B.J. Harris admits cocaine addiction led him to leave WFLZ-FM and Tampa
It took awhile -- braving a missed connecting flight and a long limousine ride from Atlanta -- but former WFLZ-FM morning jock B.J. Harris finally reached his old stomping grounds this morning, admitting on air that a raging cocaine addiction led him to quit the station more than eight years ago.
"I had to leave Tampa or I was going to die," Harris told former morning show partner Todd "MJ" Schnitt this morning, diving into a detailed story of how an addiction to cocaine led him to walk away from the town's top morning radio station and top management jobs in Clear Channel Radio.
"There's no one to blame but me...I'm the one who hurt people, embarrassed people," said Harris, who now co-hosts a successful morning show in Denver. "I put people's careers at risk in this room; that's where I had taken it. (Schnitt) had nothing to do with me leaving. it all stops right here with me."
Harris is back in town today and Friday for a reunion with Schnitt he said was aimed at celebrating the 20th anniversary of the "Power Pig" format -- an in-your-face attitude adjustment which helped vault WFLZ to the top of local ratings back in the mid-'90s. By the time he left the city in 2001, Harris was operations manager for two area radio stations and a top programming director for Clear Channel, having hired many of the people working at WFLZ back then/
His story also countered allegations made by rival shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem, who has accused Schnitt of undermining Harris with Clear Channel management and taking advantage of his cocaine addiction to edge him out of the show. Schnitt has sued Clem, alleging his rival has made defamatory statements about him on air and encouraged fans to badger him.
During today's broadcast, Harris talked about regularly missing work at their morning show, going missing to days in Las Vegas when they were scheduled to appear at a nationally televised music awards show. Eventually, he admitted his addiction to Schnitt and superiors at Clear Channel, going through rehab at the famous Hazelden clinic in Minnesota and locally.
Admitting he was under the influence during his last day at the station, Harris recalled how a minor argument blew up into a major fight with Schnitt which led him to quit the show (the unstated implication; perhaps this is what sparked rumors that Schnitt drove Harris off the show). Even after he moved to Cincinnati for a job at another Clear Channel station, Harris continued to struggle with his addiction and was eventually fired by the company.
The revelations may have explained a lot for fans of the MJ and BJ Morning Show, who weren't told much when Harris left the program back in February 2001. Saying that he realized a few years ago "if you continue to do this, you will die," Harris said he is currently drug-free and wanted to talk about his problem to help explain why their partnership disintegrated so suddenly years ago.
"I apologize from the bottom of my heart," Harris told listeners and Schnitt toward the end of the show. "I'm to blame."