10 Questions with ... Lou Brutus
April 3, 2007
NAME:Lou BrutusTITLES:Host of hardDrive with Lou Brutus and hardDrive XLMARKET:Nationally SyndicatedCOMPANY:United StationsBORN:Newark, NJRAISED:Englishtown, NJ
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
hardDrive XL with Lou Brutus, Nationally Syndicated Host, 2007-Current
XM Satellite Radio, Senior Program Director and Host, 2000-Current
hardDrive with Lou Brutus, Nationally Syndicated Host, 1996-Current
WHFS/Washington, DC, Morning Drive, 1998-1999
WRCX/Chicago, Afternoon Drive, 1995-1997
WMMR/Philadelphia, Nights, 1992-1994
WHJY/Providence, Afternoon Drive, 1988-1992
1) What was your first job in radio? Early influences?
I began as an intern at WMMR/Philadelphia. From there I became morning show producer and then the first intern to ever become a member of the airstaff in the station's history. On the Rock radio side I was always a big fan of the WMMR staff, especially Joe Bonadonna, Earle Bailey, Bubba John Stevens and Michael Tearson. From out of New York I loved WNEW-FM, particularly Scott Muni, Allison Steele and the great Vince Scelsa. Steve Lushbaugh, the longtime Production Director at WMMR, has always been someone whose work I've admired . I have certainly learned much of what I know about creating radio audio thanks to him, as well as WMMR's Pierre Robert and John DeBella.
Outside of the radio world, Frank Zappa was a big influence. He taught me different ways to look at the world and how to listen to and shape audio. I still miss speaking with him. George Carlin, Warren Zevon, Monty Python's Flying Circus, Looney Tunes and The Firesign Theatre were also very important to me. They all had genius ways of approaching word play, word craft and, in the case of Firesign Theatre, audio manipulation.
Finally, I have to mention Hunter S. Thompson. If you want to learn how to master the English language in its most twisted and violent form, Hunter is your man. One day I will write a book about my adventures with him. Soon after, I will be carted away to jail where the guards will beat me mercilessly and snarl viciously as they drag me down to a windowless cell where I will meet my bloody doom. Res Ipsa Loquitur.
2) What led you to a career in radio?
Radio is all I've ever wanted to do since I was a little kid. Growing up in Central New Jersey allowed me to get all of the New York stations and all of the Philly stations as well as the Jersey stations. I remember my mom listening to William B. Williams on WNEW-AM in New York and thinking that it must be a pretty cool gig. It was when I became enthralled with the staff on 77 WABC in New York that I knew I had to be in radio. Harry Harrison, Ron Lundy and Cousin Brucie are all true legends. These were guys that had millions of listeners hanging on every syllable. They were Jolly Green Giants walking the Earth -- with microphones.
If I had to pick my favorite of all time, it would have to be Dan Ingram. He is simply the best DJ who has ever lived. The rest of us are not fit to lick the soles of his Florsheims. I think a lot of my sensibilities of how to meld multiple ideas into a single, cohesive break (and do it quickly) go back to what Dan does. He is a giant. He is a God. I would kill for him.
3) What career path would you be following had it not been for this industry?
I think I would like to work in a hat store. "What size do you wear? No, I'm sorry. We don't have that." I think I could do that. What are the hours?
4) Where do you see the industry and yourself five years from now?
The industry and I are opening a haberdashery together on Martha's Vineyard. We've taken a lease out on an old, converted church. We're going to call it Hats in the Belfrey.
5) What can we be doing with our station web sites to better our stations as a whole?
Less clutter, more info. I bail on some station sites before I actually see anything as there is so much crap slowing the page down. Also, more hats and hat-related items. Maybe the site sections with buxom women could be spruced up if the gals were in hats. Nothing says class like a half-naked harlot in a derby!
6) What is the biggest change that you'd like to see happen in the business?
Well, after killing all the lawyers I believe the rock end of the business needs to get its act together much in the way that country did when it comes to making artists a more integral part of each radio station. Management and labels need to step up and make their artists available to the stations. On radio's end, you must do a great job every time an artist is taking time out of their probably already overworked schedule. We on the radio have got to make the artists feel like they have to be on the air with us or they're missing out on something. Both sides need to respect each other, help each other and feed off each other.
7) Tell us what music we would find on your car or home CD player (or turntable) right now.
I have not let up on the new Stone Sour album since it came out. It's one of my favorite records -- ever. Hell Yeah, Shadows Fall, Sevendust and My Chemical Romance are getting a lot of listens. Other stuff like Shock Nagasaki, Time Again, Street Dogs, Dead Schembechlers and The Briefs. Also, the new Dash Rip Rock album "Hee Haw Hell" which is a Cow Punk Rock Opera based on Dante's Inferno which I conceptualized and co-wrote. Finally, a great tune called "My Rifle" from an Italian band called The Manges that takes the "this is my rifle, there are many like it but this one is mine" scene in "Full Metal Jacket" and turns it, line for line, into a song. It's brilliant.
BTW, Cheap Trick is still turning out some of the best records in the world. The "Rockford" album proves it. If they don't go into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame soon, I'm going to Cleveland to start busting heads. It's shameful that they and KISS are not in.
8) What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
You can get more with a kind word and a gun then you can with a kind word.
9) What is the best advice you would give to young programmers/promotion people?
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.
10) As you look back over your career, any regrets?
That I didn't make out with Paula Abdul when I had the chance.
Who would be your dream guest on the show?
Benjamin Franklin. He could discover electricity, down a flagon of buttered rum and bang four courtesans -- all at the same time. He was like the Vinnie Paul of the American Revolution.
What was the first song or full-length release you purchased?
The Beatles' "Revolver." It's the best album ever recorded if you don't count "Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy."
How do you stay in tune with your audience?
I have interns place giant seed pods under the listener's beds. The pod absorbs their very soul and being. We then run the data collected from the remains and argue about what the breakouts mean. We later take the rotting human husks and process them into Soylent Green. Mmmmmmm, Fergasoylicious.
What's the best piece of advice anyone's ever given you?
If you're going to shoot, shoot. Don't talk.