Jeff Lamb brings party back to WIOTWritten by Jason Mack | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeff Lamb is bringing the party to Saturday nights with his self-produced “The Man Cave with Jeff Lamb” on 104.7 WIOT, more than 15 years after his morning show last aired on the station.
“It’s good to be back at WIOT,” Lamb said. “They’re the biggest signal in town and a great station with a great reputation. They were my first live radio show.”
Lamb purchased the Saturday 9 p.m. to midnight block from WIOT, replacing “House of Hair,” and he is selling the ad space himself. The 13-week agreement began with his first show Nov. 5. He holds a party every Saturday with approximately 25 guests and broadcasts live from his “Man Cave,” which includes a big-screen TV, a keg of beer, snacks and plenty of seating.
“I called WIOT and told them my idea, which was to buy the time for a lot more than they were making on a Saturday night and I would sell it myself,” Lamb said. “They thought it was great. Hopefully we can make a dent and they’ll keep me around. We’ll look at it in 13 weeks and hopefully we’ll pick it up again and keep going. It’s a lot of fun to be back in radio and doing something nobody else is doing.”
Lamb is optimistic about the show’s chances, although he admits sales are not his area of expertise.
“I’ve called people that I either knew or that were sponsors of my shows before,” he said. “I don’t really have to explain myself to them. They know what it is I do. I’m trying to limit the spots so it’s not a bunch of commercials with a song in the middle.”
One goal is to emphasize local content, including featuring a local band each week. The show also aims to provide original content such as sketches.
“At 53 years old, I’ve put all my eggs in the radio basket and radio changed on me,” Lamb said. “It isn’t radio’s fault or my fault. It’s just where I am. If you’re going to compete against iPods and the ability to burn CDs, you better give more than just music. They can do that without you. What I’m doing is what we need more of. We’ll find out if I’m right. I could be totally wrong. If that’s the case, I’ll walk away from it and at least I’ll know. I expect people appreciate content.”
Lamb had to adjust to hosting the show and doing sketches solo since his former partner Mark Benson is engaged in other projects.
“I decided if Mark’s not available then I wouldn’t even consider another partner,” he said. “Mark and I are hand and glove in this town. I worked with other people in Peoria, and it just wasn’t the same. Not everybody wants to suspend belief and play along with characters. The first radio partner I had in Peoria thought it was stupid. He just didn’t get it. If you play along, it works. But it doesn’t work if everybody is not on board. I wish I had Mark here.
“We had a lot of fun together and we learned a lot together. Everything we learned, it seems like they’re doing it different now. I still believe there is room for that kind of radio.”
Radio since birth
Radio has been part of Lamb’s life since birth, and he knew early on it was what he wanted to do. According to Lamb, his father was in radio in Flint, Mich., and his sister made a record when she was 5-years-old that sold a million copies. Lamb also has one brother in television and another who has been in and out of radio with him and helped him run an ad agency in Flint.
“My dad was the first person in the country to broadcast from home,” Lamb said. “When I grew up, there was always a studio in the basement. He had his on-air studio and his recording studio down there. We always had bands over recording stuff. He was recording records for people. He had a jingle company. We moved out to Grand Blanc [Mich.,] and he put in a nicer studio. All the ad agencies were using him. I was doing ‘Buffalo Dick’ out of there and he was doing his radio show. It was almost around the clock, something going on.”
He first came to Toledo in 1990 after “Buffalo Dick” was canceled.
“It was kind of like ‘Howdy Doody’ on steroids,” Lamb said. “For the time, it was a little edgy. When ‘Buffalo Dick’ got canceled, I was bummed. I was disillusioned about whether to get out of it. In 1989, Pete Cavanaugh, the general manager at WIOT, called me and asked if I’d be interested in doing a morning show down here. I came down to meet everybody and he hired me right then. He envisioned all these characters working with the morning show. God bless him for that, because it sure put us in a good place.”
Later, Lamb took a job with 94.5 WXKR and came back to WIOT before moving to Peoria, Ill., in 1996 to host a TV show. He came back to WXKR from 1998-2002 before he was let go due to budget cuts. He performed odd jobs such as a DJing at clubs until starting the new show.
Back in the groove
“It isn’t really a great bucket list item for a 53-year-old man to be hosting trivia and karaoke for your living,” Lamb said.
After nine years off the air, Lamb is starting to get back into the groove of radio.
“It’s a little bit nerve-racking,” Lamb said. “I’ve been out of it for a while, and I was never really a board operator. Mark would run the board, and I just did voices and characters. It’s kind of coming back to me. One night I woke up at 2 a.m. and was done sleeping. I have no real schedule now. By noon I had five bits written and recorded.”
Those bits include characters such as Principal Prickley, Gus “Booty-Kicker” Washington Lincoln Carver Brown, Mr. Know-it-all, Jack Hammer and Phillip the Magnificent. Phillip is a take on Dustin Hoffman’s character from the movie “Rain Man.”
“We ran him for governor, and we got a cease and desist from MGM,” Lamb said. “They told us we couldn’t do it anymore, so we just changed his name to Phillip. That cracked me up. I just changed the names, and everyone knew who it was. They couldn’t stop me from using the voice. They couldn’t stop the content. All they could do is change the name.”
“The Man Cave with Jeff Lamb” airs Saturday nights from 9 p.m. to midnight. Any bands interested in being featured can contact Lamb through his website at JeffLamb.com.