Note: Joseph Mascolo has died. He's on this list, one of my very first writings.
After retiring from 41 years of being on the radio, someone recently said, “I bet you met some interesting characters!” It got me thinking. Here are some of the most memorable, in no particular order.
Pop culture at its finest. When we interviewed her, she was in the middle of a very long run on “Two and a Half Men”, the #1 sitcom on TV, as Charlie (Sheen) Harper’s voluptuous girlfriend-turned-fiancée, Chelsea. Toward the end of our interview, she was asked about her future on the show. Certainly, she couldn’t know the real-life events that would shape Sheen’s ultimate exit from the show, but as Charlie Harper’s fiancée, she was hopeful for a lot more time on the set. I wished her the best, then told her she had to go. She was a bit startled, but the conversation remained playful as I explained that most men lived somewhat vicariously through Charlie’s character, and marriage would ruin it for all of us. I doubt any interviewer had ever told her they hoped she got fired. She thought it was pretty funny.
Tom T. Hall:
The country music legend known as “The Storyteller” was in Athens promoting his book called “What A Book!” in 1996. Having previously worked in country music, I knew his music well enough to be comfortable sitting down with him. As set up, the interview would be taped after I finished my morning show and would last about 5 minutes. That interview ran well over an hour! He seemed to be enjoying telling the tales, and I was sure enjoying hearing them. I had not yet been moved to Magic 102.1, and the format at WRFC (960 AM) allowed me to air most of that interview spread out over the course of several days. By the way, “What A Book!” was written largely during his time in Jamaica. I make no judgements, but I rather suspect a fair amount of ganja was involved. It’s a wild – and fun – read.
Marianne (Gordon) Rogers
Among my first ‘celebrity’ interviews after I arrived in Athens in 1990, she was still married to superstar Kenny Rogers when she showed up at the radio station for reasons I don’t recall. I was quite nervous asking her to sit with me for an interview, but as we talked, she regaled me with stories of meeting Kenny on the set of “Hee Haw” in the ‘70s and how the relationship blossomed. A lovely and gracious lady.
I did play-by-play for high school football all through the ‘80s. There was always excitement when the UGA football coach showed up at a game; you knew he was prospecting for players. Twice, I asked him to sit with us on the air during halftime. Neither time did he seem terribly interested, but when the microphones came on, he was kind and engaged. AND I WAS INTERVIEWING VINCE-freakin’-DOOLEY!! Many years later, he would ask me to explain the rules of soccer to him as we sat at a UGA women’s soccer match. Fun stuff.
He was campaigning for governor when he landed in my hometown of Tifton. During the morning newscast, a sound bite featured the previous night’s speech of him having fun with names of a couple of nearby towns: “Elect me and I’ll never say bye-bye to Ty Ty”, is one I recall. You needn’t think I was going to let that go. I started naming all these little communities in rhyme and with my best Zell Miller country-boy accent. “I’ll never say see ya to Omega. I’ll never kill an armadilla in Ocilla (yeah, it’s mispelled, but it rhymes). I’ll never do the hula in Chula…” I must’ve rattled off 10 of ‘em. The phone rang. The voice of a local businessman I knew says, “stand by for the next governor of the state of Georgia” and he put Zell Miller on the phone. Mr. Miller thought it was great and asked if he could steal some of my rhymes as he continued stumping. Guess who I voted for.
Yeah, that’s the character that Joseph Mascolo plays on “Days of Our Lives”, but for our time on the air together while I was in Tifton, GA, he was pretty much in character. For whatever reason, Mascolo had selected the small neighboring town of Ocilla to host a charity softball tournament. The first year, as he joined me on the air, he jokingly scolded me for not having any food or drink. The next year, I was ready. He plopped down in the control room, I popped a bottle of champagne, and we spent a couple of fun hours on the air. By the last time he came on the show, I had a cute blonde co-worker get all dolled up and serve us pastries and champagne. Lots of champagne. We got pretty drunk before it was all over. Fortunately, he had a driver, and I had a recliner in my office where I could kick back in and sleep it off.
Didn’t happen. She never returned my calls. Or emails. Or texts. Or waved as I sat outside her house… in my car…. for weeks. But I did get her autograph.