Barry Richards, a 31-year-old white man who used to croon into the microphone "OOOO-POP-A-DEEE-DA, This is your soul leader," has done it all on Washington radio stations in the past fifteen years: rhythm & blues, Top 40, underground, progressive rock. So it is almost predictable that, three weeks after WEAM radio fired him, Richards is a plotting his return with a television show featuring disco music, disco fashion, and disco dancing.
"American Bandstand is a bopper thing," says Richard, who wouldn't mind become the Dick Clark of the 19-to-30-year-old disco set. He's no stranger to television (before he was famous, Alice Cooper beheaded a chicken on a rock show Richards hosted on Channel 20), but this time Richards says $150,000 in start-up funds will enable him to syndicate a classy product. Providing the capital is Surinder Dhillion, an Indian-born enterpreneur who founded a Washington computer firm and several other companies devoted to the employment and development of services of products for the handicapped.
Richards, father of two sons, lives in Potomac, Maryland, and admits his wife wishes he'd find a more stable occupation. But ever since a local radio station hired him at age 15 to mop the floors for $1 an hour, he's been a "radio junkie." In the Sixties he began the first progressive rock show on AM radio in the area (on WHMC) and hosted concerts in local recreation centers where he was lucky if 200 people showed up as Led Zepplin, Rod Steward and Jethro Tull. Most recently he spun rhythm and blues records for WEAM until he was fired in a dispute with management.
"I've never changed my name, I've never wanted to leave my hometown," says Richards, who at other times, at other stations, called himself the "Boss of the Hot Sauce." But that was back in the good old days of radio when disc jockeys were outrageous personalities, before the advent of programmed "format" radio.
If the TV show, called Discovision, goes, what's next?
"I'd like," says Richards, "to use it as a springboard to host game shows."