Making Airwaves
March 16, 1998 - St. Petersburg Times

Almost every kid listens to M.J. and B.J., the weekday morning deejay team on WFLZ-FM 93.3, or at least knows about them.

But do you really know what goes on behind the scenes? We found out the other day what goes into making a radio show when we visited their studio.

M.J. Kelli and B.J. Harris are best known for their lighthearted comical stunts. They are especially known for phone calls made by the "Crotchety Old Man," a character played by M.J. Any regular listener will recognize "Oh, thank God you've answered," the Crotchety Old Man's signature line.

Why do kids like them so much?

"Kids and adults like the show so much because we provide entertainment, information and an element of surprise," M.J. said.

The studio is a small room filled with electronic and audio equipment. M.J., who was stationed at the sound board, had the main microphone. B.J., on the other side of the room, had another microphone. The two are very animated when speaking and are extremely energetic.

M.J. and B.J. are not alone in the studio, but work with the crew they call the "buffoon boys." Listeners know them as "Froggy" and "Uncle Fester," characters who pull stunts and pranks and do important behind-the-scenes jobs as well. That morning they were walking around the studio, taking phone calls from listeners, setting up music and other tasks. Producers "P-Boy" and "Hurricane" were also performing many technical duties. There were so many wires we thought we were going to trip over them and break something!

Music at the station is placed on racks alphabetically by artist name, and over the course of an hour, M.J. and B.J. played six or seven songs. Every 15 minutes or so, they would take a commercial break and then go into a song. During breaks we were entertained by many people in the studio singing to the music!

Crash, boom, bang! There are 50 programed noises on the sound effects machine. "Some of the ones we more frequently use," M.J. said. When they push a button, the sound plays and the name of the effect and its running time are displayed on the monitor.

During a commercial break we got a chance to ask the deejays a few questions.

What's the best part of their job?

M.J. smiled. "The ability to do whatever we want, whenever we want."

What's the worst part of their job?

"Definitely when "that alarm clock rings at 4:15," says B.J., although M.J. said it didn't bother him. (We're just glad we don't have to wake up that early!)

What influenced the Crotchety Old Man and other characters?

"For years I've always liked making prank phone calls, and I just made up a voice to them," M.J. said.

What do M.J. and B.J. stand for?

"Sorry, trade secret!"

What was your favorite celebrity interview? M.J. said his favorite interview was a few years ago with William Shatner. When M.J. asked about his toupee, Shatner freaked out!

B.J. said his all-time favorite interview was with Elton John. He said it was really cool talking to him!

It was really awesome to meet M.J. and B.J. and see how the radio station works. There is definitely never a dull or quiet moment at WFLZ. It was really cool getting to see and know the faces behind the voices. Sammy, 14, is an eighth-grader at Seminole Middle School and a member of the X-Team. Brian, 13, is an eighth-grader at the Pinellas County Jewish Day School in Clearwater and a member of last year's X-Team. Morning timeline

8:50 a.m. - Arrive at Jacor building; greeted by Rhonda, the receptionist.

9 - They play 3 a.m. by Matchbox 20. Off-air they get a call suggesting they put a whammy on whoever stole the "Jesus Pipe," an exhaust chimney rusted to look as if it has an image of Jesus on it. They schedule a whammy for a later show.

9:10 - End of music. They're back on the air calling the "Singing Psychic," a Texas woman who is frequently featured on the show.

9:15 - Singing Psychic predicts that it was either Charles Ericson, Jerry Cadwell or Mark Johnson that stole the "Jesus Pipe." Off-air, everyone laughs.

9:24 - After more conversation with the Singing Psychic, M.J. and B.J. hang up.

9:25 - Commercial break.

9:32 - Back on air with music by Natalie Imbruglia. We get the lowdown on being a deejay.

9:36 - They talk about their current subpoena for a taped interview with Dick Clark.

9:40 - They call Dave Reinhart, station manager, to talk more about the subpoena.

9:50 - Commercial break.

9:55 - Panic strikes; M.J. and B.J. and Froggy scramble to find a CD they're supposed to play.

9:55:05 - They get the CD in at the last minute.

9:58 - M.J. and B.J. recap the day's show.

10 - M.J. and B.J. sign off for the week.

Interesting facts:

There are about 300,000 listeners in every 15-minute interval, according to the deejays.

M.J. and B.J. do not use scripts. They have notes of what they want to get to and copies of stories from the news wires.

They have made more than 100 Crotchety Old Man calls.

Both have wanted to be in the radio business since they were kids.

B.J. is also the operations manager of the station.

We were way overdressed; everyone was wearing T-shirts and jeans or shorts.

M.J. and B.J. have been together for four years.