Cooking With Grease An Interview with Radio’s Not-So-Bad Boy
by Nathan Oravec
Doug Tracht, better known to denizens of Radio City as the Greaseman, has been pushing the proverbial envelope over the airwaves for some thirty years, earning a loyal following of listeners who continuously tune into his syndicated morning show for a daily dose of his twisted trademark humor. Having come, it seems, full circle - from his early days in DC at WRC-AM 980, “The Great 98”, in the 70s and DC/101 in the 80s and early 90s, to his current home-base of operations in the District, WGOP-AM 700 - Grease, as he is referred to by his fans, has hardly run out of steam. While many may consider the personality a “shock jock” - having become a strange bedfellow to controversy over the years - the audio-animated Grease thinks himself anything but.
* How would you describe your show to someone who has never heard it before?
I’d say it’s a wacky theater of the mind! Stories, bits and topics of the day - sometimes naughty, but never nasty - and fun filled!
* How did you get your start in radio?
I started in college. I attended Ithica in New York where I majored in Radio & TV. One job led to another - and here I am.
* How was the Greaseman character created?
It was back in the early days. We never did appearances back then, and my voice didn’t fit what I looked like, [so I] chose this wacky name [and this] rough and ready character evolved slowly over a period of time. I just got carried away with it.
* Many people consider you a “shock jock.” What do you think about that?
I consider myself a “shocked” jock! S-H-O-C-K-E-D. Shocked that someone would consider me a shock jock! Listen to the words - there’s artistry here! There’s no shock here!
* Where do you get your material?
These days, the show is more topical than ever. So I turn to the news of the day - I read a lot of newspapers, watch all of the news channels, and check the Internet - and then put it all together. For example, today’s show involved the Spanish oil spill... from Flipper’s perspective.
* In addition to radio you’ve also done various work in film and theater. (Grease has appeared in Jack Reed made-for-TV movies and on the LA stage in “The Last Session.” - Ed.) Do you enjoy acting - and have you ever considered any other career than radio?
No, radio is my meat and potatoes. I like the general changing of it all. Acting’s fine. I like acting too, but just because it leads to more bits.
* Do you have any favorite characters or bits?
Ah, they’re all like my children. It’s so hard to pick one.
* Tell me about your fans.
They span the spectrum of humanity.
* Any plans for the future?
We’re in syndication now. The show is heard in Hagerstown; Ocean City; DC; Altoona; Chicago, Detroit, Grand Rapids, [and beyond]. We’re also online at www.live365.com and www.dcradio700.com, where the shows are archived. So people can hear the newscasts as they happen. I hope to build more and more - so that one day, you won’t be able to escape me. With the flick of a switch and the twist of a dial - I’ll be there.
* Do you ever make public appearances?
Sure, I do public appearances when the station needs me. I like meeting the people. I never understood these celebrities who work like a dog all their lives to become famous - and then [complain about] signing autographs. [If you see me in a restaurant] - here, have a sip of my wine, take one of my fries!
* How has your road to success been?
I don’t know. I’ve had some big successes. After ten years, I seem to have found a good niche.
* Is there anything else you would like people to know about the Greaseman and/or your show?
Yeah. Radio has become so angry anymore. I just want to make people laugh and feel good. So tune in and prepare to smile.
Greaseman will be appearing to sign autographs at Cellular Associates in the Martinsburg Mall on Friday, December 6 at 4 p.m. and at Cellular Associates in Hagerstown’s Valley Mall on Saturday, December 7 at 4 p.m. You can hear him each morning locally on WKMZ 95.9 out of Martinsburg, WV from 6-10 a.m. Listen to the show on line at www.live365.com or www.dcradio700.com. Visit www.greaseman.org for more information.