Glenn Beck is not somebody I need to do any research on. I worked with him a few weeks in the 1980’s in Corpus Christi, Texas. He came to work at the radio station group I worked at, KZFM and KEYS. He was the morning man on KZFM… I should say the morning MEN. He was known as “Glenn Beck and Clydee Clyde.” He voiced some comical character as if he had a second host of his show. The Clydee voice was scripted and recorded on what we called “carts” back in those days. They were audio cartridges that were about the size of eight track tapes. (About the size of three Pop-Tarts stacked.) They were recorded with cue tones so that they could have multiple audio clips on one tape. All songs played by music stations were each on a single cart. So if a radio station of the era had a 2000 song library, it had 2000 carts in the control room. In the 1980’s there was no digital audio in the control room. (Excluding Sony Digital DAPS, but that was audio processing.)
Glenn would script his morning show in advance, record the Clydee audio on real-to-real production tapes, and then carefully move the audio clips on to carts. He likely did a cart for each time he brought Clydee in. If you jumped ahead a clip, you could not go back instantly. You had to go through all of the clips on the tape to get back to the one you needed. For that reason, he might have even had each clip on a separate cart, but I doubt it. We had two three player cart machines and two single player cart machines, as I recall. That meant he could have six carts in order ready to fire. We always fired them manually at that station, although the cue tones could be configured to fire to the next one. Cue tones back then were slightly unreliable. Some cart record or player heads would not read the cue tones accurately.
Glenn was a bit of a mousy guy at the station. He was almost 20 years old as I recall. We were about the same age. I was doing more part-time work at the station before he came, but in the move of shifts that happened, I was put into the 6pm to Midnight slot (at times 7pm to Midnight) while he was morning drive guy, working on-air 6am to 9am or 10am. The only contact I had with him was the occasional meeting or when trying to get into the production room in advance of my shift. He had this habit of working late afternoons in the production room recording his Clydee voice, and he would almost always run-over my time in the production room. I needed it for slightly different work than he did, and I could stay after midnight and do what I needed to do which was typically voice commercials or put new music on carts.
He was never talkative. I did not like him as about five or six of my friends were all fired at once right before he came to the station. They were fired for camaraderie with the on-air talent at another station. Actually, several of those at KZFM had actually been on a weekend drinking binge (some did not drink, but went along with all of this) and the KZFM daytime on-air people were letting another station’s on-air people on the air at about 3 or 4 am on a Sunday morning. The other station was KITE, and the KZFM people went on the air during the middle of the night there, too. They were all friends. Well, there were no consequences at KITE as the top guy at the station was in on it. But at KZFM there was a mass firing. My KEYS and KZFM management barely trusted me enough to stay. I stayed and moved from the AM to the FM. I was part time before, and moved to full time 6pm to Midnight. Glenn came in shortly after this… within just a few days. The management knew the people they fired were my friends and they also knew I still spent time with them. I knew my days were numbered, and I considered it funny. There was about a six week period after Glenn Beck was hired and before my replacement was hired, and I was executed. I knew what was happening so it was no big deal. I was in school at the time, so the long hours and the shifts were too much to sustain anyway.
Glenn was brought in to be the morning man without too much fanfare. I was not impressed with him on the air initially. I thought it was hard to believe that this guy was allowed to do the Clydee Clyde voice as it seems so bad at the time. I don’t know what his ratings were, but he lasted a couple of years until he left, so I guess he pulled it off. He is always a much nicer sounding guy on the air than he is in person. In person he would walk by anyone and not really acknowledge them. He was a bit personable, but only to the station manager. He would light up for him and be animated. For everyone else, he was seen as strange. Remember, I am talking about the first six weeks of his being at the station. He likely knew I was on borrowed time, and perhaps that is why I saw him the way I did.
I never heard good things about Glenn while at the station or after I left the station. He was the butt of jokes locally, and that was because his morning show was such a joke at first. I rarely listed to the station when away from it, so I only heard the bits and pieces when I specifically chose to listen in. I left the city before he did. I never thought anything else of him until years later I was listening to Glenn Beck’s national radio show. I remember thinking, how funny, that guy’s using the same name as that morning guy from long ago. I thought this new Glenn Beck was far more polished and was a great talent. It was when watching CNN Headline News at some point that I saw him on camera and realized, “Wait, this is the same mousy guy I once knew!” I was amazed that he made it. Once he made the move to Fox News, I was stunned at his show. I watched it often and saw how he knew how to work not only the microphone but also the camera. I remember thinking he reminded me of two different bi-polar people I had known well. (That was after he cried once on the air that I saw.) Although the bi-polars I knew were female, he seemed to have the wide range of emotions on television that seemed to match what I knew. I am not a medical expert, but that was really my thought. Again, I watched him often, as it came on a 4pm central. I would come home from my office where I left at about 3pm to go home to my wife and my two sons – and put on Fox News.
Glenn was a married guy about 19 years old when he arrived in Corpus Christi. He had a green station wagon that was so out of place for his age. I don’t recall whether he had children when he came to town. He did have his wire, and she came to the station often, as I recall. I cannot picture her. I don’t remember her at all, other than she was often in the closed production room with him. What I do remember the very dirty car. I would park next to it at times and think, wow, this guy is so disorganized. He had trash everywhere in his car. I always wondered why people with very messy cars do not realize that the world judges them on the trash in their car? Odd.
I left Corpus Christi in 1986 for about seven years. I came back for two years as my mother was terminally ill, and then left again. I was in radio and television advertising when I came back to Corpus Christi and I never heard anyone speak of Glenn Beck during that time. He left years earlier.
Once the “miracle of Facebook” put me back into contact with some of my friends from my early radio days, we all recounted our Glenn Beck stories. Again, nobody stayed in contact with him. Many of these guys were in radio for 25 and 30 years (or more), and were in and out of medium and big markets. That really says nothing as he was so new to the business when he came to Corpus Christi. My closest friends, like me, did not stay in radio long. We had no reason to have any contact with him the future.
One bio or hit piece written on him about ten years ago suggests he was putting SuperGlue in locks at the opposing radio station, KITE. I laughed an hour after I first read that. That was ME and another friend of mine. Actually, we squirted SuperGlue into the locks and then covered the locks with J.B. Weld. If you don’t know J.B. Weld, it comes in two tubes. A white tube and a gray tube. Mix the ingredients together and put over anything and it becomes nearly has hard as metal. It is so heat resistant that the product is said to be used as an emergency fix for engine blocks that are cracked. I won’t name the friend that was involved with me, but he was the kind of person that knew how to push the peer pressure button into doing things one would not otherwise do. My sincere apologies to those locked in (and locked out) of the two radio stations. We actually did it to KZFM first, then KITE a few days later as if “retaliation.” I believe Glenn Beck was locked out of KZFM before his morning show due to this, but I don’t remember the day of the week to be sure. I knew we did not do it on the weekend, as my friend laughed about many of those that would be locked out until someone with a drill came and drilled the lock.
Something good to say about Glenn:
He has taken his psychosis (whatever it is) and made himself into a multimillionaire. Congrats on that.