(I used to write a bi-weekly column, RadioRadio, for Players magazine in the Tampa Bay area. The following story appeared in 1990.)
By Bob Andelman
They bid him farewell with a medley of Neil Diamond/Air Supply/Johnny Mathis and then “Fast” Eddie Yarb – master of voices, traffic, game shows from hell and song parodies – was gone.
“First place and you’re leaving now, Eddie?” kidded Ron Diaz. “When we were in 12th place, that was the time to leave.”
Perhaps the timing was ironic – Fast Eddie bid farewell to his buds at WYNF (95 FM) on July 19, just one day after the latest Arbitron ratings showed “Ron & Ron” had risen to the top of the Tampa Bay area morning ratings heap in virtually every category.
But for Eddie the chance to become creative director at easy listening WARM (107 FM) was too good to pass up. Besides, he may be leaving the station with the top-rated morning show but he’s signing on with a new station that has the highest overall ratings in the market.
“It is a position that I always wanted, a golden opportunity,” he says. “I’ve never really (wanted) to be on-air. I have no desire to do what these guys do, to be pressed to make ratings. Money was a small, very small part of it. Matter of fact, they counter-offered me very nicely. But I’m looking to see what creativity I have in the real world.”
Yarb has now completed his second cycle at YNF. He began at the station in 1983 as an intern/assistant to Diaz, who was then doing middays. “I made sure his office was in order,” recalls the formed flunkie. When Diaz joined up with Jack Strapp in the “Breakfast Flakes,” Yarb started doing “goofy things” for them. He left in ’85 for a stint as creative director at WTOG-TV (Ch. 44), then returned in ’87 as a producer of Russ Albums’ short-lived and under-appreciated morning show. That’s when he was “Eddie Moore,” as in “Albums and More.”
That rolled into Diaz’s return from a brief stint in Los Angeles and back to the a.m. and subsequent teaming with comedian Ron Bennington. As “Ron & Ron” emerged, so did Fez Whatley, Becky “Flash” Gordon and “Fast” Eddie, on-air traffic reporter and behind-the-scenes production and creative whiz.
“A lot of the game show themes are mine,” says Eddie. “A lot of the concepts are developed by me and fleshed out on a group basis. ‘Andy’s World’ was my idea, although I blatantly ripped off (Saturday Night Live’s) ‘Wayne’s World.’ ‘Catholic Jeopardy’ was all mine. So was ‘Pick the Pervert.’ ‘Awful Options’ – done to the American Bandstand theme – was my first attempt at harmonies.”
“I give him all the ideas for the morning show,” interjects Charlie Logan, who eavesdrops on all of Eddie’s telephone calls.
“Being a producer,” continues Eddie, “my job was to take voices and concepts and jazz them up. I can’t take credit for ‘Dykes on Bikes,’ but I gave them the format.” A pick-up group he calls Eddie & the Idiots – mostly Eddie – did the singing on most of “Ron & Ron’s” most famous bits.
One bizarre Fast Eddie concept was “Silk ‘n’ Jeans.”
“My favorite,” says Logan, picking up the phone again.
“‘Silk ‘n’ Jeans’ sounds like every bad spot you would hear over on WRXB or TMP,” says Eddie. “It’s your Don Cornelius (host of Soul Train) voice with a lot of echo. My latest is one is ‘Silk ‘n’ Jeans’ having a Marion Barry sale.”
An excerpt: ” … Clothes designed to cover up all your crack problems …”
“I think Eddie was a good player in the morning show,” says Program Director Tom Marshall. “He brought a lot more to the show than just the traffic reports. He’ll be missed, but we’ll move onward.” (Marla Stone will do afternoon traffic with Logan; no full-time replacement for Eddie in the A.M. will be named immediately.)
Eddie – whose 1988 wedding to Karen a one-time YNF secretarial temp, their honeymoon and the birth of daughter Melissa three months ago were all chronicled by Ron & Ron – says he’ll miss YNF.
“We really put something together,” he says. “It was tough to make the decision but I’m just looking down the road for myself. I’m really proud of what we created on the morning show. It’s been 100% blast.”
He Called! Finally heard from Randy Wynne at WMNF (88.5 FM), who confirmed the hiring of Greg Musselman as the new station manager of the alternative community station.
Musselman, who is currently a social worker with a Hillsborough County youth services program, is a familiar name to the station’s volunteer core and listeners. He’s been president of the board of directors since October and has worked on-air and behind the scenes himself as a volunteer for the past four years.
The hiring of Musselman ends a nine month search to replace Lisa McCormick, the embattled former station manager who last just one year at WMNF.
“I think a lot of people are hoping – because of the past experience – people are nervous about somebody they don’t know,” says Wynne. “Lisa was hired from out of town and they feel she didn’t have an appreciation for what the station was about.”
Musselman takes the conn Aug. 20.
From the Heart of Tampa Bay! I’m real late in reporting this but long-time WTMP (1150 AM) jock Mark Vann split the station in April for WYLD AM/FM in New Orleans. Alfonzo “The Fonz” Blanks picked up his slot and can be heard nightly from 7-11 p.m.
Anybody Remember? … Dr. Chuck Stevens, former music director and on-air guy at WLCY? WYUU (92 FM) is bringing him back on Sun. July 29 to do all-new editions of “Breakfast with the Beatles.” The show will air weekly from 8-9 a.m. and feature Moptop tunes, rarities and information.
Alert the Media! Have you ever heard WYNF – a.k.a. 95, 95 YNF, YNF or even the Pirate – ever called “Y95” ? Me either, yet the Tampa Tribune and St. Petersburg Times insist on referring to it that way.
Question for Mike Welch of St. Petersburg! What’s the frequency?
Say Goodnight, Ed! Famous Fast Last Words: “Meet a couple of guys who are number one in your hearts and they’ve got the ratings to prove it … Ron & Ron!” (Fast Eddie’s final intro, July 19, 1990.)
Ratings Blarney! Next issue, we’ll do our quarterly dissection of the latest Arbitron ratings. By now you’ve probably heard the basics, anyhow: 95’s “Ron & Ron” swept nearly every morning category for the first time; the Q Morning Zoo and the rest of 105’s lineup continue their tailspin; Power 93 is losing ground; and WARM and country kicker WQYK (99 FM) have shot to the top.
Here’s a few harsh notes from program directors around the dial on the latest ratings:
Scott Robbins, U92: “WHBO did not show! They’re gone. They’re not in the book.
“I’m sorry to see it happen. I am. Hey, I like Howard (Hewes) and Marvin (Boone). But they did it to themselves.”
Greg Mull, 98 Rock: “We’re happy that we’re still moving up. It wasn’t (as much as) I expected.
“The one thing I get out of the book is there’s only one morning show in this town in all formats. Until somebody puts a morning show on, all the Top 40 (listeners) are going to YNF.
“Cleveland – there’s a big vacuum over there (at Q105) where he’s sucking real bad. And the Pig – they’re doing what we’re doing, playing a lot of tunes.”
Tom Marshall, 95 YNF: “We try to be entertaining and informative to the listener but we also try to give them what they want. The ratings show the people prefer us over 98 Rock, at least in the demos we’re after.
“I think some of (the morning increase) is coming from Q105. The guys are hot. They may even be bringing in people who haven’t been listening to radio. And I think we’re getting people listening longer.
“(Power 93) spent a lot of money on cash giveaways and yet they dropped down. Maybe they’ve peaked a little bit. Maybe it’s just the audience sampling. Maybe because Q105 is going dance and urban, even though their numbers were down.
“(Q105) probably realized it’s a different situation than it was a few years ago. The heyday of Q105 is gone. The market is tougher and more fragmented. It’s tougher for any one station to dominate the way they had in the past.”
95! 95! 95! One place 98 Rock has been hurting 95 is in the evenings and at night.
“Nighttime has been a challenge for us,” says Tom Marshall. “It’s not unusual for a station like 98 Rock to do well at night. When AOR was core 18-24 adult, (night) was core. As they aged up, it was harder to get them to listen at night, they’re watching TV, playing with their kids.”
Marshall began a new assault on late-night listeners on July 23. He and Charlie Logan are fine-tuning the music from 7 p.m. on and adding something called “Revvin’ at Eleven” at 11 p.m.
“It’ll be an opportunity to air more new music and local music. It’ll be more sizzle, a little more of an attitude,” says Marshall. “Sometimes it could be a whole hour, other times it will be 20 to 30 minutes.”
Scott Phillips, Robert Reed and Don “The Hitman” Capone maintain their positions as the overnight guys.