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 Ben 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.