This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The radio show has been coming from hell for 22 years, and instead of calls for an exorcist or threats of excommunication, the program is being celebrated.
Today marks the 5,000th episode of X96's "Radio From Hell" FM radio morning show. Local dignitaries such as Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker are scheduled to be at the Trolley Corners studio to laud hosts Kerry Jackson, Bill Allred and Gina Barberi for longevity that is close to unheard of in local radio.
"I can't believe it's been 5,000 episodes. Craziness," said Todd Nuke 'Em, X96 program director and on-air host from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
"Very rarely do morning shows last this long," said producer Richie T [whose last name is Steadmen].
What's doubly rare is that such a long-lived show remains popular with the prized demographic of younger listeners. According to the most recent Arbitron ratings, "Radio From Hell" is the No. 1-most-listened-to morning show among area 18- to 34-year-olds, and is second overall to KSL.
"There are other shows that have reached this number, but finding those who've continually maintained high ratings or remained highly competitive throughout this span puts them in a special league," said Don Anthony, president of Talentmasters, an Atlanta-based headhunting firm specializing in high-profile air talent.
"Plus, doing so in Salt Lake City, a town known for great morning radio, makes it an even greater achievement."
Allred offers one reason for the show's longevity: "No one ever fired us. That's the secret."
On June 9, 1986, Allred and Jackson launched a morning talk show, on Ogden's KJQ, called "The Fun Pigs." One of that station's original co-owners, Tom Greenleigh, said it was apparent even then that "they worked together very well."
The duo changed the show's name to "Radio From Hell," and except for a 18-month stint away from each other, they have been co-hosting a weekday morning show ever since. Ten years later, in 1996, Barberi joined the duo, now broadcasting on the Simmons-owned Salt Lake City station.
"When she came on-board, she was a perfect fit," Nuke 'Em said. "She's just so normal. She's the one people can relate to. And that's what pisses Kerry and Bill off."
Barberi said she was a fan when in high school and was excited to join the cast. "They made sure it's a three-person show and treat me as an equal." Jackson said that listeners relate to her because she is a mom, and that people relate to him because "I don't like kids."
After 9/11, the show became all-talk, except for one song played around 9 a.m. that serves as a "potty break." (Jackson lamented that the station's bathrooms are on the other side of the building.)
Some of the show's regular features, include "Boner of the Day" and "Boner of the Week." (Earlier this week, The Salt Lake Tribune was nominated for one of the awards for printing an outdated wire service story about the health of comedian Bernie Mac, who died Sunday.)
Mayor Becker is expected to declare today "Radio From Hell Day" in Salt Lake City, Richie T said. Festivities marking the milestone have ranged from a broadcast from their original home station in Ogden to replaying embarrassing clips from the past 22 years. "It's like a weeklong roast," Nuke 'Em said.
There are no plans for the show to go anywhere because "we have the best fans in the world," Jackson said.
Barberi added: "I'll do this until my lips fall off."
* DAVID BURGER writes about popular music. Contact him at email@example.com or 801-257-8620.
To listen in
X96's "Radio From Hell" broadcasts live on weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m. at 96.3 FM.