Poorman’s Radio Days: Fired From KROQ! The Real Story (Part 2)

Poorman with Dr. Drew in the studio. Photo by Michael Levin

This is the second of two parts. Click here for part one.

Loveline was a hit show from the moment I created, hosted and first aired it in 1982. For nine years, it was on late on Sunday nights and was consistently No. 1 in the ratings. A year after the show began, I realized we needed a doctor because people would sometimes call with medically related love problems. They’d say, “Poorman, I have this weird ooze between my legs. What should I do?” I couldn’t keep saying, “Take an aspirin.” I met Dr. Drew Pinsky at my friend’s party. We became instant friends, and soon thereafter, I invited him to be my co-host on Loveline, so we could handle all medically related love issues. We were such close friends that eventually I introduced him to his wife and was an usher at his wedding.

On Valentine’s Day 1992, KROQ management made the decision to expand the show to five nights a week and air from 10 p.m. to midnight instead of 6-to-9 p.m. It immediately became No. 1 for the week as well. This was a talk show on an all-music station, and amazingly, it worked! In fact, the show outperformed the music and carried KROQ.

As mentioned in last week’s installment, I lost a lot of club-gig income doing the program five nights a week during the new time slot. My estimate is that I missed out on at least $100,000 per year doing KROQ’s first No. 1-rated radio show. This was the beginning of the end for me at KROQ.

Dr. Drew used to love baiting me on the air. He would try and get me to “share” my personal life with the listeners. He thought it would make for good radio. He was right, but there were devastating results. In May 1993, I was going through a bitter divorce. One night, I walked into the studio minutes after having an emotional argument on the phone with my ex-wife. Right away, Drew wanted me to “share” the details of my argument and divorce with the listeners. I was pretty upset and didn’t want to talk about it.

We went to the first commercial break five minutes into Loveline. When we came back from the break, Dr. Drew again tried to get me to open up about my verbal fight with my ex-wife. I reiterated I didn’t want to talk about it. He kept pushing me, and I said, “Look, I don’t want to talk about this. In fact, if you push me any more, I’m going to leave, and you can do the show!”

He kept pushing me, so I said, “Here, you do the show.” I quietly put down my headphones, gathered my things and walked out of the studio. A mere 10 minutes into the two-hour show, I got into my car and drove from Burbank to my home in Newport Beach. On the way, I heard Dr. Drew along with Tami Heide, the on-air jock on the show before Loveline, begging me to come back. I didn’t. I couldn’t.

The next night, I was back to normal and ready to return. Unfortunately, walking off the show ended up costing me. I was suspended for five weeks. There were numerous fill-in hosts during my suspension, but eventually, new KROQ program director Kevin Weatherly and general manager Trip Reeb begged me to return to the airwaves, and in mid-June, I agreed to do so, still without a major pay raise. This set the stage for the final act on the day before my birthday, Thursday, Aug. 19, 1993.

My entire KROQ existence unraveled that day, and it began at 6:30 a.m. Kevin and Bean, who are about to be inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame, sent their field reporter Michael the Maintenance Man and intern Ed (who knew where a key to my house was hidden) to my home in Newport. They unlocked my door, let themselves in, walked into my bedroom and woke me up live on the radio. By the way, breaking into and entering someone’s home is a crime in the state of California, but that was somehow overlooked during this insane day.

Kevin and Bean then wished me an early happy birthday live on the radio with these two dudes standing in my bedroom. I went along with the “prank,” and as soon as the radio bit was finished, Michael and Ed left my house. I thought to myself, “Okay, MFers, now let the master show you how a prank is really done.” I concocted a simple but insane plan: I had Loveline producer Ann Wilkins find out the address where Bean lived. My friend and Good Day L.A. producer Mike Levin brought me two birthday cakes from his grandmother’s bakery in Tarzana, the famous Bea’s Bakery. A prank for the ages was in place, which ultimately resulted in my demise—the Poorman’s final act on KROQ!

That night at 10, Loveline went on the air. I immediately let everyone listening know about my birthday and announced that I was going to have a special birthday party at a celebrity’s home, screaming into the mic, “The celebrity wants to let you know you’re all invited!” I purposely did not reveal who the “celebrity” was and encouraged listeners to meet me at the radio station, and then we’d caravan to the celebrity’s home.

By the way, it was station policy not to give out KROQ’s address. Obviously, I violated this rule. The celebrity Love Doctor that night was a frequent guest on Loveline: Riki Rachtman, host of MTV’s Headbangers Ball and, after I was fired, the host of Loveline before he was fired.

At 11 p.m., I left the Loveline studios in Burbank, still live on the radio, with a caravan of approximately 500 listeners and two birthday cakes. We were headed to the party destination: Bean’s house. Dr. Drew, Riki, Ann and everyone else stayed behind in the KROQ studio, but I was a man on a mission.

At approximately 11:30 p.m., the “mob” arrived at Bean’s house in a sleepy neighborhood in the upscale Hancock Park, where we were joined by KROQ’s most famous DJ, Rodney Bingenheimer (a.k.a. “Rodney On the ROQ”), on the front lawn. According to Levin, “There were approximately 500 listeners in the caravan who parked everywhere, blocking off Rossmore Street in Hancock Park. I brought two birthday cakes from Bea’s Bakery. You [Poorman] were being cool. All you wanted to do was have Bean come out of his house and have a slice of birthday cake.”

I knocked on Bean’s front door while holding the two birthday cakes with lighted candles; the mob of listeners stretched across his front lawn, crushing the entryway. The door slowly opened, and there was Bean’s wife. I’ll never forget her look. She stared at the crowd in terror, almost in shock, with face aghast, her mouth wide open and giant, bugged-out eyes. She immediately slammed the door shut!

According to Levin, “Bean did not come out, and then things went south fast. Somebody got to the circuit breaker in Bean’s building and . . . the lights went out. Then someone called the cops. They came within five minutes, shutting off Rossmore Street completely, and a police helicopter began shining its lights on the building from overhead.”

The crowd then started chanting, “You suck! You suck! Kevin and Bean suck!” That was followed by a deafening roar of booing. I think someone lit a fire on Bean’s lawn. This all happened while I was live on the radio. By this time, it was well past midnight, and Loveline was over.

My career at KROQ was, as well. The cops eventually dispersed the crowd, no one was hurt or arrested, and everyone went home.

POSTSCRIPT: Later that night, I went to the Roxbury Club in Hollywood. I knew then that it was over for me at KROQ after 12 years at the station. I kept asking people at the club what they thought. It really didn’t matter because I knew. It was a horrible feeling. Three days later, I was officially suspended with 16 months left on my contract. Infinity Broadcasting, then-owner of KROQ, had a provision in my deal whereby they could pay me each month, but they didn’t have to put me on the air. It was a clause called “Pay to Play.” I couldn’t get another job until the conclusion of the contract as long as they paid me. I begged Weatherly to give me another chance, but he never did. One minute, I was on the air on my No. 1 nighttime-radio show in LA and Orange County. The next moment, I wasn’t. There was no social media in those days. Thus, nobody knew what had happened to me. Nobody mentioned my name on the radio basically ever again. KROQ was my life, and then it was gone. When I re-emerged 16 months later, my career had been effectively chilled. Truthfully, I’ve never completely recovered. The scars will always be there. People who I thought were my friends pretty much all betrayed me, including Dr. Drew, who stayed on my show Loveline for another 20 years and achieved great success nationwide. Two weeks into my 16-month “suspension” was the last time we ever spoke. After I begged him to stand by me and leave the show, he refused to do so. We never talked again. This was a man who I was best friends with; I was godfather to one of his children. I put him on the radio and gave him his career. His actions hurt. A few years later, I filed a lawsuit to get back on the air and be compensated. I sued everyone associated with the show, including interns, because they all stayed on Loveline, a show I created and took to No. 1. I lost the lawsuit and didn’t receive a penny. Today, I regret suing the interns and even producer Ann. Kevin and Bean weren’t even suspended for a day for breaking into and entering my house and trespassing onto my property while I was asleep in my bedroom, then waking me up live on the air.

On a positive note, I’m on the road to recovery. It has taken me more than 20 years to get over this, but I’ve learned a lot about how to treat people and manage my life. I now have a successful new radio show in Orange County. It’s OC’s only “live and local morning show”: Poorman’s Morning Rush. It airs Mondays through Fridays from 7 to 10 a.m. on KOCI-FM 101.5. It also streams live at www.KOCIradio.com. Please give it a listen! Thanks to station owner Brent Kahlen for believing in me when many in radio haven’t. I write this weekly column “Poorman’s Radio Days” with the fine folks at OC Weekly. It’s therapeutic to write about incidents like this one. Many thanks to Cynthia Rebolledo, Matt Coker and Duncan McIntosh for this wonderful opportunity! And I can’t forget my beautiful girlfriend, Aime, who always is positive and makes the quality of my life special. With all these new opportunities, I’m forever grateful to the many faithful listeners who haven’t ever forgotten me. You guys mean everything! Stay tuned! We’ll see where this ride and adventure takes us.

Sponsored by Nicole Pompey and Alex Tijerina, REALTORS® 

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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.

22 Replies to “Poorman’s Radio Days: Fired From KROQ! The Real Story (Part 2)”

  1. As a former producer for one of Poorman’s many attempts to “get back in the saddle”, I can tell you that no one is more talented and dedicated to his craft than Jim. I’ve relived this story many times with him and it never gets easier to hear. We continue to live in a world without an even playing field and commend The Poorman for perservering. I love you like a brother, dude, and wish you all the success you will achieve.

    Pat Matthews

  2. Met Poorman when he returned my ex-wife’s ATM card several years ago. She left it at the ATM accidentally and left. He researched how to find us which wasn’t easy back then and was able to get a hold of me. Dude didn’t have to do anything, could have just walked away. Nope, showed he’s a class guy. Congrats on the day gig Jim, you definitely deserve it!

  3. KROQ. Always firing the wrong people. Should have kept Ralph and Lisa, and got rid of that awfully annoying Allie Mac Kay off the air.

  4. Write a book like The Blade did. His was enjoyable. You probably have enough KROQ listeners that are curious. To make it worth your time.

  5. This is the most detail about this story that I have ever heard at one time; usually it’s just little anecdotes! You’re back in the saddle, Jim! It’s all different, and better!

    P.S.: Happy belated birthday. (I suck.)

  6. Jim is a great guy on and off the air. Back in the day when I was about 15 I somehow was able to get his personal phone number. I called it and asked him if he could help me with my girlfriend at the time. Next thing I know I was back with her and my gf and I are hanging out with him, got invited to his wedding and babysitting his kid. This was all off air, he really did care. This wasnt just a job for him it was and is his passion.

  7. Jim — you definitely got the shaft from KROQ. I never knew the whole story it until now. You probably won’t remember this but I hired you to DJ our homecoming festival at foothill high in 1983. You were great.

  8. Dear god, learn to let things go. 20 years later?! And take some responsibility for your actions. Just because someone wronged you doesn’t justify escalating it 10 fold. In this whole anecdote it is always someone else’s fault. You chose to do these things. Writing a two part (wtf?) article immaturely lamenting about it doesn’t sound like you are over it at all.

    I want the 6 minutes of my life back that I spent reading/pondering these articles and regret the choice I made to read them.

    1. The others around you Courtney…they are thanking Jim for those six minutes of occupied time.
      And stop visiting Cosby in prison. It’s bringing down his street cred.

  9. 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!

  10. Not only did you waste six minutes reading the article, but you wasted another six writing this comment. I hope you can absorb your own advice and take responsibility for your mistakes, anger issues (toward people you don’t know) and using profanity when judging people. We all have things to learn.

  11. Poorman is the greatest guy. I have loved all his shows from his funny travel show to the Love Channel. I was in the audience for the Love Channel once with Poorman and Mr KFI. Great guys. And he gives out his real phone number. He deserves the best.

  12. I remember going to Beans house that night along with all the other people! The guy who shut off the electricity ran past me. Then the police helicopters.. I think us fans knew we weren’t going to hear our epic Poorman on the radio for a while after that one. Glad he’s back!

  13. Jim,
    I met you once in Newport while surfing, 40th St. After you invited me back to your place for a cold one. Sorry for what happened to you. I was wondering where you went. Glad your back in the saddle.
    God bless,
    Steve

  14. So glad to have you back on the radio and in So Cal❤
    Used to watch your epic show on KCOE or KCET( I think it was), and knew you from working for Positive Attractions, J.A. Schultz Productions and at the infamous Jezebels Nightclub, The Orange Pavilion, PVA, The Waters Club and many more.
    Always knew when we messaged while you were in Florida that you would someday return back to The O.C.
    Good for you man😉
    Going to share this on my FB and the Jezebels FB page🤘

  15. Please write a book. I would love to hear your lifetime stories. I’m sure that you have many. I loved listening to Loveline when it was all local people. Now, it’s just not as good.

  16. I think it was wrong for you to ask Dr. Drew to leave with you. You wanted him to stand by you as a friend but you acted alone in your prank. He deserved to stay and continue helping people. In a way he kept your show alive for may years after you left.

  17. Hey Poorman, you probably don’t remember me but around in 1998 I interviewed you in at my place in Belmont Shore for the Robby Russell Show which I bought time for on KWIZ-96.7 when i was doing a heavy metal radio show at the time before KNAC was about to change from heavy metal to Spanish.
    You brought your son over who was maybe about 5 years old then and we had a great time talking about stuff and blasting Richard Blade and other things. I was the guy that was sponsored by Yankee Doodles
    in Long Beach and you helped me do a commercial for them.. The interview was about a half hour which unfortunately I don’t have any more. I was a big fan of you and yes I think you were screwed , yes Loveline
    was your show. I loved your article . i just want to let you know I still doing a radio show on the the internet called GARAGE-MANIA where I play 60’s garage and party music and would love to be maybe be a guest on your new show. I also followed you when you were on AM 830. By the way KROQ is almost un listenable these days, it was a great station once but now it’s Horrible. They should put you back on KROQ-2

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