Da Boogieman, who prefers to keep his given name to himself, has brought joy to rock-and-roll-oldies fans in the Denver area on and off since the late '70s. As detailed in "It's Alive," a Message column profile of Boog from July 2004, he found his largest audience at KXKL/105.1 FM, better known as KOOL 105, garnering healthy ratings even after the station began dialing its playlist forward in an attempt to appeal to a somewhat younger (and more advertiser-friendly) demographic. Despite his popularity, he was disappeared by CBS Radio, KOOL's owner, in a cost-cutting move -- but after CBS sold that station and two others to Georgia-based Wilks Broadcasting, Internet rumors suggested that Boog and Cha Cha Chavez, another victim of CBS slicing, would be returning to the KOOL fold.
This speculation turned out to be half-right. Cha Cha is indeed back on KOOL's airwaves. But last week, Da Boogieman formally turned down a contract due to its size. According to him, he was offered a mere $25,000 per annum to man the microphone weeknights from 7 p.m. to midnight on top of additional hours spent doing production and other behind-the-scenes work -- an enormous cut in pay compared to what he was making under the CBS regime. He quotes the e-mail he sent to Wilks programming vice president Jeff Sanders as saying, "My talents are worth far more than $25K a year, and I'm not going to give them away."
Wilks CEO Jeff Wilks declines to comment on the salary-amount claim. But amid a conversation that also fuels a second blog, "New KOOL 105 Owner Jeff Wilks on Cuts, Additions to Station's Staff," he does express frustration with Boog, who he says accepted the deal only to subsequently reject it -- an assertion Boog denies. And this isn't the only time their stories diverge.
In Boog's opinion, the misunderstandings started early. After the sale to Wilks Broadcasting was announced, he sent company managers an e-mail "saying, 'I used to work there. I'm very recognizable in the community. I'm branded for what I do -- very marketable, and I could be quite an asset to the radio station,'" he says. In short order, both Sanders and Wilks replied, asking for an aircheck tape -- and after he sent one off, Sanders reached out again: "We talked, and right off the bat, he was up-front, saying, 'This position isn't going to pay what CBS was paying you. I think all we can do is about 25 a year.' I thought, wow. But he kept reassuring me, saying, 'We'll get you endorsements and remotes and all of this.'
"My stomach was telling me, 'This is not good,'" he goes on. "But I didn't come right out and tell them 'no,' which is where I think the confusion started, with them thinking I was on board and ready to go. I told him, 'I would like to be part of the Wilks Broadcasting family,' and he said, 'Good.' But then I said, 'We need to talk more about this,' and he must not have understood what I meant. They took it as, he's on-board. Ink him in."
Around two weeks later, Da Boogieman says he received a phone call from Wilks, in town from Georgia, who asked for a lunch meeting. Boog assumed the topic would be a salary discussion -- but instead, Wilks wanted to meet him at Rocky's Autos, a local car dealer for which Boog had done plenty of advertising over the years. He was puzzled by the request, but he went anyway, determined to show that he was a "team player," and soon found himself in the middle of a de facto sales-pitch session. Eventually, it dawned on him that Wilks thought he had already accepted the contract.
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Back at the station, Boog says he tried to make his misgivings clear to Sanders, who was caught off-guard. "I thought we had a verbal agreement," Boog quotes Sanders as saying. Afterward, Boog tried to get Sanders to move off the $25,000 figure, and when the exec wouldn't do so, he inquired about quantifying the aforementioned endorsements-and-remotes promises and putting them into the contract. Sanders shook off that possibility as well before asking him what he'd do if they couldn't work out an arrangement acceptable to both sides. In reply, Boog said he'd sent in a job application to the folks at RTD, where he'd worked between radio stints. "I do RTD's voice-messaging right now, on their phone system," he elaborates. "And I've done a lot of other things. I've been a sky-crane operator, a video-store operator. I've driven a taxi, driven a bus. There are other things I can do."
The meeting ended with Da Boogieman saying he'd think further about the job offer and Sanders advising him not to muse for too long. Within days, Boog says, he counteroffered: four hours per night instead of five, and no additional time to tackle production, which he knew would take a lot of additional time to do right. To that, Sanders floated five hours per night -- four on the air and one for production. But Boog says he knew he couldn't possibly prep the show the way he'd like under those circumstances, and the time commitment would make it difficult for him to get a second job, which he'd need in order to make ends meet at that pay level. He says Wilks' health-insurance policy was much worse than the one he had under CBS' auspices -- "and that's important to me, because I'm an old guy." So he sent in the e-mail mentioned in the first section of this post, turning down the job.
Wilks' version of the story is considerably simpler. "The deal was final, but he backed out," he says. "I even met with a customer with him about sponsoring his show. I wouldn't have done that with a guy we didn't have an agreement with. He said he had an opportunity to work with RTD -- what he thought of as a better opportunity, which I support. But he definitely agreed to our offer. I'm shocked that he said anything different." After a pause, he admits, "Actually, I'm not shocked by anything. But things didn't happen the way he said they did."
Whatever the case, Da Boogieman won't be returning to KOOL 105 -- at least not now. And as he waits and hopes that RTD responds positively to his application, he's looking to the future. He plans to launch a personal website where he can put together podcasts and sell merchandise -- and he's already scheduled to spin at a couple of events in the spring and summer. "Being on the radio is something I would dearly love to do, and I miss it tremendously," he acknowledges. "But if I can't do it and have fun -- and make a decent living from it -- then I'm not going to do it."