Michael Floorwax is a radio survivor. Since 1990, Floorwax (real name: Michael Steinke) and his longtime partner, Rick Lewis, have made up one of the metro area's most prominent radio tandems via their morning show at classic-rock outlet 103.5 The Fox. In addition, the pair anchor the Groove Hawgs, a good-time band that's kicked off plenty of major concerts over the years. Now, however, Floorwax is off the air, and no one associated with his program will tell us why, although Lewis has dropped cryptic hints during the show.
Of late, Lewis has been helming the morning program without Floorwax, and over the past week or two, listeners tell us he's addressed his cohort's absence on at least a couple of occasions.
In one such instance, Lewis said Floorwax was going through a rough patch and might not be back for a while. On another, we hear Lewis told the Fox's audience that Floorwax remained in town and apparently wasn't averse to telling fans who ran into him why he was gone -- but no one at the station could do so because of HIPAA.
This last reference is to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, whose wide-ranging privacy rules include provisions restricting employers from revealing information about an individual's medical history.
Thus far, neither Lewis nor longtime morning-show producer Kathy Lee have responded to interview requests by Westword. As for Greg Foster, vice president/programming for the Denver branch of Clear Channel, the Fox's owner, he sent the following response via e-mail: "Floorwax is currently taking a personal leave of absence. For privacy reasons, we will not comment further."
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This dearth of information has led to a great deal of speculation about Floorwax, a hint or two of which has made it online. Until Floorwax or his colleagues reveal more, we wish him good luck in dealing with whatever medical issues are currently preventing him from cracking wise at 103.5 on the FM dial.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our Media archive circa January 28: "Amelia Earhart, traffic and weather reporter, leaving 9News to fly around the world."