This was posted Friday, December 30, 2016 by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
At his Roswell studio, Moby on his final show of his long radio career took dozens of farewell calls from fans wishing him good luck in retirement.
“I am surprised I am this far along on the show and haven’t felt emotional,” he told one of those callers at 9:12 a.m. “I feel good!”
Moby (real name: James Carney) played some of his parody songs from the past. His final song: a parody of a George Strait song “I Hate Everything” dubbed “I Ate Everything.” “Let’s end funny!” he said.
But the emotions eventually flooded in. At about 9:48 a.m., though, as his wife Mary Beth started tearing up, so did Moby. And he brought out the Kleenex in the final moments as he thanked his fans (“I’m grateful for all of you”) and said “Yeah baby!” one more time.
“I thank you for your allegiance and the loan of your ears the last several years,” he said. “May God be good to you and your family.”
“I lost it there right at the end,” he said, standing up for the first time since he began the show at 6 a.m. and slipping into the restroom. Mary Beth said she got teary when she heard a caller crying. That set off Moby’s tear ducts, too.
Among the stations he was on before he retired after nearly five decades doing radio, he was heard on WTSH-FM South 107.1 in Rome, plus stations in Mississippi, West Virginia, Arkansas and Missouri.
For many, Moby is a distant memory from his Kicks 101.5 days, going back 14 years. But for the past 12 years, the Crossville, Tenn. native has been doing his own syndicated show that has been heard over the years in small towns all over America, including Rome and Athens. He decided recently that it was time to close shop.
He said when he lost WNGC-FM in Athens in 2015, the economics no longer worked. And it didn’t help when South 107.1 reduced its signal from 100,000 watts to 6,000, reducing his reach even more.
But he made it work for more than a decade on his own, something skeptics thought could never happen. Mary Beth said they had to scrape and fight for every affiliate but it was a hand sell to places all over the country. They tried to hire folks to sell affiliations for them but she said she and Moby did it best themselves.
I’ve written quite a bit about Moby over the years from the time he got fired in 2002 from Kicks for being too rural country, to his brief, ill-fated stint at Z93, to his nine months doing traffic with them while in a contract dispute, to his resurrection doing his syndication. And yes, there was a lion bite in 2003, followed a few years later by a snake bite that landed him in the hospital.
One interesting tidbit I never knew about: when 94.9/The Bull arrived a decade ago to compete against Kicks, management briefly considered Moby as their first morning show. He insisted that he keep his syndication show at his own studios in Roswell. That way, if the Bull booted him, he still had his own gig. But they wanted him at Clear Channel studios in Buckhead. In the end, they didn’t hire him.
One philosophy he always followed: be provocative, be real, be himself. He was a larger-than-life figure and he wanted people to react strongly to him, be it devotion or hatred. That was the Howard Stern approach as well. When I asked him earlier in the morning what his last song might be, he said, Frank Sinatra‘s “My Way.” It’s not a strategy many radio personalities on music stations take anymore and it’s not what management embraces.
Most radio stations in Atlanta prefer pleasant, approachable hosts without catchphrases or schtick. It’s safe. It’s easy. And as a reporter who has covered radio for the past 15 years, radio is a lot duller for it.
Here are Moby’s final minutes via Facebook Live:
His studio was packed with family and old friends – and donuts. A former intern who went by Moses even came by. Roswell councilman Jerry Orlans, who has known Moby for more than 20 years, stopped by to give Moby some breakfast biscuits and wish him well.
Here’s a Facebook Live I did while he was on the air at about 8:40 a.m.:
Here are two videos of Moby’s final show shot by Branden Camp: