Straight From The Mouth
The Morning Mouth's January Interview with Moby
(Reprinted by permission; Copyright © 2009 Talentmasters Inc.)
Quick background check?
From Crossville Tennessee in 1969 to Top 10 markets, and now back to small
and medium markets. Climbed some big mountains, and enjoyed the view.
Climbing several small mountains all at once now.'69 WCSV-Crossville, TN -
72-73 WAEW Crossville - '74 WKRM Columbia TN - '75 WAMB Nashville - '75-'79
WKDA-FM/WKDF Nashville - '79-'80 WKQB (WLAC-FM) Nashville - '81 WQXM (98
Rock) Tampa Bay - 81-86 KSRR (97 Rock) Houston - 86-88 KEGL Dallas - 88-91
KLOL Houston - 91-02 WKHX (KICKS 101.5) Atlanta - '02 WZGC (Z-93) Atlanta
(Contract horse hockey) '04-Now the Moby Network
Who Were Your Mentors?
Honestly, most of the individuals that have helped make me the Moby I am
today had little if anything to do with radio. They were just good human
beings. There were the people near me with integrity, honor, honesty, an
unshakable sense of dedication and determination. They were people from all
walks of life: the military, law enforcement, the clergy. People of character
with strong moral fiber. True leaders one and all. These were the type people
I most wanted to emulate, and to bring what I'd taken from them to any show I
was on, just as I tried to bring their lessons into my life at home. Of
course there were broadcasters I loved and learned from. Jack Crawford,
PD...first hired me out of Big Band WAMB & into a competitive situation at
WKDA-FM in Nashville. Alan Sneed...as PD of WKDF hired me into Houston to do
afternoons, then mornings, & now owns one of my affiliate stations on the
Moby Network. Jeff Trumper..GM 97 Rock in Houston in the 80's...the gentleman
that put me into the 50% tax bracket. Ed Wodka...GM in Dallas. Norm
Schrutt...ABC Pres/GM KICKS, Atlanta....then my agent after he retired from
KICKS. Dene Hallam, more of a confidant/advisor than mentor, and my current
PD on the Moby Network. Sanders Hickey-Owner Golden Isles Broadcasting-great
Radio..for the past few years no one has believed in me more
So you're having this storybook career; Houston, Dallas, Atlanta,
CEO dollars and then in 2002...
My GM decided he and I were never gonna laugh at the same jokes, and I
would never go golfing or drinking so he opted to not renew my contract.
"You're firing me?" "No, we're just not renewing your contract." "Am I on the
air Monday?" "Oh, no!" "Then I'm fired!!" "No, your contact just isn't being
renewed." "How's that different than bring fired?" "Trust me, it is
different." "Can I stay in Atlanta?" "After we quit paying you, yes you can."
"If I stay in Atlanta, I'm going to kick your ass." "(chuckle) I know you
While this was going on, I discovered that my business manager, charged
with saving and protecting my CEO money (hitting up around 7 figures), had
apparently been stealing from me the past eight years. None of it was left.
Of course there was a lawsuit, there would have probably been jail time, and
he decided the world was a better place without him, so, ending his life
seemed to be his better choice.
At that point, I was no longer Moby the victim (and stupid businessman)
trying to recover what had been taken. I was Moby the villain, attacking the
widow and orphans. From 8 figures to Jack Schidt at the speed of light.
When you finally left the air in Atlanta, did you ever begin to
think: "Crap, maybe I've gone the cycle; Maybe I've got to look at an
Not really, no. I didn't want to move out of Atlanta. We all know radio
makes nomads out of its personalities, and I'd honestly had my fill of that.
I had a plan.
How much did this screw with your head?
Sure it did. Who could say no to that question? I don't even want to
address all the thoughts that went through my mind. I kept thinking about
that business manager, the millions he'd stolen, and that dark hole he was in
now. There were days he seemed like the winner. But my dear, sweet,
month old baby girl, Grace Marie Carney. So, I wasn't at a "give up" place
even if that had been my style. Ego? Totally in check. Thank you for asking.
So how did the whole, home-grown syndication thing begin?
Like I said, I'd really grown weary of the nomadic lifestyle air
personalities have to become accustomed to. My son was raised in Houston,
Dallas, back to Houston, and then in Atlanta. 11 years at KICKS in Atlanta
almost let me get him through high school, but not quite. His mom and I had
divorced, and it wouldn't have been fair to make him choose between us, and I
couldn't imagine living in a different city than him. So, leaving the biggest
city in the south wasn't an option for me. At the time, both of the Atlanta
area country stations were owned by ABC/Disney. So, I couldn't stay in
Atlanta, and stay in country. So, I chose family, & future over format, and
made what for me was one of the worst decisions of my career, and agreed to
get back into Rock n' Roll. It wasn't anywhere near KICKS $$$$, but it was 6
figures, and it really wasn't bad money. It was a living, and I did have
history in the format. So, why not? The "Why not" part became obvious all too
soon. I was lost really, and didn't know what I was going to do. Your
question about an alternate airport seemed like it might make sense.
I had over a decade in country radio, and had been pretty darned
successful doing it. I'd won 4 or 5 Billboard/Monitor DJ of the year awards.
I had won the ACM. (never got a CMA...that's another story unto itself).
While at KICKS, ABC syndicated my show, and their sales force had gotten
it picked up in 38 markets. The most successful of those were small & medium
markets. Moby in the Morning was huge in Albany, Ga. we kicked butt in
Alpena, Mich. & points in between. Morgantown, W.V., Crossville, Tennessee
(my home town), Natchez, Mississippi, Oakland, Maryland....and on and on. I
felt like I could rebuild that on my own. (and keep all the money). My wife
asked me if I wouldn't rather try and fail, than not try and spend the rest
of my life wondering if it would have worked. And here we are nearly 5 years
Did you ever consider having it picked up by a large
That would certainly be something we'd look at. We did speak to a big
player a year or two ago, but they wanted too much control over what I do.
proud of it, and if somebody wants it, I'd be happy to talk to them.
How does your syndication work?
We uplink on a KU Band satellite. The show starts at 6:00 AM (ET) and
starting in February, we'll be voice tracking the 5:00 hour, which will allow
affiliates to to join us an hour early, & sell triple A. In the wake of that,
we'll begin voice tracking the 11:00 hour, which will allow affiliates in
Central Time to carry the show till 10:00 their time. We have a hard break
each hour at 59:50 allowing 10 second for an ID before the top of the hour.
That's a 6 minute break. There's also a 6 minute break at the bottom of the
hour, and 5 minute breaks at :15 & :45. We start instrumental rejoin music 10
seconds prior to the end of every break. There are 3 second Magic Calls I
manually hit at all times of the show over intros and fades of the songs. I
gladly record and send the affiliates current local temps, and cut station
promos at no extra charge. There are 6 to 8 songs every hour, and benchmark
features.The affiliates have 22 minutes every hour to do with as they will. I
retain no more than 2 minutes each hour for network spots.
With all the changes in Atlanta over the past couple of years, have
you been approached to take over another show?
Yes, I was approached. I might have made them the flagship of my network,
just like I had during the days I was syndicated on KICKS, but I insisted on
doing it from the new studio I was just finishing. They asked me why, and I
told them that if the marriage didn't work out, and I was in my studio, I'd
lost my biggest affiliate, but if I was in their place, and it didn't work, I
would lose my entire business.
Let's talk about your show: How is it different from what you last
did on a stand-alone?
At a stand-alone, there's a staff to help with loose ends. Here it's just
me & my little bunch. The job description has broadened. Like Harry Truman,
the buck stops here. In many ways though, it hasn't changed very much at all.
I still call the audience the Moby in the Morning radio family. We laugh
together, we cry together, we get mad together. We hold each other when we
hurt. We pray for each other when it helps. On the markedly plus side,
there's never anyone calling me to an ivory tower after my show, & telling me
I should say "slacks" instead of "britches", or to sip my long-neck with my
Who else does the show with you?
For the first couple of years, my old PD from KICKS, Neil McGinley was in
there with me as PD & on-air partner. Then we were able to bring Ron Michaels
on board. Ron had produced the Moby Show for years on KICKS. We can
communicate with our hands, and without speaking a word, know the direction
the ship's headin'. My news lady from from Moby in the Morning at KICKS, Jill
Kelly does a daily entertainment feature called Tabloid Tales, and adds
female input & perspective into what would otherwise be a boys club. Also,
former KICKS engineer, Charlie Nettleman is on board making sure the wires
are all in the right place, and things work. He was the conductor of the
orchestra of tech-heads that built the place.
I understand you just built the Moby Broadcast Center. Nice! Is this
strictly for the show, or are there other plans?
Close, but not exactly right, and honestly, that's very tongue in cheek. I
call it the Moby Broadcasting Complex (MBC). For now, it's just for the show,
but in the future certainly, as we continue to collect call letters, grow
affiliates and bring in advertisers we do have plans. We did have from day
one. I want to add other dayparts, ultimately establish another satellite
stream, and put up another format. (Si, buenas dias muy bueno, amigo) That
might make some extra pesos, don't you think?
Let's talk about your career. Specifically, things you've done on
the air. If I were a biographer, what would you tell me were the 5 biggest
highlights of your career, i.e. things you did on the air, accomplishments,
funniest bit, stunt, etc.
We're talking approaching 40 years here. That's a tougher question than I
ever thought it could be. There's been so very much. Killin' Glen Campbell
was a biggie. I lost a pretty big law suit over that one in the late 80's.
Spending 10 days in Europe with The Rolling Stones during their Steel Wheels
tour was really cool. I was in the crowd in Copenhagen, Denmark with
thousands of people I couldn't understand their language, but we were all
huggin each other, and singing "You Can't Always Get What You Want" in
English. I'll not forget that.
There were German broadcasts, London broadcasts, Hawaiian Broadcasts.Then,
this past spring on the Moby network, we took some winners, and some folks
that had bought in on the Moby Cruise in the Eastern Caribbean. We broadcast
from the cruise ship for five consecutive days. It was stuff the big boys do.
I remember a grieving mother who couldn't afford to bury her son that had
been killed by a drunk driver. So, I left the air at the end of the show,
gathered the listeners, and raised enough money to keep the county from
having to bury him. Handing that mother a canvas bag full of cash was a real
Singing the National Anthem at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the huge NASCAR
race in the spring of '01 was something not many morning guys get to do. I
got email from Korea after that one. There were 200,000 people there, and
Lord only knows how many watching.
Singing the Anthem at the Peach Bowl two consecutive years was pretty
cool, too. As well as doing it 15 times for the Braves, & several times for
the Atlanta Hawks & Thrashers.
Being on CBS television and receiving the Academy of Country Music DJ of
the Year Award is something I ought to include in my diary too, don't you
Going back over your career, is there anything you'd do
I believe anybody that's been doing anything for this long would look
back, and see the things they would have changed. I easily admit that's true
for me. I'm sure there have been people I've hurt I didn't mean to hurt,
things I've let go of that I should have held onto, and things I've held on
to, I should have let go. No doubt, there have been times I've turned left
when turning right would have made more sense, looking back. Then again, my
wife's grandfather told her, "Things are the way they are because that's the
way they're supposed to be."Whatever it is I would have changed or done
differently, here I am, with a great family, people I love working with, and
a radio family that loves me & let's me love them back. I'm fine.
And what about home-growing your own show, if there's someone
reading this that would like to try it themselves, what do they need to know,
i.e., start-up costs, how many stations to see daylight, best business model,
Paul Stone, former owner of WNGC & Southern Broadcasting asked about my
plans for life after KICKS. I grinned and told this powerful & wealthy man
that I was going to start my own independent network, and he said to me,
"Moby, that is a monumental undertaking."I told him I understood that, but I
was dedicated to it. Had we have known how right he was, we might not have
done it. It sure the heck ain't been easy. This, far and away, has been the
most difficult thing I've ever attempted. Over the years, many have tried
this, and few have succeeded. It's like I tell young artists with stars in
their eyes, "You're not going to make it. You'll fail, and regret having
tried. If those words dampen your fire to do it, then I'm absolutely right."
We made the decision to try, yet to be prepared to fail, but we would never
have that wonder of what would it have been like.
What they need to know? Close your eyes and just do it if you think you
got the balls.
Start up costs? Many times more than you would ever have projected.
How many stations before you launch ? Fewer than you would think you
would, or should have.
Best business model? Understand that many before you have tried and
failed, but that wasn't you, and you'll never know unless you go to the deep
end of the pool and jump in. Don't forget to hold your breath, and good luck.
Read previous Morning Mouth interviews.
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