How has the KXRK "Radio From Hell" show survived almost 15 years?
That's an obvious question because on Aug. 13, show hosts Bill Allred, Kerry Jackson and Gina Barberi celebrated their 5,000th show with a morning full of special guests, a live audience outside their studio and some reminiscing.
These DJs have defied the industry trend, lasting many times longer than the norm for morning radio shows.
Researching longevity in the Salt Lake radio market, I lost count after finding that at least 70 morning FM-radio shows have come and gone since October 1993, when Kerry and Bill teamed up again for their current show version.
(They had first worked together starting on June 8, 1986, at Ogden's original "KJQ." Including those interrupted years is how the DJs came up with their 5,000th show. Otherwise, in continuous terms, it would be just less than 4,000 shows. Barberi was added to the show in 1996.)
Stations like FM-98.7 and FM-106.5 have had eight or more morning-show variations since "Radio From Hell" began.
We "never got fired" is how Allred best characterized their longevity. Later, he said, "If we changed anything, we wouldn't be here."
When I first interviewed Kerry and Bill in 1987, it was clear they were spontaneous more than anything else, and that has persisted over the years. Although I've said they should perhaps consider a "music quota" of playing one or two songs per hour, they have succeeded in the morning to their credit with almost no music played.
After spending another 80 minutes or so in their studio on their anniversary day, I finally decided it is likely their unscripted style, coupled with a high level of outrageousness, that has equaled their success.
And, it probably goes deeper. These three radio personalities don't act on the air. They seem to simply be their true selves and have fun doing it. For example, all three use their real names on the air. No stage names here. Allred joked that his stage name on the radio could have been "Og Dog," to highlight Ogden as his hometown.
Jackson said he used the stage name of "Bill Kelso" when he was first in radio, until his father mentioned that he must not be proud of his real name. (He mentioned "Sam Hell" as a possible radio stage name, if he ever uses one again.)
Anyway, these personalities aren't afraid to say just about anything, as long as it is within Federal Communications Commission guidelines. They talk about other morning radio shows and about their personal lives more than any other local show. Being almost all talk, there is plenty of time to chatter, and they have a lot of regular features on the show.
How long will "Radio From Hell" survive? The three have about 18 months left on their contracts. Sometime in February 2009, they will eclipse the 15 1/2-year morning show team continuous longevity record that "Fisher, Todd and Erin" on KISN established from 1986-2001.
• RADIO HAPPENINGS KRSP (FM-103.5) celebrated 40 years on the air on Aug. 26.• "Johnson and Johnson" on KUBL still have real school classes recite the Pledge of Allegiance most weekday mornings. Go to: www.kbull93.com to sign up a class.
Deseret News radio editor Lynn Arave can be reached by e-mail at [email protected], or by phone at 237-2168.