Geronimo Arrested on Drug Charges After Stop
By Marc Fisher and Brooke A. Masters
Don Geronimo self-proclaimed "radio god," much-maligned Redskins color commentator and raunch master of "hot talk" radio was arrested on drug-possession and driving-under-the-influence charges late Wednesday.
Geronimo is half of the Don and Mike team, whose weekday show on WJFK (106.7 FM) is the Washington area's top-rated afternoon drive program. He was stopped by Fairfax County police about 9:30 p.m. after an officer saw a 1997 Toyoya Supra traveling at 75 mph in a 35-mph zone. The incident took place at Springvale Road and Deerfoot Drive in Great Falls.
Police spokeswoman Susan Culin said Geronimo, whose real name is Michael Sorce, was arrested, handcuffed and taken to the Fairfax Adult Detention Center, where he was held overnight and charged with possession of marijuana and driving under the influence of a narcotic.
Geronimo, 39, pleaded guilty to a cocaine possession charge in Fairfax in 1996 and completed a one-year probation sentence. The judge in that case ordered the talk show host to see his own physician for drug treatment. Court records show Geronimo also got a speeding ticket in 1988 and was charged with reckless driving in a separate 1996 incident.
As he did after the previous drug arrest, Geronimo yesterday apologized to his listeners in his inimitable way.
"I got something to say," he began at the top of the 3 p.m. show. "Moms, please move junior and sis back and move back while I whip this out. Listen carefully, because this is all I'm going to say. I'm sure you know I was involved in an unfortunate incident last night. If news of this unfortunate incident has altered your view of this show in any way, for that I am really sorry and I do apologize. For obvious reasons, that's all I can say."
"Ever forward," piped in co-host Mike O'Meara.
"Got a good night's sleep last night," Geronimo added, giggling.
O'Meara rang his hotel desk bell, the show's signature punctuation for good cracks.
"Yeah, I'm rested and refreshed," Geronimo said.
"Tanned, rested and ready for love," O'Meara chimed in.
And they were off to another four hours of fun: planning to send a secret agent into Jerry Seinfeld's HBO audience to shout Don and Mike's names, plotting ways to get back at AT&T and MCI for their constant solicitations, recapping the progress of the couple who got married last week on the show just a few days after Don and Mike introduced them to each other.
"Don made a bad mistake," WJFK General Manager Ken Stevens said in an interview from his Philadelphia office. "We will be talking to him." Stevens declined to say whether the station or its owner, CBS Radio, would take disciplinary action against the talk host, who has a multi-year contract and makes more than $800,000 a year, according to industry executives.
Stevens said he urged Geronimo to talk about the arrest on the air. "It's the kind of show they do. They sort of live their lives in front of the audience anyway."
Stevens said that despite the show's raunchy topics and edgy language, Don and Mike "have never done humor involving drugs or anything that can be construed as condoning the use of illegal drugs. This really has nothing to do with the 'Don and Mike Show.'‚"
Some Don and Mike fans were less charitable. "What a loser," one fan wrote on the Internet newsgroup alt.fan.don-n-mike yesterday. "What a big fat loser. I hope he goes to jail."
Don and Mike's listeners tend to be intensely loyal and involved in the daily, four-hour gabfest. The show's stunts including a nude Olympics that was videotaped and shown on pay-per-view cable draw large crowds. An unofficial Web site devoted to the program describes the hosts as "two dudes out of D.C. who bust the [expletives] of idiot callers, play sex trivia games, and love lesbians."
In addition to the weekday show, Geronimo has in recent years been co-host of the Redskins pregame coverage on WJFK, a role in which his taste-challenged style clashed with the traditional boosterism of local sportscasting.
The "Don and Mike Show," which is syndicated from WJFK to 58 stations in 30 states, has inspired many copycats around the country. Few are as ingenious as the original, and few are as down and dirty. The duo's insistence on pushing the envelope has resulted in a series of lawsuits and complaints, including suits by a Baltimore woman whom they portrayed on the air as an "obese, grotesque wild beast," a University of Maryland student who they said suffered from herpes, and a PR woman whom they called a "bitch" and a "liar." In at least two cases, the show has made financial settlements to halt the suits.
The hosts pride themselves on being equal-opportunity offenders who test the limits of radio standards.
"You have to know where the invisible line is," O'Meara said in an earlier Post interview. "We walk up to it, but we don't cross it. Believe it or not, we have sensibilities."
"Of course, when someone deserves it, we'll pile on them," Geronimo added. "We mock everyone."
Both of the charges against Geronimo are Class 1 misdemeanors, which carry possible sanctions of up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Geronimo was held until 5:08 a.m. to allow the effects of the drug to wear off, Culin said.
Staff writer Erica Beshears contributed to this report.
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company