Wednesday, February 22, 2012

From 2006 - the Pizzazz Magazine Interview with Wyatt!

When I was writing an article for this blog about my most memorable moments, my mind naturally drifted back to a very special time in my life...and a very special person who is no longer with us.
Don Lemmon treated me like family, and every day of my life today is the better for his being in it.
Before his untimely death he interviewed me for his late Pizzazz Magazine, now long out of print.  I am reproducing that for your enjoyment following the break.  



Pizzazz Magazine: First of all, what is a day in your shoes like? What do you do from waking to hitting the hay each day?

Wyatt Cox: Longer than I care to admit. I dig right into breakfast preparation, and eat breakfast while doing show prep for American Sunrise.  Some days that may be two hours, three hours, or longer depending on the amount of work needed, and if I'm working on just Sunrise, or also the weekend program Wyatt's Favorite Radio or another special program.  A couple of hours of quality time with my stepson and wife, and then it's off to the post office to check for orders, and then to the job that pays the bills and keeps me insured, as the night box office manager at an old line strip casino. Once I wrap that up, its right back home to knock out morning commentary and sports for my radio stations, then it's a short nap before we start it all over again.

Pizzazz Magazine: What would you say is the highlight of your life so far and how does it compare to your overall goals?

Wyatt Cox: Professionally it was when my Morning In America and Saturday In America programs on the old People's Radio Network were picked up in my hometown of Kansas City.  There's something special about coming home that's just amazing. When I was nominated by my high school graduation class as one of six "outstanding alumni", that blew me away.  Of course, I didn't win, but just the nomination.... Personally it was being there for the birth of my stepson.  The miracle of life is just fascinating for me.

Pizzazz Magazine: Who was the first person to tell you getting into what you are known for was a crazy idea? At what point did you agree (even if it was momentarily)?

Wyatt Cox: There was a fellow in Kansas City named Steve Bell, who at the time (1978) was Program Director of KMBZ Radio, the big AM station owned by Bonneville Communications (owned by the Mormon Church)... I was applying for a summer intern position for college credit. Not only did he turn me down, he told me that I should consider another field because I didn't have a "strong radio voice". Fiftene years later I was on 150 radio stations every morning and nearly 200 every weekend, including in Kansas City.  And no one knows where Steve Bell is.... I thought Bell was right when I left Dallas to come back to Kansas City and settle my parent's estate.  Here I was with experience in Dallas and no one would talk to me.  But after I got into Talk Radio in the late 80's, well, I guess my non-radio voice didn't matter...

Pizzazz Magazine: Have you made contacts using the internet that you know you wouldn't have if it weren't for the web being so accessible?

Wyatt Cox: From a personal standpoint absolutely.  After all, we wouldn't be having this interview if it weren't for the internet.  From my perspective, though, what I do is so dramatically impacted by the internet.  I couldn't have the breath of depth of knowledge without the access to all the newspapers, wire services, and blogs to keep in touch.  Plus we use the internet directly to distribute programming to our stations.  It's amazing.

Pizzazz Magazine: Funny how it usually works. We grow up wanting to be firefighters or nurses, then due to the glory of media, rock stars, actors, etc. and then reality sits in... We end up being ourselves... Good or bad... What's your story?

Wyatt Cox: As a youngster I was always amazed at the voices that talked to me -- just me -- over the radio.   I was fortunate enough to be alive in the era of "personality radio" where DJs were communicators, not card readers.  Growing up I wanted to be one of those voices, someone's unseen friend.  I never knew it would be like this. not near as much fun as I imagined, yet more fun than I ever dreamed of.

Pizzazz Magazine: What one thing haven't you done you would still like to?

Wyatt Cox: One of the great things about coming to Las Vegas nine years ago was what I thought would be the easy access to celebrity interviews.  I've had some great interviews, a lot of good ones, and some absolutely horrible ones.  Unfortunately there are a lot of people who I would have loved to sit down with.  George Burns, Jack Benny, Dean Martin (though I did get to interview his son Ricci), Sammy Davis, the list goes on and on.  Few of today's celebrities even remotely interest me.

Pizzazz Magazine: Tell me one of the negative aspects of your field that everyone needs to know. Do not say there are none! The biggest lie about your work is:

Wyatt Cox: OK, unless you're Howard Stern or an advertising sales genius, the money sucks.  The main reason that I am out of radio full time is that there are few, if any, good paying jobs...even for the good ones.

Pizzazz Magazine: What are your 5 favorite or most frequently visited websites?


Pizzazz Magazine: Tell me something people do not realize about you, maybe it's not a secret, maybe it's not anything special, but it is something no one else has ever asked you about until now. What's boring to you is news to everyone else...

Wyatt Cox: Being in talk radio people automatically assume that I'm a right-wing conservative.  I'm actually a pretty strict constitutionalist.  How Conservatives and Liberals interpret the same document amuses me immensely.  If Liberals interpreted the Second Amendment like they did the First, gun ownership would be mandatory.   Likewise, if Conservatives interpreted the First Amendment like they did the Second, then there wouldn't be any flap over Janet's boobs-a-poppin, and we'd have our own page six girls here.  Really, it's a huge joke.

While I am pro-family values, I support strongly the adult entertainment industry, believing that family values begin at home.  I've raised my stepson with a strong understanding of right and wrong, but also with an awareness that right and wrong sometimes vary according to the situation.  Thank goodness he has a brilliant mind -- sometimes too smart for his own four-year-old good.  His self designed Darth Pumpkin halloween costume shows he's smart -- and demented...

Pizzazz Magazine: What's the craziest thing you have experienced in your work? Maybe it's something you witnessed and didn't participate in, but what would shock us, make us laugh or show us another side to things besides the obvious...


Wyatt Cox: As far as old radio stories go, I've got my share... I ran a radio station in LA for about a year...that's Lower Alabama, right outside Fort Rucker.  Couple of funny and strange stories there. The station was based out of a single wide mobile home...our transmitter was in an adjacent building...one day I discovered the building had a leak...that ran into the transmitter. One day right before I started my local talk show the power failed.  Being in a rural area out of town brief outages were not unusual.  After five minutes, I called the local electric cooperative.  They said that a pole up the road had been knocked down and we'd be dark for at least an hour.  Then the listeners started calling.  I told them to call the cooperative and gave them the number -- at least a dozen of them.  It was a warm morning so I took the phone (long cord and all) and my dogs out to the front of the station.  Along came the police chief to check on me.  As we're chatting and I'm answering the phone the power comes back on.  I start firing up the transmitter, ran the dogs back into the office.  As I got ready to throw the switch to put us back on the air, I noticed the phone was ringing.  I threw the switch, answered the phone on the air... "Good morning, you're on the air" "Wyatt, you're off the air"... "No, sir, you're ON the air..." "Wyatt, you don't get it...you're off the air...." "No sir, you're ON the air..." The man yelled for his wife to turn up the radio...sure enough, a squeal of feedback ensued with the words, "Never mind Wyatt, you're back on the air.." "Thanks for letting us know...." Thirty minutes worth of ribbing from fellow callers let him know that he was heard. On the one hand, it was really funny. On the other hand, it said something about our audience.  They wouldn't turn off the radio and go somewhere else to listen -- they said, because they didn't wanna miss anything.  No radio station I know of today is that compelling that if they go off the air, the audience continues to listen to static because they don't want to miss a moment of it.

Pizzazz Magazine: Anything embarrassing happen when YOU were trying to look cool? What? Embarrassing and crazy are different things!

Wyatt Cox: Until Don Lemmom made me over into a new man, I never even tried to look cool.  That's why I've stuck to radio.  At least in radio I could fake it.  Anytime I ever did TV appearances, even with Chris Love's Universal Championship Wrestling in Kansas, I looked like a spastic gorilla...

Pizzazz Magazine: Tell us a few sites that friends of yours own that would appreciate a plug:

Wyatt Cox: Wow, where to start.... Of course, there's http://www.donlemmon.com .   the man saved my life,  My wrestling fix sites http://www.wrestlingobserver.com and http://www.onlineonslaught.com There's Rod in Arkansas who builds these neat bridges at http://www.redwoodbridges.com and a really neat activity - edible sand art at http://www.myrainbowdust.com -- no, it's not KH compliant...

Pizzazz Magazine: The biggest PLUS FACTOR about your line of business is:

Wyatt Cox: It's awfully hard to p!$$ off the boss when you're the boss... In the independent syndication business, there's less layers between myself and the listeners, which means I can deliver the kind of show that I always wanted to do, without worrying about upsetting sponsors.  My advertisers know what they're getting before hand because they have to go out of their way to buy time on my show.

Pizzazz Magazine: Did the people around you change when you went out looking to succeed in this field? Sometimes those who weren't so supportive in the beginning, suddenly become supportive or possibly vice versa; they became thorns in your side....

Wyatt Cox: I don't think they changed as much as tried to protect me from failure.  When I decided I wanted to go into this business full time there were people who thought I just didn't have the voice for it.  Realistically I don't

Pizzazz Magazine: What question makes you crazy whenever asked and hopefully saying so here will prevent it from being asked again?

Wyatt Cox: So, are you a Republican or a Democrat...or Conservative or Liberal. In reality, I'm a constitutionalist that believes in smaller government that gets the hell out of our lives.  Depending on your particular bent, that can put me on either side.  Socially that makes me pretty liberal, but fiscally I'm pretty conservative, though even there it's not quite a fair match up. No one of above average intelligence fits into a slot like that.  Not anymore.

Pizzazz Magazine: Who do you see on TV, in film or hear on the radio that just makes you wonder how in the hell they got where they are?

Wyatt Cox: Any non-animated performer named Simpson.  In their case, though, I suspect I know...

Pizzazz Magazine: Tell me a joke!

Wyatt Cox: Not original, but hey, it's the internet.  What do I look like, Shecky Stern? A man owned a small farm in New York. The New York Dept of Labor claimed he was not paying proper wages and sent an agent out to interview him. "I need a list of your employees and how much you pay them", demanded the agent. "Well, there's my hired hand who's been with me for 3 years. I pay him $600 a week plus free room and board. The cook has been here for 18 months, and I pay him $500 a month plus free room and board. Then there's the half-wit that works here about 18 hours a day. He makes $10 a week and I buy him a bottle of bourbon every week," replied the farmer. "That's the guy I want to talk to, says the agent." The farmer says, "That would be me."

Pizzazz Magazine: What music group do you listen to most often and what is their best album?

Wyatt Cox: I love most everything, but Swing Out Sister still does it for me.  It's Better to Travel is the best.  There's a story here too if you have a moment. My late love of my life Beth and I became addicted to "The Wave" during the brief period they nationally syndicated the radio format.  (She and I attended my one and only new age concert with Kitaro at this time and still find his music fascinating. ) At the time I was living at my family home waiting for my mom to die of cancer and settle the estate.  The national format originally had no announcers, so if you heard a song you liked, you were stuck.   We heard this amazing six mintue song that we fell for but had no idea who did it.  Beth finds a 45 at Wal Mart called Breakout by a group called Swing out Sister.  She thinks they did the song we liked but had no way to confirm it.   She agreed to buy the CD if she was wrong.  We drive into town, get the CD, pop it into the player and sure enough, there it was, Twilight World.  I can't listen to the song today without thinking of her and smiling.

Pizzazz Magazine: Who should hang up their hat in your business? Why?

Wyatt Cox: Bill O'reilly.  His schtick falls flat on the radio.  For a different reason Tom Leykis.  Pervert radio at its finest.

Pizzazz Magazine: Tell me your favorite movie genre, name a few titles, think video rental or dvd's you own and watch the most:

Wyatt Cox: I'm not a movie watcher, but enjoy live performances.  It's funny that of all the movies my wife owns, the only ones I watch are stand-up.  I love Ron White and Bill Engvall.  They're the brain trust of that Blue Collar Comedy tour....

Pizzazz Magazine: What TV show do you miss from childhood... I used to love Land of the Giants and Dance Fever (kidding on that one)....

Wyatt Cox: Damn....WKRP in Cincinnati.  It was my life.  Everyone in radio knew one of those characters in real life.  The great (and sad) part is that the show didn't last long enough to get bad.  Unfortunately, the reruns have been ruined due to music rights issues....some of the songs substituted just kill the scenes...

Pizzazz Magazine: Ever had someone from your past try and track you down and bug the tar out of you? I know this seems like the same questions as, "did people change" but it isn't meant to be.... Maybe we can put a little tact in people's future efforts here...

Wyatt Cox: I've been really lucky...no Letterman stalkers, no deranged ex-wives (yet), no creepy old girlfriends...

Pizzazz Magazine: If you were anyone besides yourself, who would you be (even for just a day, on a good day, of course) and did you emulate them growing up or is this a recent admiration you have acquired?

Wyatt Cox: There are about half a dozen people in the formative years of radio entertainment that I would like to be...George Burns, Jack Benny, Fred Allen, Harold Perry, Henry Morgan.  If nothing else, I'd love to sit down to dinner with all of them.  It'd be a food fight the world would never forget.

Pizzazz Magazine: Who in your business would you like to say, "Hey, remember the time someone hooked you up and now look where you are? How about hooking me up with... (blank)?" Insert the BLANK....

Wyatt Cox: Rush Limbaugh of course.  Hook me up with some of your stations.  You've got 400, don't be greedy. the amazing part is, back in the day he was a really nice and humble guy.  The schtick was the same, even when he was "Jeff Christie" at KUDL in Kansas City when I knew him. I'm amazed he's still going in spite of his massive health problems over the past few years, more than a few of them caused by yo-yo weight and diet programs....

Pizzazz Magazine: What did we forget?

Wyatt Cox: Americans are the lazy stockholders of a failing business.  Unless they want to see this country devolve into another third-world country, they need to start demanding accountability from their politicians, make them observe the rules, and honestly, do THEIR job as good citizens.  Learn the issues and reinvent your country into what it should be. America works.  But only if we MAKE it work.
For Wyatt Cox's Official Website: CLICK HERE

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