OAK PARK, IL—Controversy embroiled Oak Park's Q102 FM Morning Zoo Tuesday, when wacky morning DJ "Madman" Mike Antony claimed that a proposed on-location promotional broadcast at the Bob Adler Chrysler/Plymouth auto dealership would contradict the ethics of broadcast journalism.
"I became a broadcaster to enlighten and entertain," Antony told his listeners at 8 a.m. after cutting into his trademark novelty song "Monicarena," and warning the audience that he had to get serious for a minute. "I'd like to think that it means something to all of you that I jumpstart your day in an honorable fashion, without dragging the Q Morning Zoo Crew through the dirt with paid business endorsements."
"The Q102 Morning Zoo—you don't listen to it, you survive it!" he added, underscoring his speech with cheering-crowd sound effects.
Although representatives of the Q102 sales and marketing department say the station's June 25-27 Bob Adler Chrysler Plymouth Minivans & Maxi-Hits Summer Sales Event will proceed as scheduled, Antony maintains that he will not participate.
Q102 executive director Andrew Marone responded in a memo Tuesday afternoon that he is "saddened" by Antony's statements, but added that if he does not show up under the big Q102 tent for games and giveaways on June 25, "Madman Mike may just find himself looking for another job."
According to his fellow Zoo Crewers, Antony was conflicted for hours after the memo's release, repeatedly speaking of the love he has for both Q102 and all the great Q-listeners, but he ultimately concluded that he could not quiet his moral indignation.
"This is Madman Mike in the morning, and I am a member of the fourth estate," said Antony, who was born Michael Kravitz in nearby Plovis and grew up listening to Q102, then a classic-rock station. "I have a responsibility to provide unbiased wake-up zaniness, hard-rocking hits and celebrity impressions, and that's a responsibility I don't take lightly. If I were to get in bed with every car dealer and theme restaurant that wants sponsorship, morning radio would soon be no better than the commercial wasteland of evening drive-time."
Antony continued: "If I allowed myself to be corrupted, I'd violate the sacred trust of everyone from the ninth caller—who's about to win a pair of all-day passes to the Little America Family Park, Oak Park's fun in the country—to my partner, Screamin' Steve Greene. I don't think I could live with that."
When asked whether he would stand by his partner's boycott, Greene declined to speak to reporters, but did make a pre-recorded announcement.
"Come on down to Bob Adler Chrysler Plymouth!" Greene said. "I'll be there with the Q102 Urban Assault Vehicle playin' the hits and giving away free Q-Zone T-shirts, hats and bumper stickers! Register to win a free tank of gas! Enjoy a free hot dog as you party with the Hooters girls and check out the great deals on a new minivan as you groove to the sound of Oak Park's own Phat Phreddy & The Phreeloaders! It's Minivans and Maxi-Hits at Bob Adler Chrysler Plymouth! See you there!"
Greene also indicated that there will be free balloons for the kids.
Antony said he was "greatly disappointed" by his partner's decision to participate in the event.
"This goes against everything I stand for," Antony said. "I envisioned that Urban Assault Vehicle as a powerful tool for community involvement, as it was when it appeared in the Strawberry Days Parade. This slammin' summer sales event is just base buffoonery."
"Sure, I might have taken it to a few celebrity dunk-tank appearances at the Chamber Of Commerce Casino Night, but that was dignified," Antony added. "It helped the whole city, not just a corporate pawn like Bob Adler."
Despite threats of dismissal from Q102, Antony vowed that he will not bow to crass commercialism, no matter the consequences.
"To promote the Minivans & Maxi-Hits Summer Sales Event would force me to compromise my journalistic impartiality," Antony said. "I'd probably be expected to fail to mention all that road construction out near Adler's at the intersection of Hwy. 74 and County Road PD. It's bumper-to-bumper traffic all the way to Adler's, compadres."
Aware that his airtime may be limited, in one final act of defiance Antony asked listeners to destroy their Super Q Cards, which until then provided them with great deals and discounts at participating Oak Park restaurants, car washes and dry cleaners. Antony then proceeded to rip up his own Super Q Card, number 0004, live on the air, emphasizing the symbolic act with a volley of "ripping" flatulence sound effects before launching into Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It."
"People may mock wacky morning DJs as ivory-tower idealists, but in today's media environment, somebody has to be," Antony told his listeners before handing the mic over to Judy "Q At Noon" Acapulco. "I want you all to think long and hard about that, especially Todd and the gang down at the Northwest Carpets Factory Outlet Store, who need some Ricky Martin to get them through Remainder Month."
On principle, Antony refused to speculate on whether or not Remainder Month would be an opportunity to experience huge savings.