Poorman’s Radio Stories: Fired After One Air Shift

Did I win? Art by Federico Medina.

There used to be a radio station in L.A./Orange County … Star 98.7 (now known as ALT 98.7). The format was kind of “soft alternative.” It never had very good ratings. Their biggest claim to “fame” was having Ryan Seacrest doing the afternoon drive show before he was famous.

Anyhow, Star decided to hire me in the year 2000. It didn’t go well. I was fired after only one air shift. Here’s what happened. The general manager of Star was Roy Laughlin, a huge fan of mine from my days at KROQ. He really wanted me on the air, but legendary program director Sam Bellamy (PD of KMET during their glory days in the ’70s) didn’t want anything to do with the Poorman. After a few months of prodding by Roy, she reluctantly agreed to put me on the air one day a week, Sunday nights from 7 p.m. to midnight. A one day a week shift on the weekends is really a trip to “radio purgatory.” If you aren’t on the air Monday through Friday, you really aren’t going anywhere.

At this point in my career, I still had an ego, and felt in my own mind I was a five-day-a-week, full-time deejay. I had to do something to prove it! So, with this obscure low rated Sunday night “throw away” time slot, my demented “Poorbrain” concocted a desperado name for the air shift, the “Sunday Night Spectacular.” I would do something spectacular on the air every week until I hopefully was rewarded with a five-day-a-week air shift. This turned out to be a very “poor idea.”

At the beginning of my very first (and ultimately last) show, I let the listeners know they had to do something spectacular to win a great prize. The problem was I didn’t have a prize to give away. So, I announced to the audience, “you can ask for anything on the radio and get it. Is there anybody listening who has a big prize we can give away?” Almost immediately, a gentleman responded. He called the show, and I put him on the air. He announced he was going to give away a $70,000 Lambo Kit, that’s a build it yourself Lamborghini, to whomever did the most spectacular on air stunt. We had our $70K prize on the fly! I then went on the air asking what spectacular thing should the listeners have to do to win? A woman immediately called in and suggested the winner should be whoever could destroy something in the most “grandiose manner.” I ran with it, and remember none of this was pre-approved by the radio station management. It was pure Renegade Poorman!

She went first, shattering and destroying a wine glass in her sink live on the air. Everything just accelerated out of control from there! The next contestant/caller went live on the radio announcing he was going to take a baseball bat to his home stereo system, and did so with the audio accompaniment of multiple loud blasts of bashing, splintering glass, and smashing! It got way worse from there! Next up, a female caller announced she would take a sledgehammer to the engine of her Monte Carlo. The sound of the sledgehammer crushing the engine multiple times was as loud as a power drill demolishing concrete! Believe it or not, things got way worse! A dude called in and said he would one up the Monte Carlo engine smashing. He announced on the air he would strap on his racing helmet, and drag race his souped up, high performance Nissan ZX into a concrete pillar at 40 mph!!! With a cell phone in the car capturing the live action, listeners heard the sick screech of the tires, burning of the rubber, huge roar of the engine, and the ultimate deafening sonic boom blast similar to a fighter jet breaking the sound barrier. Ridiculously loud! You then could hear the cell phone pinging around the inside of the Nissan and the groggy voice of this guy immediately after totaling his car. How do we know this really happened? The guy texted us images immediately afterward of his destroyed vehicle sandwiched around the concrete pillar—and himself in an old school racing helmet.

Then the unthinkable happened.

When it came time to pick the winner of the $70K Lambo Kit after several hours of this destruction fest, the guy who agreed to give it away came into the studio to announce on the air his pick as the winner. He chose the woman who sledgehammered her Monte Carlo, beating out the guy who drag raced his Nissan into the concrete pillar. His reasoning: The woman with the Monte Carlo had destroyed her only means of transportation while the owner of the totaled Nissan had another vehicle. I ended the show thinking this was so much fun, like a little kid having the time of his life, but suddenly I got that sick feeling knowing the second I turned off the mic that I was gone. I’ll never forget the request line ringing immediately after the show. It was Super Celebrity Talent Manager Guy Oseary, manager of Madonna and U2 among others. I met him when he was 15. A fan of my show, he called me at KROQ at the time asking if his dad could be a judge in my annual KROQ Bikini Search. I said yes even though I didn’t know him, and Guy became mega famous afterward. We stayed friends. He was screaming at me saying, “How can you do this!?! Are you nuts!!! You’re on Star 98, and you just blew it. I can’t believe you did what you did!!!”

The next day Star fired me.

Needless to say, the dude with the Nissan was pissed. He contacted ownership of Clear Channel Communications, which owned Star 98.7, threatening to sue them for $50,000. Ultimately, they settled with the guy for a sum slightly less. And there you have it. The End, and not a happy one.

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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.

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