Nick from Loveland, Richard from Indian Hill… Finally former WLW-AM program director Darryl Parks has 'fessed up that they were fake.
I've suspected it for a long time, but Parks always dodged my questions when he was at WLW-AM or a Clear Channel news talk radio vice president. Finally he "pulls the curtain back" on a blog headlined "Fake Callers on Talk Radio? Say It Ain't So!" this week after three employees were suspended at Philadelphia's "97.5 the Fanatic" sports talk station because regular caller "Dwayne from Swedesboro" was actually a station producer.
Parks, now a vice president at Simply Money, recalls how snobby Richard from Indian Hill would "mock those who shopped at Walmart," and Nick from Loveland, the "over-the-top effeminate gay male" were "polar opposites of 700WLW's target audience." They were on the air to light up the phones and make the town talk, which WLW-AM is a master at doing.
"Theater of the mind and entertainment (are) two things sorely missing in talk radio today. Is it so bad for listeners to have a little fun, provocative or not? ...(We were) creating street talk, knowing the vast majority of the audience were in on the joke and were laughing at the legit callers upset at the character 'callers,'" he writes.
He ends the blog by recalling how he dodged my question when I asked him if all the callers heard on WLW-AM were real. He told me, "There is a basis of reality in all callers on the station," and concludes the piece saying, "This is about entertainment!"