There's a new voice in town. It's Cousin Joe Theismann comin' at ya, sending 'em out especially for you. Every weekday morning from 6 to 9, Joey the T spins the tunes. Joe Theismann, the jock turned disc jock, the complete jock, was born to be an a.m. man.
"W-P-G-C" (a cappella but with verve). It's 6:45 a.m. in Greenbelt on the Foxx and Theismann show. Roberta Flack is easin' on out. "Making Love," says Dave Foxx, "I like the title, too."
"I'm not even gonna comment," says Theismann, for the first time in recorded history.
On Dec. 28, 1981, Jim Elliott and Scott Woodside, WPGC's gentlemen of the morning, defected to WRQX-FM. WPGC "was in somewhat of a pickle," said program director Steve Kingston. Something had to be done quickly, something dramatic, something socko (but not desperate, Kingston says), to protect its share of the a.m. audience; a.m. is where it's at.
Ya gotta have a gimmick, so WPGC got Theismann. "I don't know if I'd use the word gimmick," Kingston says. "It was more of a strategy."
Theismann went on the air Jan. 4. He was supposed to be temporary. He stuck. The mail is up, they say, the ratings cool. Theismann stays until he goes back to calling signals instead of letters.
Mellow, he's not. Listening to him is like waking up in a pep rally. He's always up. "In the morning, when I come in, between 4:30 and 6 is the only time I'm not pumped," Theismann says. "I'm sort of laid back. But it's about the only time."
Foxx says it takes 45 minutes to cool out after the show. "I never cool down," Theismann says.
The red light goes on, Theismann stands in front of a picture window and a microphone, boogeying, crooning, jiving in his burgundy sweats. He is loving this. A sign hanging above the cassette rack says: "Is what you're saying more important than the music? If not, don't say it."
Yakety-yak. Don't talk back.
The first week, Theismann was pitiful. "I was long-winded," he says, "which is nothing new for me."
He kept walking on the music, stomping on Kool and the Gang. "There are actual rules of this game like every game," Theismann says. "The importance of the music, the length of time between music, how you go in and out of breaks . . ."
"How to talk like you smile," Foxx says.
Theismann's biggest problem? "He's too happy," Kingston says.
"Some morning's he's bouncing off the walls," Foxx says.
He's improved. "Now we fly," Theismann says.
"We're flying," Foxx replies.
Foxx is Theismann's main man, the show's main man, the quarterback. He works the boards and calls most of the plays. "Joe's a natural," Foxx says. "The thing in disc jockeys used to be smooth, deep voices. Now they want somebody who sounds like their next door neighbor. People are looking for companionship. He sounds very approachable."
As a kid in New Jersey, Theismann listened to Cousin Brucie on WABC, in New York City, which went all-news this month. He likes everything from hard-rock to disco to go-go. "You always play deejay when you're a kid," he says. "But I never had a dream of getting into radio."
When he did, he says, "I tried to be someone I wasn't. Mr. Deejay."
That was his biggest mistake. He was hired to be himself. "We hired him because he was Joe Theismann," Kingston says. "We didn't seek the best morning talent and come up with Joe Theismann. We went seeking the greatest positive impact on our audience and came up with Joe."
He had no experience. "I've done talk shows before," he says, but nothing like this. He was scared of making "a real idiot of myself."
"He told me it was like playing the first time at RFK," Foxx says.
Now, Theismann says, when "people find out I'm on the radio and they say, 'Oh, do you do sports?' I say, 'I'm a flat-out jock, a disc jock.' "
Theismann has been loving it so much he "seriously came close to retiring from football," he insists. Say, it ain't so, Joe. "I swear, I don't care whether anybody believes me," he says.
This was before he signed a new four-year, $1.5-million contract with the Redskins. Without a contract, Theismann, a free agent, would have been hard put to play anywhere else and he didn't want to be traded. "If I didn't have a contract, this would have been a very viable alternative," he says.
"Monetarily, there is a great opportunity in radio," he says, while declining to say just how great an opportunity WPGC has given him.
Would the station have wanted him full time? "If he approached me today, I'd sign him today," Kingston says. "If he approached me the day after he started, I would have said, 'Let's give it some time.' "
Theismann will do a sports show Mondays and Fridays starting with training camp. For the time being, he is busy answering phones, chatting up the listeners, giving away days off, and money, solid gold. "Let's do it right now!" Theismann says.
"Calm down, calm down," Foxx says. "People aren't ready for you."