In Memory of M Dung

So this morning my calendar popped up with a reminder that tomorrow is M Dung’s birthday. What the hell I think, it’s been a couple of years since we’ve talked, I’ll shoot him an email wishing him a happy birthday. First I’ll do a Google search and see what Dung has been up to. Then Bam, Eye! there it is, Mike’s gone, reported in The Chronicle by┬áBen Fong-Torres.

Dung and I worked together at WLLZ-Detroit’s Wheels in the Motor City. In fact, he was the only decent person I worked with at the station (the engineer was ok too, can’t remember his name and the afternoon guy was a pretty regular dude). The whole WLLZ saga was a weird one for me and Dung.

I was working at the ABC Radio 24 Hour Networks and got the offer to take over Creative Services at WLLZ. The prospect of moving from Dallas to Detroit was not at the top of my “to do” list. But, they offered me a pretty damn impressive salary and my gig at ABC was changing. For the last few months I had been exclusively working on getting the Tom Joyner Show on the air. Working with engineering and programming as a liaison between those two etherial worlds and training their new producer they had brought in on the new Dawn digital audio workstation and Pacific Recorders monster board that went with the thing. Anyways, my position was being “retired” at ABC, despite the fact that I had just made employee of the month! haha. They weren’t firing me, just moving me to mid-day’s on the Classic Rock format. So I figured what the hell, I’ll go to Detroit. It was clear that my career wasn’t going anywhere at ABC.

The day I get to the station in Detroit, come to find the PD and the GM had just been fired. Nice. On his way out the door, the PD say’s to me, “I’m sorry we brought you up here just to walk into this sh*t.” But the WLLZ rock format would languish for nearly a year. At it’s demise, and a flip to smooth jazz, I asked the GM why they had waited so long, they should have done it a year ago. His reply, “Well we had advertising commitments to the old format.” Brother.

But back to me and Dung. The Dungster was at first handling some weekend duties and then nights at WLLZ. He was at a pretty low point in his career cycle, having left his very high profile gig at KFOG, moving back “home” to Detroit, living with his mom. I wasn’t at the greatest place either, brought in to give WLLZ an imaging makeover, and relegated to cutting a commercial here and there. Yea, it sucked for both of us.

As I kind of mentioned before, the folks at WLLZ were not the most inviting. They treated Dung like, well, dung. He had more talent than the entire staff all put together. The morning show was just languishing in a meandering, pointless non-direction. Ken Calvert had talent, but it was clear he was just going through the motions, collecting a paycheck until WLLZ could get out of his contract. His sidekick, whose name I can’t remember, was a younger guy with stand-up experience, who though he was “the sh*t” … he wasn’t. The continuity director hated me cause I got the job and her husband didn’t. Brian Haddad was moved from late nights (I think) to take over the morning show once Calvert left, and gave it the college try, but the writing was on the wall for WLLZ.

M Dung on WLLZ/Detroit

When I landed at WLLZ, with very little to do, I would spend my time fiddling with my new Mac Duo. Dung was intrigued with the damn thing, and I first introduced him to the wonderful world of Mac. He scraped up the dough and bought himself a new Mac PowerBook. We hung out a lot, smoked a lot of weed and farked around with our computers.

I first heard Dung years earlier when I was visiting SF, and had heard him on KFOG mornings. He gave new meaning to “high energy” in a era when high energy jocks were not the norm on FM radio. Dung was his own man. Did radio his way, and well, that was it.

The last time I saw Dung was years later and I was in SF for some digital convention that I was attending as part of my Sabo Media duties. I hooked up with Dung, we grabbed a bite to eat at a diner an talked about old and new times. He was working for Apple, and gave me a quick tour of the R&D department that he was working in. I got a glimpse of some of the new machines Apple was working on (all hidden in encased enclosures so you couldn’t make out just what the innards or guts were).

For those that don’t remember, Dung was a big deal at KFOG. He was undoubtedly KFOG’s first really BIG personality. But time and tides do wash over our fleeting careers in broadcasting. Dung had had enough of as he called it, “Getting fired for a living.” But he still kept his toes in the water of radio. Below is his last “radio show”… Truckin.’ I will miss M Dung, he was infectious, creative and was just a great guy.

KDGE-The Edge Picture with Roger King and John Ford

This is from Radio and Records, not sure of the date. Gawd, the management at The Edge would whore us out for any damn promotion they could make a buck off of. I remember when they opened the Hooters in Dallas, it stirred up quite a bit of controversy. Dallasites were pretty much convinced that Hooters was nothing more than a strip-joint. Being from Florida, with a Hooters on every corner, I knew it was really nothing more than a wings joint with girls in bikinis. Dallasites, what is the rule for what you call people from a city. How come it’s not Parisites instead of of Parisians.

Roger was a good egg, pretty much willing to go along with just about any looney idea I would come up with. We had an ongoing bit pretty much making fun of the silly contests that radio stations would come up with. Let’s face it, some station would come up with an idea, and because of lack of creative initiative at other stations, other markets would pick it up. Turkey bowling is a perfect example. Somebody had the idea somewhere and other markets would flock to it, instead of coming up with their own idea.

So in making fun of turkey bowling, we came up with fish-head golf. I sent roger out to a fish market after the show to buy as many fish-heads as he could come up with and go to a thrift store and buy some cheap golf clubs. Roger got a few woods and a driver I think and the next morning we invited listeners to stop by some field somewhere in Las Colinas and whomever drove a fish-head longest, won some stupid prize. I don’t remember, maybe it was free tickets to Fishbone, can’t remember. Needless to say, it was a wonderfully bloody mess.

WSHE South Florida Entertainment Guide

I can’t believe some of the crap I still have. This is from 1980 I believe. The Bio’s were featured in the entertainment guide, which included concert venue layouts, lists of sports and entertainment locations and contacts and the like.

Sonny was a great guy, a piece of cake to work with and a very creative personality. Skip was a little difficult to work with, but very good at his gig. Once when I first started at SHE I was doing overnights Sunday, and one of my jobs was to make sure the wire had paper so Skip would have plenty of news in the morning when he would show up around 5am. I checked the wire at around 3am and everything looked cool, plenty of paper. Skip was running a little late this particular morning and showed up around the same time as Sonny, about 5:30. The paper had jammed in the teletype. Skip threw a farking fit. Screaming and running up and down the hall, about how much of an asshole I was or something. Finally grabbing a full pot of coffee I had made for the boys and smashing it on the floor (rug) in a thousand little shards and a lake of coffee. Sonny gave me the eye and suggested I get the flock out of there. I did.

Neil Mirsky hired me, can’t say anything but nice things about Neil. I remember once he asked me if John Ford was my real name. I said yes, he asked what my middle name was, I told him. He smirked. I asked him why it was funny. He said, “It’s just so… white.” What a goy.

Drew was a cool dude. Last I heard he was doing mornings in Fort Myers, but that was a few years ago. He took over from Jim White, who in my opinion was the best rock and roll “jock” I ever heard. Big shoes to fill. Nancy was a cutie and a very sweet girl. She was always a joy to work with. Nina Joy had an ear for great music. She turned me on to T. Bone Burnett long before he was anyone with his Alpha Band records and Truth Decay. We were both Dylan fanatics and got each other.

I dug Joe St. Peter. I think his dad owned a diner or something. He told me his dad thought he was nuts doing this crazy radio thing when he could be making a living making moussaka or something. He was probably right. I got a great Joe story I will pass along at a later date. Kim Alexander, wonder what ever happened to her or Mark Emory? Ron Hersey, yea… as we all know, he did OK. We would often burn one after work.

JF

The story behind the KVOID picture

I’ve been asked a number of times what was the story behind the cartoon that I use so here’s the deal, more or less.

Back when I was doing mornings for KDGE/The Edge is Dallas, one of George Gimarc‘s friends from his Oak Cliff neighborhood was Dan Pirraro, the guy who does the Bizarro cartoons for newspapers and the like. George says to me one morning after the show, “Hey did you see today’s Bizarro cartoon in the paper, it looks just like you.” Sure enough it did.

To make a long story short, because my memory is kinda’ short these days… come to find out his wife absolutely hated my radio show. So, what did we do? We invited her on the show to come hang out with us one morning to try and win her over. I think we did.

In the end she gave us an autographed copy of the Bizarro book that contained the cartoon as well as the original that Dan had drawn. Too cool, I got the original. Unfortunately, someone stole the original off the wall from my office when I was programming WIOD in Miami.

As much crap as I used to give George on the air, we still seem to be able to get along, or at least tolerate each other. Here’s a picture of me and George from this year’s NAB Radio Show in Austin…