- Rollye James
Infobox Radio Presenter
name = Rollye James
imagesize = 200px
caption = Rollye James 2008
show = The Rollye James Show
station = Talk Radio XM165
[http://www.rollye.net/listen.html online at rollye.net]
timeslot = Live 7-10pm Pacfic on 165 weeknights
replayed overnights on 158
style = Talk
country = United States
web = [http://www.rollye.net www.rollye.net]
Rollye James is a veteran of American radio of over 40 years who has been hosting a talk show, "The Rollye James Show", nationally since 2000 which is currently heard exclusively on XM, live weeknights 10 -1 ET on Talk Radio, channel 165 and replayed overnights, seven nights a week on
America's Talk, channel 158. Listeners can also hear the show online for free at her [http://www.rollye.net official website] , live every evening, and replayed continuously until the next live show. She is a staunch libertarianand conspiracy theoristwho often discusses cases of government abuse and excess Monday through Thursday nights. Friday nights are devoted to Trivia. Her program is produced by Mediatrix, the company she first formed while still in high school.
Voted "Disc Jockey most likely to make Rush Limbaugh sound rational" by "
Philadelphia City Paper" a decade ago [ "CP Choice Awards", Philadelphia City Paper #702 October 30-November 5, 1998 ] , first listens to James make it easy to dismiss her content as being the ravings of a lunatic (punctuating that reaction, James' announcer refers to the program tongue in cheek as "The Lunatic Fringe"). A repeated pattern among listeners is first disliking the program, and over time becoming ardent fans. James owes her popularity to two factors: her ability to create intimacy on the air thus making the show a one on one conversation between her and the listener, and her grasp of the logical heart of any argument. Among her greatest pet peeves is the government continually capitalizing on the emotion of a situation in order to entice Americans to willingly give up civil liberties. Examples include her repeated reminder that the Patriot Actwas not written on September 12th (suspending talk of whether government participated in the September 11, 2001 attacks, she claims it is indisputable that they capitalized on it with the legislation written long before it), the battle cry of "It's For The Children" (as a weapon to instigate everything from smoking bans to internet censorship) and what she refers to as the 'stop me from being stupid laws' which range from mandating seat belt use to prohibiting prostitution and drug use. Similarly, she refers to proposed legislation for term limitson politicians, as the "stop me before I vote again laws".
James often focuses on unfairness and injustice. She is heated about her belief that rules and laws must be upheld and applied uniformly, if they are to exist at all. She often uses the
war on drugsto explain selective enforcement. Among several recurring themes are James' opinion of the blatant unfairness of Family Court (She regularly details outrageous abuses of non-custodial parents by a system which according to her is anything but "for the children"), the over reaching attitude of Child Protective Services("The guideline should be, leave the kids with the parent unless you have reason to suspect they'll be dead by morning"), the meaning of the 2nd Amendment ("without it we won't have the other ten, or anything else resembling liberty, something our forefathers knew well"), and her frustration over the apathy of Americans which has enabled the government to circumvent the constitution. She regularly urges listeners to contact their representatives over various issues. She was instrumental in defeating the 2007 amnesty bill but warns her audience that it was a battle won with a war to go, as she implores them to stay involved. Many listeners find the most interesting facet of the show being James willingness to tackle most any issue a caller might raise. It's likely that instead of politics, a given listen to the program will produce a discussion about the history of Top 40radio, or James' passion for obscure soul music, which are two categories where she is a recognized expert. ["Nobody Stumps Rollye James" Ken Hoffman, The Houston Chronicle, Saturday December 2, 1989] ["Music Moves Her & Moves Her & Moves Her..." Richard Acello, San Diego Daily Transcript, Tuesday February 14, 1995]
Her encyclopedic mind and quick wit are both the foundation for success, as well as the cause of much dissent. Being devoted to the libertarian philosophy that in a free society people have inalienable rights but with them comes personal responsibility, some listeners see her as a callous person or find her views offensive. Others find her humor to be objectionable. And a few feel she advocates causes that may lead to the breakdown of society. Investigations of the entirety of her opinions have not yielded confirmation of the latter assumption, including the facts surrounding the well known incident of James being fired from KLBJ in 1996 for what management termed as comments that appeared to endorse an assassination of then President
Bill Clinton, Vice-President Al Gore, and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. James maintains that put in context that was not what was said, nor was it her intent or meaning. In 1998, a jury of her peers agreed with her. ["Ex-KLBJ host wins lawsuit. Jury awards $715,000 for libel, compensation after radio station cancelled contract" Rebecca Thatcher & Mike Kelly, Austin American-Statesman, Saturday May 30, 1998] ["Rollye James wins $800k lawsuit vs. KLBJ" Alan Linder, Talkers Magazine, June 1998] She became the only person to ever defeat the LBJ family in open court in Texas and achieved record ratings while there. [Arbitron Ratings, Austin, Average Quarter Hour Shares, Metro Survey Area, Summer 1996]
James is a member and defender of the
John Birch Society, a group she says is maligned and misunderstood. Their sole purpose, she maintains, is to fight the government's move towards collectivism (originally communism in the 1950s and globalism today). According to James, they lead the charge against everything from the North American Free Trade Agreement(NAFTA) to the International Criminal Court(ICC). She is also a member and supporter of GOA ( Gun Owners of America), saying it is the only major organization that is constant in its full support of the 2nd amendment, and a vociferous supporter of OOIDA, (Owner-Operator Independent Driver's Association). Though not a commercial driver, James is an OOIDA member.
Much of James' audience consists of over the road truckers and she sees their plight as one that affects every citizen. "Everything you have, came on a truck," she often mentions, as she details how the government directly threatens the livelihood of today's drivers from the bureaucratic morass of regulations such as
Hours of serviceto the multi-pronged threat of the Mexican Truck Pilot Program under NAFTA. Beyond James' respect for the commercial driver is her personal involvement through her unusual hobby of driving the US Interstate Highway Systemwhich dates back to her teen years. "I've completed it, which is more than the federal government has done," she has said.
Friday Night Trivia
In addition to interactive trivia of all varieties and "Bumper Stumpers", (the ultra obscure records she plays leading into Friday night segments, offering prizes to listeners who can identify them), James' Friday night show often features hour long interviews with legendary personalities from
Top 40radio's heyday including disc jockeys, television hosts and musicians such as Art Laboe, Jerry Blavat, Big Jack Armstrong, Lloyd Thaxton, Charlie Gracieand Freddy Cannon. James is a strong supporter of " Beach Music", a group of obscure rhythm and blues records heard along the Carolina shore that contain a specific beat which spawned the "Shag" dance craze still in evidence in the Carolinas today.
In 2006, "
Wired Magazine" cited "The Rollye James Show" as having "the best bumper music"'. [Wired 2006 "The Wired winner for the best bumper music was "The Rollye James Show". James a radio host... is a prodigy at R&B and top 40 oldies."] In 2005, Philadelphia City Paperbestowed a similar award. ["Editors Choice Awards 2005" Philadelphia City Paper, "Best non-native keeper of Philadelphia music history: Rollye James"] As divisive as her views may be, to some listeners her bumper music is even more so. But fans of Vocal Group Harmony (" Doo-Wop"), soul music, " Beach Music" and any obscurity with a back beatfind her choices to be irresistible treats rarely, if ever, heard on commercial radio. Asked about her personal favorites, she said they vary, but always include Bertha Tillman's "Oh My Angel" which she adds, "oddly for me, is without a back beat, but then again it's a ballad."
Income from the program is derived primarily from live endorsement commercials. James says she will not promote any product in which she does not fully believe "which explains why I'm not rich" she quips. In addition to James' approval, sponsors are chosen who can measure results. James' ability to delivery live copy is widely touted. ["The Dual-use Concept" Doug Hatch, Catalogsuccess.com November 1, 2003] The show routinely outperforms much larger venues, delivering what James terms "cash register ratings", a euphamism for actual sales totals, which attract sponsors such as
Vermont Teddy Bearwho generally buy larger venues. CCrane Co. has been a sponsor since the show began in 2000.
The first words Rollye James ever uttered on the radio were "Sue I don't know what to do, Timmy's wet the bed again." It was the opening line from a local Miami commercial for "The Sta-Dry Enuretic Service". (James has said she still wonders how it worked-- "Did they clean the sheets or send a cork?") And thus a career behind the scenes began which led to a variety of positions including Production Director for Storz Broadcasting's flagship,
In the early 1970s, James relocated to
Nashvillefirst working for Epic Recordsbefore becoming promotion manager for Charlie Rich. Within a few years, women were beginning to be hired as on air personalities and James left Nashville to pursue air work in markets including Louisville, Raleigh, Indianapolis(heard on the legendary WIBC) and Jacksonvilleamong others.
In 1979 she returned to her native
Los Angeleswhere she programmed Capital Cities Communications' KPOL before becoming morning co-host with Charlie Tunaon KHTZ. No longer wanting to wake up early, she left the airwaves in the '80s to write and produce Watermark's "Soundtrack of the '60s" hosted by New York legend, Murray the K. From there she took over the radio editor position at Billboard Magazineat a time when it had lost significant readers within the radio industry. Within a year, she rebuilt the readership to the position it enjoyed when Claude Hall headed it a decade earlier. Best known for writing the "Vox Jox" column during her tenure at Billboard, her position also included coordinating several pages of copy each week along with the annual Billboard Radio Convention and the Radio Programming Awards.
In the latter '80s, the advent of satellite delivered programming allowed cash strapped stations to enter the talk radio arena which had previously been reserved for very well funded facilities. Simultaneously, AM radio was in decline, searching for an identity. Even music programmed AM stations were looking to talk radio for night time slots. James saw this as a way to be back on the air outside of morning drive. After filling in on stations throughout the country, in 1987, KOA in
Denverhired James for evenings, replacing Alan Bergwho was the last local personality to hold that slot before his murder. In her almost three years there, she was number one in virtually every important sales demographic. [Arbitron Ratings, Denver, Metro Survey Area, Average Quarter Hour Shares, Fall 1987 through Spring 1989] Returning to Los Angeles, James was heard overnights on KMPCand evenings on KFI.
In 1993, she replaced
Bill Ballanceon KFMB San Diego, remaining there until going to KLBJ, Austin (see Controversy above). According to James it was her love of obscure R&B oldies and junk food that influenced her move to Philadelphiain 1997. For two years she was the evening talk personality on WWDB-FM. Her ratings [Arbitron Ratings, Philadelphia, Metro Survey Area, Average Quarter Hour Shares, Fall 1997 through Winter 1999] attracted much interest, but James no longer wanted to work in local radio. Her desire to syndicate her show dated back to her resignation from KOA in 1990 [Denver Post, Monday April 23, 1990, Joanne Ostrow column] . After several partnership deals fell through while James continued to host local radio shows, she was determined to pursue national radio exclusively almost a decade later. For several months from in 1999 and 2000 she was Art Bell's designated replacement, hosting Coast to Coast AMon Monday and Friday nights. But a month prior to Bell's exit, James left the show, saying she wanted to concentrate on a venture of her own.
In May 2000, she began the national version of The Rollye James Show with a flagship affiliate, CBS' 50kw
WPHTin Philadelphia. Operating from her own studios in suburban Philadelphia, she first partnered with Talk America for affiliate relations, and then Radio America. Neither proved capable of procuring major market stations. In August 2003, James switched to Jones Satellite Services for distribution and handled affiliate relations in house. In addition to WPHT, 50kw affiliates have included WLACNashville, KRLDDallas, KGASpokane and WGYAlbany/Schenectady. From July 2007 to January 2008, James again hosted Coast to Coast AM, this time on alternate Sunday nights in addition to her weeknight show. She explained her decision to leave as being primarily due to a lack of time on her part, though she also said she was not comfortable with the direction the show had taken both on and off the air in recent years.
In February 2008, rising satellite time costs prompted James to reconsider making the show available to terrestrial affiliates. Noting that she had been virtually all of her advertising revenue from her simulcast on
XM Satellite Radio, and hinting at an announcement forthcoming later this year which would shed further light on her decision, she announced she was suspending terrestrial syndication at the end of month. She now broadcasts exclusively on satellite, in addition to a free online stream for non-subscribers.
James was born and adopted in
Los Angeles. She later moved to Bal Harbour, Floridawhere she initially lived at the Americana Hotel, the location of the 2nd annual Todd Storz' Disc Jockey Convention during Memorial Day weekend in 1959. That infamous meeting led to the payola hearings, "Miami Herald" headlines of "Booze Broads and Bribes" ["Booze Broads and Bribes" Dan Brown, Miami Herald, November 25, 1959] and according to James, her lifelong interest in radio. She had numerous local favorites among the Miamiradio stations during the day but she says her world came alive at night in her bedroom when she could scan the dial for distant signals. As she said on a 1989 National Association of Broadcastersradio commercial heard in Denver, "At 2 in the morning, KAAYmade even Little Rock sound like the big time!" ["Radio. What would life be without it?" National Association of Broadcasters promotional campaign, 1989] She has mentioned several 50,000 watt stations including Nashville's WLAC with John R., Gene Nobles and Hoss Allen, as being captivating to her.
Though James primarily listened to music stations, she believes the biggest influence on her on air demeanor came unwittingly from a WKAT Miami talk show host known on the air as "Alfred" (Al Martinez) with whom she had a close friendship in the latter '60s.
* "Ya want gun control? Use both hands!"
* "Your rights end where mine begin."
* "Definition of politics? Poli means many and tics are blood sucking parasites. Any questions?"
* "It's for the children!" (said sarcastically)
* "There's a word for that. That word is insanity."
* "Let's flip over all the cards." (in response to verbosity or baffling illogic)
* "Your radio has two knobs, one controls the volume, the other changes the station. Use one now!" (in response to callers who say they don't like the show)
Trivia - Rollye James
* got a perfect score on her First Class FCC license exam.
* graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University Of Miami.
* has a record collection of over 15,000 45 RPM singles and 10,000 albums, mostly R&B and soul, with a lot of top 40 and country too.
* bowled a 510 set in February 1962 at Cloverleaf Lanes, North Dade County, making her the Florida Coca Cola champion of the month.
* was a crossword puzzle answer in the National Examiner (October 30, 2006. 9 down- Rollye of talk radio. Answer: James)
* has driven every inch of interstate in America, much of it in her former car, a 1975 Covette, which she refers to as "The Plastic Pig" for its poor gas mileage and notorious unreliability.
* [http://www.rollye.net Rollye James' official website]
* [http://www.coasttocoastam.com/gen/page2246.html Coast to Coast AM bio page]
* [http://www.rollye.org A fan site done for Rollye]
* [http://www.ccrane.com CCrane Co.]
* [http://www.ooida.com OOIDA]
* [http://www.gunowners.org GOA]
* [http://www.jbs.org JBS]
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