Scott Redmond has a posse. Rabid followers of Rush Limbaugh and Jim Rome refer to themselves as Dittoheads and Clones. And now some of Tom Martino's listeners seem hell-bent on making names for themselves as Neanderthals and bigots.
Last Wednesday, DJ Quote, aka Quentin Jones, got caught in the Troubleshooter's crosshairs and wound up getting blasted. Contacted by Martino's staffers regarding a complaint from a listener who'd hired the DJ to perform at her wedding, then didn't get an immediate refund after he canceled, Quote reportedly made threats to the staff and then dropped a string of F-bombs, both off and on the air. After he went profane in public, Martino pulled the plug, calling the DJ an "idiot" and broadcasting his personal phone number -- numerous times -- as he urged listeners to call and share their thoughts.
And they did. Quote's phone has been ringing ever since. Late last week, I listened to about a dozen of the callers' messages -- most of which originated in Texas -- which ranged from relatively harmless, expletive-filled rants to flat-out racist hate-mongering.
Wednesday, 3:24 p.m.: Hey scumbag fuck-nugget, hope you fucking go out of business, you piece of shit.
Wednesday, 6:53 p.m.: You stupid dumb motherfuckin' asshole...motherfucking dumb cracking dumbshit. What an idiot. I like to cuss a lot, too, 'cause you're a fucking idiot. I hope you lose business. I hope you go out of business and file bankruptcy, 'cause I'm listening to you on the Tom Martino show, you dumb fuck.
Wednesday, 8:51 p.m.: Man, fuck you, nigger!
Wednesday, 8:52 p.m.: Give the money back, you fucking moron. Give the money fucking back. Give the money back, you fucking idiot. Fucking DJ Fuck.
Wednesday, 9:57 p.m.: Hey, brother, I know you've just been exposed on the Tom Martino show, and I think your black ass is gonna be out of business soon.
Thursday, 8:45 a.m.: Blessed day? You're talking about blessed day and you rip people off. You're just another fucking nigger.
Thursday, 11:01 a.m.: Hey, Quentin, dude. Hey, Quentin, you're a punk. You're a punk, man. You know what we like to do with punks? We like to stick our big dicks in little punks' assholes. You hear that, Quentin? We're gonna dick you real good, you punk.
The calls keep coming. Although Quote jokes that he's getting so many he's "going to have to hire a receptionist," he's clearly upset. "Yes, I'm a quick-tempered person," he allows. "But this is overwhelming. Martino has me listed as someone that he busted. This is one incident in my entire career where I've ever had a bad experience."
According to Quote, the incident started when he agreed to deejay a friend of a friend's wedding. The couple, Lisa Agee and Gabe Baracker, were slated to get married last Friday and had hired the DJ earlier in the summer after seeing him spin at Club Purple. Quote says he made it clear that he's not a wedding DJ and was only doing this as a favor for a friend. Still, Agee and Baracker were pleased enough with what they'd seen at Purple to give Quote a $350 deposit.
From this point on, though, no one agrees on much of anything. Baracker insists that Quote was almost unreachable. And once he finally reached the DJ, Quote was unreasonable. He addressed Baracker in a "rude manner," Agee complained in an e-mail to Quote, adding "Your behavior was uncalled for and inappropriate." On his website, Martino accuses Quote of being verbally abusive to Baracker.
"Verbally abusive?" Quote responds. "It depends on what you define that as. He called me and told me, 'Where the fuck have you been? We've been trying to get ahold of you.' I can't remember the exact time and the dates, but his exact response was I had thirty minutes to meet him, figure out their songs and their playlist, because they felt I was running from them. I told him, 'You know what? If you're going to talk to me this way, I don't want to do your wedding. I don't have to do your wedding, and I will give you a refund -- today, or as soon as possible.' He said, 'Today would be great. That would be great.' And then I didn't hear from him. That was the end of the conversation. Two days later, he calls me back again, and he's like, 'What are we going to do about the refund? You need to mail it to us or we'll figure out what we're going to do.' I was like, 'I'll mail it to you on the 20th, the date of your wedding.' 'But that's not good enough for me,' he said. 'I'm going to destroy you. I'm going to e-mail KS-107.5. I'm going nationwide. You'll never have a job anywhere else as a wedding DJ.'"
I can attest to Quote's quick temper. We met last winter at one of the Radio Bums' record pool pick-ups. A mutual friend (sound familiar?) had agreed to build Quote's website, and as a webmaster in a previous life, I offered to tutor our friend. A few weeks later, Quote called, told me our friend had flaked and asked me to put the site together. I explained that I no longer did that sort of thing. But after a little more discussion, he convinced me to try. Ultimately, though, I couldn't make it happen fast enough for Quote. And while I reiterated that I was doing him a favor and said the money was inconsequential, the tone of his e-mails and phone calls gave me the sense that he thought I was trying to get over on him. Things didn't work out, and his site never got built. And Quote wasn't happy with me, either.
So when I heard about the wedding saga, the story had a certain ring of truth. But while Quote may have a shorter fuse than most people, does that make him a bad businessman? Martino says he gave Quote ample opportunity to prove otherwise.
"Do you truly believe with the ire that I raise and the crap that I stir, every single day for thirty years, do you truly believe that I could survive that long by doing that?" responds Martino, when asked about the Quote controversy. "By putting people on cold and not explaining situations and not letting them give their side of the story?"
Quote insists that Martino made things personal, ambushed him and then cut him off because of some off-handed remarks. "Yeah, they called me and I was frustrated," Quote admits. "He put me on the air; he blocked me out. He let me say what I said, and he was muting me. I know how radio works. I make mix CDs. I'm a DJ. He muted me out so the only response that he put out to the public -- he blackballed me -- is the negative stuff I did have to say. Because I was telling him how I felt about him. I never heard of the guy before. And he went off and gave my number, national, to people because he got offended because I did not know who he was -- and tried to help them destroy me."
Martino agrees that Quote never got to offer his version on the syndicated Troubleshooter show, which airs in several hundred cities. But that wasn't because the DJ offended him. "I'm not angry over DJ Quote, trust me," says Martino. "He took money from a woman and said, 'I'm not giving it back.' That's what he told us. He told us, 'I'm not giving the money back, and I don't give a fuck. Tell her to go fuck herself.' I mean, I can't even count how many times he said that." Martino says he and his staff made at least five attempts to get Quote to offer up his version. Each time, "he kept telling us to go fuck ourselves," Martino recalls. "My people don't have to take that shit. Let me tell you something -- that's the kind of guy you're dealing with. Write any story you want. Here's what I say: I have a reputation of thirty years -- not three, not two -- thirty years. And my name and my reputation are important, too."
Of course, Quote is also concerned about his reputation, since being branded a ripoff artist could damage his career. But Martino sounds a little defensive when I point this out. "My reputation has been maintained and will continue to be," he says. "And frankly, your column doesn't mean much to me. So why don't you just write whatever you want. I'm telling you exactly what happened."
Hmm. Call me crazy, but that sounds a lot like what Quote said to Martino. Ironic, don't you think?
"That's exactly right," Martino responds. "Isn't it ironic how life works? I'm telling you that I don't care about Quote and what you write about him in your column. I don't know you personally. What I'm saying is, this is a non-issue to me. This guy was an idiot and a jerk, and he was abusive. And I'm not being abusive to you. I'm not telling you to go fuck yourself. I'm not telling you anything like that. I'm upset because this guy has the nerve to go to a newspaper and say that he was defamed by me -- after he could not even say three words without vulgarity?"
But what about broadcasting a personal phone number over the air?
"Listen, I've been doing my show for thirty years, and I don't have to answer you about what I think is appropriate, all right?" Martino fires back. "He said, 'I want negative publicity.' Excuse me, but the last time I checked, I have a show, and if he doesn't think that I did right, tell him to sue me. I'm telling you that I know what I'm doing. I've been doing it for long enough, and I don't have to answer to you, and I don't have to answer to him. I don't have to sit here and debate it with you. You're asking me, is it appropriate to give out his number? At times, it's very appropriate to give out phone numbers, yes it is."
Fair enough. But his home phone number?
"It was the number that he gave us," Martino replies.
Hey, I'm just trying to uncover the truth and champion the underdog. Surely he can appreciate that.
"I don't have anything against what you're trying to do," says Martino. "But I don't have to answer to you about the practices of my show. If you're asking me if it's appropriate, let my listeners decide if it's appropriate. Let the people I've recovered millions of dollars for answer if it's appropriate."
I'll pass, thanks. And for his own part, Quote admits that he could have dealt with things better, but he insists he's no crook.
"I do agree that I could have handled this in a different way and given their money back faster," he says. "But I still believe in my heart that they still would have done the same actions to try and destroy me. So the only people I'm sorry about are people who truly know me well and all the venues that I work at now."
Quote says he FedEx'd the deposit back to the couple on their wedding day, which should put the matter to rest. "If we get $350, the matter is dropped," Baracker agrees. And at the end of our conversation, Martino professes that he's willing to hear Quote's side of the story -- assuming he can tell it without F-bombs. But he prefers that I not give Quote his direct line.
And "don't ever give him my cell phone," says the Troubleshooter.
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