Move over, Howard Stern. Rick Bloom is ready to take over the airwaves with his own peculiar blend of low-concept radio entertainment. Bloom's three-hour show, which airs every day on KFNX-AM 1100, is a hybrid of top-of-the-hour news, talk and Bloom's special brand of humor, which involves a lot of cheesy celebrity impersonations and goofball song parodies. It's a program that's so bad it's, well, really bad.
But don't tell that to Bloom, whose widest talent is self-delusion. He is, he swears, on his way to being the next big thing in talk radio. Any minute now, his show will find its audience, and he'll be catapulted into the stratosphere, a radio star for the new millennium. One who does Howard Cosell impersonations and pokes fun at people who don't happen to be white.
New Times: The tag line for your show is "Rick Bloom puts the FU back in fun."
Rick Bloom: That's the station's idea. They're trying to promote the idea of me as a radio personality.
NT: And why do we need radio personalities?
Bloom: Well, we don't need them. But we have some, and they suck. I can't believe what's on the air today. I'm trying to put some fun back into radio, and what we have now is conservative talk-show hosts from media conglomerates who, in my opinion, are rude. They're megalomaniacs who are trying to bully their subjects and call it entertainment.
NT: That's perfectly awful. I can't imagine anyone doing that. So, are you cooler than Beth and Bill?
Bloom: I have nothing against Beth and Bill, but I don't listen to them. I listen to my competition, and I don't really consider Beth and Bill my competition. They play music; I do parodies. I listen to Howard Stern. He's entertaining, and my audience is more like his.
NT: What? I've heard your show, and it's nothing like Howard Stern's.
Bloom: I don't do shock radio, that's true. I won't insult anyone. My listeners are like roses; I treat them very delicately.
NT: Just like Howard Stern. So, KFNX is an AM station. Who listens to AM radio?
Bloom: More intelligent, upwardly mobile people who like to think, who like to contribute, people who are environmentally conscious. That's the AM radio audience.
NT: I get the impression that you'd like to break out and really be zany, but you can't. Do you ever just want to tell a fuck joke, or call someone an asshole on the air?
Bloom: No. And I don't feel restricted at all. I'm like David Letterman doing The Ed Sullivan Show. I'm funny and I have great guests.
NT: Really? I heard the show where you had the stock exchange guy on. Is there some sort of rule that says that guests on AM radio talk shows have to be boring?
Bloom: I have four or five guests per day, and some of them are more interesting than others. I have to get the guests myself, and it's not always easy. I also have to write the show, promote the show, and perform it. It's a lot of work.
NT: Where does one study for a job like this? Did you go to funny radio guy school?
Bloom: Yeah. I went to the University of Fun. They share space with the hockey university over there; it's called Puck U. I was born to be a talk-show host. In 1978 I made it my goal in life, and here I am -- a talk-show host. I had Jerry Colangelo on this week. I had Rita Rudner, John McCain, Dick Smothers.
NT: Dick Smothers!
Bloom: I like to interview celebrities. I had Dennis Weaver on the other day. Remember him, from McCloud? I'm very irreverent, very creative, and I'm very funny. I don't tell jokes, but if you say something, I can say something funny off that. Also I write funny songs.
NT: You sure do. Here, let me quote a line from my favorite Rick Bloom song: "Bloomer's back/Tell a friend/Bloomer's back/Bloomer's back/Bloomer's back/Bloomer's back/Bloomer's back/Bloomer's back/Bloomer's back." Wow.
Bloom: It's a spoof of Eminem. It's a rap song. I think of myself as the anti-talk-show host. I'm doing a show in a hick town, and I have to keep people tuned to my show, so I do these song parodies.
NT: One of them is called "Hussein Is a Follower of Pig Latin." That's pretty offensive.
Bloom: To who? Pigs? It's funny, because I made it up.
NT: You keep talking about how you're like Howard Stern. I think the difference between you and Stern is that he's being deliberately offensive, and you don't seem to know what's offensive.
Bloom: I've never had a complaint. Well, one guy called once to say I'm obnoxious, and one guy called to say I have a bad voice, which is true. I don't have a really good voice. Did you listen to the show today?
NT: Uh, no. I was kind of sleeping. Why? Did you insult any particular ethnicity I should know about?
Bloom: Hey, the Pig Latin thing was funny because it was all original and very creative, and it was topical. But no one has ever called to say I'm a dork or I'm obnoxious or I'm a loser, which is shocking, because I am those things. I'm just a guy with a lot of time on my hands with nothing better to do than this.
NT: That explains a lot. Is it supposed to be funny that you can't sing but you record a lot of songs?
Bloom: My voice is very poor, but I make up for it with enthusiasm and creativity. They're funny songs, and the fact that I can't sing makes them funnier. I wrote this one about the Atkins diet that was really cute. I'm very confident in my ability, I'm very comfortable on the air. Today I sang six new songs on my show, and I thought, "I can't believe I have the guts to do this."
NT: Neither can I. Although your Enron: Behind the Music thing was sort of funny. Where do you get your inspiration?
Bloom: Some of this stuff I steal. I got the Enron thing off the Internet.
NT: Uh, I don't think you're supposed to do that. I mean, it's not legal. It's not particularly moral.
Bloom: I never claim to write everything myself. I've never claimed to be so brilliant that I can keep up three hours of entertainment. I know I'm not allowed to do that, under the laws of the First Amendment. But most of my stuff is original. I wrote a spoof today about growing marijuana, but I'm not gonna use it on the air. I'm trying to grow a show, and I don't think putting on a pro-marijuana thing is a good idea.
NT: Your hero, Howard Stern, would disagree.
Bloom: Well, I'm trying to grow a radio show here. You've got to make your guests comfortable, so they'll come back. Then when they're comfortable, you can get a little more risqué with them. People might not come on the show if they thought I was pro-marijuana.
NT: You said, on your show, that you've always wanted to be a man in a chicken suit on a turnpike.
Bloom: I make ridiculous comments like that all the time. Chicken suit is like, you're the guy who's making people laugh but no one knows who you are. No one can see you, and you can really perform. That's why I do my show with my eyes closed sometimes. It's like wearing a chicken suit. It makes my show even funnier.
NT: But I listened to your program. I was bored out of my mind. Except when I was pissed off.
Bloom: No one's ever said that to me. I've never had a negative comment. There are some of my shows I've listened to and I can't stand them, but I'm growing as a performer, as an entertainer. As soon as people find my show, they know it's different.
NT: It's like someone's nerdy kid brother who just got his first tape recorder.
Bloom: Right! I'm a rich 16-year-old. I've got all the toys, and the mind of a teenager. For an adult, I'm not very wealthy, but for a 16-year-old, I've got money.
NT: Not to mention celebrity impersonations!
Bloom: Yes. I've done Neil Diamond, Woody Allen. Henry Kissinger's a regular on my show. Howard Cosell, too.
NT: And you do these little character voices that are supposed to be funny.
Bloom: I have Tab Aboob, a Shi'ite Muslim who owns a Jewish delicatessen. His specialty is matzo ball soup that makes you want to go to war.
NT: And people don't call in to complain?
Bloom: Not one. Because it's funny. I'm Jewish. I make fun of Jews, I make fun of the blacks, because we're all in this together. I'm not picking on anyone in particular. Do you find it offensive?
NT: Who, me? Still, it's not very PC, is it?
Bloom: A year from now I'll either be dead or I'll be on top. I'm like a presidential candidate; I'm working 'round the clock. I have a wife and two kids who think I'm nuts. I am nuts. I'm nuts, but I'm driven. I'm living it, I'm breathing it, and nothing can stop me.
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