One on One with Buzz Burbank
The economy is in dire straights, the war in Iraq seems endless and American cities continue to get hit by natural disasters. Let’s face it, the news isn’t very easy to digest these days. That’s why it helps to have a broadcaster who can offer you a spoonful of sugar to help the awful news go down – someone like Buzz Burbank.
We recently had a chance to catch up with Burbank, a veteran broadcaster who became well-known for his role on the nationally syndicated Don and Mike Show and is now an integral part of the Mike O’Meara Show.
You are originally from Wichita, Kansas, but you have spent quite a lot of time in the D.C./Virginia area. Do you call Virginia home?
Well, having been here almost 17 years now, sure it’s absolutely home. And I do like it here. I like it very, very much. It’s been good to me.
How exactly did you get into broadcasting, and when did you decide this is what you wanted to do for a living?
I think I probably knew it as soon as I was old enough to sit upright in front of a television set and studied it and tried to figure out how they do things and just became fascinated with the medium of television, as well as radio, which was obviously a lot different then. But I liked both and I was fascinated by both and at a very young age felt I had a basic understanding of them.
Once you made the decision, how tough was it to break into the business?
They always needed help at the local college radio station, especially during the summer. Just being out of high school and being interested in that, I went there one day to hang out with a friend of mine who was doing a DJ show there and it was almost time for the news and the newsman hadn’t shown up yet. So I thought, “It will be a favor to this poor character, whoever’s overslept, if I begin organizing and collating the news stories for him or her” and so I began putting together a newscast. And it came close to airtime and still no one showed up to do the news, so I did it.
Upon completion of the newscast, the program director of this college radio station appeared at the door and said, “Who are you?” And so I started doing that and eventually was fortunate enough to get hired at the Top 40 radio station I grew up listening to, that all my friends listened to. So that was kind of a big deal and I was again fortunate enough to do well there.
Was it pretty smooth sailing from there?
Yeah, mostly. The hardest part of my career would be being unemployed for seven months in Chicago. Now, bear in mind that I had an incredibly lucky career up to that point. I guess that’s sort of obvious from starting out in Wichita and, as we did then at least, working our way up in market size. I was very pleased and proud to be there. But then, after a good, long nine-year run in Chicago, it was apparent that it was over. So I was unemployed for seven months. That was very hard.
Now, compared to other careers, other guys have been unemployed more than that, but for them maybe in smaller chunks. Seven months will eat on you and make you begin to ask yourself, “Should I even be doing this?”
Did you ever seriously consider giving it up?
Well, not because I wanted to, but it became a point where somehow I was going to have to put food on my table, so yeah I considered careers at Radio Shack and all of those other things one might do if one couldn’t get a job in radio, I guess.
Radio Shack still had “radio” in the name at least.
Yes, exactly. I really, because I’ve been kind of a gadget freak, I already knew where everything was anyway. I’ve been offered a job more than once at a Radio Shack. I’m proud of that. I have that to hang my hat on.
What turned it around for you in Chicago? What ended your seven-month drought?
It’s funny because again my career has been being a news guy basically. But toward the end in Chicago, I co-hosted a morning show. So I got a little taste of what that was like and it was a sort of learn while you earn and it could have been more successful obviously than it was. Anyway, I was soon enough out of there.
So I sent out audition tapes, both as a newsman and as a DJ. I had ads for each career and I had tapes for each career. Depending on who responded to the ad would determine which tape I sent them. I ended up doing a morning show in Albany, up against Todd Pettengill, who now of course works with [Scott] Shannon, or did anyway.
That’s how I was rescued from that seven month abyss was I got a DJ show for a year or so at a station in Albany. That got me by. That station was ultimately taken over by the bank, which was ultimately taken over by the FDIC, so it was my first federal job as a DJ. And that quickly folded. That was about the time I called Don Geronimo and said, “Help!” And he said, “Well, we just started a new show at WJFK, let’s share the wealth. Come on down.” One thing lead to another and that’s of course kind of a funny story in itself, but that’s how I ended up here.
How did you meet Don Geronimo and when did you two begin working together?
I love this story and I’m proud to tell this. I worked with a revolving door of DJs in Chicago, whereupon I learned the most talented ones were insane. But I worked with some great ones, I worked with some big names who were maybe were past their prime, like Dick Biondi. Dick Biondi was past his prime, but was brought back because he was a name in Chicago and elsewhere, but recognized in Chicago. They thought that would help the station. It didn’t particularly because he didn’t fit the contemporary format.
But one of those revolving door DJs was Don Geronimo, who was far and away the fastest, best, most talented disc jockey I’d ever heard, much less worked with. The thing that made me fall in love with Don was a very Letterman-esque thing that he said because it was irreverent at a time when radio stations insisted on every word out of your mouth being positive. He said over the intro of a record: “All the same songs, just in a different order – that’s the secret to our success.”
That cracked me up. I just thought it was the best thing I ever heard a DJ say and he had many more like it and it was an attitude about him. It was just terrific; just great. He was inspiring to work with – just so fast and tight and funny and sharp and the most professional DJ I’d ever seen.
I was lucky enough to work with him for a little over a year. We worked for, in my estimation, a rather difficult program director. Don was soon out of there. They put out the usual memo saying he’s not to be let back into the building and while all that was going on, I was busy running all of his drop-ins, all of his tapes – many of the ones he used towards the end of that part of his career were rescued by me from B96 WBBM-FM in Chicago, a CBS station, and run off on the large reels which I later gave him so that he still had tapes that might have otherwise been lost.
So what is it like for you now to look back on those days – the pre-Don and Mike phase of your career?
Hmmm, when I got into it; it was sort of at the tail end of Boss Radio in the very early 1970s when I really started in commercial radio. First newscast I ever did, I did it my way; I was me. I just do what I do. The DJ tapped on the glass or hit the intercom and said, “What’s your middle initial?” I said “J.” I was going by Mike Elston at the time, which is of course my name. And he said, “Start using it. From now on, be Michael J. Elston.” For the longest time I was Michael J. Elston. That’s sort of one era of radio – my first radio job at KLEO in Wichita. Best program director ever, by the way, for a small market, Gary Mack, who today is the curator of The Sixth Floor Museum at the Dealy Plaza in Dallas. That was always a passion, an interest of his.
Second job in radio was at WNOE in New Orleans and that was an amazing place. I was lucky enough to work with radio names that some folks might recognize like Buzz Bennett and Tom Birch and Kevin Metheny – “Pig Breath” I believe is what Howard Stern called him when they were together later. But all of these were rising stars, brilliant people who were passionate about radio and it was really sort of a miracle, an accident that these people should all come together in the same place at the same time. And it was in this wonderful, laid back setting of New Orleans. The NAB convention was there that year and Doubleday heard me and whisked me off to Minneapolis, where I worked for a bit with Gary Stevens and John Sebastian.
Then, from there, off to Philadelphia where I worked for what used to be “Wibbage,” WIBG became Wizard 100, worked with The Magic Christian and more Kevin Metheny there. That didn’t do so well, it sort of went disco.
Then it was off to San Diego, that was just mainly for the experience of living in San Diego. That’s where I got to know Shotgun Tom Kelly, if anybody recognizes that name. A lot of these are old radio names, but I’m an old radio guy, so these are the people I met along the way. And they were, in their own way, at various times, big deals I guess, if you score that way.
From San Diego, it was straight to Chicago; hired by Bonneville and worked for them at very milk toast – it was milk toast by “music everybody can agree on” standards; it was even less offensive than that. But I worked there for a while, had some fun with them. Then ultimately, Karen Hand hired me, she was the news director at BBM-FM CBS in Chicago and brought me over there to do it because, as it turns out – everything ties together – she had worked with Tom Birch, the guy I worked with in New Orleans and he played her a tape of how he thought radio news ought to sound and it was my tape. Then suddenly, in Chicago, she had an opportunity to hire me, so she did and we worked together. We were, in my estimation, the best tag team radio news kids ever. We were fast and tight and contemporary and fairly intelligent. I mean, we did a pretty damn good job. I hear tapes occasionally and I’m shocked and impressed. We really were cranking out some beautiful Top 40 newscasts in those days.
From Chicago, after a good nine years there with the CBS and Bonneville experiences combined, then off to Albany where you picked up the story from there.
At what point did you become Buzz Burbank? How did you get that moniker?
When I arrived here. It was a name that Don had used as a pen name, if you will, online. It was just a handle that he used online. He told me that it was a name he always had in the back of his mind to use if for some reason he couldn’t use Don Geronimo, he would have become Buzz Burbank.
I was resistant to accepting a name and I always when I thought of Buzz thought of the astronaut with the crew cut and I’m not a crew cut kind of guy, so I didn’t really think the name fit. But I was grateful to have a job, so I accepted the moniker and it stuck. And now I answer to both. It’s as much my name now and in fact the bank has me on file as Buzz Burbank, as well as Michael J. Elston.
The purpose of it was we had three Mikes on the show – Mike Sorce was Don Geronimo, Mike O’Meara was obviously himself and Mike Elston. We just couldn’t have another Mike, so Buzz Burbank it was. Like I said, it stuck and now I’m rather fond of it. It’s been good to me.
The Don and Mike Show went through several different phases – it began as a morning zoo show with David Haines as the newsman.
David Haines – there’s a guy whose footsteps I’m proud to have followed in. I know how beloved he was professionally and personally and I’ve heard his work and I think he was great. In some ways, he was a holdover from that Boss Radio, but he was just so well-known and beloved in this market that I’m honored to have followed in his footsteps. I was also proud to say at the end of it all that I was Don and Mike’s anchor guy longer than all of their other anchors put together by a considerable margin. I was glad to ultimately be the guy and of course we all miss David Haines, but again an honor to follow in his footsteps.
Once you became a part of the Don and Mike Show, how do you think the show changed from beginning to end? How did it evolve?
It’s much harder from the inside to be able to assess that. The longer I do this, the more I realize until you heard it back, you have no idea what it sounded like. So it’s really hard to say. I know it was great and wild and fun and pushing the limits. We were right there on the wave of shock jockery, in the middle of it all. That was one phase of it.
This was such a new world to me. Never had I been a part of any show like this before. When I joined the show in December ’91, Don and Mike had this incredible chemistry. They could communicate without speaking and they just knew what the other guy was going to do. They knew what to expect from one another and the timing was impeccable. As a professional observer, you think to yourself, “Geez, I don’t want to get in the way. I don’t want to derail that. They’re doing something here and if I say something, it’s just going to screw it up.” So you tend to hang back and I’d never seen or heard anything like it, so for me the early years are fuzzy because I was just trying to figure out what the hell is going on. What kind of a show are we doing here?
But I quickly saw an extremely successful show – people seemed to be rabidly enthusiastic about this. It not only has numbers but it’s almost as if we asked them to do something, they’d do it. And in many cases they did. I’d never beheld such power before. I’d never seen anything like it or experienced anything like it. So there was that sort of aspect of just getting to know it and trying to figure out what it was and how it worked and what my role in it might be.
Of course, in the early days, I was just reading straight news because I didn’t know what the hell else to do. That was what I thought they hired me for; I was just trying to get it done and fit in as best I could and try to catch up and catch on. Having not lived here, having not really heard their show – Don and I had only worked together for a year 10 or 15 years prior to that, so I had no idea what I was walking into.
And then there was the sort of height where there was the sort of G. Gordon Liddy phase as JFK was developing as a really interesting radio station. To sort of help my income, I was working on the Liddy show as well and then there was a rivalry between the G. Gordon Liddy Show and the Don and Mike Show. You would think in that situation, “Well, I’m in the catbird seat. Boys bid high, bid to buy.” But you also dance with the one who brought you, so my loyalty had to be with the Don and Mike Show and ultimately it’s not that good to be fought over. I thought it would be; I was wrong.
But anyway, that was interesting and ironic since one of the earliest stories I covered in radio journalism was Watergate. G. Gordon Liddy represented all that was evil. The very concept of doing news on his radio show, it just seemed bizarre to say the least.
He certainly isn’t aligned with your view of the world.
No, I tried to put a happy face on it. I mean, I did. And it worked well. We actually had some good times and I don’t know, I still have mixed feelings about G. Gordon Liddy. I think there’s a nice guy in there somewhere. I’m pretty sure there is. But then, that’s my attitude generally.
He certainly was a fascinating guy.
Well, he was a crook and he wasn’t a very good one. And he was misguided and motivated by silly political ideas, but yeah an interesting character to be sure. Did he occasionally get one right? Yeah, he did. Was it interesting to know him and work with him? Absolutely. So I certainly don’t regret it and I certainly harbor no ill feelings, except of course politically.
You mentioned that early on with the Don and Mike Show you just read the news and gradually you got a larger role on the show. Was there an effort to work you in or did you just begin to find more places to speak up?
Don always encouraged me. In a way, that’s like encouraging a kid to step out on a railroad track. Perhaps I didn’t always embrace that encouragement as much as a braver person might have. I don’t like to go where I’m not welcome and certainly I don’t like to derail anything, so I have this unfortunate tendency to hang back, or at least I did in those days. Obviously, I’m in a different situation now that requires me to push myself in the other direction.
I thought it was wise, since this really wasn’t my sandbox, to tread lightly. But I have to say, almost from the beginning, Don said, “I’m leaving your mic on. Speak up at any time.” Obviously, as you may know, towards the end, by the time we were in the final few years of the show, sometimes people would even call and say, “Hi Don and Mike and Buzz,” so I really felt like I was more a part of it and that was a wonderful thing. That made me very, very proud.
One interesting dynamic on the old show was when Don and Mike would constantly interrupt your news to add in their own comments. Often times, it was hard to tell whether or not you were legitimately frustrated.
(Laughs.) Well, there were days. But no, mostly I got it. I realized first of all, after Reagan, radio stations didn’t even have to have news anymore. There was a time when I had a guaranteed job and now suddenly I’m an option, I’m an accessory.
And for a comedy show to pick up a news guy – now I’ve always sort of been program-oriented, tried to be colloquial in my news. I’ve always been a different kind of news guy, so I guess that would fit. But they really didn’t even have to have me. He just saw something in me and wanted me to be a part of this thing. It was the big time for him; he was very excited about it. They got a really good deal at what turned out to be really fertile soil at WJFK and for whatever reason, he brought me on board. So I was just grateful to be there.
I do take pride in my writing and sometimes you get on a little bit of a roll, you’re about to paint a picture, you’re leading up to what you think is, in your limited newsman sense of humor, a punchline and sort of get derailed. Well, sometimes I would be missing the bigger picture on that, which is we’re really here to entertain people. That’s the whole purpose of this show in the first place. If I can get away with educating and informing people somehow in the process of that, then now we’ve done something maybe really good.
And it was fun too. And I never minded any interruption that involved getting into the topic, whether it was via humorous sketch or sincere discussion. It made no difference to me. Even funny tapes and noises if they illustrate the story, if they underscore something about what we were talking about – oh man, that’s just the best. I love that.
One of the funniest segments on the Don and Mike Show was “Buzz makes the sexy call.” How did that idea come about and how much fun was it to do those segments?
Well, of course they’re fun. Obviously, if you get into radio it’s because you’re lacking something in your life and you need love and there’s something psychologically wrong with you. That’s why you do it in the first place. So when given an opportunity to collect love, you jump at that opportunity and that’s what this was.
I don’t really get it. I understand I’m told I have a decent voice. Women seem to like it. And this was a radio station that was aimed primarily at men, so this is really an odd thing. I don’t know what it is. It’s a little embarrassing. On one hand, I’m both proud and embarrassed about the fact that women seem to like me and like my voice.
So Don wanted to exploit that and we did and I guess it was funny. In some ways, it’s a little like seeing Alan Kalter on The Late Show with David Letterman say something sexy or romantic to a woman who is a public figure. It’s got an air of silliness about it that’s a lot of fun too.
Earlier this year, Don Geronimo retired and you became part of the Mike O’Meara Show. What was it like making the transition over to the new show?
I’ve got to tell you honestly, the thing Mike and I have both heard from people – and it’s funny, it makes me smile – they say, “You know, I was skeptical at first.”
Our response has become, “So were we.”
People will say, “I didn’t think you guys were going to be able to do it.”
And we would say, “Neither did we.”
Now, that’s not true. It’s not that we didn’t have confidence. We’re all experienced broadcasters and we’ve been doing this for a little while with Don’s help, so we kind of figured we were going to be okay. But you don’t really know for sure until you strap on those wings and step off the cliff. Doggone if it didn’t fly. That was just great.
And of course we owe everything really to Don, who set the table. Here’s the thing about Don and how this ties in to what we’re doing now. He made this happen. He brought Mike along and he brought me along and he brought Robb along and even Joe Ardinger, brought them along and made them radio personalities whether they were or not. And furthermore instructed his, like me, Kool-Aid drinking audience to like us. He told people in his own way to like us. And they did, just as they did a lot of other things he suggested.
And so, he put us up there and he made people like us. Of course, obviously we each have our own individual little talents that we brought to the table, but if Don hadn’t laid this all out for us, I’m not so sure we’d be seeing the kind of really fortunate success that we’re seeing so far and already.
Take us through a typical day on the Mike O’Meara Show. What time do you get into the office? What type of prep do you do before the show? How do you put together your news segments?
I may be anal retentive, obsessive compulsive. I do too much. I work too hard. I care too much. I hit my desk here at home at 7:30 in the morning. I look at well over a thousand headlines every day and probably more than that; I couldn’t begin to count them. Anything that’s remotely interesting, I go into. Anything that looks like it might be something, I copy and paste until I get a library of material.
Then I make a list of the stories I have and I really pride myself on finding stories that go together and maybe say something more in combination then they would say separately. A lot of times, one of those stories will be a story you will hear on all the media, but I think I might be the only guy that day with the accompanying story. I do silly stories as well as serious stuff. When I do a silly story, there’s one agenda and that is to paint a picture of who we are as a people; a story that says something about us or at least a large segment of us. So silly as it may be, I try to find some meaning to it.
I really carefully construct all of this. I look for a flow and what stories should go where – not only what should be the lead and what should be the kicker, but what the flow should be in between and what the theme of the day is.
How often do you carefully construct a newscast only to have a caller try to scoop you or to have one of your stories come up earlier in the show?
It happens occasionally. Depending on what it is – if somebody calls in and I think this is something Mike and the rest of us would like to discuss right now, I’ll quietly and happily blow off the story I was planning on doing in favor of the better discussion of it now, especially early in the show when we have time.
This is one of the perils of doing the news at the end of a four-hour show and taking calls in between. There’s a decent chance – although our audience is funny; they try to play by the rules. Most of them who would be inclined to call will try not to because they’ve been scolded so severely in the past for trying to scoop us. We try to tell them, “Look, we have a wire service. We have the Internet. We have television. We’re aware of these things.” I can’t think of a time when someone has genuinely tipped us off to something that we didn’t know. So they’ve come to know that and they’re very well-behaved. (Laughs.) The audience is very well-behaved in this regard.
One of the new features on the Mike O’Meara Show is your BYOB Fridays. Do you worry about accidentally saying something you shouldn’t while doing those broadcasts and how long do you think your liver can make it doing those shows?
You know what? It gets dumped and it’s fine. The audience, for whatever reason, seems to love this. They love the BYOB Friday. Just on a joking note – our employer requires us to drink. We have no choice in the matter and because they have an excellent health plan, they should be able to dry us out should anything go wrong. So far, we’re learning to pace ourselves, at least I am, because I don’t like feeling like crap after the show or the next day.
But what it does – and here’s what it reminds me of, I think Mike to a certain extent too – it goes back to The Tonight Show in the late ’60s and early ’70s, where George Gobel, Dean Martin and all these guys would come on and they would be drinking in the green room before they went on and they might even bring the drink out on stage with them. But they kept it clean, they kept it within parameters. It was sillier, it was looser and that’s the sort of aura that we’re going for on Fridays. And there’s just no accounting for people’s taste. People love it, they embrace it enthusiastically. So I guess until it kills one of us, we are going to keep doing them.
On the radio, you’ve often been depicted as a pothead. Obviously, there is a separation between your radio persona and your personal life. Do fans often approach you wanting to smoke weed with Buzz Burbank?
Yeah and bless their hearts because I know they mean well and I love them, but I generally go as far and as quickly as I can in the opposite direction. Again, I know they mean well and I’m touched, I really am, but I just don’t want to be a part of that. That’s just probably not a good idea.
You have begun assembling a collection of Buzz Babes – attractive women who serve as spokesmodels for the Mike O’Meara Show. How many Buzz Babes are you up to at this point?
About a dozen. Can I give you a rough number like that? Because honestly there are always two or three that are in or out. They can make it one week, but maybe not another week. It’s sort of a flexible number. We really would like to have 12 because that’s how you make a good calendar.
Honestly, we would have been happy with four or five. We didn’t know what to expect. But the way these women – smart women, seriously, I’m not being facetious here – have stepped up and have enthusiastically been a part of this, it blows me away. It’s amazing. Many of them are professional women with careers and they’re just as serious as a heart attack about that and they’re very good at what they do. But this is something that they wanted to do. And they’re babes. It’s just the best. Again, it underscores that I’m the luckiest boy alive.
How long until you take over for Hugh Heffner?
We’re losing Hugh; he’s getting older. Not that I’m a spring chicken, but somebody has got to carry the mantle and so far, somehow I’m lucking into the gig.
I’m very lucky and very pleased at the enthusiasm. It practically runs itself now. It’s just great; it’s just the best thing ever. Who doesn’t want to be surrounded by beautiful women? For whatever reason, they want to be there and go out and represent the show. They’re all just as serious as they can be about that and yet we have a tremendous time. And I’ve never put a hand or a lip or any other body part on any of them, for the record.
How does your wife feel about the Buzz Babes?
She couldn’t be better. Again, luckiest guy in the world. She understands that first and foremost, I come home every night – I always do, I always have and I always will. This is my life mate, this is my partner, this is the person I come home to. She’s also a realist. She knows men like women and perhaps her husband in particular. She’s just very great. She’s not threatened.
Does she listen to the show often?
As much as she can. She works too; works at a medical office. So when she gets off work, like a lot of people, she hears anything after five or so. Which means I can say just about anything before five. (Laughs.)
How long do you think you will continue to do the Mike O’Meara Show?
Until Mike’s heart attack. (Laughs.) Then we’ll call it something else.
No, for as long as we’re having fun. Mike said this going in and I really liked this philosophy a lot. He said this to me off the air before we started the show. He said, “Here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to go in there and we’re going to do our job and we’re going to have fun. Then we’re going to go home.” He said, “We’re going to keep doing that for as long as it’s fun and is any kind of acceptable level of success.” So I think that’s the plan and so far, so good because we’re having fun and the numbers indicate success, so I guess we’re going forward for as long as we can get away with it.
In addition to your work on The Mike O’Meara Show, you also do a bit of voiceover work. Do you enjoy that work?
I do, it’s just dumb, but I love narrating instructional and institutional videos. I recorded something recently for the Loudon County Sheriff’s Department on the proper use of the Push Bumper. I loved it. I ended up recording it before the lieutenant got to the studio because I was short on time and there was a miscommunication about the time of the session and I was worried about running out of time. So I said, “Tell you what, let’s go ahead and lay this down and have the guy listen to it when he gets here and if he needs changes, we’ll make changes. But at least we’ll have some of it done.”
So the guy shows up and he listens to it and says, “It’s perfect. I was going to underline some words in the script that I wanted you to emphasize, but you’ve already emphasized the right words properly. I wouldn’t change a thing. We’ll take it exactly the way it is.”
I said, “Well listen, if you want to do more of these, it’s my pleasure. I’d be honored to do it.”
This is something I wanted to do. I give back so little to the community. It’s something I didn’t charge them for and wouldn’t and don’t want to. It isn’t about that. Plus, it’s good to have friends in law enforcement.
But I did this video and they were very pleased with it. I said, “I love doing this.” Jason Veazey, also a well-known name in this market, was producing this piece for us. And Jason said, “You know why Buzz enjoys this so much? It’s because it reminds him of the film strips he saw in school as a kid.” And you know what? Jason is absolutely right. It’s fun being that guy. So I get a charge out of that, but it’s not very meaty; there’s not a lot of substance to it. You’re just being a pretty voice at best. But it’s just something that ever since I was that little kid sitting in front of the TV fascinated me.
What goals have you set for your career?
I’m open to anything. I actually think I’m capable of a lot. Maybe a lot of us do have that and maybe a lot of that is an inflated sense of ourselves. Do I think I could be in a movie and be pretty good at is as an actor? Yes, I do. I think I’m a pretty good writer. I love to write. I hope to do more writing in the future.
Right now my writing is like an assignment. It’s very focused and there really isn’t a lot of room to wander and not a lot of energy left over at the end of the day to wander on your own. Someday, when I have time, I’d like to put more into that.
There’s really no limit to what I’d like to do. What will realistically get done remains to be seen, but I’m open to just about anything. If it involves broadcast, performing, writing, that all fascinates me. Every level of it.
What would you be doing for a living if you never got in to broadcasting?
If a greater education had been more clearly and readily available to me, I don’t think there’s any doubt I would be an attorney. I think I would be a trial lawyer and I think I would be a really good one. That’s what I think.
It’s not something I crave or something I regret, saying, “Damn, I wish I’d been a lawyer.” I don’t experience that. But I think that would be another appropriate calling for me that I would do really well at.
Tell us something not many people know about you.
This is a good one – I know this sounds hokey, but I like children. The truth is I do. The reason I say that is not to be a politician, but because I have a reputation for not liking children. The truth is I do, in fact, like children very much. My next door neighbor adopted a little girl from Russia. She’s about three now and she yells hello to Uncle Buzz when he pulls up in the driveway every evening. Uncle Buzz finds that delightful, if I may speak in the third person.
What does the future hold for you?
Oh man. More of this I hope. For now, I’m very content with this. I just want to keep doing this until I guess something bigger, better or more interesting comes along and that’s going to have to be pretty impressive because sometimes even I forget how hugely successful and lucky we are to be syndicated, to be on these stations. And they’re not all big markets, but how cool is it to be on in Wichita, the hometown where you started your career?
My last newscast in Wichita, I’d been sort of a well-known personality in that small pond for a while and in my farewell broadcast, I said, “But I’ll be back, if I have to use ABC, NBC or CBS to get here.” And I’m back in Wichita on CBS Radio and that’s just pretty cool.
From a kid growing up in Kansas, sitting in front of his little black and white TV thinking about doing something like this, this is a big deal to me. I’m really very pleased and amazed and grateful for all of that.
Interviewed by Joel Murphy. To find out more about the Mike O’Meara Show, visit the official site.
Nice interview! Glad to know more about Buzz.
Buzz is the MAN !!!
I have listened to WJFK for about 10
years and I am always interested in how the radio shows function behind the scenes. I grew up listening to stations and personality s like the “Hound”? on WKBW and others during the 50’s after the sun went down and the reception came up.
I thought this was an excellent interview and it filled in lots of blanks of my limited radio knowledge.
Joel Murphy, I will watch for your byline….
I’m the wrong demographic, obviously, getting ready to turn 62 on November 12th, but I’ve listened to Buzz since they (D&M Show) arrived in Sacramento what, 13/14 years ago? I had the pleasure of seeing the Don and Mike show in person here.
I think this is a wonderful interview for several reasons; primarily giving fans a glimpse into Buzz’s formative years.
However, the bottom line is that the ‘Mike O’Meara Show has become almost, to coin a phrase….’unlistenable’, as in I change the station to some right-wing talk show when they start playing incredibly stupid games, enticing Rob to “start here, Rob laughs Histerically”
Bottom line–Give him One Billion Dollars, let him phone it in from his beach side residence, but get Don back, ’cause while I know you’re trying really hard, it is not working, at all.
I really like the new show. I like that Buzz says the “I was skeptical” think, because I was… It’s very different, and in some ways much better. It’s hard to put my finger on it, but I still listen every day, just as excitedly as I ever did.
I am late to the party here, but great interview with Buzz. A real interesting and enjoyable read.
I’ve been in a coma for 2 years and I arise to find there is no more Don and Mike? Man, I hope a couple black kids beat the livin’ shit out of me again and they can just put me back on the machine…or in a box.
There is a NEW Mike O’Meara Show – they now have a podcast – it’s even better than the radio show was, though sadly only one hour a day. You can download it on iTunes or directly from the website – http://www.mikeomearashow.com – give it a try, you will love it! And Buzz is better than ever!!!
Don is on KHTK.com
ALL NEW!!! I’m a pretty loyal Howard Stern listener, but before there was Howard in my life, there was Don & Mike — Don Geronimo and Mike O’Meara. They’ve gone their own separate ways after more than two decades together and now so has their longtime sidekick, radio newsman, smart aleck and ladies man, Buzz Burbank. He’s got his own daily podcast, “Buzz Burbank News & Comment,” so I invited him to come on Mr. Media and spill the beans about the good old days and what lies ahead. If you or someone you know loved the old syndicated Don & Mike Show, don’t miss this video chat! http://www.mrmedia.com/2013/08/don-mike-newsman-buzz-burbank-is-back-on-the-mic-video-interview/#.UgW3plMYKrx
OMG. Just found this interview. I worked with Michael J. Elston at KLEO in Wichita in the 70s. I was Sandee Carter, a rookie reporter, who covered a lot of different beats. Loved the job, loved the station, loved the GM Sam Bakke and everyone there. Went on to agency and corporate, then taught at the university level. Still talk about these radio days when it was still a little unusual to hear a woman’s voice on commercial radio. Thanks for the memories.