Sunday, September 27, 2009
By Alexander Zaitchik
Photo: Salon Composite
It was 1990, the midpoint of Beck's career in FM morning radio. The morning zoo craze had peaked and the economy had stalled. Eight years after leaving Washington state with a suitcase full of skinny ties and dreams of working in Rockefeller Center, Beck was now a morning-drive journeyman with a family to feed and a reputation to save. Despite breaking quickly out of the gate at age 18, Beck did not enter the new decade within sight of the industry's front ranks. New York's Z100, the leading station in his world, was not calling him. Neither were program directors in L.A. or Chicago. There were no syndication offers to compete with national zookeepers like John Lander and Scott Shannon.
After his personal and professional meltdown in Houston, Beck found a new job in Baltimore at the city's leading Top 40 station, WBSB, AKA B104. This time, however, he wanted a partner.
On the recommendation of a friend, he settled on a 27-year-old morning jock named Pat Gray. Although Gray and Beck had worked in Houston at the same time, they had never met. But the new team clicked. As Beck likes to tell it, it was DJ love at first sight, with the two bonding within minutes of meeting at the airport. Beck and Gray were unlikely bosom buddies. Gray was a Mormon who home-schooled his kids; Beck was a bong-ripping nihilist who could barely remember his kids' names. But they shared a sense of humor and a love of morning-radio mischief. They also shared similar if inchoate politics. After their partnership ended in 1994, both men would go on to pursue careers in conservative talk radio. They now work together on Beck's nationally broadcast radio show, The Glenn Beck Program....(Remainder.)