|KROQ's Lisa May|
On February 20, the hosts of The Kevin & Bean Show (a popular morning radio program on Los Angeles' KROQ station) had their New Coke moment. They told listeners that they had decided to discontinue news and traffic and would be letting go their newsman Doc on the Roq and the show's popular female personality (and traffic reporter) Lisa May (for the backstory, click HERE and HERE).
Since then, fans have been extremely outspoken about the changes (many deciding to change stations and abandon the show altogether). Sadly, the radio hosts have tried to dismiss the backlash as feedback from a "vocal minority," but longtime fans of the show know better.
Today, I could not be more thrilled to bring you the very first, post-firing interview with Lisa May herself. She talks candidly about her removal from the show, the incredible fans, Boner (her dog), the studio cats, and the future of Lick Lisa.
Q: When it was announced that you'd no longer be with the Kevin & Bean (K&B) show, your fan base bombarded social channels to say how upset they were about the decision. Were you surprised by the outpouring of support?
Lisa May: I thought there would be some reaction, of course, but I honestly had no idea that people would react so strongly. It was amazing and wonderful and probably kept me from crawling into bed and pulling the covers over my head for several days.
Q: It was the universal consensus among fans that you were more than the traffic reporter on the show, but a full-fledged member of the morning team. Do you feel as though the K&B show undervalued the contribution you made to the program?
Lisa May: The whole reason K&B brought me into the studio from the Metro Traffic studios (aka Total Traffic) was because I was already functioning as more than a traffic reporter on the show. No, I believe they thought of me and treated me as a full-fledged member of the show. But they clearly miscalculated my impact on the show based on their decision to let me go and the fact that they were so unprepared for the reaction they got.
Q: Do you think it's a fair assessment to say people in Los Angeles don't need traffic reports on the radio?
Lisa May: No, I think that's ridiculous. Waze is fine, but I only use it if I'm in the car with someone else. It's really dangerous to try to drive and use Waze. All the other morning shows still do traffic. I listen to traffic reports when I get in the car, and a lot of listeners have told me they really miss the reports, and that they saved them from getting stuck many times.
Q: Are you currently on friendly terms with Kevin, Bean, and Ralph? Any hard feelings?
Lisa May: Both Kevin and Bean have reached out. Kevin sent me an email the day after I was let go and we wrote back and forth several times. He clearly feels very bad about how everything went down. Bean sent me a card on Taylor Swift stationary expressing the same thing and asked me to call him. I gave him a call last week and he said the same thing as Kevin, more or less. Then we discussed Downton Abby, like we do.
Q: Fans were shocked/hurt/outraged when Ralph started blocking them on Twitter for supporting you. How did you feel about that?
Lisa May: I was pretty shocked, too, and I think it just inflamed already hurt feelings even more. I imagine he wasn't expecting the listeners to respond the way they did, and didn't really think it through - just reacted. I believe he addressed it the following week on the air and said he was just protecting himself from the angry messages.
Q: Bean likened your departure to Saturday Night Live, with people coming and going from the show. Do you think that's an accurate comparison?
Lisa May: No, I don't. And that comment was a little upsetting. Obviously when Jimmy Kimmel left and Matt Money Smith and Psycho Mike left, they made the decision to go. And they were and still are loved and celebrated, and welcomed on the air and at KROQ shows. I, on the other hand, will never be welcomed to go on stage at an April Foolishness to introduce an act. So bad comparison, Bean!
On the other hand, if he's just referring to the show, then yes, people have come and gone and the show has survived just fine. And I'm sure it will survive my departure as well, although a lot of listeners have left.
Q: Have you listened to the new show with Allie MacKay? Do you believe there is anything she's bringing to the show that you couldn't have, given the opportunity?
Lisa May: Any new person will bring new things to the show, just by virtue of being a different person and having different interests and strengths. I listened the first few days that she was there, but she was just finding her way at that point, so she can't be judged based on that. I haven't listened since then so I don't know what she's bringing to the table.
Bean did tweet a response to a listener the other day that I thought was interesting - the listener said they were upset I wasn't there, they didn't enjoy the show as much, and they weren't going to listen anymore. And Bean's response was "the show is 98% the same" which begs the question - two questions really - was my impact only worth 2% and if the show is going in a new direction, why is it still 98% the same?
Q: Not only are listeners upset that you're no longer with the program, most feel you weren't shown the respect you deserved (especially after being with the show for 24 years). Do you think there were things within K&B's power that they could and should have done differently? If so, what?
Lisa May: This type of thing doesn't happen in a few days. Meetings have to happen, contracts have to be negotiated. I believe this all started at the beginning of 2015 - maybe even before that. There was plenty of time to discuss how they wanted this to play out, but I don't think that happened. I know they felt really terrible about the way it all went down, but based on our friendship, I think they could have come to me. They said that the lawyers told them they couldn't and I'm sure that's true, but they know me well enough to know I wasn't going to sue or say something before it all happened.
But the way this played out, although I've done nothing wrong, it's like I left in disgrace. And even going back into the station would be incredibly uncomfortable, though I have friends who work there.
Q: Many devoted fans and longtime listeners are boycotting the K&B show due to your departure. Countless others say the show has lost that something special it once had. What would you like to say to your hardcore supporters?
Lisa May: Those wonderful, amazing people have truly lifted me up and I'm trying to get back to each of them individually to thank them (I'm still not caught-up on that but I'm determined to do it). Rather than leaving the show, feeling like I failed in some way, they've helped me to feel like I have a place in L.A. radio and their response has led to some programmers in town getting in touch with me to see what I might want to do next. So whatever my next job is - I know it will be thanks to all the wonderful love and support I've gotten from listeners.
Q: What, if anything, do you miss most about being a part of the K&B morning program?
Lisa May: I miss the camaraderie. All the inside stuff that happened before the mics were turned on. Also, meeting all the guests and not only what they said on the air, but the delicious stuff they said off the air. I can never repeat any of it, but the juicy gossip was so much fun! And meeting all the listeners at the shows was always a blast. We never got to do enough of that.
Q: If asked back to the show, would you go?
Lisa May: No. It would feel like a step backwards. I'm looking forward to doing something that challenges me in new ways, and lets me fully express myself.
Q: With unemployment comes a clean slate. If you could do anything for a career now, what would it be and why?
Lisa May: Initially, I thought about doing something different - everyone knows how much I love animals and I considered doing something that involved dogs. And I've thought about other things, too. But I got to guest-host on the Phil Hulett and Friends Show last week and it reminded me of how much I really do love radio. It's for the same reason that I love theater - it's live and anything can happen, and often does. So my hope is to stay in radio. I'm really thinking about the kind of show I want to do, and talking to some people who are interested in my plans.
Q: Listeners know you looked after the cats near the KROQ studio. What's going to happen to the cats now?
Lisa May: When I went into the station to get fired (or laid off, as they say) I knew what was going to happen although no one had actually told me at that point, so I brought all the cat food I had in my car. And after the "incident" I took the food into Aissa Juarez's office. She's the marketing director and a huge cat love. I left the food on her desk and sent her an email when I got home asking her to make sure they were fed and watered every day. I really miss those little buggers!
Q: What does Boner think about your new schedule and you being around early in the morning?
Lisa May: He's in my lap right now. Under my sweatshirt. That's how he spends every morning and he seems very happy about it.
Q: With Beer Mug out of the picture, is your boyfriend poised to take over Lick Lisa duties?
Lisa May: He always has, and no pesky rules. :)
Q: When fans look back on your time with the K&B show, what do you hope they remember about you?
Lisa May: From what they've expressed, I think I'm very happy about the way I'm already being remembered. Listeners say I was always happy to meet them and talk to them, I who responded to their emails - be they complaints or words of praise. I spoke up on the show when the guys were getting stupid and ridiculous and put them in their place. I wasn't afraid to make a fool out of myself (let's remember the Linkin Park - "shut up when I'm talkin' to you" scream), and I loved to laugh. A lot.
Q: Any final words?
Lisa May: The ugly ending can't erase 24 years of time spent with wonderful, funny, talented people. And also K&B. Just kidding!
But seriously, I'm really grateful for my time at KROQ - I always knew I had an amazing job and never took it for granted and I knew we had the best listeners ever. And now I know I have many, many wonderful friends - most of whom I've never even met - who are rooting for me and are excited to hear about what's next in my life. It doesn't get any better than that!
Be sure to follow Lisa May on Twitter to stay connected and hear about her future projects. Also, you can hear Lisa May on the Alison Rosen is My New Best Friend podcast, available for download on Monday, March 23.
UPDATE: Lisa May will be stopping by the Heidi and Frank Show on KLOS this Tuesday morning, March 24.