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August 20, 1953
James "The Poorman" Trenton (born August 20, 1953) is an American radio broadcaster. He is known as the host of Loveline on KROQ-FM in Los Angeles from 1983 to 1993 and currently hosts a daily one-hour program at KCAA in Loma Linda, California. He currently writes for OC Weekly.
- 1 Career in radio
- 2 Internet broadcasting
- 3 Onscreen
- 4 Gubernatorial campaign
- 5 Personal life
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Career in radio
Under "The Poorman" moniker, Trenton wrote and self-published two guidebooks about dining in the Los Angeles area on a budget. In May 1981, Trenton broadcast his first of several reviews of inexpensive restaurants on KROQ.
Trenton continued as the local "stoned" surf reporter who was the butt of jokes from the morning DJs on KROQ. From there, he became one of the station's most popular figures.
Trenton created Loveline in 1983 as a Sunday night dating and relationships segment on Los Angeles radio station KROQ, hosted by Trenton, DJ Swedish Egil (Egil Aalvik), and Scott Mason. As Trenton found himself unable to answer serious medical questions related to sexual issues he added a segment called "Ask a Surgeon," and later "On Call with Dr. Drew," hosted by his friend Dr. Drew Pinsky, who at the time, was a fourth-year medical student at the University of Southern California.
On August 20, 1993, Trenton responded to a prank performed on him by fellow KROQ DJ Gene "Bean" Baxter. Trenton organized approximately 300 listeners to gather on the front lawn of Bean's house at midnight, to celebrate Trenton's birthday, and Bean complained to the station's management, which responded by terminating Trenton's employment. That month, he was replaced on Loveline by former MTV VJ Riki Rachtman.
The hugely popular Loveline continued to thrive without Trenton, earning many millions of dollars, and becoming syndicated. It also had a televised run on MTV for a number of years.
In 1994, Trenton sued KROQ, and demanded a piece of the revenues from Loveline. The court ruled against Trenton, citing that Loveline was created as part of Trenton's employment at KROQ, thereby making it their property. Trenton appealed the decision, but that was also unsuccessful.
On December 8, 1998, Trenton filed a $40 million copyright infringement lawsuit against MTV in the Los Angeles District Court, claiming the network stole his idea for their televised version of Loveline, which he had pitched to them several times in 1996. That suit was also dismissed.
In January 2010, Trenton accused Dr. Drew of cocaine abuse during their Loveline days. This accusation appeared in Life & Style Magazine.
During next several years, Trenton worked at several Los Angeles-area radio stations. After departing KROQ, he hosted shows on GrooveRadio (103.1), KIIS-FM (102.7), KPWR-FM (105.9), and twice at KYSR-FM (98.7).
His first stint at KYSR in 2001 lasted only one night, ending in his termination after he ran an unauthorized contest on his show. Without station management's permission, he ran a contest that awarded a new car to the listener who destroyed the most valuable object on the air. Many outrageous acts of destruction were subsequently perpetrated, including one caller who purposely drove his own car into a wall. The caller who totaled his car did not win the contest, and sued the station. KYSR management immediately terminated Trenton upon learning of this contest, which ultimately cost the station over $100,000.
In 1999, Poorman found himself unable to find employment in southern California radio. Instead, he purchased airtime and hosted his own music program in 1999 called Anti-Radio, specializing in independent bands. It ran on various small stations with weak signals, and never established a large listenership. When requesting call-ins from listeners, Trenton would often get no calls at all, prompting him to go on long rants about how the show was a failure. The radio station had no screeners or 7-second delay for phone calls, so the show was also the victim of prank callers who purposely called solely to utter profanity on the air. The program's run ended when the station badly needed Trenton's air slot, and bought him out for $300,000.
He returned again to radio in 2005 with a Loveline clone known as Love Calls, which aired on sports station KMPC 1540. Like Anti-Radio, Trenton also owned this show, but KMPC required him to utilize one of their employees to screen calls and monitor for inappropriate content. Within a short time, KMPC decided it was unhappy with the raunchy nature of Love Calls, and abruptly yanked it from the air. Trenton threatened to sue the station for lost revenues, stating that their agreement stated that the KMPC-employed board operator was responsible for monitoring and dumping inappropriate content. Therefore, Trenton argued, he was not to blame for anything foul that reached the airwaves. The station realized they were indeed vulnerable to such a lawsuit, and reluctantly let the show continue. After running for about five months, Trenton discovered that the show could not bring in enough money to support KMPC's studio and airtime fees, and he would have to close it down. He reached a mutually beneficial agreement with KMPC, where they bought out the remainder of the show's contract, and the show terminated.
From the end of Love Calls in 2005 until late 2010, Trenton was unable to find a paid position in radio, and was unwilling to continue paying for airtime himself.
He finally appeared again on the radio in November 2010, on Loma Linda, California station KCAA 1050 AM, an NBC News Radio affiliate. His new program was initially called Poorman's Radio Invasion, airing for an hour on weekday afternoons. He was not paid for the show, but worked in a revenue-share situation, where he received 50% of ad revenue. However, Trenton himself was expected to find and sign his own advertisers for the program. One notable feature of the show was a medical marijuana giveaway—the first of its kind on terrestrial radio. However, the format failed to attract many listeners, causing Trenton to spend much of the time complaining about the show's apparent failure. The medical marijuana giveaway was dropped after the show's primary sponsor, a medical marijuana dispensary, canceled their advertising contract. He changed the format several times, including abandoning the show's name and theme music. One of the attempted changes was a revival of his original Loveline format. However, his problems of receiving few telephone calls persisted, and Trenton abandoned that format, as well. The program was removed from the lineup in late September 2011, while Trenton prepared for a new syndicated radio program based out of New York City.
On October 10, 2011, Trenton began his syndicated show, called Poorman's Nation. Despite originally being promoted as a live call-in show, Poorman's Nation instead consisted solely of taped interviews from Occupy Wall Street. The program was syndicated by the Genesis Communications Network, but had just one affiliate – KCAA, which carried his original Radio Invasion program earlier in the year. Trenton conducted his on-the-street interviews while wearing only a Depression-era-style barrel, which earned him some degree of media attention, including an appearance on The Young Turks. However, the show failed to pick up any additional affiliates or local sponsors, and was canceled by the syndicator on November 7, 2011. On June 4, 2012, Trenton returned to KCAA. Similar to his previous show on KCAA, Trenton did this through a revenue-share agreement. The name of his show started as "Haters Radio", aimed at discussing the things Trenton and his audience hated, but failed to get much of a response. Trenton abandoned the format and tried several others, including a showcase of 1980s punk music. Trenton left KCAA on October 12, 2012, shortly after losing all of the show's sponsors due to lack of audience response, as well as several on-air spats with the new KCAA board operator.
On July 1, 2013, Trenton started a pay-per-month podcast on his longtime personal website, poorman.com. He stated that he would refuse to broadcast until he had at least 100 paid subscribers at $10 per month. On its launch date, he had 125 subscribers. Despite it being a subscription-based podcast, Trenton made the unorthodox and somewhat controversial decision to run advertisements, and the initial podcast had four sponsors. Trenton was noticeably intoxicated during the podcast's pilot episode, and spent the entire show complaining about Dr. Drew Pinsky. The podcast was canceled after two months, with Trenton citing low subscription numbers as the reason.
In 2009, Trenton hosted an interactive internet TV show called LuvChat. It began in February 2009, and was intended to be a web-based, censorship-free version of Loveline. Trenton hosted the show from his beachfront home in Newport Beach, California. Its primary sponsor was the so-called "male-enhancement" product ExtenZe. The show was able to take multiple calls from viewers via telephone, Skype, or webcam. It aired every weeknight from 7 to 9 pm.
With minimal marketing behind it, LuvChat did not initially attract a large audience. Frustrated with the performance of the show, Trenton retooled its format in June 2009, changing it to a showcase of popular YouTube talent. The show featured interviews with VenetianPrincess, Shane Dawson, Jared from Friday Night Cranks, and many other top-ranked YouTube performers. This substantially increased the size of the LuvChat audience, though it also skewed much younger. The original show's audience typically ranged between 18 and 45 years old. The newer version of the show mainly attracted minors, with some as young as 10 years old. Trenton received some criticism for continuing to advertise ExtenZe on the program. LuvChat hit its peak viewership on July 7, 2009, when over 10,000 viewers watched the program.
LuvChat also featured LuvChat 24/7 over the summer of 2009, where Trenton never turned off the camera, and the viewers would constantly interact with him.
The show largely lost its footing in August 2009, when its technical crew quit at the start of a show due to a dispute with Trenton. LuvChat completely ceased to exist in November 2009.
In the late 1980s, Trenton hosted a show on KDOC called Request Video. This was a live show featuring videos of primarily rock and independent bands. In addition, Trenton took live phone calls and interviewed bands. His show was the first to interview the then-unknown Gwen Stefani and her band No Doubt. He quit after 15 months, complaining that the show did not pay him.
In 1994, Trenton hosted a nightly television show on KDOC called The Love Channel. Trenton owned the show and bought the airtime from KDOC, giving him full control of its content and advertising revenue. However, the show was failing to support itself financially, as its ad revenue could not break even with KDOC's high airtime fees. Knowing the end was coming, Trenton did the live show in the nude. KDOC pulled it from the air the next day.
Poorman's Bikini Beach
In 1999, Trenton again returned to the television landscape, producing a program called Poorman's Bikini Beach. Like The Love Channel, Poorman owned and controlled the show, renting airtime from various television stations. However, unlike The Love Channel, the show was not live, and was much cheaper to produce and air. It ran off-and-on over subsequent years, frequently switching television stations. It would typically air sometime between 11 pm and 1 am. The program ran for several years on Los Angeles station KJLA.
Trenton canceled the program on January 17, 2011, after expressing dissatisfaction that he had to pay for the airtime himself. Poorman's Bikini Beach briefly returned to California TV on UHF station KBEH in September, but was canceled on January 6, 2012. Again, Trenton had purchased that airtime and sold his own ads for the show.
Appearances and stints
He appeared as an extra on the program Boardwalk Empire, which aired in October 2012.
In 2014, Trenton appeared on episode two of Frankenfood on Spike TV. His creation, the Nuclear Torpedo, also called a "Poor Man's Giant Garbage Burrito" was panned by all three judges. Host Tony Luke, Jr. bet $100 that a dog would not eat Trenton's giant burrito, and, in fact, the dog refused a eat Trenton's creation.
Trenton has also appeared in four films, including the 1987 B movie North Shore as the opening surf contest announcer, the 1989 hit Heathers (as the 'Hot Probs' D.J.) and the 1990 film Men at Work (as the narrator).
Trenton was a member of SAG/AFTRA.
Trenton completed law school while in his 20s, but did not pass the California State Bar exam. This occurred before he got involved in radio.
In 1990, Trenton married a KROQ bikini girl who was 16 years his junior. The marriage lasted for less than two years, but did produce a son.
Trenton has indicated on several radio shows that he has not had sex since 2003. He states that this is not by choice, but rather due to the fact that attractive women will no longer sleep with him since he lost his high-profile Loveline job.
- James 'Poorman' Trenton, IMDB.com
- These guidebooks are:
- The Poorman (1979). The Poorman's Guide to Gourmet Dining in Pasadena for Under $6.00. Pasadena, California: Poorman Productions. OCLC 22971551.
- The Poorman (September 1980). The Poorman's Guide to Gourmet Dining on the Westside of Town for Under $6.00. Pasadena, California: Poorman Productions. OCLC 7511540.
- Trenton v. Infinity Broadcasting Corp., 865 F.Supp. 1416 (United States District Court, C.D. California 6 September 1994).
- Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (6 February 1999). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 69–. ISSN 0006-2510.
- Matsumoto, Jon (May 23, 1994). "Rachtman Tunes In With 'Loveline'". Retrieved 26 July 2014.
- Coker, Matt (2010-01-22). "Gossip Mag Picks Up Poorman's Dr. Drew Tales". OC Weekly. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
- Airwaves: December 12, 2008. Socalradiowaves.com (2008-12-12). Retrieved on 2013-05-02.
- Barrett, Don. "Where Are They Now? – Los Angeles Radio People, P". LARadio.com. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
- "The Poorman's Radio Invasion". KCAA. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
- "Poorman's Nation". Retrieved 2011-10-10.[dead link]
- "'Poorman's Nation' helps Occupy Wall Street find a voice on the radio". The Young Turks Blog. 2011-10-19. Archived from the original on 24 October 2011.
- Details of Poorman's Bikini Beach were documented by OC Weekly:
- Larsen, Peter (2006-12-08). "'Poorman' perseveres". Orange County Register.
- [dead link]
- [dead link]
- Additional sources
- The Unofficial ALT.FAN.KROQ FAQ at the Wayback Machine (archived October 27, 2009)
- James "Poorman" Trenton v. MTV, March 1, 2006 at the Wayback Machine (archived January 20, 2000)
- "L.A. Stories: Poorman saved". Los Angeles Business Journal. April 18, 2005.