The members of the chorus sat shoulder to shoulder, awaiting instructions. All they needed to remember was the simple refrain to Clarence "Frogman" Henry's "Ain't Got No Home." Their turn came after the lead singer sang, "I'm a lonely boy, I ain't got a home ..."
Amid cackle and confusion, the pickup chorus managed "Oooooo, oooo, oooo ..."
They were not professional singers, just 25 fans of WWDC-FM's (101.1) Doug "Greaseman" Tracht, and they had long ago reserved free, in-studio seats to watch the self-described "boss jock" at work on Halloween -- at 6:40 in the morning.
Many were dressed to party. A "flasher" sat across the control board from the Greaseman, wrapped in a tan trench coat. Next to him sat "Sgt. Fury," complete with camouflage clothes and greasepaint on his face. He clenched a pistol in his right hand. Another "Army man," who said he was a Maryland police officer in real life, carried two real guns. There was also a "hillbilly," a hunter with gunshot wounds to the head, and a shirtless Honda mechanic who dressed in body-length chains. He sounded like a dog who'd broken loose from his master's pen.
But noise and rustling from in-studio audiences don't hamper the Greaseman's style. In fact, three times a week -- Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays -- audiences crowd into DC-101's Silver Spring studio to watch the radio show, and from them, the 40-year-old Greaseman gets "an adrenaline surge."
At 7 a.m., the Greaseman becomes "Rod Alan Fritz" and delivers 90 seconds of news. Then, with the sound of a traffic helicopter in the background, Tracht becomes "Dick DeLooka, the Big Palooka," warning roadsters of Beltway backups.
At 7:26 Halloween morning, former Redskins running back John Riggins appeared at the studio door for one of his scheduled appearances, wearing his University of Kansas letterman's jacket, tan jeans and flip-flops. His hair was disheveled; he looked as if he had woken up 20 minutes earlier in the cab of his truck. A wild bear could have chased him into the studio. He walked silently to his chair in front of a microphone and began scanning the sports page. Four minutes later, Riggo was on the air, a sportscaster.
Later, Riggo was only mildly amused when John Watson, an in-studio listener from Brandywine, produced a 1973 football card showing Riggo in his rookie year as a pro, posing helmetless in a New York Jets uniform and sporting a huge Afro-like hairdo. Although in vogue back then, the haircut brought great laughter that morning in the studio. Later, Riggins autographed the card for Watson.
DC-101 is the only radio station in town that has regularly scheduled in-studio audiences. Seating, now booked through February, is free. Call 301-587-7100 to make reservations.
Jackie Bill's Twisted Outlook
WMAL-AM's (630) Wednesday afternoon vaudeville-style comedian Jackie Bill, who apparently has a long-term lease on office space in deejay Bill Trumbull's imagination, reported recently that "now Japan is helping against Iraq because they feel that it's wrong to just march in and take over someone else's country. They feel it's better to come in and buy it up one by one." Jackie Bill also discovered that some American companies are cashing in on the Persian Gulf crisis. "In fact, just today the Preparation H company announced that the 'H' stands for Hussein." Of course, listeners must consider the source. Jackie Bill comes from a nutty family. When his brother Louie "was a kid, Mom used to dress him up as a rabbit and Dad would take him hunting."
Both WAMU-FM (88.5) and WETA-FM (90.9) have concluded their annual fall fund-raising drives, each with surprisingly good results. WAMU took in $480,677 in pledges, an increase of 14 percent over last fall's $421,000, while WETA rang up more than $410,000, an increase of more than 22 percent from last fall's record $335,000. Meanwhile, WLTT-FM's (94.7) recent one-day fund-raiser in Rockville for the Capital Community Food Bank netted nearly $28,000 ... Ken Beatrice's Celebrity Golf Tournament through WMAL-AM (630) raised $13,000 last month for Child Help, an organization that helps severely abused children.