After an on-air ruckus and then a weeklong hiatus, the star of WLLD-FM Wild 98.7's Orlando and the Freak Show returns to his 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. time slot Thursday.
Last Monday, March 31, listeners heard Orlando Davis being yanked from the air after a dispute over upgrading studio equipment led to Davis nearly revealing the home telephone number of CBS Radio's top executive in Tampa, Charlie Ochs. Before the plugged was pulled, Davis encouraged fans to logon to wild987.fm/fighttheman, where photos contrast Wild's studio with those of two other local CBS stations, oldies WRBQ-FM 104.7 and country WQYK-FM 99.5. Davis and Ochs said they agreed that Davis needed a cooling-off period, so the deejay has spent the past week in Vegas, L.A. and Daytona Beach with his wife while his Freak Show sidekicks ran the show in his absence.
A day after the supposed dustup, Wild staffer DJ Trauma filled in by spinning tunes and awkwardly reading the news. This, coupled with the fact that it was April 1, made the incident look suspiciously like an April Fool's Day publicity stunt.
"It wasn't a prank," Davis, 36, told tbt*. "If it was, it was a prank on everybody. It was just kind of a culmination of a whole bunch of things that happened, and it kind of unfolded on the air."
While Davis was away, baffled listeners flooded the station with calls and e-mails. He said even got a call from his competitor, Bubba the Love Sponge, who asked, "Man, you crazy?" Carlos Diaz, Vegas correspondent for the gossip show Extra and daily rumormonger for the Freak Show, also received e-mails, Davis said, leading Davis to appear on Extra last week to assure fans that he'd soon return to the airwaves.
Davis said it hadn't occurred to him that his on-air grievances could be construed as a joke until listeners called to ask if he was pulling their leg.
"And then we looked around the room like, 'Tomorrow is April 1,'" he said.
Although Davis refused to elaborate on hoaxes Wild has pulled in the past, the station been known to fool its listeners. In fact, Wild began as a prank, with two fictional characters taking over 98.7 to transition it to a hip-hop format. Last year, DJ Alli That Girl staged a spurious quest to determine the paternity of her unborn daughter.
As for Davis' request for new studio equipment, he said the issue is "kind of resolved." Station managers have approved some upgrades, and others are in the works.
"I wouldn't urge anybody to barricade themselves in their cubicle or anything, but this seemed to work out this time," he said.
According to Davis, from now on the Freak Show will be business as usual.
"It's the same show. Nothing changes," Davis said. "We still do everything that we were doing before I left. I just went on vacation."
Contributing: Eric Deggans