Sure, it might seem like a strange marriage – two, short, exceedingly handsome middle aged East Baltimore guys on one radio station mix in an era of instant mobile video delivery with a lot of sports, a ton of Baltimore institutional knowledge and a strange brew of comedy and conversation to break up the monotony. But, that’s where we’re headed at WNST.net & AM 1570 as we continue to grow, evolve, change and embrace a new day in local radio.
So, why will Mickey Cucchiella and WNST be a happy match for Baltimore radio listeners and social media fans in March of 2015? I’ll do my best to explain our rationale and plans. I’m also very appreciative that so many of you care about my radio station and our future plans for expansion and dominance with a distinct local flavor. I’m also forever indebted for the kindness many of you have expressed over the past 11 months while my wife, Jennifer, battled for her life and beat leukemia with a bone marrow transplant.
About 10 years ago, when I was still living in White Marsh, my phone rang at 6:30 in the morning and awakened me from a sound sleep. It was Mickey. He was new on morning FM radio at that point but certainly not new to comedy and he wanted to have me on 98 Rock as an impromptu guest. Of course, the “powers that be” at WBAL – two guys named Ed Kiernan and Jeff Beauchamp – despised me for years but I’m not sure Mickey knew that at the time when he tried to put me on his show (or their radio station). Cucchiella didn’t think of me as a “competitor” or “the enemy” like some did (and do) on TV Hill.
I was, simply, his old sports and rock and roll friend.
Those of you who have listened to the morning zoo radio format over the years know that this is the oldest trick in the book. The “celebrity/friend wake up call” is a staple of hilarity. You call super early, you wake someone up, they’re kinda pissed or clearly half awake and bewildered and some semblance of hilarity or a mini “punked” episode ensues and everyone winds up laughing about it if they have a sense of humor.
Being the wak-ee, I played along until I figured out that Mickey didn’t want to embarrass me or give me a hard time at all. He just had some crazy sports question that he couldn’t answer. In my previous life – before the internet when you couldn’t just Google stuff and get answers – this is what I did on the radio, played the role of expert and bar-bet judge and jury.
“If it’s a sports knowledge question, just call Nestor…he’ll know the answer!”
I can’t even remember what the topic was or why he woke me up but I do remember saying to Mickey repeatedly on 98 Rock that morning: “C’mon Mick, where’s the part where you insult me, embarrass me or punk me?”
But, nah – he never did. He just wanted a sports bet settled on the radio. I was actually a little disappointed that he was so nice to me.
It’s the only time I’ve ever had any sort of public conversation or done live radio with Mickey Cucchiella. Well, there have been a few times where I’ve gone to Burke’s half-drunk for the late show and heckled him from the crowd. But, always keeping in mind, that heckling a man of his height and intellect would surely bring about abrupt and ruthless repercussions. I wanted him to insult me like Don Rickles! It was a badge of honor to be annihilated by the best comedian to ever come from Baltimore!
I know Mickey from around town. I’ve known him most of my life. In my previous, Almost Famous life, I met him backstage at Hammerjacks in the 1980s when he was a manager there and I was the local music critic from The Evening Sun, who interviewed bands, wrote reviews and observed heavy metal groupies. Mickey later owned a bar in Fallston. Then he did stand up comedy. Then, he did radio at 98 Rock and became famous. We’ve always remained friends and always laughed whenever we’ve been in the same room.
Mickey will be the first to tell you that he isn’t a sports expert but he’s most certainly a sports fan and a radio personality that has been amongst the best and most successful of my lifetime in Baltimore.
If you know me – or if you know Mickey – and probably together we know roughly 92% of all Baltimoreans who’ve ever drank a beer on 33rd Street, attended a concert at Merriweather or Ramshead, cheered for the Ravens or Orioles, or wiped Old Bay off our fingers – you probably know us from our association to doing quality radio.
(BTW: please continue to give our regards to Jane Goldstrom, Andy Malis or any of the rest of the MGH crew who continue to believe that guys like Mickey and I would be a “bad fit” to market a uniquely Baltimore product like Old Bay or OCMD because no one listens to our little, AM radio station. Just ask Arbitron!)
No one has ever done a better Baltimore morning comedy radio show than our new addition at WNST.
Here’s the truth: I only pay to see one local comedian – Mickey Cucchiella.
Mickey makes me laugh. He’s always made me laugh. Sometimes, he’s made me laugh so hard that I’ve been spotted sobbing uncontrollably on the second floor above Burke’s (which by the way makes some fantastic fried chicken these days at what is now my local Royal Farms.) And sometimes he’s made me laugh when I just randomly bump into him in a parking lot in White Marsh or walking up to his perch at a Ravens game.
Mickey can speak to his own reasons and rationale for leaving 98 Rock a few years ago. Clearly, the past year has been a whirlwind for me and my wife and her battle for her life with leukemia and the bone marrow transplant.
Life changes, things happen, people move on and we all are looking for better life and a happy home. We’re all looking to be surrounded by people we like and who make us smile. We all want people who add color to our lives.
So, for the foreseeable future, Mickey will be hanging out at WNST – in a limited but ever-expanding role – doing what he does.
And he does it better than anyone.
In general, my role in doing sports conversations won’t change a bit. But in between my relevant, topical conversations with people I like who know a lot about sports, Mickey Cucchiella will be doing his own “Mickey Minutes,” which will be heard throughout the day to bring some levity, some local fun, color and humor and authentic Baltimore flavor to our radio mix.
Most of the time, Mickey will be doing his own thing interspersed throughout our daily programming but on Fridays and weekends, you’ll hear some segments where we’ll be chatting with each other and attempting to have some fun as a radio tandem. Concerts, Orioles, Ravens, Hammerjacks memories, comedy, business, life, kids, economy, movies, television, girls, politics, entertainment, plus local issues, events and flavor will all be on the agenda when we do radio segments together. We’ll also attempt to deliver these segments on video as often as we can.
There’s even a chance that Mickey will play the role of Dr. Melfi for me every week as I ask him to explain the world to me.
As I said, I’ve done about 12 minutes of radio in my life with Mickey Cucchiella so this will be a fun experiment.
Not much will change for what I’m hoping to accomplish as the owner of WNST. We want to deliver and produce authentic, quality, listenable conversations on our radio format that makes you want to “see what’s on WNST” when you first jump into your car.
Maybe I’ll be talking with Barry Trotz and you don’t like hockey? Maybe you’ll catch John Harbaugh hanging out with us and think it’s cool. Maybe Luke Jones and I will be talking about the Orioles from spring training (like we are all week from Sarasota despite me once again being banned from having a press credential by the biggest turd and serial liar in Baltimore sports history, Peter G. Angelos). Of course we’ll be following the Terps and Wizards and some lacrosse as well as everything going on with the Baltimore Ravens just about every day on WNST. Plus, I’m hitting the road from June 13 through July 15 visiting every MLB stadium in North America – 30 ballparks in 30 days – to raise awareness for There Goes My Hero and to save lives via the international bone marrow registry that saved my wife’s life last year when an anonymous 21-year old donor from Germany sent a bag of blood across the Atlantic Ocean to give her a second chance to laugh at Mickey.
In some cases, maybe it’ll be Mickey telling some jokes, ranting, bugging his friends to rant with him or maybe on some Fridays and weekends you’ll hear Mickey and I speaking our minds about any range of subjects – real or imagined.
I like Mickey. Mickey likes me. It’s pretty simple. We both have local sponsors and an audience that we’ve earned the HARD way – through hard work and legitimate sweat equity in our personal brands that extend far beyond what local “advertising agencies” currently measure. These days, in the digital and social media space, they call it “earned media.”
We’ve spent many months discussing whether we should try this local Abbott and Costello act.
So, who’s on first?
Beginning next week and for the foreseeable future, you’ll get a dose of both of us doing what we do – Baltimore style.
And both of us – as social media targets, lightning rods and oft-times piñatas – will continue to do what we do best.
We do talk radio. And we do it better than anyone from Baltimore has ever done it in the modern era.
(EVER! You can look it up…and it ain’t bragging if it’s true.)
We are the two most celebrated, decorated and excoriated radio show hosts to hail from Baltimore in the modern area. And to think it all came from Dundalk and Hamilton!
Tune in and find out. Grab us on your mobile device in the Buy A Toyota Audio Vault at WNST.net. Or download the Tune In Radio app and listen live anytime from anywhere in the world. Or subscribe to our free WNST Morning Newspaper and get it delivered to your email inbox every morning at 7:30 a.m. And feel free to talk amongst yourselves.
We hope you like what you hear.
Some of you will. Some of you won’t.
And that won’t shock us. We’re used to it.
Let the M & N era begin at WNST…
(And if you reach to him on the internet to applaud or criticize his decision to join us at WNST, please remind Mickey to keep his shirt on…)