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How Funny Man Rick Rumble Got Into Radio

8-2-2013

Rick Rumble is truly one of the funniest people I know. His natural sense of humor, ability to look at life from a slanted view that makes complete sense, and his brilliant impressions make him one of a kind. To this day, one of the funniest bits Ive ever heard was Rick imitating Sammy Davis, Jr. waking up Robert Goulet at a St. Louis hotel and asking him to sing Some Enchanted Evening. LISTEN TO THAT BIT HERE

Ricks talent is as upstanding as his character. I have been with Rick in situations where hard decisions required ethics and class and this man is at the top of that mountain. He entertains the Norfolk market every morning, which makes me jealous of my friends who live in the Tidewater area.

Now, in his own words, is how WNOR-FM morning host Rick Rumble got into radio

Once again, I woke up, cold and alone. There was $50 on the dresser, and the room smelled like a mixture of Astroglide and shamewait. This is supposed to be the story of How I Got Into Radio?  Not, How I Got Into Rehab? Sorry, my bad

1983. I was a graphic artist putting together print ads, brochures, and packaging. My brother, Bill, was selling for WGRD in my hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. He would often tell me that I had to meet the guy that did the overnight shift. We were so much alike. We both did impersonations, had a twisted sense of humor. We would get along great. Time passed and the overnight guy became the morning guy, and was then hired away by a competitor, WLAV.

One day the phone rang, Rick, this is Kevin Matthews, your brother told me to call. Yes, the Kevin Matthews, who would one day go on to win a couple of Billboard awards and become a fixture in Chicago radio. He explained that he was working on a project and asked if I could do a decent Elvis impersonation. I could. Kevin and I got together several times over the next few weeks to record segments that he would masterfully edit into a one-hour parody Elvis special, to play on the anniversary of the Kings death (still one of the best things Ive done in radio).

Around that time, I was laid-off by the graphic arts company that I worked for and Kevin invited me to spend my mornings hanging out with him at WLAV. I sat in the back of the studio and did traffic reports in the high-pitched Scottish accent of race driver Jackie Stewart. I would call in as Elvis Velvet, the worlds fattest Elvis impersonator. (Bored yet? Good, Ill go on). Sensing the opportunity for some almost-free labor, program director Tony Gates asked me if I would like to do weekend nights on the sister AM oldies station. He brought me in on a Saturday, showed me how to run the board, and then left me with these words, Do anything you want, just dont get me sued.

To this day I have never been sued for anything Ive said or done on the radio, although I was once sued over some boomerangs (true story, I won) but thats for the Australian version of this column. Eventually, the guy who did morning news with Kevin Matthews left. Kevin (unbeknownst to me) then wrote a letter to new program director Dave Lange, GM Dennis Lemon, and Adams corporate boss Matt Mills, asking that I be brought in to do news/sidekick at 97 LAV-FM full time.

Within a year we were hired at KWK St. Louis, where I would eventually do morning news/sidekick with Steve Cochran (of WGN fame) and join Lisa Miller at Miller Broadcast Management, which is clearly why Im in this column.

But lets get back to the original story

So I picked up the $50 and stumbled outside in my torn leotard and badly-scuffed clown shoes to try and hail a cab. This surely wasnt going to be easy

You can email Rick at rumble@fm99.com

Lisa Miller is the President of Miller Broadcast Management in Chicago. She's also one of Radio Ink's Most Influential Women in Radio. Miller can be reached at Lisa@millerbroadcast.com or 312-454-1111.

Read more of Lisa's "How I Got Into Radio" interviews HERE

So, how did you get into radio? We'd love to hear the story about why you're passionate about radio.




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