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Backstabbers...And My First Days On Fort Myers Radio

So, I played "Backstabbers" by The O'Jays on the show this morning, and it always brings back memories of my radio career, and some of the folks that have passed through my life, who just seemed to live to FUCK with people...(Most of the time it was because the ONLY way they could get ahead was to screw everyone)

Strangely enough, I saw far fewer "backstabby" situations when I was working on Long Island, than I did in the much smaller market of Fort Myers/Naples/Cape Coral, Fl. Probably because I had the "perfect" staff at WRCN. Those guys/girls had my back (and still do for that matter. Many of them contribute to US 41)

I arrived in Southwest Florida late in 1995., without a gig...and it took me a few months to find a job, but thanks to phone calls from industry big-timers like Judi Libow, I was able to grab a part-time slot at the best station in the market, 100,000 watts, it had a reputation for adventurous music programming, and a legendary local morning show (the 2nd best morning show in the history of Rock Radio...period) The Program Director, and I hit it off immediately, and he seemed pleased to have a guy who he could plug into any shift during the day. The future looked bright in my new Florida home. (Remember, this was in the Dark Ages when radio stations were staffed 24/7, and overnight shifts were available)

Shortly after being hired, I came down with a flu virus, the likes of which I'd never experienced. I had bad things coming out of every orifice in my body, hot flashes, chills, you name it. Being new to the job, I didn't want to call in sick, (I think I've missed a total of about 5 shifts in 40+ years on the air) so I sucked it up and made the drive across the bridge and down US 41, to work Midnight to 6am.

When I got to the station, it was obvious I wasn't doing well, but I thought I could get through the show OK. I told the dude I was relieving that I was sick and really struggling, and all of a sudden, he whips out one of those pill organizers, except this one was as big as a tackle box, and loaded with tablets and capsules of every shape and size. He selected two capsules and told me, "Just take these, and you'll be fine." Who knew we had a doctor on staff? I refused at first, but he was very insistent, so I accepted them and told him, I'd drop 'em if I got worse, but I really didn't want to take anything that might make me drowsy, and make the show sound worse than it was going to anyway. So I slipped them into my pocket, with no intention of taking them under any circumstance.

The next day, I was filling in, evenings this time, and I was speaking to the afternoon-drive guy, and told him I was feeling better, and about the "pill organizer" incident, and he looked at me horrified. "YOU DIDN'T TAKE THOSE PILLS DID YOU!" I said, "ABSOLUTELY NOT!"...he replied, "THAT GUY IS CRAZY. HE TOLD ME HE'D KILL YOUR YANKEE ASS IF YOU CAME IN AND TOOK HIS SPOT ON THE AIR STAFF." I was shocked, and reported the incident to my superior, but really I just wanted to leave the station altogether, but I had a new house, a one year old and all the obligations a guy in his late 30's would quitting wasn't an option. But as these things often do, it all worked itself out...the next day. Both the "pill guy," and the "afternoon drive guy," we're apparently banging the same groupie, and they came to blows in the parking lot of the station, during business hours, and we're both discharged. By the way, "pill guy" eventually went to prison for we're talking a real sociopath here.

End result-Matt Mangas, afternoon drive/Assistant Program Director, and our Florida adventure is off to a great start


I omit the names of stations and people involved due to the sue-happy nature of everyone these days.

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1 Comment

Annrae Fitzgerald
Annrae Fitzgerald
May 27, 2021

I remember the “pill guy”! I started around the same time as him, and he didn’t like me either! The station “groupie” used to call me when I was on the air, and try to get info on all the male really was like a bad 70’s radio movie, and kind of awesome too

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