Humor, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. That's what local disc jockeys Jeff Baker and Scott Woodside discovered yesterday after the low-rated WPGC pair completed their most unusual (and last) radio show together in the 10 months since they were first teamed.
The disc jockeys, in an apparent last-ditch effort to enliven the morning drive-time program, took some sharp jabs at the quality of their show, then went in search of listeners to agree with them.
It was meant to be funny. Management didn't think it was, and Baker, whose three-year, six-figure contract was to have run out Oct. 15, resigned abruptly afterward. Woodside, who has two years remaining on a three-year contract at the contemporary crossover station, is expected to continue on the air in the same morning slot for now.
The broadcast pair, a hybrid of two once-popular local radio teams, WPGC's "Baker and Burd" and WRQX's "Elliott and Woodside," began yesterday's program at 5:30 a.m. with an on-air discussion of their low ratings and wondered aloud whether anyone was listening.
Then Woodside came to the mock conclusion that "This is probably not a very good morning show." With that, he picked up a portable telephone and drove from the studio in Greenbelt to the Silver Spring Metro station, where he went on the air again and began asking passersby if they had ever listened to the WPGC morning show.
Finding no one who had, Woodside continued the routine at a nearby diner, where he stood on the sidewalk outside asking patrons if they had heard of the show. The response wasn't much better, and at that point Baker -- still in the Greenbelt studio -- agreed with his roving partner that "We are the worst-rated radio show in North America."
The tongue-in-cheek routine continued through Woodside's next stop, a 7-Eleven store in Adelphi, where Woodside, now sounding truly discouraged, said, "It's real good working at a radio station when you have listeners."
In fact, the pair has shown some audience growth lately. The most recent surveys indicate that 115,000 different listeners per week tune in their show, up by about 10,000 from last spring. Still, they remain well behind their competitors in the ratings race.
Similar desperate efforts to boost ratings have paid off in the past for some disc jockeys in the highly competitive broadcast business, but yesterday's performance was far from a hit back at WPGC.
General manager and program director Ben Hill said he "wasn't very happy" with it, and the six-member advertising sales department reportedly erupted in outrage and complained strongly to Hill.
For the sales people, the gambit was the latest in a series of events that have not made their jobs easier. Over the past 14 months the Marriott family-owned station has undergone a complete on-air staff and management change and switched its format to upbeat dance music. Last month, Marriott announced that its 11-station First Media Corp. would be sold.
The stunt was met with better humor among the station's competitors, who have grown fat on the failings of the Baker/Woodside show. Said one rival station manager about the breakup of the team: "That's too bad, I was hoping they'd stay there."