Q&A: Brian Wilson

I chatted with Brian Wilson about his new book and his days on “Brian & O’Brien.”

Talk about your background, where you grew up, etc

I was born in Patterson, New Jersey when it was still habitable. My folks owned a farm about ten minutes outside of town. We had a poultry farm..about 250,000 chickens. My grandparents lived on the farm and ran the farm. My dad was an engineer who had a office in Manhattan so it was a spiffy way to grow up.

I would hunt in the woods annoying the neighbors a little bit. After an afternoon of collecting eggs and cleaning up chicken shit, we could go 28 miles down the road and see Broadway plays, get drinks..fun things like that. I left home in the seventh grade to attend prep school in New England. 

What has been your most challenging job yet?

I don’t know that there’s a specific answer for that. As much as I’ve  been doing TV, radio, or both. It’s been at different markets, stations, different management teams and so on. Some stations have better equipments, some stations have better management, some paid me more. The difficulty of the job never really changed.

If you could describe your tenure in the Baltimore/DC market in one word, what would it be and why?

::laughs::  One word, ay? Oxymoronic comes to mind. Chaotic. I don’t know if it could be narrowed down. There were so many dichotomies and conundrums within each of those. My time in Baltimore was chaotic. It was great, it was fun, it was horrible, it was the worst all wrapped into own gooey package. The job started out on B104 on the left foot. I was given my desired pay however after I signed the dotted line, they slipped In that I would be working with Don O-Brien. I wasn’t really interested but the program director was convinced that we would do well. I signed the letter of intent so I really couldn’t do anything at that point. I did let him know I thought it was a crappy tactic. He said he would fire Don after a few days if I didn’t get along with him. As you know, the show lasted for four years and Don wasn’t fired until the beginning of 1988.

I was pretty content in taking the show over by myself at that point but management insisted on bringing in three or four people. One woman was from channel two. She was scared to death and left very quickly. The other people just didn’t pan out. The general manager and I had a significant disagreement on some things and I was fired. I sued Scripps Howard for breach of contract and won. They had to write me a sizable five figure check.

What was it like being the first fill in host to broadcast from an in-home studio?

I was really on to something with that one. No one else was doing it. It required the connecting of the dots with the technology available. With the realization of the internet anyone could essentially do what I did. The first market I did was Dallas. I had to do my homework, see what the hot button issues in town were so I could connect with the audience.

You wrote a book previously called “Watercolor Memories.” Was it harder to write that book or your current book?

I will say even though “Watercolor Memories” is less than half the book of “50 Stories”, it was probably more difficult. It took me about ten years to write it. I started writing it in 1989 when I had spare time. I didn’t like it then I threw it away. I wrote it a different way and the computer crashed so I had to start over. I finally got it done around ten years ago. I showed it to some screenwriter friends out in Hollywood. They sent a letter back saying the studios out there said it sucked ::laughs:: It was just an itch I had to scratch so I wrote it again.

What has been the response so far to “50 Stories?”

Pretty terrific. The people who have read it, who are in the business, loved it. Even people who have fired me likes it. I’ve very pleased on the results so far. It was incredibly fun to dig back into my memory and write my truth.

“50 Stories: 50 Years In Radio” is available now!

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Buy “Watercolor Memories: The Story of Lauren

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