Meet Erich "Mancow" Muller.
Best known as the host of The Mancow Experience, this Chicago-based radio show host began on Holy Moly & Maxx at KMOK in Kansas City. The Mancow Experience is syndicated across the US to 50+ markets. He is perennially listed as one of the most influential radio personalities in the nation.
But you may remember him from the headlines he made in 1993. At the time, former President Clinton had tied up traffic on an LAX runway for over an hour while he got a trim aboard Air Force One. Mancow staged a parody of this incident on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge during rush hour. His sidekick used vans to block the westbound lanes of the bridge while he got a haircut. As a result of this publicity stunt, Mancow was prosecuted and given three years probation, fined $500, and ordered by a San Francisco Municipal Court judge to perform 100 hours of community service. The radio station eventually paid $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a bridge commuter— a small price to pay for the publicity that instantly made Mancow a legend in the industry.
Mancow currently makes his home in Chicago and he talked to us about his career and living in the Windy City.
For the uninitiated, what is it that sets you apart from other radio personalities?
I'm fast-paced, handsome, and thin.
How did you get involved in the radio business? Was it always your calling or did this passion develop later in life?
I love radio more than any other ART FORM. It creates mental images stronger than anything Hollywood can conjure. My dad played old radio dramas ("The Shadow", for example) and my passion was born.
Who were some of your idols in the business?
Orson Welles and Stan Freburg.
How did Morning Madhouse get started and what was your motivation behind creating the show?
I was doing theater and I wanted to speak without Arthur Miller or Shakespeare putting words in my mouth.
What's one of your fondest memories from the show?
Meeting my lovely wife... an intern.
We understand you've had numerous run-ins with the FCC for offensive and obscene material. Do you remember the first time this happened? What was your reaction?
Well, the Supreme Court just ruled in my favor. It was all politics. I'm middle of the road. Because I wouldn't stay with the Chicago lie that "more government and taxes are good," I was attacked. The only "complaints" I even got were from a man that worked in a Democratic politician's office. It was censorship. Latino and urban shows, and even Oprah on TV, were far dirtier than my show ever was, but I moved voters and that was dangerous.
Tell us a bit about that stunt you did in San Francisco tying up the Bay Bridge. It was a brilliant publicity stunt, but the city didn't seem too happy with you. How did you get the idea for the stunt, and what was the result?
It was a political statement against Bill Clinton's shutting down LAX to get a haircut. Everybody had to wait. I got a haircut in public and the government went after me. Such ginormous crowds showed up and they charged me with felony public nuisance. They fined me $2.5 million and had me pick up trash alongside the freeway for 100 hours. It was a political lynching in a liberal city and I don't do status quo. I'm never in the tank for any political hack.
You were on Merlin Media's FM news (101.1 WIQI FM) in June. Is this a sign of what's to come for Merlin Media?
I've gotten several offers from several outlets all over America. At this point it's what's best for my family. I must admit being in that 101.1 studio I designed in the Merchandise Mart was spiritual. The magic immediately flooded back and the phones exploded.
What can we expect next from you in the coming months?
TV. Radio. Another bestselling book, maybe.