Drew brings his fearless, 'In Your Face' approach to radio from noon to 3pm every weekday on Tampa Bay's 102.5 "The Bone" - yet is Drew really "In Your Face" or is Garabo laughing all the way to the bank?
His style is known for being somewhat abrasive and on any given day numerous callers take the time to specifically dial and complain about his opinions - yet the question remains - Why do they keep listening? - and why do they keep calling?
We were able to sit down with Drew and clear the air:
Some argue that you're the "most hated man in talk radio.” Did you wake up one morning and say "I want to be known as the dick-head on the radio," or did it just happen over the course of your career?
"I never set out to be "the guy you love to hate" but I don't shy away from that, either. Radio is too full of fake people with fake opinions. I am simply myself behind the microphone and I'll let others pin monikers on me."
I just speak my mind on the radio and let people think what they will. I am well aware that the opinions I express and my gruff demeanor with certain callers lead some listeners to label me as a jerk, ass, dickhead, arrogant prick, intolerant buffoon, and many other less-than-flattering things, but I simply don't care.
When did you decide that radio was your calling?
I started as a community volunteer for Rollins College radio in Winter Park, FL (just outside Orlando) in 1990. I went to UCF but liked Rollins' radio station better. I never thought about taking broadcasting classes or pursuing a career in radio until I got a call one day from the Program Director for WTKS/Real Radio 104.1 FM in Orlando, asking me if I would be interested in playing music part-time on the weekends there. I started there in November of 1993 and worked my way up to having my own radio shows.
"Sometime along the way, I discovered that I have a talent for hosting a radio show. I have definitely found a home at 102.5 The Bone and hope that I can retire here in about 40 years."
Your show is steered more by the callers than it is a general framework - How do you manage to keep the show exciting and entertaining while fielding questions that range from current trending topics to racism and homosexuality?
I might take issue with that first part. The show is steered by me and the topics I bring up. The callers don't necessarily dictate the flow but they do add a great deal with their opinions/unintentional ignorance. I've always been a fan of people who can have one foot in the mindless humor puddle and one foot in the intellectually-stimulating one (Bill Murray is a prime example).
"I have no problem with espousing a passionate point of view against racism in one breath, then delivering a ridiculously-stereotypical joke with the next. The dichotomy is what keeps the show fresh, at least for me."
Why does the "R" word bother you so much? Any other pet peeves besides Chowda-heads, racism, and the R word?
To be honest, it never really bothered me until my sister and her husband had a son with Down Syndrome about 2 years ago. My brother-in-law is one of my best friends and we've had several conversations about how that word is soul-crushing to parents of children who are developmentally-disabled. I understand that not everyone who uses "the R word" means to hurt such parents, but those who continue to use it after they find out how many people are hurt by it are bereft of compassion.
"My only pet peeve is when I go through a drive-thru and they forget to include a straw for my beverage."
If you could change one misconception about you: What would it be?
I wouldn't change a thing. There are but a small handful of people whose opinion of me matters to me. As long as they know who I am and what I'm all about, I'm perfectly content. The rest of the world can think whatever they wish.
Besides Pat, your androgynous co-host, do you ever flirt with the idea of a co-host? Or is Drew Garabo a one-man-band?
I never flirt with the idea. My bosses here at Cox Media Group like me as a one-man-band. If I miraculously found someone with whom I had incredible chemistry, I would certainly be open to sharing the studio. I've worked with some extremely-talented people throughout my career, but In Your Face with Drew Garabo works best when it's me against the callers.
What are your goal/plans with "In Your Face" for the coming months and years?
"The same as every radio personality's goal/plans: to get high ratings and many sponsors and to not get fired."
Want to catch more of Drew Garabo? Tune into Tampa Bay's 102.5 "The Bone" or listen live and get a bit more of his biography along with podcasts from Tampa Bay's 102.5's website. Or catch his very interactive and entertaining twitter feed here.
Thanks Drew for your time and good luck!