As you’re grabbing this copy of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution off the rack
or your doorstep, I’m waking up in Chicago.
That’s the Windy City, you know, and the name didn’t come from the winds off
Lake Michigan. It actually came from Chicagoans’ propensity for bragging.
Sounds like just the place for me.
Why am I in Chicago? Well, tonight I’ll be inducted there into the National
Radio Hall of Fame. So, I’m feeling like engaging in a little retrospective.
July 2, 1967. That’s the day I stepped off a Greyhound bus on what is now
International Boulevard. I’d arrived to visit my parents. I would never
Some feel the spot where I stepped off that bus ought to be declared a toxic
waste dump. Others would erect a historical marker.
About 30 months after my quiet arrival, the morning host on Atlanta’s first
talk radio station committed suicide. I had been vying for a job at the
station — WRNG “Ring” Radio — for almost a year. Suddenly there was a
vacancy. Someone was going to step in, and it might as well be me.
The next morning I was camped at Ring’s doorstep, ready to start talking. Ring
pulled the afternoon guy out of his slot, put him on in the morning, and
told me I could stumble my way through the afternoon gig for two weeks until
a qualified replacement could be found.
That was 40 years ago, and I’m still at it. I wish I had more pictures. I wish
I had saved more tapes.
Looking back over those 40 years of hot topics would make any talk show host’s
North Koreans grab the USS Pueblo. The Vietnam War. The Cold War. Jane Fonda
in North Vietnam. Pershing missiles in Europe. Watergate and the Nixon
years. The Iranian hostage crisis. The amazing Carter presidency. The
assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Assassination attempts on
Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. The fall of the Berlin Wall. Reagan’s
presidency. Clinton and Lewinsky.
Talk about hunting over a baited field!
Much of the talk has been serious.
There’s been a lot of fun also. One of my favorite scams was the 1988 Georgia
Cat Chasing Championships. Cat lovers, you’re going to love this one.
Here’s what we did: I told my listeners we were going to do a remote broadcast
from “some airport in South Georgia,” where the Georgia round of the
National Cat Chasing Championship was going to be held.
Cat chasing? Simple: You take a cat and about eight sky divers in an airplane
up to around 12,000 feet. You toss the cat out, and the eight skydivers
tumble out to give chase. The first skydiver who lands with a cat wins.
So there I am, promoting this thing for weeks. Cat lovers are going nuts. All
the while we’re preparing for the broadcast. We put together a cast to play
the cat-chasing contestants. We gather the necessary sound effects: wind,
aircraft engines, flapping parachutes, howling cats and the noise of the
To create the sound effect of a cat that had not been successfully caught, we
dropped 5 pounds of wet paper towels on a tile floor. Very realistic.
The day of the competition arrives. The actors assemble in the studios. The
Fulton County sheriff is downstairs demanding to know where this atrocity is
going to be held. We won’t talk to him.
What an hour. A Hall of Fame Hour, if I don’t say so myself. It wasn’t until
the last 10 seconds of the program that I told the listeners they had been
had. In the meantime, multiple advertisers pulled their ads.
If I had more space I could have told you about the dolphins who infiltrated
the torpedo tubes of a nuclear sub and threatened to nuke Los Angeles if
those durned tuna fishermen continued snagging them in their nets. Some
Forty years of stirrin’ the puddin’, and I’m just getting started.
Neal Boortz’s column will appear every Saturday. For more Boortz, go to www.boortz.com.
The family of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. has served notice to Gov. Nathan Deal that it wants input into any monument to the slain civil rights leader erected on state Capitol grounds – if the state expects free use of King’s copyrighted likeness.