Here is an excerpt from my memoir “Raised on the Radio” which will be released in the spring of 2019.
This story takes place when I was the Executive Producer for the Murphy in the Morning Show at WKQX FM, Q-101. Lots of fun things happened with Murf and this is just one example of that.
(Robert Murphy, the host and overseer of on-air boozing)
In early December of 1991, our program director Bill Gamble suggested the Murphy in the Morning Show do a “Drink and Drive” public safety bit on the air. It’s a standard radio thing where one or two show members drink alcohol all morning live on the air and keep getting measured for their blood alcohol content with a breathalyzer device. It’s part stunt and part public service.
I called the Illinois State police and arranged for a uniformed trooper to come to the radio station with a breathalyzer machine. Promotions hired a bartender to mix the drinks from a portable bar cart that was set up in the studio. It was agreed that Danger Dan Walker and newsman Dave Mc Bride would do the boozing, keeping track of how much alcohol they downed. Murf would stay cocktail free to keep the radio ship from running into the rocks and shallows. Eleanor Mondale was noncommittal on whether she’d be drinking.
The day before this drinking show, Gamble told Mc Bride and I that if some serious story like a plane crash or a deadly mudslide crossed the newswires, I was to take over the reading of the news. We didn’t need a normally straight arrow newsman, half in the bag and slurring through information on a fire at a nursery school. A sober person would need to handle that kind of news.
(Day Drinking commences. L-R Robert Murphy, Eleanor Mondale and Danger Dan Walker)
So on the morning of the cocktail consuming, Dave McBride started with an Old Fashioned, Dan Walker had some Gin or Vodka concoction and Eleanor was drinking lemonade. As Dave and Dan kept downing drinks, the state trooper measured their blood alcohol levels on the breathalyzer. He also answered Murphy’s questions on the testing procedure.
(Did Q-101 Newsman Dave McBride down too many ‘Old Fashioned’ cocktails?)
About halfway through the show Dave spotted breaking news that famed spree killer Richard Speck just died of a heart attack in Illinois’ Stateville Prison. Back in 1966, during one horrific night Speck killed eight student nurses in a Chicago apartment. He spared one woman who hid under a bed and it was speculated he lost count of how many people were in the apartment. Richard Speck was sentenced to death but that eventually got reduced to life in prison.
(Spree killer Richard Speck at the time of his arrest in 1966)
Dave McBride was pretty buzzed and wanted me to handle the news on Speck’s death. “Why?” I asked. Dave noted because this is what Bill Gamble said about serious news, that a sober person should read the bulletin. I laughed and said everyone is going to be thrilled that Speck’s dead! Outside of mass murderer John Wayne Gacy, he’s the most hated man in Illinois. I told Dave not to worry about it and have fun delivering the news on the dead killer.
So on his next newscast Dave McBride, sounding quite wobbly, reported “Richard Speck is dead. (Pause) And I’m feeling pretty good about that!” The whole show busted out laughing. He shared some of the details but we were all lost in the delivery of this story. The next newscast Dave reported “Richard Speck died today.” Then clinking the ice in his glass by the microphone he said, “That calls for another!” Another round of loud laughs followed. I think his last comment on the Speck death was, “Anyone feel bad about this? Because I don’t!” More belly laughs were heard. This was classic Dave McBride. The booze loosened him up enough to take a heinous dead criminal story and make it something hilarious.
(Even co-host Eleanor Mondale was asked to blow into the breathalyzer)
Near the end of the show after tallying up the cocktails, Mc Bride and Danger Dan Walker were found to be legally drunk. They easily blew past .10 on the breathalyzer which at the time was the legal limit for blood alcohol content while driving. Also, our bartender covertly slipped vodka in the lemonades Eleanor drank and she crossed the .10 line without realizing it. Dave and Eleanor both lived in the city so they took cab rides home after that show. Danger Dan was driven home by engineer Captain Jim but not before throwing up in Jim’s car.
(Still buzzed after the show. L-R Dave Mc Bride, Danger Dan Walker and our friendly Illinois State Trooper who deemed both of these guys to drunk to drive)
Ever since that drunken morning show, anytime I hear news of a famous killer dying in prison, like when Charles Manson took the dirt nap, I think of Dave McBride’s comments on Richard Speck and say, “And I’m feeling pretty good about that!”