Correction: An earlier version of this story gave the incorrect name for a guest on James “Butch” McAdams’s radio show on WOL. The guest was Adrian Branch, not Adrian Dantley. The story has been updated.
It is Sunday morning, and James “Butch” McAdams is holding court in the Silver Spring studios of WOL-AM 1450. It is time to pitch his show sponsors.
“You can have a nice haircut, shirt and tie, and a really nice vine, but if your shoes are not right, it throws the whole wardrobe off,” said McAdams, who explained that “vine” is slang for a men’s dress suit.
McAdams, 65, said he enjoys reading live pitches for his sponsors because “it adds tremendously to the flavor of the show and it goes back to the old days of old-school radio, when most businesses were connected to the region and served the community.”
On Dec. 27, McAdams went from reading ads for the Liam Michael Shoes Men’s Boutique and Horton’s Funeral Home to interviewing Michele D. Hotten, who recently became the first African American woman to serve as a judge on the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. McAdams also spoke with Adrian Branch, a former DeMatha Catholic High School basketball star who went on to play for the University of Maryland and the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I love this city, and every Sunday I get up to do the show, I’m like a kid on Christmas morning,” McAdams said, adding that no guest is too big or too small to be on “The Butch McAdams Show.” The program airs Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“My mission is to tell our story,” he said. “The story of the DMV.”
McAdams, known to listeners as “Coach,” is a remnant of the glory days of AM broadcasting, when radio personalities were larger-than-life.
“I learned from Bernie McCain, Joe Madison, Moon Man,” McAdams said. “I learned from sitting in the studio with these men. I learned from Ms. Cathy Hughes, who once told me, ‘I can teach you radio, but I can’t teach you passion.’ ”
In the past three decades, as outlets such as WOL-AM have developed all-talk formats, personalities such as McAdams have played a critical role in sparking awareness of issues in the African American community.
Hughes, the owner of WOL-AM’s parent company, Radio One, said in an interview that McAdams has a critical role in a troubling time for African Americans.
“My whole mission is to provide a voice for the community, and my hope is that voice will become louder about how our children are being gunned down in the streets like dogs,” Hughes said. “If you don't know where you have been, you don’t know where you are going, and Butch helps us know where we have been so we can be proactive in where we are going.”
McAdams, who played basketball in high school and majored in physical education at the University of the District of Columbia, taught and coached at the Maret School in the District from 1973 to 2009.
In 1992, he added broadcasting to his list of occupations. In addition to his Sunday show, he is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m. as a co-host of “The Larry Young Morning Show” on WOLB-AM 1010 in Baltimore.
“I love radio. I get up at 4:15 a.m. Monday through Friday to prepare for my radio show, and every Sunday I get up at 7 a.m.,” McAdams said. “I have just as much enthusiasm and passion as I did back in 1992 because I get an opportunity to serve the community.”