Deejay Brian Wilson gets ax Off the air: Morning personality, whose nonstop ribbing rubbed Dundalk the wrong way, leaves after three months.

November 22, 1995|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,Sun Staff Writer

Dundalk won't have Brian Wilson to kick it around anymore.

The acerbic morning deejay, whose persistent Dundalk-bashing infuriated residents of the blue-collar Baltimore suburb, is off the air.

Ardie Gregory, vice president and general manager of WOCT-FM (104.3), confirmed yesterday that Mr. Wilson no longer works for her station. She declined any further comment, citing "unresolved contractual issues."

Mr. Wilson was hired just three months ago, after abruptly giving up his talk-radio slot on WCBM. He said he returned from a weekend hunting trip Monday night to find a fax from the station saying his services were no longer required. The letter, he said, gave no reason for his dismissal.

He, however, has his own thoughts. Officials at the station couldn't stand the heat, he believes, so they fired the kitchen.

"The management of this station just can't get accustomed to the idea there might be someone out there who didn't like them because I was on the air," Mr. Wilson said. "A show like mine proves conclusively that you can be insanely successful as both a show and a cash cow . . . without necessarily being loved by everyone."

Mr. Wilson was brought to the station in hopes he could recapture the lightning that had made him and partner Don O'Brien Baltimore's dominant radio personalities for much of the 1980s. WOCT broadcasts over the same frequency as WBSB, which carried "The Brian and O'Brien Show" from 1984 to 1988.

Then known as B-104, a Top-40 station that advertised in nearly every movie theater in town, WOCT is under different ownership and since October 1994 has been billed as "The Colt," broadcasting hits of the '70s.

In recent years, stations broadcasting at 104.3 have ranked no higher than eighth among Baltimore's FM operations. Mr. Wilson's show was too new to have much impact on the latest ratings, which measured from July through September.

"The Brian Wilson Show" debuted Aug. 14 on WOCT. Within weeks, his penchant for making fun of Dundalk -- with cracks like, "There's a shortage of pharmacists in Dundalk. Apparently they can't figure out how to get those little bottles in the typewriter" -- began earning him vocal enemies.

On Sept. 29, 120 angry residents of Dundalk gathered at Dundalk Community College. Tired of having their community serve as the butt of jokes, they decided to appeal to advertisers to pull their spots off the air. Some citizens also met with Ms. Gregory and urged her to either get Mr. Wilson to stop mocking their community, or take him off the air.

For reasons station officials won't discuss, they opted for the latter course. And that suits people like Tom Toporovich just fine.

"There's tears running down the streets of Dundalk," said an elated -- and more than a little sarcastic -- Mr. Toporovich, who has lived in the community for 26 years. "Our hearts have been unbelievably broken."

Mr. Wilson dismissed the idea that the citizens of Dundalk have won some sort of victory.

"The vast majority of people in Dundalk know that it's a joke," he said. The group who spoke out so vociferously against him, he said, "was just a small band of people born with the genetic defect of not a lot of humor . . . and probably not all their teeth."

Saying he's no stranger to being fired, Mr. Wilson insisted he was not bitter toward the management at WOCT. Just disappointed.

"Of all the jobs I've lost in the past 30 years, this one was the most needless," he said. "I riled up a lot of people . . . well, that's what you're looking for. You're looking for a reaction. Anybody who has been in this business more than 30 minutes understands that.

"No one before or since has gotten morning ratings like I did at B-104. I didn't do it by being nice, at least not all the time."

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