This is the second of two parts. Click here for part one.
Loveline was a hit show from the moment I created, hosted and first aired it in 1982. For nine years, it was on late on Sunday nights and was consistently No. 1 in the ratings. A year after the show began, I realized we needed a doctor because people would sometimes call with medically related love problems. They’d say, “Poorman, I have this weird ooze between my legs. What should I do?” I couldn’t keep saying, “Take an aspirin.” I met Dr. Drew Pinsky at my friend’s party. We became instant friends, and soon thereafter, I invited him to be my co-host on Loveline, so we could handle all medically related love issues. We were such close friends that eventually I introduced him to his wife and was an usher at his wedding.
On Valentine’s Day 1992, KROQ management made the decision to expand the show to five nights a week and air from 10 p.m. to midnight instead of 6-to-9 p.m. It immediately became No. 1 for the week as well. This was a talk show on an all-music station, and amazingly, it worked! In fact, the show outperformed the music and carried KROQ.
As mentioned in last week’s installment, I lost a lot of club-gig income doing the program five nights a week during the new time slot. My estimate is that I missed out on at least $100,000 per year doing KROQ’s first No. 1-rated radio show. This was the beginning of the end for me at KROQ.
Dr. Drew used to love baiting me on the air. He would try and get me to “share” my personal life with the listeners. He thought it would make for good radio. He was right, but there were devastating results. In May 1993, I was going through a bitter divorce. One night, I walked into the studio minutes after having an emotional argument on the phone with my ex-wife. Right away, Drew wanted me to “share” the details of my argument and divorce with the listeners. I was pretty upset and didn’t want to talk about it.
We went to the first commercial break five minutes into Loveline. When we came back from the break, Dr. Drew again tried to get me to open up about my verbal fight with my ex-wife. I reiterated I didn’t want to talk about it. He kept pushing me, and I said, “Look, I don’t want to talk about this. In fact, if you push me any more, I’m going to leave, and you can do the show!”
He kept pushing me, so I said, “Here, you do the show.” I quietly put down my headphones, gathered my things and walked out of the studio. A mere 10 minutes into the two-hour show, I got into my car and drove from Burbank to my home in Newport Beach. On the way, I heard Dr. Drew along with Tami Heide, the on-air jock on the show before Loveline, begging me to come back. I didn’t. I couldn’t.
The next night, I was back to normal and ready to return. Unfortunately, walking off the show ended up costing me. I was suspended for five weeks. There were numerous fill-in hosts during my suspension, but eventually, new KROQ program director Kevin Weatherly and general manager Trip Reeb begged me to return to the airwaves, and in mid-June, I agreed to do so, still without a major pay raise. This set the stage for the final act on the day before my birthday, Thursday, Aug. 19, 1993.
My entire KROQ existence unraveled that day, and it began at 6:30 a.m. Kevin and Bean, who are about to be inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame, sent their field reporter Michael the Maintenance Man and intern Ed (who knew where a key to my house was hidden) to my home in Newport. They unlocked my door, let themselves in, walked into my bedroom and woke me up live on the radio. By the way, breaking into and entering someone’s home is a crime in the state of California, but that was somehow overlooked during this insane day.
Kevin and Bean then wished me an early happy birthday live on the radio with these two dudes standing in my bedroom. I went along with the “prank,” and as soon as the radio bit was finished, Michael and Ed left my house. I thought to myself, “Okay, MFers, now let the master show you how a prank is really done.” I concocted a simple but insane plan: I had Loveline producer Ann Wilkins find out the address where Bean lived. My friend and Good Day L.A. producer Mike Levin brought me two birthday cakes from his grandmother’s bakery in Tarzana, the famous Bea’s Bakery. A prank for the ages was in place, which ultimately resulted in my demise—the Poorman’s final act on KROQ!
That night at 10, Loveline went on the air. I immediately let everyone listening know about my birthday and announced that I was going to have a special birthday party at a celebrity’s home, screaming into the mic, “The celebrity wants to let you know you’re all invited!” I purposely did not reveal who the “celebrity” was and encouraged listeners to meet me at the radio station, and then we’d caravan to the celebrity’s home.
By the way, it was station policy not to give out KROQ’s address. Obviously, I violated this rule. The celebrity Love Doctor that night was a frequent guest on Loveline: Riki Rachtman, host of MTV’s Headbangers Ball and, after I was fired, the host of Loveline before he was fired.
At 11 p.m., I left the Loveline studios in Burbank, still live on the radio, with a caravan of approximately 500 listeners and two birthday cakes. We were headed to the party destination: Bean’s house. Dr. Drew, Riki, Ann and everyone else stayed behind in the KROQ studio, but I was a man on a mission.
At approximately 11:30 p.m., the “mob” arrived at Bean’s house in a sleepy neighborhood in the upscale Hancock Park, where we were joined by KROQ’s most famous DJ, Rodney Bingenheimer (a.k.a. “Rodney On the ROQ”), on the front lawn. According to Levin, “There were approximately 500 listeners in the caravan who parked everywhere, blocking off Rossmore Street in Hancock Park. I brought two birthday cakes from Bea’s Bakery. You [Poorman] were being cool. All you wanted to do was have Bean come out of his house and have a slice of birthday cake.”
I knocked on Bean’s front door while holding the two birthday cakes with lighted candles; the mob of listeners stretched across his front lawn, crushing the entryway. The door slowly opened, and there was Bean’s wife. I’ll never forget her look. She stared at the crowd in terror, almost in shock, with face aghast, her mouth wide open and giant, bugged-out eyes. She immediately slammed the door shut!
According to Levin, “Bean did not come out, and then things went south fast. Somebody got to the circuit breaker in Bean’s building and . . . the lights went out. Then someone called the cops. They came within five minutes, shutting off Rossmore Street completely, and a police helicopter began shining its lights on the building from overhead.”
The crowd then started chanting, “You suck! You suck! Kevin and Bean suck!” That was followed by a deafening roar of booing. I think someone lit a fire on Bean’s lawn. This all happened while I was live on the radio. By this time, it was well past midnight, and Loveline was over.
My career at KROQ was, as well. The cops eventually dispersed the crowd, no one was hurt or arrested, and everyone went home.
POSTSCRIPT: Later that night, I went to the Roxbury Club in Hollywood. I knew then that it was over for me at KROQ after 12 years at the station. I kept asking people at the club what they thought. It really didn’t matter because I knew. It was a horrible feeling. Three days later, I was officially suspended with 16 months left on my contract. Infinity Broadcasting, then-owner of KROQ, had a provision in my deal whereby they could pay me each month, but they didn’t have to put me on the air. It was a clause called “Pay to Play.” I couldn’t get another job until the conclusion of the contract as long as they paid me. I begged Weatherly to give me another chance, but he never did. One minute, I was on the air on my No. 1 nighttime-radio show in LA and Orange County. The next moment, I wasn’t. There was no social media in those days. Thus, nobody knew what had happened to me. Nobody mentioned my name on the radio basically ever again. KROQ was my life, and then it was gone. When I re-emerged 16 months later, my career had been effectively chilled. Truthfully, I’ve never completely recovered. The scars will always be there. People who I thought were my friends pretty much all betrayed me, including Dr. Drew, who stayed on my show Loveline for another 20 years and achieved great success nationwide. Two weeks into my 16-month “suspension” was the last time we ever spoke. After I begged him to stand by me and leave the show, he refused to do so. We never talked again. This was a man who I was best friends with; I was godfather to one of his children. I put him on the radio and gave him his career. His actions hurt. A few years later, I filed a lawsuit to get back on the air and be compensated. I sued everyone associated with the show, including interns, because they all stayed on Loveline, a show I created and took to No. 1. I lost the lawsuit and didn’t receive a penny. Today, I regret suing the interns and even producer Ann. Kevin and Bean weren’t even suspended for a day for breaking into and entering my house and trespassing onto my property while I was asleep in my bedroom, then waking me up live on the air.
On a positive note, I’m on the road to recovery. It has taken me more than 20 years to get over this, but I’ve learned a lot about how to treat people and manage my life. I now have a successful new radio show in Orange County. It’s OC’s only “live and local morning show”: Poorman’s Morning Rush. It airs Mondays through Fridays from 7 to 10 a.m. on KOCI-FM 101.5. It also streams live at www.KOCIradio.com. Please give it a listen! Thanks to station owner Brent Kahlen for believing in me when many in radio haven’t. I write this weekly column “Poorman’s Radio Days” with the fine folks at OC Weekly. It’s therapeutic to write about incidents like this one. Many thanks to Cynthia Rebolledo, Matt Coker and Duncan McIntosh for this wonderful opportunity! And I can’t forget my beautiful girlfriend, Aime, who always is positive and makes the quality of my life special. With all these new opportunities, I’m forever grateful to the many faithful listeners who haven’t ever forgotten me. You guys mean everything! Stay tuned! We’ll see where this ride and adventure takes us.
Sponsored by Nicole Pompey and Alex Tijerina, REALTORS®
When Poorman doesn’t have his feet in the sand, you can find him on the air Monday-Friday 7am-10am at KOCI hosting Poorman’s Morning Rush – Orange County’s only morning drive show. His show brings plenty of excitement, and of course, the Poorman’s aura of unpredictability – both good and bad – that has defined his legend! Email Jim “Poorman” Trenton at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a song or submit music.