The way Don Geronimo describes it, last Tuesday morning's attempted wake-up call to British superstar drummer-vocalist Phil Collins "was just a hoot, man." But Collins, in town for a sellout concert with pop-rock Genesis at RFK Stadium that night, was especially irked at WAVA-FM (105.1), "which called me under a false name to get me live on the air at 10 to 8, and then again at 10 past 8."
Despite several attempts, WAVA's telephone twins, Geronimo and Mike O'Meara, were never able to penetrate the Four Seasons Hotel switchboard and reach Collins. However, in between calls, they encouraged listeners to go to the posh Georgetown hotel and knock on the performer's door. Geronimo says nearly 100 listeners were stopped in the lobby by a beefed-up security force, and Collins complained that he was disturbed by two calls made from the hotel house phone by listeners unknown.
"We weren't rude at any time with him or the people at the hotel," claims Geronimo, whose recent dialing efforts have successfully delivered wake-up calls to Billy Joel, Larry (Bud) Melman and G. Gordon Liddy. "All we wanted was to say hello to Phil Collins," he says.
But Collins wasn't interested in greeting anyone that early in the morning. "I need my privacy and I need my rest for my voice," he told Washington Post pop music critic Richard Harrington. "I do value normal time more and more. In England, for some reason, they don't seem to want part of you. In America they want something from you."
Collins called WAVA-FM General Manager Alan Goodman later that morning to complain about the "Morning Zoo."
"I was very sympathetic. I understood how he could perceive it as an invasion of his privacy," says Goodman, "but as one of the top five recognized entertainers in the world, I think he should understand that it comes with the turf."
But he didn't. Flash Phillips, WAVA-FM's evening disc jockey, was scheduled to broadcast his 6 to 10 p.m. show from RFK during the concert. The station had telephone lines installed especially for the event, but as Phillips signed on, one of Collins' roadies delivered the bad news -- WAVA-FM had been banned from the concert at Collins' request. Phillips then tried to perform his show from a pay phone before he was found by a stadium security guard and forced to leave. The remainder of the Flash Phillips Show was broadcast from the station's van in the RFK parking lot.
The following morning the breakfast imps hosted an "I'm Sorry Show," featuring 25 records by such artists as Connie Francis, John Denver and Elton John with an "I'm Sorry" theme. Atlantic Records was given a cassette copy of the show and was expected to present it to Collins Sunday night when he performed at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.
After tomorrow's show, the WAVA morning team will fly 154 listeners -- including 93-year-old Charlie Osborne of Anton, Iowa, who's had hiccups for 63 years -- to London, whence the "Zoo" will broadcast through next Tuesday. Collins, who'll be in London on Monday, has been invited to join them.
Meanwhile, after months of schmoozing almost every television executive in town, Geronimo and O'Meara have achieved their dream of performing on TV. WUSA has signed the pair to host four one-hour music video and variety shows to be aired this summer beginning in late July. "We won't get rich off it, but obviously we'll do anything to get our foot in the door," admits Geronimo. Up for Grabs Metroplex Communications announced yesterday that it would sell classic rock WCXR-FM (105.9) and its sister station, satellite-fed soul oldies WCPT-AM (730). The company is owned by partners Bob Weiss and Norman Wain. Wain reportedly wants out of broadcasting, and the two have decided to sell their largest property for at least $20 million to help Weiss finance a buyout. Metroplex also owns stations in Florida -- in Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and Miami -- and in Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte, N.C. An ownership change is expected by fall, but with morning advertising rates approaching $200 per minute it's unlikely that the format would change. Station employes have been promised considerable bonuses if they stay at the station through the ownership change. Gauger Update Tom Gauger, who suddenly left WMAL-AM (630) in November after hosting the midday show for 19 years, has become business manager for Baltimore Avionics Co., an outfit based at BWI Airport that sells and repairs aviation radio equipment. Gauger will emcee the Fairfax Symphony's concert on Friday evening at the Tysons Corner Sheraton. However, Gauger says, "My real love is radio, and I want to get back into it." AIDS Conference Report Nearly 5,000 scientists are meeting here this week for the Third International Conference on AIDS. This evening at 7, WMAL-AM's (630) Dr. Joe Novello anchors a live report from the Washington Hilton Hotel. And Andrea Koppel, 23-year-old daughter of "Nightline's" Ted Koppel and a reporter for all-news WTOP-AM (1500), has produced a five-part series, "AIDS: It's For Everyone," featuring D.C. Commissioner of Public Health Dr. Reed Tuckson and American University President Dr. Richard Berendzen. The series runs in 90-second segments each morning this week at 6:43.