Big-Top Flop: DR. DESTRUCTION’S RADIO SHOW COLLAPSES!
Open letter from Kenosha Horror Host, Dr. Destruction, to fans of The Big Top Radio Show…
It has been almost a year now since I brought back the Big-Top Radio broadcast. With all the connections I had made since it originally aired in 2009, I looked forward to it making a huge comeback and indeed it had. The AM radio show was a wild combination of Horror Hosts and underground bands that, as a fan, never got the air play that I felt they deserved. Having Horror Host guests like Svengoolie, Count Gore de Vol, Son of Ghoul, Stella Desire, and Ivonna Cadaver along with musical guests such as Sylvain Sylvain, Cheetah Chrome, and Sami Yaffa was like a dream come true for me.
I was also pleased to have dozens of other fellow Horror Hosts such as Karlos Borloff, Halloween Jack, Penny Dreadful, and Dr. Gangrene grace The Big-Top as well. As a life long resident of Kenosha, Wisconsin, it was also a privilege to have notable locals appear such as Mayor Keith Bossman, Ray Forgioni from Harbor Markets, and Paul Cook who represented a cause very dear to me, “Kindred Kitties” which finds homes for abandoned cats. It was a true honor to bring all of these people into Kenosha homes “LIVE” via WLIP Radio as well as streamlined on the Web for the rest of the world. Being a Horror Host able to perform on commercial radio was a surreal experience I never took for granted. The two hours flew by and I felt happy each Sunday leaving the station and feeling satisfied that I had delivered to them something great. Unfortunately, it was not great enough.
This past week had me feeling as if I was at war with the town of Kenosha, a place that is very dear to me. It started with an issue concerning my Haunted Bus being exhibited at a lakefront festival (an on going issue as organizers don’t seem to think that kids would enjoy a macabre attraction outside of Halloween). It caused me to want to stand up for myself not knowing all the while that my biggest battle was yet to come. I soon learned that the radio show I loved so well was in jeopardy! Like all commercial shows, the air time needs to paid with by sponsors. While I was able to snag a few, I actually paid for that air time myself as I worked to gain listeners in an otherwise dead time slot (Sundays 6-8pm). In this regard I felt that I was successful. Pulling in the aforementioned guests was a coupe for the station as well as its listeners. The station injected advertisers of their own and I truly believed that they would eventually grant me the time as they have been doing for other shows on the station. Such is the folly of a Midwest dreamer…
After building an audience of listeners to a slot that would otherwise, and most certainly is now, relegated to infomercials (or worse a bunch of stagnant oldies), both my luck and my money ran out. On Tuesday the station sales representative accused me of being several weeks behind which was not only untrue, it was an error they had made (and admitted) before. As for the way it was presented, if you think a credit card collector is harsh, you’ve never dealt with this guy! As I argued that I was only 1 week behind, he stated without looking into it that if I did not produce $330 by Thursday, there would be no show on Sunday and, if no show Sunday, NEVER again. I have never been anything but gracious to the station and for him to snap at me in the manner in which he did (without investigation) was both hurtful and unwarranted.
Sometimes in our darkest hour, when all appears lost, a miracle can happen. By the next day I had acquired two new sponsors willing to pay for air time the remainder of the summer. I also found receipts proving that I was not as behind as they had insisted. Wanting to make sure I had everything necessary for our Thursday meeting, I texted the representative asking which dates were in question. His response, “Jesus Christ would you just get the F**k in here!?”
Well, Ghoulies, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It became apparent to me that they really weren’t interested in working with me at all despite the fact that I had personally given them $5,000 since the show began – a lot more than they’d have received for that slot otherwise. Not only that, I had supplied them with hundreds of new listeners in what would otherwise have been dead air. It is true that my work was historically disregarded by the majority of mainstream personalities there but this is something I’ve grown used to over the years. Now they have lost my revenue as well as you, my listeners.
I am not naive and certainly understand that commercial radio is, first and foremost, a business. I would also like to say that, despite my anger, I do respect that station as well as its hardworking staff. It is unfortunate that their sales representative crossed the line and chose not to extend me that same respect. It also seems like insult to injury that my show should end while their daily programming, which recently spent an entire segment dedicated to “who stole hotdogs from the staff breakroom” continues. I feel that this is a corporate slap in the face to artists as well as those that dare to work at seeing their dreams fulfilled.
I have aired my grievances on Facebook and prior to writing this, I was overwhelmed with the support I have received both online as well as in the community. It gave me hope that I am not at war with Kenosha but rather for it. I realized that I had touched peoples lives and that there are things one can do in this world that is of great value, even without monetary gain. I will take many days reflecting on this while urging my fellow hosts and artists to continue doing what you are doing. Just because the corporate world has lost both its vision and soul does mean that you should acquiesce. And, who knows? Maybe The Big-Top will return if not on WLIP than perhaps another station.
In the mean time, let me wish you the “Happy Fourth of July” I am unable to do tonight on the air. I plan on taking it easy and watching an old Clint Eastwood film called BRONCO BILLY. In the film, Bronco’s Big-Top blew up into flames but that was not where his story ended….and neither will mine.