Poorman’s Radio Days: Fired From KROQ! The Real Story (Part 1)

In the zone. In the photo: recording artist Me Phi Me, Loveline intern Scott Huchinson, and Poorman. Photo by Michael Levin

Every year around this time, around my birthday, the memories creep up like a bad fungus. Aug. 20 is the anniversary of my firing from KROQ in 1993 based on a spectacular stunt. It’s been 26 years since that fateful night, when I managed to get myself fired even though the radio show I created and hosted, Loveline, was No. 1 in Los Angeles and Orange County and dominated the airwaves unlike any other show in the market and maybe history.

How did this happen?

I can pinpoint the exact date things began to unravel: Valentine’s Day 1992. That was the date KROQ general manager Trip Reeb and program director Andy Schuon decided Loveline should begin airing five nights per week instead of only Sunday nights. The show had been on the air for nine years. At that time, it was on from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., and the ratings were massive. This particular ratings book (before the change in time slots) featured some of the highest numbers in LA radio history. We had a 27 percent share of the audience in our first hour and a 21 share in the second hour. This meant approximately one out of every four radios in the market (90 station choices) was tuned to us. Not bad for your host, ME, whom some described as a “stoned surf bum” (which was probably true).

I was living the life. I did a regular 6-to-9 p.m. music shift with crazy antics Mondays through Fridays. After I got off the air, clubs would hire me pretty much every night of the week to host. I was getting paid between $250 and $750 per night to drink a few beers, meet a lot of fun people, and do whacky contests onstage for two hours. Let’s put this another way: In addition to my annual KROQ salary of $180G, the Poordude was taking home an extra $2,000 to $4,000 per week in outside income. I really miss that income—not to mention all the fun I was having!

The fun and the loot suddenly grinded to a halt. I was told by Trip and Andy several days prior that starting on Valentine’s Day, Loveline would begin airing Sunday through Thursday, 10 p.m. to midnight. My hours would instantly change. This was no problem for my co-host, Dr. Drew Pinsky (whom I discovered and put on the show a year after we began), as Sunday night was his only shift of the week, and he welcomed the added exposure and pay. I had no problem doing Loveline five nights a week. It was an incredible hit show that I created! It was my baby. My big problem was that I was going to lose the extra income because the clubs wanted me doing my appearances during those same hours.

I told Trip and Andy my issue with the lost gigs. Their response hit me in a way I’m imagining was similar to someone sticking a cactus up my ass: “Well, if you don’t want to do it, we’ll have Doug the Slug be the new host of Loveline.” Here’s a show I created, hosted for nine years and took to No. 1, and I got this beautiful treatment. Ahhhh, what memories!

Of course, there was really no choice. I had to hang with Loveline and lose the extra income. They told me, “This experiment with a nightly talk show on a music station may last two days, two weeks, two months or forever. Who knows?” They said if it did work, I’d be compensated. With that, I agreed to the switch in shifts.

Within the first three months of airing five nights per week, Loveline catapulted to No. 1 in the market. It was getting an incredible response. We more than doubled the ratings of the No. 2 show in that time slot. Television news crews and newspaper reporters were coming into the studio on a nightly basis. Our nightly guest celebrity “Love Doctors” read like a who’s-who of Hollywood: Robert Smith of the Cure, Keanu Reeves, Roseanne, Gwen Stefani, Jennifer Lopez, Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ben Stiller, Courtney Love, Ron Jeremy, Bob Saget, Stephen Baldwin, Oscar De La Hoya, Carrot Top, Mayim Bialik—the list goes on and on.

It was insane! Loveline was a hit! As time marched on, the ratings increased even more, as did the pressure of performance. It’s hard to explain, but doing a live radio show for two hours per night, five nights a week, with people expecting you to be funny all the time is really a mind fuck (sorry for the flowery language). No matter what’s going on in your personal life, you have to somehow put it aside.

A year into this new hit show, I was dealing with a divorce and only able to get management to agree to a 5 percent pay raise despite these boxcar, ever-increasing ratings. Our show was carrying the entire station. Not only was Loveline No. 1, but the station overall was No. 12 in the ratings, as well. That’s when things began unraveling. The combination of pressure to perform, thousands of dollars in lost gig income, and the dashing of my hopes for future syndication and compensation was the combustible recipe leading to the end of my career at KROQ.

The first major crack in the armor occurred in May 1993. Dr. Drew used to love baiting me on the air and, as he would say, get me to “share” my personal life with the listeners. He felt it would make for good radio. Well, in this particular situation, it was good enough to get me to walk off the show 10 minutes into the program and get suspended for five weeks.

To be continued . . .

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When Poorman doesn’t have his feet in the sand, you can find him on the air Monday-Friday 7am-9am at KOCI hosting Poorman’s Morning Rush – Orange County’s only morning drive show. His show brings plenty of excitement, and of course, the Poorman’s aura of unpredictability –  both good and bad – that has defined his legend! Email Jim “Poorman” Trenton at pooorman@aol.com to request a song or submit music.

12 Replies to “Poorman’s Radio Days: Fired From KROQ! The Real Story (Part 1)”

    1. Obviously, when he says he “discovered Dr Drew”, he meant for radio. Dr Drew was a medical student back in 1984 around this time. So yes, he can say “he discovered Dr Drew” because he brought him on the show. I believe it was called “Ask a Surgeon” at first.

  1. I knew both Drew and Jim (Poorman) back then and they were of best buds. I was often at KROQ with Swedish Egil and Jed. Egil and Poorman started Loveline I know this, because I WAS THERE! Shortly after Loveline aired, they added their med school friend Drew Pinsky on the show to answer the medical questions they didn’t knew how to answer. Poorman was brilliant and really got the bad end of the stick with Dr. Drew. KROQ and Dr. Drew basically took the show Poorman and Egil created and then threw them both off air. Eventually KROQ also got rid of their other great Dj’s like Jed, April Whitney and even Rodney on the Roq. Glad to see both Poorman and Egil back on radio where they both belong, and haven’t sold out by doing cramps commercials on television like the talentless Dr. Drew!

  2. Good to see you’ve been able to let go, move on, and not be bitter.
    Can’t imagine how you’d feel if you carried that baggage around with you.

  3. Im no poorman fan, but as a loyal KROQ listener for nearly 40 years, the Dr. Drew quote is not far off base. He did get his start on Lovelines, and like Jimmy Kimmel, KROQ was their origin and springboard to bigger and better things. Also as we have experienced over the last several years with Kevin and Beans morning show, the business side of things does control..
    Look at the way Ralph Garman a personality we had grown to love after 10 or so years, was so unceremoniously pushed out due to the bottom line.
    Ultimately Poorman did screw himself. Like most jobs, you should never believe that you are so important that you can’t be replaced. In the workplace, we are all temporary holders that can be replaced in a heartbeat. Ain’t that right Poorman, lisa-may, Ralph Garman…..

  4. $180k in 1993 and you’re crying about losing extra income from stupid party gigs? And you’re STILL crying 26 years later??? 🎻😭😭🚣‍♂️

  5. Poorman got screwed. It hurts we we create something from our heart and imagination and our “best friends” steal it from us. With, management and corporations this is no, surprise. People and talents can be as disposable as cigarettes!

    I’m glad that you got over it Poorman, and have humbly picked up the pieces and moved on. You are a great radio talent and glad you or doing radio again!

  6. Radio has always sucked and was a very volatile business. The standard joke back then was have your FCC operator’s license in a strong frame due to all the moves you would be making. That is, when an FCC operator’s license was required, but not anymore. Unless lucky enough to work in a major market station, the pay was poor, but all the records you could eat. I remember program directors who went on vacation only to return with a pink slip waiting for them. Stations were often sold and the new owners came in and fired the GM down to the janitor. Luckily, I got out of it years ago. It has only gotten worse and the product further cheapened with the advent of automation and cheap help.

  7. Independent internet radio stations are doing quite well and I think are a part of our radio future.
    Check out some such as DirtyRadio.com
    Or C4OCradio.com and you will find people are making their own rules these days and many listeners are seeming to like it😉
    As to Jim…
    Over the last 10 years or so I have touched bases with him off and on, and am happy he is once again doing radio that I know he loves and is good at.
    Tbough there were some rough times and bitterness that I believe most any of us would of felt in the same scenario. His days in Florida and then he managed to return to the airwaves back here where he belongs….Keep On Truckin’ Poorman🤘

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