Barry Michaels

Radio Is My Life!

Nothing Like A 'BM' In The Morning! Barry's Bio 3

FM radio was now hot! And my chances for going to work for, well, you know, were growing slimmer. Nationwide (That's right-The Insurance Company..Good Lord!) Communications bought WBJW or as we were known, BJ105. Can't tell you how many jokes I heard about that just because I was BM on BJ. Get it? I'm over it. Really. When they came in, it was time to go.They knew as much about radio as I did about performing a hysterectomy! I was right too, they got out of radio. Thank God! You know what used to really fry me about Nationwide? At the top of the hour, they would always, by law, say the call letters and the city (and that's the only part mandated by the FCC), then announce, 'A Burt Ferble Station'. You know who 'Burt Ferble' was? A stockholder, a company executive, a niece or nephew of a lower echelon management type, or the guy who did the lawn at their company headquarters. The audience did not care! It was simply a company ego stroke. Plus my boss and mentor, M.F. was instantly demoted when they took over so he left and did great things for a station across the street. It was never the same after he walked out the door. Nationwide managed to suck every bit of the humor and life out of that radio station. Do I sound bitter here? I don't mean to. It's just, damnit, I like it when broadcasters do it THE RIGHT WAY! As in, serving the public's interest, necessity and convenience . Hmmm. That sounds pretty damned nobel, doesn't it? I'll bet someone wrote that a very long time ago.  Anway, I got a great job offer from Baltimore, Md., still one of my favorite places! Love that inner harbor and crab cakes! I'm coming in from the airport in a taxi, I tell the driver where I'm gonna be working and he goes "Sure..Great Station!" He turns up the radio and and I hear this jock (he sounded great!) coming out of the disco song..'Dancing In The Sheets' and he says 'Dancing In The STREETS'. What? Ok. It's an honest mistake. I go into the radio station prepared to say something to him in a nice way, but as soon as I rounded the corner and looked into the control room, it all became clear. He was a man of the cloth. Had his collar on too! The guy had a great sense of humor. He would invite me to church and tell me never to stick my finger in the water bowl. He was afraid it would bubble! Ha! Everytime I see the Blues Brothers movie, I giggle a bit over the scene at the bar with the wire cage. Remember? I worked a bar just like that one in Baltimore and you just haven't lived until you've ducked a Miller Lite bottle!(or a hundred!) Good station, WQSR. Well it's time now to make a career mistake.(I didn't think so at the time) It's coming up next!

Need A Break?

You know what to do!

This Is My 'Don't Screw With Me Look'..WQSR/Baltimore

Out the night before until midnight, then up at four a.m. for the show.  

Barry Becomes Electra!

I don't even know why I accepted the job at KSAC/Sacramento. Maybe it was because I wanted to see California. To be fair, Sacramento is a beautiful city, the listeners were wonderful and I'm sure that my view was colored because I had an accident with the 'Bug' that put me on my feet for about two weeks. That and the fact that I was three thousand miles from my family. Whether it was management's fault or mine, their vision for the station and mine were completely different. When I got there, I was doing the usual jokes, phoners, topical stuff, local stuff, and I get a call on the special studio line from the boss, after doing what I thought was one of the funniest bits in my life.(Something about the Queen and crown marks on the headboard) He says, "Barry, that's not the kind of humor that will appeal to our upscale audience". That's the kind of material I had on my audition tape, I thought that's what they wanted. Why would you hire me otherwise? I got the hell out of there ASAP, even if I was sitting in one of Imus's chairs. You see, the station used to be known as KROY and Imus worked there..blah blah blah! Imus was one of my early heroes in this business, a true master behind the mike, so I say this with all the love I can muster. "Hey Don! Do you ever move on that TV/Radio show of yours every morning?" Geez! (Of course, considering how much money Don makes and how great his ratings are, he can afford to have someone carry him to the limo!) Around the corner, here I come, Miami Beach..when 'Miami Vice' was big.


KSAC/Sacramento

Ok. I'm a bit punchy here. I think this was my fifth remote that week.

Get Me The Hell Out of Here!

You don't know how badly I wanted to be on that boat to my left. It was cool though. This was one of those 'Buy The Jock Out of Jail' promotions with proceeds going to charity. As you can see, I had a long way to go..
WMXJ/Miami

TV Commercial Shoot. WMXJ/Miami

'Crockett', 'Tubbs', And Me..

It was a great time to be in Miami. Cafe Cubano, the beaches, 'Miami Vice' on the tube and me in paradise! Another rock and roll station. The only difference was, the Program Director comes to me one day and asks would I like to do an appearance at twelve? "Sure! Noon is fine with me." "No, No, morning breath, that's twelve midnite" You see, Miami is a very late town. So, that was my life for about three years.  Midnight till three a.m. appearances, and back on the radio at six a.m. (Click for quick bar story.)It's a miracle I'm not typing this with knarled old fingers. Wait! I am! Got a chance to work with one of the most professional news guys in the world. John Ogle, the kind of guy who could party all night, come in looking like dog poop, crack the mike and sound like The Lord of All Radio! Perfect. Every time. And, proving that life is stranger that fiction, John recently contacted me after finding this site and told me that he had become a Benedictine monk. God Bless you, John! Oops..I guess he already did! I'm happy for you, Brother John. I mean that. It was about this time that my first marriage went to hell. Listen and heed brethern. Radio is hard on marriages,and all this moving and being married to a small town girl just didn't work. No hard feelings, Bonnie. I understand. And, if that wasn't enough, a new Program Director, and I got those famous words.."Uh, Barry. You've just done your last show for us. Here's your check, thanks for all your hard work, now get the hell out of here!" Ok. I'll go, I'll not let the door hit me where the Good Lord split me! What a scene. Half the sales staff is crying, I go into the General Manager's office and he is too! His last words were, "I love ya man. My hands are tied." The next day, I grabbed a part time job at the local country station, while doing voice work for a talent agency and driving a truck delivering nuclear medicine. Damn! I would carry these syringes in 50 caliber ammo boxes, marked clearly with the nuclear symbol into hospitals where the other passengers in the elevators wouldn't stand close to me. Too funny! I guess I survived it. My last son wasn't born with three eyes! Ha! (I'm thinking of 'The Simpsons' here--the power plant Homer works in.) I gotta get back into radio full time so it's back to the small towns for me! Grab some tissues and join a single dad on his fight back. Just stay tuned! Because...THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMING!

It Takes A Man To Be A Father..

After being fired in Miami, I went to work in the beautiful town of Ocala, Florida. Everywhere I looked, nothing but beautiful horses, and lots of room. ' Z93 FLAME THROWING HITS'! (I'm not kidding. Now, when I think of this, I think Taco Bell. Get it?) I tried to make the best of a bad situation, but the boss at Z93 was at times, insane. I have to be honest here. One day he called an emergency meeting, and in addition to all the other duties we performed everyday, he wanted us to sweep the floor and clean the bathrooms. Made the staff follow him up and down the halls looking at every dirt mark on the carpeting. "Look, Damnit! There's another one!" I have no problem with manual labor, never did. However, all this guy wanted to do was save a buck by having his air personalities do it. Would you like to see my reaction? Click the button! Quite a culture shock, I'm not making very much money, but I had my sons with me, after five months and an incredible amount of money in legal fees, and that's all that really mattered. This was, to put it mildly, the worst time of my life. I thought I had reached rock bottom. Living in an almost condemned house to offset my legal fees that was full of rats and staying up late at night to listen to the stories of my landlord. You see, (I'll call him 'Dan', because if I revealed his real name, he might hunt me down and kill me!) Dan had a very secretive past with the United States Army and was well versed in the term 'covert operations'. Dan would regale me with some incredible war stories over candelight and Old Milwaukee, and a bond developed between us that lasts until this day. I've not seen him since that time, but I am sure that if we ran into each other again, we'd pick up right where we left off. I think of his friendship often, as I do the family that helped me rebuild my 'Bug' and kept me going with encouragement and a decent meal occasionally. Did I want the divorce to be adversarial? No, and this is important here. If you are facing this type of crisis, put your own feelings aside and make sure that the children have access to the other parent. Trust me on this. It's the right thing to do. Did I love those boys? You be the judge. I would get off the air at ten a.m., begin driving (in a stripped down, more powerful version of my 'Bug'-that's right, we removed the seats and tricked out the engine) to Virginia and arrived there almost twelve hours later. I would spend the weekend, only to leave them again on Sunday at four p.m. and back on the air that Monday morning at five thirty. As I look back, it's good that the boys and I were in a quiet area. It gave us all a chance to heal. Yep! I was a single father for a few years. It's quite a balancing act to raise three boys, do morning radio, wash the clothes, cook dinner, and attempt to be happy all the time. You single parents who are reading this--BOY HOWDY--I can relate! My heart is with you. It was a very difficult time but I've lived my life always looking for the positive and out of this experience my boys and I became wiser, stronger and closer. I had my 'Bug' and 2500.00 dollars. What else could I ask for? I'll tell you what! A job offer from WLS! Ric Lippincot was the boss there, and if I read him right, I came this close. Well hell, I can dream can't I? I do get a call, and the Program Director wants me to come to Phoenix, Az., and play Country Music! Country Music? Are they still crying in their beer? Isn't that stuff twangy? I had a million questions. Don't the people there put cow bones in their yards as decoration? Doesn't the devil walk down Main Street at high noon because it's so hot? How's this gonnna play out? Let's take a cross country trip and find out next!

Special Olympics... 

As you've just read, this was not the brightest time in my life, except when I could meet beautiful people like these...

'Cowboy Chic' KMLE/Phoenix

Saddle Up Cowboy!

Sandy and I had gotten married. Remember? The lady I met in 'The Big O'! (the BIG 0 is for those of you who have been reading this all the way through and  have forgotten your ..ummm..martial duties!) Sandy gets pregnant, (That's 'with child' for you Baptists! And I'm one, but I've slipped a little..) and we head out to Phoenix.(Three flat tires later!) Good Lord! Three teenagers and a pregnant wife! After some initial fear, I found I liked country music. A lot! Garth was just coming into his own and KMLE/PHOENIX let me have some fun along with my partner, Bill Taylor, probably one of THE most talented voice artists I have ever known. He sounded more like George Bush than George himself. Uncanny. I can't let this segment pass without mentioning Bob Glasgo, my boss, and J.D. Freeman, his boss. Two real pros, and they were smart enough to give this rock and roll personality a shot. Thank you both. At KMLE, it was a five person morning show, and we always laughed and played.That is except--one morning. THE MORNING! In the building we broadcast from, there was a water fountain and small pool below us. It was very pretty, except the morning we looked out the window and down, and there was a dead body lying in the water. Oh S*$#! Seems a street person had a little too much to drink, fell in the pool and drowned. Of course, the body stayed there all morning long as the police investigated.(Think CSI..) About 7 a.m., we decided that it was time to go all music. None of us had the heart to laugh and joke around that day. At the moment that I type these words, it's still the worst morning I ever spent on the air. It was here, too, where I was lucky enough to be recognized as 'MAJOR MARKET PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR'.
I didn't win either time, but it was sure nice to be nominated.("They love me..They really do!") I also met a traffic guy by the name of H.G.Listiak, the first personality who said on the air one day.."TRAFFIC IS AS SLICK AS SNOT ON A DOOR HANDLE!" He had a million of them, and he made me laugh every day.'H' is gone now, but if you'd like to hear him, check out this web site. www.hgsworld.com It was during this happy time in Phoenix that I welcomed my fourth son to the world, Joe. Remember my concern over the heat? The day Joe was born, it was 122 degrees. And if that wasn't hot enough, my mother-in-law (Mary) was there too. Being a country boy, I have seen things that have frightened me, but nothing like this! This sight, will send shudders down your spine as it is mine at this moment. My mother-in-law was parked in an RV on our street. After Sandy awakens me to let me know 'it's time', I go out to let Mary know. I was nervous, I should have knocked first, rather than look in the window. Because it is so hot, she had decided to sleep naked. Oh my! Sometimes, to this day, I wake up in the middle of the night with cold sweats. I love you, Mary, but that's not something I wish I'd seen. Ok, it's time for me to piss everyone off at KMLE  by taking a job in Houston,Tx. I didn't mean to upset everyone. I really didn't, but it was for so much money! A lot of money! And by that time, I had a large family! Shut up, Barry and continue with the story!

'Pretty Boys' KMLE/PHOENIX

KMLE/PHOENIX 'The Michael Jackson Bit'

Here's a prime example of what happens when an ensemble cast gets the giggles. Bill Taylor, H. G. Listiak, Becky Lynn, 'Little Tommy' and me with a bit that is still relevant today! 

Here's Kenny With The 'Before' Face. KMLE/Phoenix

It's one reason I like country music. The stars always make themselves so availble to radio. (Left to right-Bill Taylor, Kenny Rogers, me)'Taylor and The Bear'

Partner Bill Taylor And 'Goofy'..

KIKK Country

Houston! Damn! And the WLS of country music---KIKK! A  beautiful city and a legendary station. My partner, Bill Taylor and I were able to get the morning show to a solid #2. We never could totally beat KILT, a monster of a radio station. Still is. And there was another great country station there at the time too-KKBQ. Wish I could have stayed there longer. My family really liked Houston. New company, new direction. 'Taylor and The Bear'--Over and Out in a little over a year. KIKK also became a smooth jazz station a few years back. Lots of heritage there. It's time for me to go to the network...that's next!

'The Barry And Anna Show'..

One of the coolest things about being on a satellite broadcast and heard globally, was the fact my son could hear these 'promos' in Germany. (He was in the Army at the time.) 

'Barry And Anna'

ABC Radio Networks 2001

ABC Radio Networks/Dallas

There's another great city! My first experience, too, at working in a building with multiple formats. I could walk down the hall at five a.m. and hear anything from Country to Jazz to Classic Hits pouring out of the speakers. And the personalities! PROS on every format! I made some life long friends there. Robin Jones, my boss, Anna deHaro, my partner on the 'Hot AC' format, Pat Clark, and many more. Funny the things one will remember about places they've worked and this, my friends, is how  radio people think. I won't name him, but one of the morning guys for the ADULT/URBAN format comes over to me in the break room and asks, very seriously, how I think a TUPAC TUESDAY would go over? The room erupts in laughter. Hell, I laughed for two weeks. Imagine my suprise when I came into the network one morning and saw tire tracks on the carpet! Seems that one of the overnight guys was a motorcycle enthusiast and he wanted to get ready for the big race that weekend! The ABC Radio Networks building is huge, so he had plenty of room to practice. That type of humor is what sustains us radio people, through thick and thin, always on the road, long hours and, at times, low pay. It's our way of coping. My family was still living in Houston for about five months, and I was commuting between Dallas and there to give my boys a chance to finish out the school year. I left the network after about five years. I was just...restless, and I missed making appearances. They came few and far between at the network. Luckily we had the money to 'float' for a bit, so the family headed back to Florida, where I did some work for...

Miami Radio..

To The Future and Beyond! Step On It Please!


Sandy, Joe and I were loving it in Florida! And, after some quality play time, I returned to the air with an old friend up the coast doing 80's music. Geez, that's a fun format! But the General Manager had no experience in radio. None! He was formerly a recruiter for the Army, and someone higher up in the company thought he would be a great choice for a management role. Let's just say that this guy was a festering canker sore on the butt of broadcasting. Not a freakin' clue! I'm a gentle man, but I would have loved to have gotten into a fist fight with this guy! 'Nuff said! At the same time, I was doing swing (weekends) for WIRK/WEAT West Palm Beach. Great outfit! Being a 'Type A' personality, it was a real hoot to do afternoons on a country station, adult contemporary down the hall from seven until midnight and then a quick turnaround for news the next morning. Somehow, playing Travis Tritt and Avril Lavigne in the same day really tickled me. But then, that's what my radio teachers urged me to be, well rounded. Those people at CBS Radio gave me freedom and latitude and I was in heaven! By this time my mom's health began to go south and I wanted to be closer to her, so out with the air checks again and I was selected (over thousands of candidates, wink wink) to take over the morning show at WWSO/WFOG Norfolk,Va. I had a great time playing Motown, Soul and Great Rock and Roll, one of the best slogans ever! Click to hear-From staying up all night and sleeping on the commercial studio couch during a snowstorm to make sure I'd be on the air in the morning, and doing weather updates during the night on all the stations in the cluster, to sleeping in my van between remote broadcasts, to turning an FM music station into a FM talk station during a hurricane because there were people who were hit hard by that storm, and they needed us. (Remember, we are supposed to operate in the public's interest, necessity and convenience.) I did it all because it was--FUN! And, I didn't want to let anyone (especially the listeners!) down. The listeners. Always, the most important ingredient. The radio station in that form no longer exists in Hampton Roads and it's a shame too. It was one of those stations that you could have signed on in any top five market and it would have done well. Yes, the on air staff was that good! As it has been throughout this story, so shall it be here. I met some wonderful people there. I wish them well. My time there was much too short. 

Co-Hosts..

While at WWSO/WFOG, I was teamed with lovely and talented co-hosts. And, I must give credit where it's due. All too often in this business, we become so wrapped up in our daily 'radio lives' that we forget to say thank you. Rachel Lupton was an invaluable part of the 'Michaels In The Morning' show during the hurricane of 2003. Her tireless efforts behind the mike, both by my side and alone, proved to the listening audience in Hampton Roads, Virginia  that there really are people who believe in the public's safety and necessity. A dear woman, whom I believe, has found true happiness in Florida radio. Jennifer Roberts, (pictured) blessed with sweetness, intelligence, and beauty was an absolute pleasure to be around each morning. She has a wonderful family and continues to shine each morning on the air. And, he certainly wasn't lovely, but he is one talented 'Okie'. 'Major Miller', my traffic guy, has an incredible pop culture memory, a twisted sense of humor, and we bonded immediately. Each one of these people made me try harder each morning to impress the audience.. and them. I could not have done it without you. Thank you all.

No Kiddin'....

This section would not be complete without mentioning someone who became a close friend and is as good on the air as she is beautiful. Amy York did mid-days on WWSO/WFOG, and she always did remind me of this classy actress, Lauren Bacall. I'm told Ms. Bacall had a wicked sense of humor. Maybe that's why Amy and I laughed until we cried and cried until we laughed. You are one of a kind, Miss York! My best to you always!

Hey Secret Service Guys! I'm Joking..

 

It's no secret that I think Laura Bush is a hottie. I don't know why. Some things just are. I do hear that she thinks of me quite a bit!

Could There Be More?