Friday, February 3, 2023 Feb 3, 2023
33° F Dallas, TX

INTERVIEW From The Mouth of Moby

Morning radio’s trash talker tries real hard to convince us that he’s just a country deejay out to teach a lesson or two to teens

He’s the morning radio personality with the whale-like body, mouth, and name, and he’s been causing controversy on the airwaves since he moved to Texas in 1981. Of course, we’re talking about Moby (born Jim Carney, but as he says, “Even my mama calls me Moby”), the morning drive-time disc jockey for KEGL-FM since he jumped from a Houston station last October. “Get your lazy asses outta bed,” he bellows to his listeners between salvos of blue humor and sexist jokes about women’s breasts (“puppies” in Moby-ese). As Moby says of his detractors, “The way they goon, you’d think I was the goddamn Antichrist.” He’s been the subject of newspaper editorials, countless letters to the editor, and he was blasted in a Channel 8 report on blue-humor radio. The Arlington ISD-PTA vowed to get Moby thrown off the air.

Then in April, the Federal Communications Commission announced they would be broadening their definition of obscenity to crack down on raunchy radio; to drive the point home, they put three radio stations on warning (none in the Metroplex). In an interesting turn, Moby (whose show is positively G-rated next to Howard Stern in New York, who tells callers they deserve urine in their coffee, or Doug “The Greaseman” Tracht in Washington, who talks about contracting VD from monkeys) became a national lightning rod for blue radio deejays-appearing on Oprah Winfrey’s show and squaring off with FCC general counsel Diane Killory on ABC’s “Nightline.”

It was on “Nightline” that Ted Koppel brewed up some fresh controversy for Moby, several times referring to him as the top-rated deejay in Dallas. The Arbitron and Birch ratings are issued quarterly, but both offer monthly “trend” reports hinting at the upcoming ratings. According to the Birch trend report current at the time of the “Nightline” program, Moby was indeed number one for that period. But the latest Arbitron quarterly report ranks him sixth in his time slot, well behind Tom Joyner, Terry Dorsey, and Ron Chapman.

D: You’ve been in Dallas for eight months. What’s your impression of Dallas and what’s Dallas’s impression of you?Moby: My impression of Dallas, by and large, is very positive and I think, by and large, Dallas’s impression of me is very positive. But always it’s the negative that gets really magnified and picked at, and it makes better news copy than the positive.

D: When you’re on the air and you’re thinking of your average listener, who are you picturing in your mind?

Moby: Much more Texan than people Ron Chapman’s picturing in his mind. People that enjoy relaxing with their friends, having a good time, and not worrying about whether they’re making a good impression or not. How do I view my listener? Generally, I view myself riding shotgun with him on his way to work, and we’re all sitting there bitchin’ about traffic together and I say, “Oh by the way, have you heard this joke?”

D: Demographically, who are your listeners?

Moby: Eighteen to forty-nine-year-old males, predominantly. Then again, I got a sixty-three-year-old lady out in Greenville who would kill for me. Statistically it would show that there’s a lot of teens there. It would show that there’s a lot of young males there. In my mind, my audience is 85 percent adult, and I’m really working toward that. Not at the cost of losing teens, but by increasing the adult audience.

D: How will you shift your audience?

Moby: Well, listen to the Moby show. In my mind, it appeals more to adults than teen- j agers. Because I don’t take any grief off the teenagers. They call in and say |California ; surfer accent], “Well I’mhavin’ this problem with my boyfriend.” And I say, “So why are you calling me with it? I’m concerned about your problems if they’re real problems but if you’re sixteen and you just had a fight with your boyfriend, that ain’t a real problem.”

D: So is your show moving away from teenagers?

Moby: My show’s not, no. Teenagers may be. . .no. I’d hesitate to say that teenagers were moving away from my show because I think I say enough things that they relate to that I can hold the teenagers. But also in the midst of the things that they can relate to are things that they really don’t want to hear. Things about how they ought to behave. It’s the stock stuff, but I do it and I mean it. Just say no to drugs-Nancy Reagan, I love ya. Don’t drink and drive. And if you’re with someone who’s been drinking and insists on driving, don’t get in the friggin’ car. Kids have to realize there are limits.

D: Does the criticism of your show bother you much?

Moby: Well, I’ve been through it before. When I first started doing the morning show in Houston-it’s pretty much the same show I’m doing now-believe me, it was heavier there than it was here. There were death threats. We had off-duty Houston police officers with shotguns sitting outside the control room door. Because one guy called up and threatened to come up and shotgun the whole bunch of us if we didn’t clean up that program, That got a little spooky. It got to where I was looking over my shoulder.

D: You make good money, you live in Bent Tree, you drive an expensive sports car with a phone in it. On the air you sound like a pickup drivin’. tobacco chewin’, good ol’ boy. Which is you?

Moby: They’re all me. I’ve worked real hard to become stable financially and I’ve been in radio for seventeen years. Let me tell ya, I worked the $90-a-week shift where I was working from six till noon playing big band records six days a week. I’ve been real consistent. I’ve been very conscientious about my work, and I’m a hard worker. I love go- | ing out and meeting the people that listen to me. and that’s hard to get a jock to do. As far as coming off on the radio like a beer-drinkin’, pickup-drivin’ boy, well, that’s pretty much the way I am, really. And if day after tomorrow the Arlington PTA was to win and I was to be thrown off the air and ended up back living in a $300 a month apartment and driving a ’64 Falcon, I could be as happy as I am now, as far as my own peace of mind.

D: Do you see yourself as strictly an entertainer or do you feel that you’re tangibly shaping tastes and public opinion?

Moby: I may be tangibly shaping taste and public opinion, but if I am, it’s pretty much unintentional. Or a byproduct of what 1 do. I don’t really consider myself an entertainer, but I do believe that certain parts of the show are entertaining.

D: If you’re not an entertainer and you’re not intentionally shaping public opinion, what purpose do you serve?

Moby: Gettin’ people’s lazy asses outta bed and trying to get ’em to work on time! I made it on time. What’s special about them?

D: Critics of your show complain that a lot of teens and pre-teens listen to your show and that some inappropriate humor is being repeated in the halls of area junior high schools.

Moby: My show isn’t really geared to that age group, and because there’s potential tor that age group listening, that doesn’t mean I’m going to start talking to Michelle (Dibble, KEGL’s news anchor] like she’s Mr. Green Jeans and asking about how Bunny Rabbit’s been lately. This is not Captain Kangaroo. It’s geared toward an older audience.

D: Do you feel that there’s any social responsibility that comes along with your position?Moby: Oh, I believe, and have taken advantage of the fact, that there are many occasions when you can be a positive influence. I remember a couple of cases. When I was doing the afternoon show, this dude called in-I was taking live calls-and he says, “Hey Moby, I know you’re new to town, man. ~ know where you can get the good smoke.” This guy must’ve been sixteen, seventeen years old, and I lit into him with both feet. I said, “Look, I can’t make you not do whatever you choose to do. But one thing you’re not gonna do is talk about that on my radio program. Because one thing you can really do more than anything else is screw yourself up on drugs, without even knowing you’ve done it.”

D: Let’s talk about Jocelyn White. She quit your show in December. . .

Moby: Oh yeah, I remember Jocelyn. I think Jocelyn’s main talents were much more appreciated on television, ’cause you could see what they were.

D: But what does it say about your show that she found your personal comments and style offensive enough to resign?

Moby: I gotta have somebody that’ll talk to me on the air. I’d say things and Jocelyn would just sit there. 1 couldn’t figure out what her problem was. She would do her news and she’d be perfectly willing to talk about the cocktail party she was at with Paul Neenast the night before, But try to get her to talk about something that went on over in Fort Worth and you couldn’t do it. So I went to the bosses there and I said, “Boys, it’s not that I don’t like Jocelyn, don’t get me wrong, but I’m sure havin’ a hell of a time working with her. I know a girl I think I could work with a lot better. She’s over in Florida right now. She don’t have a lot of radio experience right now, but her head’s on straight. She’s not all hung up on who she is or how well she fits into high society as I feel Jocelyn is.” And I have a hard time with high society. I said I’d really like to replace Jocelyn, and they agreed to do that. They’ve got a big investment with me and they want me to be as comfortable as possible. So while I was gone for the holidays, they presented Jocelyn with this proposition: “You can either resign or we’ll let you go.” And it was very shortly after that that Jocelyn decided to go public with just how horrible I was and how she couldn’t handle these sexist remarks. Because it made it look like she got blown out for some other reason than what she really got blown out for.

D: You told a joke on the air recently, “Did you hear about the manhunt in California? They’re looking for the butthole that killed Liberace.” Do you think about your teen audience before you tell a joke like that? Are you sending out the attitude that AIDS is something to be shrugged off or belittled? Moby: Well it’s certainly nothing to panic about. Yeah, the AIDS epidemic is a serious thing and I feel very seriously about it. It’s probably as serious or more serious than anything since Vietnam. But that doesn’t mean, when looked at in a certain light, that you can’t get a chuckle or two out of it. Everything’s funny. There’s humor in everything. I don’t think there’s anything funny about the president of the United States sneaking around behind the public’s back to sell arms to a country that would just as soon see us blown off the face of the earth. But there were funny things said about it. I don’t think there’s anything funny about our newly elected governor knowing that the NCAA had put sanctions against SMU and still condoning, by his actions, the payment to athletes. But it happened and there are funny things being said about it. There’s humor in everything.

D: Should there be limits about what’s said on the air?

Moby: Sure.

D: What are they?

Moby: That’d be real hard to define. To me. it’s a sinking feeling in my stomach when I feel like I’ve gone too far. I won’t tell dead baby jokes. I won’t tell jokes that deal with the Holocaust. But I will a tell a joke like, “How was the Grand Canyon formed? A Jew dropped a quarter in a gopher hole.” That’s runny. But I won’t tell the joke about Hitler’s microwave oven that seats forty. There are people still alive that lived through that. That’s not funny.

D: What are your personal musical tastes?

Moby: I don’t have a great allegiance to any music. I love Merle Haggard, Charlie Daniels Band. Marshall Tucker Band. I even like Conway Twitty and George Jones.

D: This doesn’t sound very much in line with what you play in the morning.

Moby: Well, I’m not a big Madonna fan. But that’s okay, there’s a lot of people that are. Along the lines of what the Eagle plays, I like Bruce Hornsby, ’Til Tuesday, Genesis, and Kansas. I hate rap music. I’ll be the first one to admit it. I think Run-D.M.C. and the Beastie Boys are the worst thing to come along ever. I know now what Papa Moby used to bitch about when I’d have Jimi Hen-drix blaring, and he’d say, “Turn that crap down.” That’s exactly the way I feel about the Beastie Boys.

D: How do you compare yourself with Ron Chapman, who has led the morning market forever?

Moby: He can’t live forever. Everybody’sgotta pay the rent and as long as I can paymine I got no problem with anybody else.I’m just an old country disc jockey trying toget by in the big city, make a living, and raisemy family.