These Junkies are addicted to fun

Less Stern than the icon they're replacing, these four local boys of banter can flush callers, too, as they return to 'HFS


Fairfax, Va. -- It's best not to cross The Junkies.

The four guys who host a three-hour midday chat show on WJFK radio here are not what you would call vicious. Much of their banter, about sports, women and the youth they shared, is deliberately sophomoric.

But any listener dumb enough to call in and challenge anything they've said on the air is instantly labeled a "doofus" and cut off with the noxious, conclusive sound of a flushing toilet.

Such pleasantries - with attendant guffaws, taunts and jeers - will be part of the Baltimore area's mornings starting on Jan. 3, when The Junkies take over the slot on WHFS (under its new frequency, 105.7 FM) currently occupied by that master of the put-down, Howard Stern, who is moving on to satellite radio.

The four guys - John Auville, Eric Bickel, Jason Bishop and John-Paul Flaim, all 35 and Marylanders - have been on Baltimore airwaves before. Their show wrapped up a spell of more than two years on WHFS this past January, when the station went to an all-Spanish format as WLZL, 99.1 FM. In the Washington area, where they have been on the air since 1996, they lead the ratings among males ages 24-54.

"We really wanted to be back on in Baltimore," said Flaim, a graduate of Temple Law School whom everyone calls J.P. and who, as the most eloquent and telegenic of the bunch, is the group's unofficial spokesman. "It sort of feels like home to us."

In the meantime, it's back to business eviscerating the meek. On Thursday, while a reporter sat in during the broadcast from their tiny studio here, the guys - minus Bickel, who was out sick - zeroed in on a regular caller, whom they call Bruce the Hugger because of his apparent penchant for asking people for hugs. With The Junkies' encouragement, Bruce broke into a reed-thin rendition of "Hotel California," a version so insipid that it brought hoots of derision. They stopped him, fast.

"Keep taking the meds, Bruce," said Auville, who, for some reason, goes by the name Cakes.

They were equally damning of a new song, which they played on the air until they could stand it no longer, by Kevin Federline, Britney Spears' husband and the father of her child. In the song, called "Ya'll Ain't Ready," Federline raps, "Back then, they called me K-Fed, but you can call me daddy instead."

Federline's effort disappeared in an avalanche of circling water.

"Why does everyone think they can sing?" Flaim asked, exasperated.

"I hate country music and I can barely tolerate rap," said Auville, who comes across as the most curmudgeonly of the quartet. He then admitted having read about the current romantic status of Spears' former husband - Jason Alexander, whose betrothal to the nubile minstrel lasted all of 55 hours - in a recent issue of a celebrity magazine.

"I'm a loser for knowing that," Auville conceded.

A caller named Tyler chimed in about Federline's song. "Please don't play that again," he pleaded.

Another caller, Dane, said: "I keep telling the kids, `Don't do the meth or you'll grow up to be a white rapper.'"

More hoots.

Then it was time to eat their own. The victim this time was Auville, a father of three who had apparently been called on the carpet by his wife a few days earlier for gambling away $600 from the family coffers.

"Your wife had a sit-down with you and said you're engaged in deviant behavior," Flaim said, cackling.

"Who doesn't have a dalliance with a sports book now and then?" Auville countered defensively. Later, his mates went after him for having his first child at 25, while he was still in the midst of a four-year stint as an employee of Toys R Us in Annapolis.

"I was still owing bookies at 25," said Flaim, who had a child of his own five years ago.

That brought several calls from listeners who seemed to want to outdo each other in how young they were when they had children.

"I don't know if I want all these people on my side," Auville said. One caller, now 41, claimed he was 19 when he became a father.

More derision. The trio behind the microphones essentially called him stupid. When Flaim asked him sarcastically which discipline he had chosen for his Ph.D., and the caller predictably said that he was engaged in no such studies, Flaim exclaimed, "Shock!"

Later, The Junkies got into some intricate repartee about sports, their bread and butter. Bishop - who, at 6-foot-4, seemed headed for a career in pro basketball until he decided the early-morning workouts were too much to bear - is the most committed to the sports commentary. He stays out of some of the other shenanigans, often quietly reading the sports pages while the others do their routines, and comes alive only when the subject turns to, for instance, the prospects for the Redskins-Eagles game this weekend.

"I don't know why everyone isn't talking about this," said Bishop, known more familiarly as Lurch. "It's bigger than the CIA leak."

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