjustment after DC-101 hired a consultant out of Philiadelphia and he shut up and shut down "personality" radio to play "16 in a row." No future in that for me. A year later (when my contract was nearing expiration), I voiced my resignation to G.M. Goff LeBhar. Hilarious story: I go into DC-101 the next day to clean out my office and I find that everyone had received a memo that the station had fired "Adam Smasher" (me). I go into Goff's office and asked why that went out after "I resigned" to him the day before. In one of the greatest "lines" I've ever heard, he told me, "When you decided to quit, I decided to fire you." On the outside, I kept a serious demeanor. On the inside, I was laughing and marveling at the way he handled the imaging of my departure. I admired the brilliance of the man, liked and respected him from day one in my tenure there. I loved DC-101, but knowing I had decided to leave my no possibility for career growth "16 in a row" nothingness of a radio gig, I called upon a fellow who contacted me two months after I had started up at DC-101 in 1982. I told him that I had just signed my contract with the station and that I didn't break contracts. He told me to contact him when my time at DC-101 concluded. His name was Bob Pittman. He recently had started up a new operation called "MTV." That story on the "SMASH TV" tab above.
I was originally hired by the
folks at Emmis to host the first Morning Show at their new "Urban" station, "HOT 97" in New York city. As a White kid growing up on the Black side of Indianapolis, I came to love R&B/Soul type music. I loved/love all kinds of music. Was looking forward to hosting and installing the inaugural Morning Show on the station in NYC. Two weeks before I was to start the show, I get a call from Emmis asking if I would consider coming to and joining their Rock music station in St. Louis instead of doing HOT 97. I was told that J.C. Corcoran was hurting them bad in the ratings and revenue numbers since he had left when ontract negotions soured. They flew me to St. Louis and I sat in the hotel at Union Station for three days listening to the station (other stations too). Believing that I could help on the side of entertainment value, having spent the last 20 years on the Rock & Roll side of music (as opposed to "Urban"), having two little babies and a wife who would love to be nearer to our full families living in Indianapolis along with other factors like appreciating the opportunity to compete against as good a broadcast entertainer as is J.C (we were good friends from working together at DC-101 in Washington).....I nixed the New York radio gig and took the Morning Show hosting reins at a time of diminishment for what was and still is one of America's great Rock music stations, KSHE-95. Little did I know how PO'ed my friend J.C. would be.....
U-Man Craig Hawksley The Smash Rob Buttery
kshe morning zoo brothers
With a best friend
Some Of The KSHE Gang 1990
Greasy Spoon Tour
I called J.C. and told him I was coming to take the KSHE Morning Show gig. The KSHE/KSD Radio Wars were on! We didn't really talk for for about ten years. He would sometimes win the ratings, sometimes it was
us. It went back and forth in those years. The competition between us made for great radio. The St. Louis Rock & Roll music community had two fantastic choices for wake up call on the getting up side of the day. A few years later, Steve and D.C. brought their show to town (from Alabama, I believe) and we had fun now competing on a new battle front. I was fortunate to be included with great partners on the morning airwaves starting off with my arrival at KSHE in January 1988. Though I was told I could fire whoever I felt, I stayed with the guys who were there when I got there. First and foremost, having a partner like St. Louisan John Ulett made it easy delivery on-the-air and brought big fun. He helped me gain the acceptance in and of the community. Rob Buttery was the last man standing from the trio brought in a year and a half earlier from Atlanta. His tangent sense of humor provided a nice change up to the "Smash" take and angle on things. A little on down the line, one of the funniest and "real" dudes I ever met and was priviledged to work with joined "The Morning Zoo Brothers" (as I named us). That was comedian Craig Hawksley. He added a level of creativity that resulted in great on-air bits...the best being one that U-Man titled followed by Hawk and I writing the words to, "Knights At White Castle." (A creative masterpiece, if I do say so myself...especially with the performances and production provided by my KSHE team- mates). The Morning Show was powered by great producers/contributors like Caroline Miller and Lauren Ryan. Our interns added a touch of hilarity with their sense of humor and willingness to do any silly or serious (mostly silly) thing they were "commanded" to do to receive their recognition from the highly regarded "Smash School Of Broadcasting." Buffy Sprick, Carl "The Intern" Middleman and Guy "The Mighty Favazz" Favaza and others put together pretty good broadcast careers following their time with the Morning Show as interns. Down the line, Randy Raley joined us and fit right in with his angle on the show content we provided the listener. So many people to signify. It was a great era...I'm grateful to all on and off-the-air that helped make it happen. KSHE was/is St. Louis. We take care of our own. And, we don't appreciate wrong doing. That's what happened to us when Axl Rose and the Guns 'N Roses boys caused a riot on the early side of their concert at Riverport Amphitheatre. After that devastation, Axl and Company high tailed it out of town quite angrily. Later on, with the release of their next album, in the liner notes they explicitly said "FxxK you St. Louis. Say whaaaaaat? "FxxK You St. Louis!" Right in front of you! On the album. I put together a gathering. Called for all members of the St. Louis Rock & Roll community to join me and KSHE at the foot of The Arch where we would take a photo flipping Axl and the boys "the bird" as a "Single Finger Salute!" I would then send it to them, to their record company and to the various press and media outlets across the nation and around the world. (No social media in those days). Thousands showed up. Here's what it looked like.....
This wasn't my first encounter with and on the Guns 'N Roses level. Click onto the SMASH TV tab above and check it out from 1987.
After a great run at KSHE-95, I resigned at the end of my contract and took some time off. When I came back on-the-air...
I came back "Country!"
COWBOY SMASH &