Talk Rodeo

WIOD's Phil Hendrie hears voices in his head. They tell him what to do. They tell him what to say. And right now they're telling him to make you laugh.

Even so, some callers are so smart and crafty that they are able to expose Hendrie for the fraud he is. Almost. When an expert came on to talk about the new Scrabble rules, explaining, for example, that "honky" is actually spelled "honkee," a caller says, "I'm telling you you're wrong. I have the official Scrabble dictionary right here, and that's not how it's spelled." The guest asks the caller which edition of the dictionary she has right in front of her. She checks, and then apologizes profusely: "I'm sorry, you're right, I have the old one."

To help everyone understand the O.J. Simpson case, attorney and criminal-defense specialist Harvey Weirman has appeared on Hendrie's show several times recently. Weirman has pointed out such important factors as O.J.'s fly being open during a hearing. A man called to say that he checked with the Florida Bar, and that there is no Harvey Weirman. "Under what spelling did you look, sir?"

A few days later, the same guy calls again to challenge the veracity and authenticity of Harvey Weirman.

Caller: "I have a letter from the Bar saying he doesn't exist."
Hendrie: "Get Weirman back on the phone."
Weirman: "I will give my Bar number to Phil off the air."
Hendrie: "Sir, call back Monday."
Weirman: "Why are you doing this?"
Caller: "I want to hire you as a lawyer."

Weirman: "You have a telephone, sir? There's a big book with a bunch of white pages -- "

Hendrie: "Don't get smart with him."
Weirman: "What's the case? I do criminal defense. I'm from Davie and I'm listed in the phone book. I'll take your case [he hiccups]."

Hendrie: "Oh, great. Now he's drunk."
Another caller: "How many do you have on your staff?"
Hendrie: "My what?"
Caller: "How many comedy writers work on your show?"
Hendrie laughs at this crazy notion.

How long can Hendrie wield his big shtick in South Florida? As long as things like this happen: WIOD announced the hiring of a new announcer for Dolphins games, a Pennsylvania man named Bill Zimpfer. A few days later, Hendrie interviewed "Bill Zimpfer" live on WIOD. During the interview, the real Bill Zimpfer telephones from Philadelphia, explaining that a friend in Miami heard "him" on the radio and called to alert him. Hendrie immediately dubs him Bill Number Two and begins asking questions to determine which of the two is the real Bill Zimpfer. By the time it's over, even the real Bill Zimpfer doesn't seem too sure.

Recently, Hendrie ventured to Key West for another remote segment, this one in conjunction with the annual Hemingway Days festivities. In the week preceding the trip, which was taken on a DC-3, Hendrie played a game with a "weight wheel." Callers told him how much they weigh, he spun the wheel, and it was determined whether the plane crashed. He interviewed Ernest Hemingway, but it was difficult to understand the author. He had a gun in his mouth. Hendrie elicited from callers a list of famous people who died in plane crashes. And, a couple of days later, he remarked that the airline chartering the Key West trip "has a great sense of humor."

Once they're in Key West, broadcasting live from Sloppy Joe's and taking calls, Hendrie hears from the guy who doesn't believe Harvey Weirman is real. During a newsbreak, Hendrie phones the Florida Bar and is told that they do in fact have a Harvey Weirman, criminal defense specialist, registered in Davie. "I'm weird," Hendrie tells his listeners. "But I never lie."

A caller, however, insists that Hendrie and Weirman speak at the same time. Hendrie: "What?" The caller repeats the request. "What? I'm sorry I can't hear you, sir." Next call.

Caller: "You get the most calls when you talk about human tragedy, like the plane crashes."

Hendrie: "Yeah, it's true. Either that or when I have some phony-baloney attorney on."

After the Key West trip, back in the WIOD studio, Hendrie receives a call from a listener who asks if he went down to Mallory Square to watch the sunset, if he liked Key West.

Hendrie: "It was so fake, just like South Beach, everyone pretending to be a local. I just want people to be themselves. That's all, just be yourself.

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