Originally posted Friday, June 28, 2019 by RODNEY HOemail@example.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
For decades, radio station DJs have used nicknames such as Wolfman Jack and Moby. The 1970s sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati” created a DJ who went by Venus Flytrap. In some cases, the jock names were meant to exude cool. In other cases, it was more for privacy purposes.
Even in 2019, many jocks in Atlanta still use fictional stage names. Sometimes, bosses want catchier or more memorable names on air. In the olden days, it was a way to erase “ethnicity.” (Casey Kasem’s real first name was Kemal.)
Pseudonyms are far more common on local music stations than talk stations where hosts such as Mark Arum, Eric Von Haessler, Clark Howard and Rashad Richey keep it real.
Urban station hosts tend to go with flashier stage names. There’s V-103’s Big Tigger (real name: Darian Morgan). There’s the station’s morning host Frank Ski, who goes by Frank Rodriguez on his driver’s license. Greg Street is Greg Polk. Streetz 94.5 has jocks by the names of Jazzy McBee, Ferrari Simmons and Shawty Shawty.
Pop station jocks are more apt to use their real names. And when they do change them, they tend to go with names that are easy to understand. Mid-day host Rachel Ryan on Q100 rolls off the tongue, for instance, more than her real name Rachel Jones.
Some work hard to keep their real names unattached to their radio names e.g. Sasha the Diva and DJ Scream.
Several jocks in town do use the names on their driver’s license such as Majic afternoon host Ryan Cameron, Star morning host Jenn Hobby, V-103 mid-day host Ramona DeBreaux and Rock 100.5 morning host Jason Bailey.
Cameron said in his early airchecks while getting into radio, he used the admittedly ridiculous name Ted Flex. One day, someone wanted to book an appearance with “Ted Flex” and left an answering machine message. His mom heard it and was offended. “I named you Ryan Cameron!” she told him. So he stuck with it.
Bailey, when he worked at stations in Florida, had picked up the amusing nickname Buckethead. “I didn’t love it,” he said, “but I created a brand with it and people always remembered it so there were some positives.” Still, he was happy to dispense with it in Atlanta and just go by Jason Bailey.
Bert Weiss of Q100 has always required his staff on the Bert Show to use their real names on air going back to the start of the show in 2001. “Fakes names = old school,” he said.
Sometimes, jocks use initials or variants of their actual name.
B98.5 morning host Tad Lemire’s real first name is almost exactly the same. Ditto with Majic’s mid-day host Maria More. Fish 104.7 morning host Kevin Avery uses his real first name and his middle name as an on-air last name.
English Nick on 97.1/The River is actually Nick Parsons but he is the only jock in town with a British accent so that nickname stuck.
Power 96.1 morning host goes by PK because his real name is Panagiotis Kalentzis.
“It took me way longer than it should have to figure out I could just use initials,” said PK. “I wanted to be as real as possible so a stage name was out. My high school had an off-campus classical music radio station where I used the entire thing. I shorted it when I got my first real radio job... I like to say it on air so people get why my name is PK.”
Steve McCoy, former Star 94 morning host, said his high school girlfriend nicknamed him Steve from a character in the film “What’s Up Doc.” And while breaking into radio, he wanted a name that people could remember and write in the ratings diaries.
He found McCoy in the phone book at age 20 and never looked back. As an inside joke in the 2000s, the Bert Show on Q100 hired an intern Mark Owens and named him Phil Terrana, McCoy’s real name. Coming full circle, Owens - his real name - recently joined the Star 94.1 new morning show.
Cadillac Jack, morning host on Kicks 101.5, was given a more country-sounding name by his boss in part because his real name sounds more like a “Downtown Abbey” character: William Hyde Choate.
B98.5 morning host Drex Rener grew up going by PJ but in one of his early jobs, there was a JP at a rival station. So he had no choice but to come up with a new name.
Q100 host afternoon host Adam Bomb on air, Adam Baum on some social media pages and Adam Hapeman on real estate records.
Radio creates a special intimacy with listeners, some who become a obsessed and sometimes potentially dangerous. A fake name provides a layer of privacy to make it a little harder for stalkers to harass them, according to 94.9/The Bull host Spencer Graves, who uses his real name.
He himself said he has had six viable death threats over the years but he never felt the need to change his name.
OG 97.9 morning host Rick Party - whose name is pure fiction - said stalkers tend to be drawn by “the lure of fame and the facade wrapped around what people may believe is a perfect life. For others, we're a degree away from the famous celebrities they admire most.”
Though he has revealed his first name publicly (Zurek), he keeps his last name tight to the vest: “I’ve had too many stalkers that have found my home and families’ homes because they wanted to delve further.”
One rabid fan of his while he worked at V-103 in the late 1990s followed him to Chicago, where he had a new job. That really scared him.
Kaedy Kiely, afternoon host on 97.1/ The River, uses her real name, even if her last name gets frequently misspelled.
“I did have a lousy experience with a stalker many years ago,” she said. “He knew how to find out stuff about me via computer way before we all used computers 24/7. think changing your name for privacy purposes nowadays probably doesn’t work too well since people have such easy access to info.”