Don and Mike Show
Don and Mike Show logo
|Running time||4 hours|
|Starring||Don Geronimo and Mike O'Meara|
|Air dates||12-11-1985 to 4-11-2008|
The Don and Mike Show was an American nationally syndicated radio talk show hosted by the shock jocks Don Geronimo and Mike O'Meara, which aired from December 1985 through April 11, 2008, when Geronimo retired in order to focus on his personal life. After Geronimo's retirement, the remaining cast members formed The Mike O'Meara Show. In the later years, the show was carried on 20-30 stations across the United States by the CBS-owned Westwood One Radio Network. The show's flagship station was 106.7 WJFK in Washington DC. In 2007 the show ranked #66 in the Talkers Magazine Heavy 100. The show's last live regular episode with Don Geronimo was broadcast March 13, 2008. Don Geronimo hosted a farewell show April 11, 2008. The show debuted on WAVA in 1985 as The Morning Zoo with Don and Mike. The official name of the show became The Don and Mike Show when the duo moved to WJFK-FM in 1991.
The show was co-hosted by Don Geronimo (real name: Mike Sorce) and Mike O'Meara. News briefs and occasional commentary were provided by Buzz Burbank. The show was most recently produced by former show intern Robb Spewak. Phone calls were screened by Joe Ardinger (sometimes referred to as the "World's Oldest Phone Screener"), who also contributed to the show and broadcasts his own show on Saturday nights on WJFK-FM.
The show included four news reporters over the course of its run. David Haines (1985–1989), the program's original newsman, died on July 10, 2005. Laurie Neff, the second newsperson, is known for getting into a traffic accident with Washington DC mayor Marion Barry. Dave Schreiber served as the show's third newsman until 1991 when Buzz Burbank arrived and continued in the position through the end of the Don and Mike show and on to the successor show hosted by O'Meara.
WAVA and WJFK-FM subscribe to the traffic services of fellow CBS Radio subsidiary Metro Traffic. Former Washington traffic reporters include Kim "Boomer" Anderson, Rob Carpenter, Janet DeLaney, Kris Gamble, Stevie Bridgewater, and Shari Elliker (1992–1996) Elliker co-hosted the Broadminded radio program on XM Radio and currently hosts her own show on WBAL in Baltimore, Maryland. The show also took advantage of the service's offer to allow the show to provide pseudonyms for its traffic reporter. Over the years, "Michael Hunt", "Vera Bruptly", "Lane Closure", "Jason Feces", and "Michelle Hughes" (a take-off on "Michael Hughes", WJFK's general manager) were heard on the WJFK-FM feed of the show (not on affiliate feeds).
Others featured on the show
The show had a number of producers throughout its run. While at WAVA, John Nolan (1985–1986) was the first producer. Frank Murphy (1986–1991) opted to stay with WAVA when Don and Mike left the station for WJFK. Murphy has since moved to Los Angeles and worked at KROQ-FM and KLOS. Diana Silman (1991–1996) began the WJFK era for the show. She later left to become a program director on March 7, 1996. The current producer and a former show intern, Robb Spewak served as producer for a time after Silman and before Charlie Broyhill (1997–2001) arrived, followed by Lisa Herndon-Broyhill (2002–2004). Beth Ann McBride (2004–2005) left, citing the high cost of living in the Washington area, and to have her own show on WSJS in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She has since left that job and returned to Washington to work on O'Meara's successor show. Robb Spewak picked up producing duties again until March 2007 and then again in October 2007 Robb Spewak took over the role of producer.
In keeping with the open environment on the show, phone screeners were sometimes featured on air. In addition to Joe Ardinger, Joe Rockhead, and Christine CK2 were featured. Engineers Darryl Nichols, Tony Diggs, and NRA member and gun enthusiast Wendell Hall received airtime as well.
Executives and managers at WJFK were also featured on the show. Former WJFK-FM production director, Chris Madzik, was featured frequently before he left in 1996 for Detroit. WAVA general managers Alan Goodman and Ken Stevens as well as WJFK-FM general managers Alan Leinwand and Michael Hughes were frequent targets for the show. Program directors Smoky Rivers, Jeremy Coleman, Cameron Gray, Greg Gillespie, Max Dugan, Matthew Verbin and Matt Farber received similar treatment.
Unlike other similar radio shows, the Don and Mike show did not always have an intern; those it did have, however, were often featured on the program. Producer Robb Spewak started as an intern on April 2, 1992. Other former interns included, The Menendez Brothers (Lowell Melser, Marc Ronick) Jimmy the Intern, "B.O. Bob" (Bob Cesca) (news intern reporting to Buzz Burbank) and, most recently, Matt the Intern (AKA Matt the Pole) who worked with the show from June–August 2007.
In 1985 Don Geronimo was doing afternoons on WAVA-FM. That year, the station asked him to move to mornings, and Geronimo, who had heard O'Meara entertaining station employees with impressions, asked whether O'Meara could serve as a co-host during his new time slot. The new program would replace the "Charlie and Harrigan Show".
WAVA debuted "The New Morning zoo" on December 11, 1985, pairing up hosts Don Geronimo and Mike O'Meara. It also featured David Haines with news, Kim Anderson (nicknamed "Boomer" or Kim "Boom Boom" Anderson) on traffic reports, and was produced by John Nolan. Nolan was later replaced by producer Frank Murphy. Whenever anything went wrong with the show, Don or Mike would shout "Fraaaank". The original format interspersed talk and comedy bits with top-40 music.
For several weeks during the summer of 1987, Geronimo and O'Meara hosted their own Washington, DC-based television series, "The Prime Time Video Zoo", which was aired on the local CBS affiliate WUSA. Airing weekly at 8pm, the show was taped with a small studio audience and featured several bits from the radio program as well as O'Meara's impressions and D.C. area personalities, with segments of Top-40 music videos.
Haines was the first show "regular" to leave for a better offer elsewhere, departing for more money at WPLJ in New York City in 1989. Haines' replacement was Laurie Neff. Dave Schreiber succeeded Neff.
Geronimo's wife was a DJ at the time of the debut of the show, using the radio name "Laura Petrie." Geronimo's young son Bart Sorce made appearances on the early stages of the show as "Bart the Weatherman."
In June 1991 WAVA was purchased by Salem Communications. At first, Salem was known primarily as a religious broadcaster. But it had a few secularly programmed stations, and indicated it might be interested in maintaining a contemporary music format on WAVA if Don & Mike would stay on as the morning show. When the duo accepted a better offer from crosstown WJFK, Salem later announced that it would be changing WAVA's format to Christian music & teaching.
The show debuted in the afternoons on WJFK on October 1, 1991. After a two-month hiatus, the show had changed time slots, stations and producers, with Diana Silman replacing Frank Murphy. Mike Elston, known on the show as Buzz Burbank, joined the show in December 1991. The program evolved after the move, adding Burbank and traffic reporter Shari Liquour (real name Shari Elliker) to the cast. Robb Spewak joined the show as an intern in 1992. He would perform various stunts.
The program was added to the lineup of WNEW in New York, and moved to mid-days in 2001. The move was billed as an opportunity to maximize the show's potential, and promote fellow Infinity Broadcasting network program Opie and Anthony. It didn't work. The program garnered low ratings in New York. The show was #1 in Washington, DC during its last ratings book for mid-days but was removed from the WNEW lineup.
The last day in mid-days was August 21, 2002. The program returned to afternoons on September 3, 2002, in most of the markets where it had been broadcast before the move. In late 2006, the show went on an extended hiatus without explanation.
When the show started broadcasting again live on January 2, 2007, it was revealed that Don had been angry since the death of Freda, and he felt that he had not had time to properly grieve. Don was also feeling guilty about feeling happy without Freda. For all intents and purposes Don and Mike thought that the show was done, but after a few weeks Don accepted his bosses' offer to take the rest of 2006 off, get his head together with the help of a counselor, and then return in 2007.  Contrary to popular belief, a new contract was not in the negotiations for Don & Mike's return to the airwaves, and the duo still planned to close out their contract in late 2008.
Don Geronimo announced on February 4, 2008, that he would leave the show on May 30. That date was moved up to April 11, 2008, in a surprise announcement from the WJFK program director which also included the return of Beth Ann McBride as producer. The show was then known as The Mike O'Meara Show. It continued along with a similar format, minus Don, up until July 2009 when the show was cancelled following the decision to turn WJFK into a sports talk station. Westwood One also continued to syndicate the show in its new lineup up until its cancellation. The Mike O'Meara Show took a 5 month hiatus and returned as a daily podcast in December 2009. Don Geronimo now broadcasts out of Washington D.C. WJFK 106.7 The Fan from 7-11 PM EST.
On August 17, 1999, the show called an El Cenizo, Tex. city councilwoman and lampooned the community's decision to conduct official business in Spanish. The FCC fined Infinity Broadcasting $4,000, the minimum amount, for "willful violation of Section 73.1206 of the Commission’s rules, the unauthorized broadcast of a telephone conversation." TD&MS 8-17-1999
On February 3, 2004, a pair of expletives ("bullshit"--twice, and the word "masturbation") spoken by Geronimo were not censored by the usual delay, resulting in a shakeup of the show. The show was subsequently suspended for two weeks. When they returned on February 20, 2004, their first show included four consecutive hours of music.
The move toward reverb fluctuated throughout the life of the show. When Don became program director of WJFK-FM for a short time, he ordered reverb be added to the entire station, and years before that, when the duo first appeared on WJFK in October 1991 a caller asked, "Where's the reverb?" The show on WAVA-FM had used heavy reverb.
On December 16, 1994, the program broadcast live from the El Dorado Casino in Reno, Nev. In 1996 the show produced "Sex, Pies and Videotape", a video which featured Don and Mike taking a bus full of listeners to a local nudist colony for an Olympic style event, during which all of the contestants were nude.
In July 2003 the Don and Mike Show also collaborated with Brocket 99 radio station to promote the self-deprecating humour of Ernie Scar, a supposedly Native American aboriginal that stereotypes life on the local reserve nearby. A 2005 documentatory titled "Brocket 99 - Rockin' the Country", by Nilesh Patel illustrates this point by raising the issue in an effort to bridge the cultural divide. However, the segments featuring Brocket 99 on Don and Mikes' Radio show triggered no public outcry.
The show developed both good and bad relationships with several Hollywood celebrities over the years. Leah Remini was a great friend of the show. Don and Mike have visited with Leah in her home and appeared on the King of Queens. Leah's appearances were so frequent on the show that she had an ISDN line installed in her home; however, she was unable to contribute to the show at the same level for longer periods of time. Max Baer, Jr., star of The Beverly Hillbillies, feuded with Don and Mike after they made fun of his idea to open a Beverly Hillbillies casino in Reno, Nevada. He claimed on local radio he would "spend the rest of [his] life badmouthing Don and Mike."
Carl R. Grossman, a former frequent caller, pleaded guilty in May 2007 to stalking charges in connection with a letter sent to Don Geronimo at his home threatening him and his family. A judge has placed a lifetime restraining order on Grossman against any contact with Geronimo or his family. Shortly after, Grossman lost employment working on a help desk for Loudoun County employees. He was later diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a developmental disorder that shares traits with Autism. Grossman died Aug. 22, 2009, at his home in Leesburg of respiratory failure.
The death of Freda Sorce
On Sunday, July 10, 2005, Don's wife Freda Wright-Sorce died after being involved in an automobile accident, and the following day, O'Meara and the crew, minus Geronimo, broke the news to listeners. The first hour of the program featured calls from concerned listeners, most of whom expressed condolences. The show attempted thereafter to return to the usual format, though it held a somewhat somber tone for the rest of the day. Segment 1 of 3 of The Don & Mike Show 7-11-2005
On August 1, 2005, Geronimo returned to the air without O'Meara, speaking frankly as Michael Sorce, about the events of the previous month. He began the segment by playing the Beach Boys' 1964 hit "Don't Worry Baby", which he said was his and his wife's "special song". He went on for 2hrs and 18 minutes commercial-free as a memorial to Freda before finally ending his part of the show and running "Best Of" for the remainder. August 2nd marked the return of the "normal" show. The Don & Mike Show 8/1/2005
Friends of the show
- James Brown: Host of CBS's NFL Today show.
- Jim Nantz: "Mr. CBS", affectionately referred to on the show as "Nancy" and "she".
- Dick Van Patten: actor, comedian, dog food entrepreneur.
- Patton Oswalt: stand-up comedian, longtime Don & Mike fan. Loves to talk comics with Don.
- Frank Caliendo: stand-up comedian/impressionist, Featured performer on MADtv for several seasons.
- Jim Elliot: Competing DJ of "Elliot and Woodside", later worked at WAVA with Don and Mike, later worked at Arista Records, and currently; analyzes radio airplay.
- Al Molinaro Star of Happy Days and the Encore family dinners TV spots. A former "go to" celebrity Don and Mike would call to offer birthday wishes or to simply say "hi". In the closing months of the show, Don and Mike tried to verify whether Al was still alive, attempting in vain to contact him by fax and phone.
- Topper Shutt: WUSA 9 chief meteorologist
- Cheryl the Big Dyke: activist and contributor to the show on all things gay and lesbian. Cheryl died of myeloid leukemia on September 4, 2007.
- Don Geronimo (as Michael Sorce) on Internet Movie Database
- Mike O'Meara on Internet Movie Database
- One on one with Buzz Burbank
- HoboTrashcan.com's tribute to Don Geronimo
- The Belcher's website
- The Don & Mike Show Radio Archives A website with Podcasts of Old Don & Mike Shows
- "Don Geronimo's Sayonara Song". WashingtonPost.com. 2008-02-23. Retrieved 2008-06-08.
- "2007 Heavy 100". Talkers Magazine. Retrieved 2007-08-04.
- Stern, Mike. "Geronimo Pulls The Rip Cord". Radio and Records. Retrieved 2008-04-03.
- "Obituaries". Washington Post. 2005-07-13. pp. B05.
- "Barry". Washington Post. 1988-06-22.
- The Don and Mike Show, December 11, 1995
- 12/11/95, ibid
- "WJFK's Don Geronimo to Retire This Month". Express (Washington Post). Archived from the original on 2008-04-06. Retrieved 2008-04-08.
- Rowland, Kara (2008-02-05). "Don Geronimo to leave talk-radio show". Washington Times. Retrieved 2008-02-05.
- "Legendary Don Geronimo to Exit WJFK-FM on May 30". Radio Online. 2008-02-05. Archived from the original on 2008-05-04. Retrieved 2008-02-05.
- "O’Meara out in WJFK format change". InsideNova.com. 2009-07-14. Retrieved 2009-07-16.
- "NOTICE OF APPARENT LIABILITY FOR FORFEITURE". Orders of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
- The Don & Mike Show Tues, Feb 3, 2004 (Via Paintyourbaldspot.com) At about 01hr 45m into the show Don rants about how they have a delay for the show and yet they won't let them say the word for "getting your jerk on"--masturbation--but yet all other euphemisms for that word are permitted. Don then begins to describe the hypocrisy that [[Don Imus]] and drop the BS-bomb ("bullshit") and nothing happens except a small apology from the station. Don proceeds to call this "bullshit": Don: "That's bullshit! That's bullshit! I'm gonna see if they're gonna hit the [delay] button when I say it." Buzz: "Repeating it won't help." [at 1hr 48 20sec]: Don: "They probably just hit it again because I just said 'masturbation'."
- The Don and Mike Show: January 18. 2007
- Hughes, Dave (2007-05-23). "Jail Time For Man Who Threatened Geronimo". DCRTV. Retrieved 2007-06-22.
- "Obituaries". WashingtonPost.com. 2009-09-01. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
- "Wife of Popular Radio Host Killed in Crash". WBOC-TV. 2005-07-11. Retrieved 2007-06-24.