If you think listening to Rick Dees is as bad as it gets, try talking to him. I did on Oct. 30 at about 8 a.m., right in the middle of his drive-time morning show on LA-based KISS-FM.
It was for an on-air radio gag. Former KROQ jock and Bikini Beach creator Poorman, who’s lately found employment as Dees’ field goof, came in to open the office mail. It was a “service” Dees was providing, just in case someone had sent us anthrax-tainted letters.
Of course, we had no mail for Poorman to open, having already opened it all the day before. But we gave him some choice samples anyway. Despite the fact that it was supposed to be a radio gag, Poorman also brought in a real microwave oven–presumably to irradiate the mail–and wore real latex gloves while opening our already-opened mail.
When Poorman finally got on the air, Dees didn’t seem that interested. But when Poorman said “investigative reporter Anthony Pignataro” was there, Dees suddenly became animated. “Let, let, let, let me talk to Anthony,” he pleaded.
“Anthony’s pretty sarcastic,” Poorman warned him. Then he handed me the phone.
I’ve never met Dees. I had kind of thought he might be dead–I last remember listening to his radio show when I was a little kid.
“We do appreciate what you do,” said Dees when I came on the line. “Your pen is mightier than the sword.”
Right, I said, not having a clue what he was talking about. Dees then pretended to give me some “news” he’d just heard over the wires.
“The CIA–this just came in–has reported that they have Osama bin Laden’s location pinned down to a 20-square-mile location in Afghanistan,” said Dees with great seriousness. “And now it’s just as simple as following the flies.”
Dees; his sidekick, Ellen K.; and the rest of his sycophants laughed heartily. After a few moments, Dees realized I was still quiet.
“I’m sorry,” Dees said. “Anthony didn’t laugh.”
“I’ll laugh when it’s funny,” I responded.
Dees and his crew groaned. He thanked me for having Poorman open our mail and hung up. I’d said maybe 10 words to him.
But Dees wasn’t through. What he said next tells more about him than his listeners probably wanted to know:
Dees: Whew. I sat next to him [by which he meant me] in homeroom. I know I did. I, I, I know I sat next to him.
Ellen: Was he the kind of guy that would put the mirror on his shoes and look up the skirts of the girls?
Dees: Oh, no, no. . . . He was way, way–
Ellen: Way beyond that?
Dees: Way beyond that. He had a whole system of mirrors and everything.
Ellen: That’s terrible!
Dees: And he always did well when the papers came back. You know, he’s the one, you’d say, “Anthony, gee, I made a 70. What did you make?” [Mock voice] “Hundred.”
Dees: “Gee, the SATs came in. Lemme see. . . . I got a 720. How’d you do, Anthony?” [Mock voice] “1520.”
Ellen: Ughhhhhh . . .
Dees: Now he’s writing. And, uh, still no sense of humor. But I’ll tell you what. Anthony’s successful. Now I want to report to the world–now I’m going to need tympani for this, too. Anthony, with his college education, also a master’s degree, is making . . . $15,000 a year!
Dees: Give it up for Anthony!
Unknown Sycophant: You’re bringing it down, baby!
A half-hour later, Poorman somehow managed to get back on the air with Dees. This time, he put Weekly music writer Alison M. Rosen on the air. But Dees still hadn’t forgotten me:
Poorman: First, Alison, she’s a little nicer than Anthony.
Dees: Hey, Alison? You tell Anthony I can take it. If he hates me, I will wear that hate, and then we will turn it into love.
Alison: Okay. Can I tell him right now?
Dees: Well, you don’t have to tell him. . . . Maybe e-mail him back for me.
Alison: Now, I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize for him. I don’t know what got into him.
Dees: You don’t worry about it. I’m a big fan of his writing; I think he’s very gifted and talented–
Alison: Well, he is, but his people skills really–
Ellen: He needs a big-boy spanking!
Dees: Does he need a big-boy spanking? Okay, let’s turn him over your knee, Alison. Okay, here you go, Ellen. . . .
Ellen:[pretending to spank me with each word] Anthony, you are a bad, bad, naughty writer. You are so bad and naughty, naughty OC Register bad, bad, bad, naughty OC Weekly bad, naughty, naughty, naughty.
Dees has been doing radio for more than two decades. He has been in movies and TV shows. He lives in a $2 million home in the San Fernando Valley. His Weekly Top 40 show reaches 30 million people each week in 23 nations. Now that’s something to laugh at.
Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He spent a dozen years as Editor of MauiTime, the last alt weekly in Hawaii. He also wrote three trashy novels about Maui, which were published by Event Horizon Press. But he got his start at OC Weekly, and returned to the paper in 2019 as a Staff Writer.