Let me get this straight: after hiring a convicted felon (and former Democrat House Speakah) as morning host and an alleged child rapist for the midmorning shift, we’re supposed to feel sorry for two of the radio industry’s most notorious mismanagers?
The very public effort by Coffee Boy (in Herald image below, making his first-ever visual appearance at SaveWRKO!) and The Empress to be seen as victims of an angry WEEI listener is beyond belief. In broadcasting, threatening calls come with the territory, to the point where they’re mundane.
Not for a moment am I condoning the actions of one David Banner, who definitely doesn’t moonlight as The Incredible Hulk:
The man charged with leaving death wishes and menacing messages for WEEI sports yakkers John Dennis and Gerry Callahan and their bosses is a down-and-out wedding photographer who says he’s sorry and insists he never would have harmed them.
“I’m really sorry. I’m more angry at myself than anything else,” said David Banner, who says he’s getting help after he allegedly left messages wishing the radio bigwigs would “die.”
In an interview with the Herald yesterday, Banner said he’s been having “a bad couple of years.” He said his mother has Alzheimer’s and he’s been under a lot of stress. He said he also suffers from depression and has had a couple seizures over the past few months.
“It’s been tough. It’s not an excuse. I meant them no harm,” said Banner, 57, who appeared mild-mannered as he spoke from the multi-family Cambridge home where he lives. “If I could take it back I would.
“I’m just an average guy just trying to live a life, and I made a mistake,” he added.
At the same time, anyone with significant tenure in broadcasting who hasn’t toughened up to this kind of crap by now should find a new career.
Want to hear about REAL threats? In 1997, while working the afternoon drive shift at KOH 780 AM in Reno, somebody driving by the rear of the station (which unfortunately fronts a major thoroughfare) took a shot at my engineer, with the ammo stopped only by the interior bulletproof pane. If not for that protection, it would have hit him in the head, the positioning was perfect. Because it occurred during the wintertime, it was already dark, so he didn’t see who did it.
Who did I tick off that day? In Nevada, rather like Boston’s mobbed-up era, there are certain people one must avoid angering.
Before that, I worked at a Monterey Bay, California station that had absolutely NO security. The front windows were shot out repeatedly by friendly passers-by.
And in 1998, just as I was arriving at Seattle’s KVI to begin a new position as evening host, a violent demonstration took place in the building’s lobby, spilling out into the streets. The reason for the OUTRAGE (!!!): KVI hosts were adamantly supporting Initiative 200, which banned certain racial preferences. It ultimately passed.
When Rush Limbaugh visited the station a short time later, it took a full security team to protect him after angry threats of violence were made by dozens of supposedly peace-loving Seattle “progressives”. Standing next to KVI’s newsroom fax, I watched as these unhinged nuts spread this vision of “tolerance” from one machine to another.
Finally, sometimes the most dangerous people in broadcasting are inside the building, not out in the parking area. While at Seattle’s KIRO-AM, then owned by our good friends at Entercom, a fellow host with an unpredictable personality carried a gun with him at all times. Later, he was murdered by a drug addict who had moved into his home several months earlier.
Talk radio, with WEEI’s sports chatter most certainly included, is a medium with both friends and enemies. Whether one is a host or manager, working in this field requires a thick skin.
Though Boston’s a tough town, most of our broadcast outlets are run by touchy egomaniacs. In a dangerous business, that’s not a good fit.
That’s why I see right through The Empress and Coffee Boy: with their track records, they resemble perps much more than victims.