I got my first car, a red 1974 Plymouth Duster, when I was 16. Like most kids when they get their first car, I drove it constantly. Unlike most kids in their first car, my radio was tuned to, you guessed it, AM 570 WPLP. After being forced to listen to this stuff for the past few years, I guess it kind of grew on me. I knew all the hosts (not personally) their schedule, and their politics. They were mostly all older republican men and most of the callers called only to agree with whatever the host was saying. In turn, the host would kiss the callers ass. Even when they disagreed with them, the conversations were always very civil, void of any controversy.
I eventually stop listening to WPLP. If I had to guess, I went almost six months not listening to talk radio. Then one night while cruising around town I turned the dial (yes, It was really a dial) over to WPLP. There was a new guy on. He was different then the rest. He was ranting, raving, screaming, yelling, and talking to callers like they were yesterdays trash. Many of his calls were terminated with him screaming to the caller “Get of my phone you subhuman pig!!!”. This was great! His name was Bob Lassiter, but most people called him “Mad Dog”. I was hooked on talk radio again. Lassiter’s politics were to the left, although he refused to be labeled a liberal and doing such a thing might just get you hung up on with the subhuman pig line. This guy pushed every envelope he could. He talked inside radio stuff. He bashed his employers. He bashed other hosts and other stations. Unlike a typical shock jock, Lassiter allowed the callers to fully express their differing views. Then he would tear them a new ass. His arguments were always well thought out and well presented and he made even the most informed caller sound foolish. Even though I couldn’t always agree with his politics, I was hooked.
He also had a wicked sense of humor. When you have a few minutes, do yourself a favor and check out this audio clip of this classic and best call ever in talk radio history: http://www.bloglassiter.com/Audio/airgu
Lassiter also had a soft side. He was known for his long and compelling monologues. His annual Christmas show featured a monologue, that year in and year out, made grown men cry.
Lassiter eventually left WPLP for greener pastures. A new local talk station (970 WFLA). He was the afternoon drive guy and very quickly became the number one rated host in this market. His number steadily increased and he made it a habit to read the Arbitron ratings each time they came out. His ratings rivaled those of popular FM stations. This guy could have easily been the liberals answer to Rush Limbaugh.
He eventually got an offer from WLS (a big time talk station) in Chicago, and left town for a millions bucks. It sucked for us in the Tampa bay area. Local talk radio just took a big hit. A couple years later Lassiter was back in Tampa. I’m not sure what happened in Chicago, but I was sure happy to have him back. He did a morning show for a new talk radio station, but I really couldn’t get into it. The format was all wrong for him. Although he had a large following, the morning gig just didn’t give him enough time to do what he did best: infuriate people.
A year or so later he was back on 970WFLA. He was back in old form, and all was good in the world of talk radio again. Then one day I was listening and he was bashing management at the station, with a vengeance. Apparently his contract was running out and the station had made very little effort to negotiate a new one. He was livid and unforgiving that day, almost like he knew his time was coming to an end. That was his last radio show. I think it was 1999 or 2000. He wouldn’t be heard on the airwaves again. A guy named Glenn Beck took his place. Beck is now syndicated across the country, but really isn’t fit to carry Lassiter’s mic cover. I had heard that Lassiter retired in Tampa and was making a living trading futures, or some crap like that. I had always hoped he would come back, but it wasn't to happen.
So the other day I was doing some reminiscing at work, while emailing with an old High school friend, who was also a Lassiter follower. This friend of mine Googled Lassiter and found that he recently started a Blog! Now I have a new Lassiter fix and you too can get into the head of one of the best Talk Show hosts ever. Give it a read: http://bloglassiter.blogspot.com