Andy Sullivan; Against The Grain
Every now and then, there will be a radio personality who creates a character and makes a name off it. For instance, Earl Pitts is a fictional character performed by Gary Burbank, a radio personality from Burbank, California. His character is a stereotype of a redneck from the southern United States.
His daily editorial always begins with a bugle call of “assembly” and his by-line “you know what makes me sick? You know what” and he finishes the sentence with something silly. He had his family and friends: wife Pearl, son Earl Junior, daughter Sandra Dee, his good friend Dub Meeker, among others. His signature ending lines are “wake up, Uhmerika” and ‘Pitts Off”! While the Washington Post march plays in the background. Gary Burbank was born Billy Purser in July, 1941 in Memphis, Tennessee. He was heard daily on WLW in Cincinnati, Ohio from June 15, 1981 until December 21, 2007, when he signed off for the last time. Despite retirement, Earl Pitts commentaries continued to broadcast on its network of affiliates, including WLW.
Another fictional character that hit it big in the South is Roy D. Mercer. The character was created by disc jockeys Brent Douglass and Phil Stone on radio station KMOD-FM in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Brent Douglass, who performs Mercer’s voice, uses the character as a vehicle for comedy sketches in which he performs prank calls. Twelve Roy D. Mercer albums have been released all on Capitol Records Nashville or Virgin Records Nashville. Douglass and Stone created the character in 1993. By ’97, the sketches were turned into albums. The albums sold between 250,000 to 300,000 copies. I owned one copy of each tape. On October 12, 2012, the Phil and Brent Stone Show ended its 27-year run with KMOD-FM radio. Forty days later, on November 21, Phil Stone died from causes related to heart disease at age 57.
Many claim that the Mercer character was inspired by Leroy Mercer, a character created in Tennessee by Knoxville resident John Bean, who made prank calls circulated by hand-to-hand tape exchange in the early 1980’s. Bean died from cancer in 1984. Stone and Douglass said they originally invented their Roy D Mercer character in 1990 before his official creation in 1993, and part of the name and lines used in Roy D Mercer’s recordings was copied from John Bean. Roy D Mercer studio albums were released from 1996-2013. There were seven in the “How Big a Boy Are Ya” series. After that, there were five separate unrelated albums. (www.wikipedia.com) And I probably had them all.