First, let me be clear that Hoss The Boss is a fictional character who happens to be embodied in a real guy, me. I’m Don Cudd. The internet home for the “real” me is at www.DonCudd.com. It’s confusing to be two people in one, (especially when Hoss can sometimes be an incompetent, arrogant jack ass) but I’ve sort of gotten used to it over the years. Many other people I know still haven’t, but that’s okay. Life is strange sometimes. Feel free to call me Hoss, Don, Hoss/Don, or just “Hey, jack ass.”
Hoss The Boss was born in about 1992 in the office of the semi-legendary DJ Jim “Catfish” Prewit who had returned to his home town of Corpus Christi, Texas to be the program director at KOUL. Right after Catfish said he was going to hire me to be the station’s new night DJ he gave me an unfortunate choice of air names: Hoss The Boss or Rawhide Ron. No one who has heard this story has said I made the wrong decision.
I consider myself very lucky. Here are some of the names of other DJ’s Catfish hired at KOUL: Bo Weevil, Jack Daniels, Jose Cuervo, Phil Inn (the weekend guy), Bubba Sanchez and Miss Chievious.
Despite the name, Hoss The Boss proved to be a popular character under Catfish’s tutelage. I still have the cool little plaque commemorating Hoss’s #1 rating for the night show in 1994, and KOUL itself resurged to its top spot in the local Arbitron ratings by then too. Here’s an aircheck sample of one of Hoss’s KOUL shows.
But, the ethics of success proved a disillusion for me. I didn’t like, for example, that I called for “requests” on my show when I knew that I would be sticking very closely to the prescribed music list that had been drawn up by Catfish — usually after much discussion amongst us DJs, all of whom had no qualms giving listeners the impression that we did indeed, “play requests” on demand. (The on-air “requests” we did play were all for songs that were coming up on the playlist anyway. Many times the calls were recorded days in advance and saved for when the song in question was on the list.)
I also didn’t like that I would by-pass “Caller Number 10” on a big prize giveaway if he or she did not sound sufficiently enthusiastic:
“Hello, KOUL…” I would say with the tape rolling.
If there was a moment hesitation, if the forthcoming “What caller am I?” was even slightly lackadaisical, my answer would, of course, be “Nine! Oh, so close! I’m sorry! Keep trying!”
One time I had at least 20 caller number 9’s on my tape, and, when I had finally found an excited winner (of a pair of tickets to see Brooks & Dunn, I believe) I rewound the recording for playback. But I went too far. The last three rejected caller 9’s aired before we finally got to our winner’s call.
Busted! you say? Well, I never heard one complaint. I guess the audience was not as naive as any of us figured. But that doesn’t make it right. (Though many in radio would likely disagree.)
And that’s just the start of all the stuff that made me uncomfortable in the radio “business.” (Funny, when I used to play DJ as a kid, the word “business” or “industry” never once entered my thoughts.)
The behind the scenes politicking over what songs KOUL would play was incredible. Great local singers would show up with their guitars to play their songs live for us in our conference room, and it was always depressing to hear. Not because the songs were bad (they were usually awesome, in fact) but because I knew that the label representative pushing,say, the latest Reba McEntire single would not be impressed if we included some talented, independent, local guy in the list we sent to Billboard Magazine every week. Such a move would certainly mean we wouldn’t be getting anymore CDs or concert tickets to give away. And the chances were strong that the station down the street might even end up with Reba herself playing her guitar in their studio one morning.
The poor schmuck singing his heart out in our conference room — and who had invested a lot of time and money in the recorded version he hoped we would play — simply never had a chance — no matter how many of the station’s staff toes he made tap.
But we never told him that, of course.
I’d been in radio for at least 5 years before hiring on at KOUL, so I should have known better, but I figured things might be different elsewhere.
I ended up out in Big Spring, Texas. Smaller city. (Slightly bigger salary.) Same stuff. This time with a crazy station owner who had a penchant for barging in on his DJs with a storm of loud profanity while said DJs were in the middle of, say, an update on the tornado that had been spotted just outside of town.
Contemplating all this insanity amidst the grande view from Big Spring’s famous Scenic Mountain one day in 1995, I realized that just about everyone I knew in the radio business could be called an alcoholic, drug addict, womanizer or just plain crook. I specifically recalled an afternoon I’d spent with one of the most respected (ie rarely to be found sober) ad sales guys I knew.
Our station’s 3 hour live remote at a junk yard 10 miles from the city had yielded not one visitor, not even from the establishment’s regular customers. As the sales guy and I were packing to head home after this fiasco, I expressed surprised that the business’s large, burly owner had not yet offered us any physical threats over the $1,000 he’d paid for nothing.
“Oh, no! He is happy as can be,” the salesman replied.
“How’d you pull that off?” I marveled.
“He thinks this remote was free.”
I didn’t ask any more questions. But I felt a little sad as I cashed my “talent fee” check from the junk yard a few days later.
Thinking of all this up there on that mountain in Big Spring, I decided I’d made a big mistake. Radio is just not the business for a guy who takes ethics even halfway seriously. So I got out.
I finished my college degree and became a certified school teacher. (I’ve known several other former DJs who have done the same.) And, well, that still hasn’t worked out very well either. But for much different reasons, many of which I delve into on the “real” me’s website.
I say I “got out” of radio, but I actually never did entirely. I took some part-time gigs while I was back in college, and I’ve stayed semi-connected to my radio buddies through the years. (Most of whom, I’m proud to report have also gotten out of radio and, accordingly, have grown up.) And I finally made a stab at bringing Hoss The Boss back full force in 2004.
Hoss took over as the afternoon guy at a rebellious, very cool, and very independent “Texas music” station in my hometown of Corpus Christi. This station actually did play the local guys. Often a kid would show up unannounced with his CD and his guitar and be playing live on the station five minutes later. If listeners called in to say they liked him, his song might be in hot rotation on the station for the next two months. This is how God intended radio to be, I thought.
Alas, it didn’t last. The station’s owner turned out to be no less shady than any of the others. His atrocious practices were somewhat hidden by his “independent” facade, but I eventually got wise to them. Most of them were related to his out-of-control son who used the station to facilitate his many illegal and/or unethical activities. I found myself with a bad case of deja vu and took this station’s “firing” me as a good sign.
When I turned up missing from that last show, a few supportive listeners managed to find me, and in 2006 we started HossTheBoss.com as an internet radio station that gave independent bands priority over the “regular” guys.
But that never was a money maker, and I turned down several opportunities to partner up with money guys who, I saw, were about as committed to ethics as all the other “leaders” in the radio business.
In the interest of making a living (and having time to tend to my aging, mentally ill father) I finally stopped the stream but vowed to bring Hoss back again some day — God willing — when he can operate according to the principals of honesty and just plain being good.
All that you see on this site is the result of that vow.