A very brief history: The Morning X was a great show in the 1990s. The cast consisted of Steve Barnes, Leslie Fram, Jimmy Baron, and a small assortment of other minor characters and guests. In late 2002, Barnes left the show to pursue a movie career and made No Witness. He later returned to Atlanta and is currently heard on dave fm.
After Barnes’s departure, evening jock Fred Toucher moved to the mornings to host with Jimmy, Leslie and the new show director Wally. The Morning X was renamed “The Don Miller Morning Show,” which quickly became an ensemble show since other talent was heavily featured: Crash Clark, Calandro, and Fat Kid.
Listeners and guests were sometimes confused about who “Don Miller” was supposed to be, in the spring of 2004 the show was renamed the “Fred Toucher Show with Toucher and Jimmy.” This title lasted approximately two weeks after which it was renamed again, simply “Toucher, Jimmy and Leslie.” The name changed, but the format had not. Fred Toucher was still the main talent, and Jimmy, Leslie, Wally and Crash were all on equal ground, while the minor characters also shared a great deal of air time.
Fat Kid rose in the ranks performing stunts and gathering “street audio” and became somewhat of a minor celebrity until his arrest and trial in January, 2006 and firing that same month (see below). Calandro had an accident in late 2004 and Crash Clark has since been fired from the show (see below), and in its current state the TJ&L show mainly features the four characters with less reliance on interns and more appearances by “tertiary” characters.
The show ended March 17, 2006.
Fred Toucher. A self-described “potato with toothpicks coming out of him, legs like a schoolgirl, and a belly like an alcoholic,” Toucher was sometimes compared to Howard Stern. However, Fred was different than the self-absorbed Stern, and indeed had a unique style as Atlanta’s premiere “shock jock.” Toucher spoke his mind and often went on rants just to stir controversy. He had numerous hot buttons, including the Atlanta song and its entire campaign. He had a broad knowledge of pop culture, and seemed to have a mental encyclopedia of music and television from the 1980s. With his contract ending and Cumulus purchasing Susquehanna Radio, Fred decided to leave 99X to pursue a new show at WBCN in Boston. St. Patick's Day 2006 was his last show.
Jimmy Baron was a veteran of the Morning X, and in his earlier years drove a limo while pursuing a career in Hollywood. His claim to fame is an appearance in Risky Business. Jimmy had his own style and personality and frequently clashed with Toucher on many issues, including animal rights. A frequent topic for conversation was Jimmy’s age. Toucher claimed Jimmy was alive for vaudeville, and was present for such events as the Hindenburg disaster and the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Jimmy was notoriously Jewish, another topic for frequent discussion. He was on Atlanta radio for a long time, and in the end made over $325,000 a year. Jimmy also worshiped Jeff Probst, Atlanta Thrashers announcer Billy Jaffee, and revealed that he was a closet Neil Diamond fan. Jimmy's contract was ending April, 2006 and Cumulus told him $325K was too much. Instead, they offered a 55% pay cut, take it or leave it. Jimmy left it. See 99xwatch for more information and Jimmy's press release.
Leslie Fram: While she is 99X’s program director and co-host, she often plays yin to the other casts’ yang. Leslie is a regular participant in the show and also reads the news, which provides fodder for conversation. Leslie doesn’t usually involve herself in personal topics on the show, such as their sex lives, which Toucher and Wally are only happy to talk openly about. Leslie makes and sells purses in a side business. She currently co-hosts the show with Axel.
Wally, (former) show director: Wally was an accomplished musician and singer and a full member of the show, despite his sobriquet of “director.” Wally wrote and produced most of their bit-intros and songs and informed the other members when they must stop for breaks. Wally used to work for Radio Disney as “Zippy” as well as a number of other venues. Toucher often butted heads with Wally on a number of issues including his oral hygiene. Wally used to eat bacon all morning long, and refused to floss after brushing at night. As a result, he has had a number of cavities and other dental issues. His hairstyle changed several times over the months, prompting comparisons between him and other people, animals, and objects. Wally quit the show April 14: "They kept silencing me. The new owners don’t like me. . . . It’s their choice. It’s their business. It’s not a surprise. They have the right to do that for me. . . I had to get out so bad, I didn't care."
Christopher “Crash” Clark was the sports and traffic guy and general party animal both on the air and off. His drunken exploits were often the topic of conversation on the show, and was typically a favorite personality at any station event. In addition to sports and traffic, he also hosted the weekly Q&A bit “Ask Crash.” Crash was every bit a part of the ensemble that was the magic of TJ&L. However, while at a station-sponsored event at Jack Rabbit Lounge at the end of November, 2005, Crash arranged for a sort of “tryst” between two attendees for 311 tickets. Rather than recount the event, here is a transcript of the on-air discussion, thanks to savecrash.org:
Despite the often talked-about frequency of Crash’s on and off-air shenanigans, Leslie Fram told him, “You disgust me.” After discussing the event on air, and after people at JRL complained to station management, Crash was suspended and subsequently fired. He has joined Toucher and Rich for the new show on WBCN in Boston.
“Fat Kid,” Jeremy Powell: Fat Kid started as an intern at 99X in early 2004, while he worked at an ice cream warehouse in the little town of Rome (over an hour’s drive north of Atlanta). After working in "small-time" radio in Rome, FK's dream was to work in large-market radio. 99X gave him that chance by taking him on as an unpaid intern. The Don Miller Morning Show took full advantage of FK, using him for numerous outrageous stunts and “street audio,” when he invaded area businesses or other events and behaved totally contrary to how normal people would act. The results were often audio gold. More often, however, they were not gold at all, raising the ire of Toucher.
Fat Kid was hired full time in August, 2004 to the consternation of Calandro, who was forced to take a pay cut so FK could get paid. Their on-air friction made for some great drama, which led to the “ Battle for Minimum Wage.” Technically, Fat Kid came out the victor, as Calandro injured his leg and went on disability. He was later released from 99X.
FK has run into trouble on more than one occasion. He was arrested while attempting to do a bit at a boat show by climbing onto a boat and yelling “I’m the Captain of this ship!” and blowing an air horn. Later in April, 2005 he was sent to people’s houses to collect pornography. One family was not amused and called the police. See the following articles:
FK had to go to court in January, 2006 for this offense and served jail time. See
http://news.mywebpal.com/partners/680/public/news687678.html for more details.
Fat Kid was officially released from 99X on January 12, see http://www.99xwatch.org/2006/01/fat_kid_speaks.html for more details, but he was told the reason was "budget cuts." Typical in radio. I'm sure that after he was let go, a memo was issued to the staff saying that Jeremy had left to "pursue other interests." Happens all the time. He has been reported selling cars at a Chrysler dealership near Atlanta. He probably makes more money there.
Christopher Calandro used to answer the phones and often participated in bits and stunts until the Battle for Minimum Wage where he hurt his leg and was out recuperating until he was officially let go June 7, 2005 for reasons not stated. Calandro did all kinds of stunts and collected street audio and was an entertaining member of the show. His friction with FK added a lot of needed drama and conflict, as well as the fact that he sounded good on the air. He is sorely missed by many of his fans. He does, however, promise to return to the airwaves. See 99xwatch for an update on Calandro's condition. Also, check out Calandro's website for any up-to-date information from the man himself.
Tertiary Characters: these are characters who are not employees of 99X, instead they are frequent or infrequent studio or phone guests
Donshay. He was Calandro’s neighbor and “executive assistant” and started making regular appearances on the show. His off-beat attitude and inability to comprehend most things going on around him make him a sometimes interesting guest; more often though, fans of the show find him annoying.
Louis Perico: He was rejected by Heather in the “Win Intern Heather” contest, but his loveable teddy bear personality won the hearts of everyone on the show. He since became a regular guest and sometimes appears on the Axel and Leslie show.
Wade the Drunk won the Atlanta’s Most Disgusting Human Being contest. He is a 30ish man who drinks literally all the time. He is a frequent caller and sometimes guest.
MC Helium is an autistic “special needs” gentlemen and infrequent caller to the show. His high-register voice earned him his nickname, and the show members liked him so much that he frequently does song lyric and other contests.
Kim Lichtenstein works in public relations and visits the studio every Friday for the “Weekend Reacharound” reporting on events happening around Atlanta that weekend.