Saturday, November 08, 2008
Erich "Mancow" Muller is the host of a syndicated morning radio show, as well as a talk show on WLS every weekday morning from 9-11.
Rick: I can tell that saying the call letters W-L-S is a thrill for you. What do those call letters mean to you?
Mancow: Actually, Fred Winston the radio legend yelled at me for not selling those famed call letters! “It’s double U L S!” He instructed. WLS? Wow! Me on WLS.
Rick: Mike Fowler was your GM when you first came to Chicago, and he was obviously instrumental in bringing you back on the radio in Chicago (on WLS). You've been known to take your shots at management over the years, but you've always gotten along with Mike. What is it about him that makes him different?
Mancow: It’s a strange thing I have always gotten along with general managers and the money people. They see the value in my art. It’s the program directors that are mostly failed on-air radio people. They are frustrated & jealous of what I do. The worst was a gentleman named Mike Stern who went to The Second City school of yucks and thought he was wacky. He wanted to be me! Creepy.
Rick: I've heard that we're going to hear a little more Erich on this new show and a little less Mancow.
Mancow: I’ve hated “Mancow” since I coined it. People loved it & it stuck. You can’t pick nicknames they pick you.
Rick: Doing two shows a day (the syndicated morning show and the WLS show) has to be a challenge. Is the plan for this WLS show to be a completely different animal from the syndicated show?
Mancow: The process of 7 hours of radio a day is daunting. That’s what I’m doing--all in. How it will all gel is still up in the air.
Rick: A few years ago you came up with something you called "The Ten Commandments for Morning Hosts" after that stunt in California resulted in the death of a woman who drank too much water. What kind of a reaction have you gotten from other radio people around the country?
Mancow: I tried to warn stupid shallow hosts to wake up. They didn’t evolve and now they are losing their jobs. Evolve or die. Those that laughed it off did so at their own peril.
Rick: I can usually tell the influences of a radio personality based on the show they do, but with you I'm not so sure. Who are some of yours?
Mancow: My influences are so evident to me. “Lost in Space” set my imagination into hyper-drive. Also, TV Shows like “Ultra Man” and “Johnny Socko.” The music of “The Kinks” which featured the voice of reason and doubt through the bravado. Even at my rock jock baddest I always expressed my fears & weaknesses. On radio it was “The Shadow” and “Inner Sanctum” and the comedy of Stan Freberg and The Firesign Theater.
Rick: Fairly or not, you've acquired a reputation of "not working well with others." I think part of that comes from your very public feuds with other radio personalities in town, and part of that comes from the turnover on your staff over the years. Is that reputation deserved or not?
Mancow: My staff has been regular people that I’ve meet on the street. When they’ve lost their regular guy vibe I dust ‘em. One guy made a quarter of a million dollars & showed up late, left early, always complained and on top of that I wrote his entire character. Goodbye! Also when you pay for the party and never hear “thanks” it gets very old. My sports guy Al Roker Jr. has been with me for many years. He started fat & lazy and has evolved into a lean mean work addict. He’s great! I am old fashioned in that I believe in hard work. People that work hard last. Also, attitude equals altitude. At this point in my life I can’t be around jerks. No paycheck is worth that.
Rick: When you've done a high profile show for as long as you have, you've gotten a chance to meet just about everyone, from local and national celebrities to world leaders. Of all the people you've met since you got into the business, who impressed you the most, and who disappointed you the most?
Mancow: Don Henley (The Eagles) Peter Tork (The Monkees) were let downs. Michael Madsen, Bob Schieffer, Alice Cooper, Carlos Mencia, and my preacher Steve Munsey all were recent brilliant guests. Rush and (ahem) Drew Peterson were interesting as well.
Rick: Controversial figures like yourself are usually much different in real life than people expect. What is something about the real you that would surprise your fans?
Mancow: I believe radio listeners probably know me better than my own wife. I talk for seven hours a day so when I get home I hate talking. Truly, there is nothing I could say that would surprise my listeners. Non-listeners would be surprised to find out that I am a Christian, Libertarian, and father of two perfect twin girls that I love very much and I’m a serial killer….Scratch that last part.