98 Rock promotion offers frozen Byrd for hungry Cold and caring: DJ spends two days on ice at auto park as visitors donate cash and goods to Maryland Food Bank.

ON THE AIR

October 08, 1995|By Steve McKerrow | Steve McKerrow,SUN STAFF

Morning radio personality Byrd of 98 Rock WIYY-FM (97.9) emerged last week after 48 hours in a coffin-like structure embedded in a 5,000-pound block of ice and said "I'm fine" -- except for a pretty cold posterior.

The cool, cool promotion generated 22,540 pounds of canned food and about $2,000 in cash donated to the Maryland Food Bank.

At 9 a.m. on Monday, the 29-year-old disc jockey entered a 2-by-2-by-6-foot insulated box set within the ice block, which itself was inside a refrigerated truck trailer. He vowed to remain -- "frozen alive" until listeners filled two tractor-trailers with donations.

He wore normal clothing and visitors to the Heritage Auto Park dealership in Owings Mills could view him through a window in the box.

Midway through the freeze-a-thon, at about hour 27 on Tuesday, he complained in a telephone interview, "it's cold and clammy in here." But he said he was benefiting from "sort of the igloo effect," as the insulated box permitted his body warmth to keep him from freezing.

Donations were deemed to have filled the second trailer about 9 a.m. Wednesday and Byrd emerged.

The Canadian-born DJ, who debuted at 98 Rock in January, says "this was the most physically dangerous" among "a lot of crazy stunts I've done" in a radio career that began when he was age

15, in his home town of Fort Frances, Ontario.

Radio pope

WBAL-AM (1090) is blocking out its schedule today for coverage of Pope John Paul II's Baltimore visit. Dave Durian and Alan Walden are hosts of a talk show, including the papal parade and Mass at Camden Yards, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Bruce Elliott will be host of a talk show with live updates and related coverage from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

A show is born

The O.J. trial may be over, but Court TV, the all-justice, all-the-time cable service, last week launched a new program -- about the nation's highest court.

"Supreme Court Watch," with host Fred Graham, made its debut as the U.S. Supreme Court began its new session last week. It can be seen at 10:30 p.m. Mondays.

The show will follow the history and eventual outcome of "the most important and intriguing cases" that come before the court.

A year of jazz

Who says jazz music is not a viable format in commercial radio? Not the folks at WYRE-AM (810) in Annapolis, who recently celebrated the station's one-year anniversary on the air, Sept. 26.

"When you take it from last September to now we're really pleased," says midday announcer David Custy. "We're starting to get a wider audience, a lot of people are getting more interested."

"Straight ahead jazz" is what the station plays, including the works of such legends as Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins and John Coltrane. But Mr. Custy notes current jazz gets some play, too. "We think there is an audience out there," he says.

Jewish stories

A number of prominent actors, including Walter Matthau, Ron Leibman, Lauren Bacall, Alan Alda and Rhea Perlman, are the readers in an interesting Sunday radio series that began airing last month on WJHU-FM (88.1).

"Jewish Short Stories from Eastern Europe and Beyond" is a 13-week series (through Nov. 26) with host Leonard Nimoy, and airs from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.

Among the authors whose works are included -- heard against the backdrop of original music performed by the Klezmer Conservatory Band -- are Isaac Bashevis Singer, Cynthia Ozick, Isaac Babel, Philip Roth, J.L. Peretz and Grace Paley.

Super ratings

About one-third of all the people in Baltimore and across the nation who were watching television one recent night tuned in Barbara Walters' exclusive "20/20" interview with paralyzed "Superman" actor Christopher Reeve.

ABC announced that the Friday, Sept. 29, interview scored the highest rating for the newsmagazine show in 2 1/2 years.

Speaking with the correspondent at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in New Jersey, Mr. Reeve said he had contemplated suicide after a horseback riding accident on Memorial Day weekend left him paralyzed. But the support of his family and friends, has helped him focus on making a new life.

Nationally, according to the Nielsen ratings, the show drew a 19.6 rating and 36 share. (One rating point equals 954,000 people and a share is the percentage of all viewers tuned to a particular program.) In Baltimore, where one rating point equals about 10,000 homes, overnight numbers showed a 21 rating and 34 share, according to WMAR, Channel 2.

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