Horses did not eat one another. Pigeons' heads did not spin around and fall off. In all, the world's framework did not disjoint. But as of 1:59 p.m. on Saturday, May 29, 1993, it was a world without The Jim and Steve Show.
Nobody thought it would last. The radio call-in gig began as a lark, two of us volunteering A all right, begging A to fill in as talk show hosts on WMBM-AM (1490), South Beach's own "little station that couldn't." That was in early March. Our summary of the experience, an epic poem entitled "Transmission Impossible," ran in the March 31 issue of New Times. After the story, we assumed, the show would come to a crashing halt. But station owner Eddie Margolis said he liked our "off-topic" schtick. Following a healthy period of experimentation with time slots, we settled into Saturday afternoons 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., like tired feet into chilled lime Jell-O.
And after six weeks in that prestigious time slot, we were beginning to develop some unofficial sponsors, literally dozens of listeners, and at least one obsessed caller.
The future seemed bright. Our spirits felt giddy. We'd almost kicked the rubber cement habit. Until that last Saturday in May.
We should have realized something was amiss when we arrived and saw the broadcast booth A our broadcast booth A packed with strangers. "Huh," Jim muttered in jest, "must be more of Eddie's creditors looking for equipment to sell."
Suddenly Margolis himself appeared from behind the office door marked "PRESIDENT." He stared at the lettering for a moment, reaffirming his importance, then beckoned us into his office. Limping from a softball injury, he hobbled to his chair, bunched up his lips, and tried desperately to screw up a little courage. "Well, guys..." he began, staring at his bloated ankle. He didn't have to say another word.
"Are you firing us, Eddie?" Jim queried, sounding every bit like a child being dropped off at the orphanage by his parents on their way to Atlantic City.
"Yeah," Eddie replied. Those people in the studio, he explained, were going on instead of us. Margolis then began mumbling vaguely about us being the sons he never thought he could have, and the brilliance of sunspots, and the injustice of Florida's bankruptcy laws. "Too little, too late," he summarized. "I'll call you."
There is no bitterness. Margolis is a savvy businessman. That's why WMBM is the top-rated AM station in the South Pointe market. He had to do what he had to do. Plus, the folks replacing us were paying him for their slot.
Besides, how could Margolis say no to a show called The Married Couple with Patrick and Judy? (The basic premise: He's a high-powered commodities broker, she's a former Miss Clairol Nice & Easy; together they're wacky.)
We will always have our memories. In troubled times we can always think back to some of our finer moments on the air. Or at least distract ourselves trying to remember them. Our show never really was about anything. (Or, to view it more kindly, it was about everything: racism, fine dining, Jim's dream of someday becoming an astronaut, Steve's nervous condition, the role of pimiento in today's society, et cetera.)
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We'd like to thank our engineers "Dangerous" Dave, "Natty" Nat, J.J. "Dynamite" Walker, and the new guy who refused to tell us his name. You were all pros, guys, and we'd love to have you over for dinner some time. But we just bought new carpeting. (Rim shot.)
We'd like to thank our callers for sneaking phone privileges when the orderlies weren't looking. Remember, keep calling and keep hiding the medication under your tongue. (Rim shot.)
We'd also like to thank our regular listener.
Walking out of the WMBM studio for the last time, we felt dazed. The sky was dark and overcast. The world seemed a little colder. As we reached the sidewalk, Joe Fontana, another WMBM talk show host, came running after us. "Hey," he cried, "what are you guys gonna do now?"
We did not know. We did not know.