Did This Late Show and ESPN Host Get Fired From Montana Radio?
Growing up, my Grandfather would always brag about how he was buddies with Tonight Show host Johnny Carson. I never really thought anything of it, until I realized that Johnny Carson was an American icon. The stories my Grandpa would tell were exactly the kind you would expect from Johnny Carson. Nothing but trouble. The guy was a natural-born entertainer, and REALLY mischievous.
Grandpa would also tell me of the time Johnny Carson got fired from the local radio station in Nebraska. Working part-time, he was put in charge of running local religious programming on Sunday mornings. Johnny would set up a record, with a pre-recorded sermon, and let it play. Sometimes Johnny would walk across the street to a local diner and grab breakfast, while the show was airing. One day, things did not go well. While Johnny abandoned his post for a bite to eat, the record began to skip. The only problem was, being religious programming, it repeated the phrase "GO TO HELL, GO TO HELL, GO TO HELL." It repeated that until Johnny returned 20 minutes later.
Needless to say, that was his last day on the job.
Fast forward to today, I am nearing my 24th anniversary of broadcasting here in Montana. I started my career just like Carson. Having to jockey a mixing board for religious programming and baseball games. Thankfully, we didn't have to play the shows off of vinyl, or I may have suffered a similar fate as Carson.
Over the years I have heard a tale of another late-night talk show host, whose career in radio was cut short.
Now this story may be true, or simply made up and shared among broadcasters in Montana. Either way, I have heard it told multiple times. It is the story of former MSU basketball star, Craig Kilborn.
According to Wikipedia
After graduating high school, Kilborn accepted a scholarship to play for Montana State University, where he earned dual bachelor's degrees in media and theater arts in 1985 and has joked he "led the Big Sky Conference in turnovers" and also bench pressed 240 lb (110 kg) while training.
As the story goes, Craig picked up a shift at a local Bozeman radio station. He was studying media and wanted to be a play-by-play announcer, so it makes sense. During one of his part-time shifts on the radio, Craig decided to veer off of the approved radio playlist. Instead of playing music, his boss had already programmed, Craig chose to play back-to-back hits from a musical icon. The story goes that Kilborn played back-to-back Barry White songs for nearly an hour. When his manager called to ask what was happening to his radio station, Kilborn screamed "ITS AN ALL BARRY WHITE SATURDAY NIGHT!"
Needless to say, it was also his last night on the air in Bozeman.
Kilborn graduated from MSU and soon found himself as an anchor for ESPN Sportcenter. He later hosted the Daily Show on Comedy Central and even had a run as the host of the Late Late Show on NBC.
Whether the tales of both late-night hosts getting fired from radio are true or not, I feel that Late Night television hosting could be my fallback career. That is if this radio thing doesn't work out.