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Morning duo works all day to be No. 1


Greg Dwyer and Bill Michaels are the Quad-Cities' top radio morning team, doing the Q-106 morning show. The duo has a reputation for going to great lengths to make people laugh.

Greg Dwyer and Bill Michaels are at ease with each other, their lives, jobs and success.

Those are traits not always found in the ever-insecure business of radio, where paranoia and rampaging egos are king and queen.

The secret to the Quad-Cities' top radio morning team is having fun and making people laugh.

They're good at both.

``Someone's actually giving me money to get up early in the morning and then have playtime the rest of the day,'' said Mr. Dwyer, sporting jeans, half-worn Nike high-tops and an Indianapolis Colts jersey.

``It's a great thing, and it beats having to get a real job.''

The Q-106 morning show is a combination of Dwyer and Michaels' wit and slippery charm, mixed with a healthy supply of antics. The two have no qualms about going to great lengths just to make people laugh.

Add to the mix resident go-fer ``Tatu,'' nuts and bolts man ``Captain Kirk,'' and ``Tara,'' the deep-voiced former Hooter's girl who has brains and good looks. While the other three play solid roles, Dwyer and Michaels are the reason the show goes.

``Yes, we are demanding,'' Mr. Dwyer said of himself and his partner, pals since their college days at Illinois State University. The pair hit the Quads eight years ago after a beginning stint on Peoria radio.

``Basically, though, we are harmless. If we make people laugh, we have done our job. If someone tells a co-worker of something we did today, then we really did our job.''

As those around them see it, the two are easier to work with then they let on.

``Bill and Greg expect you to do your job,'' said Kirk Marskie, who moved with them when they left rival WXLP 97X in March 1995 for KCQQ.

``But they are great guys to work with. Their expectations of you are the same they have of themselves -- high. Just do what you're supposed to do for the good of the show.''

Dwyer and Michaels made huge headlines in '95 when they jumped from 97X to Q-106 and were forced to sit six months because of a ``no compete'' clause in their 97X contract.

They played the ``court'' game and were kept off the air for the half-year, but returned to regain their No. 1 status in the ratings. Since then the two have dusted a pair of new mornings teams hired by 97X in hopes of competing with them, and stayed No. 1 in their morning slot.

``Court scared me,'' said Mr. Dwyer, who worked for Mr. Michaels back in '86 at the ISU station. ``It scared me because they were telling us we couldn't work. We began to wonder if anyone would ever listen, if and when we got back. But they did and have listened, and that's a credit to our fans.

``The stuff about the other morning teams is something we don't think about. We don't hear them, so we don't know. We try to take care of what we do and go from there.''

Although the format of their show is littered with talk -- with numerous gags for the listener -- the two say rock'n'roll is still the backbone of what they do.

``Music is still the key,'' Mr. Michaels said. ``No matter what we do, no matter how funny we try to be, we still have to rely on those folks who like music. That's what it's all about. Some days we won't play as many songs as we would like, and others, we talk for a couple minutes and play a ton of songs. It depends on the day.''

Some think Dwyer and Michaels start the day at 6 a.m., grab a few hours of laugh and fun, then head off to napland. But they rise before 4 a.m., prepare for the show, do it, work on production snippits the rest of the day, and usually make a public appearance that night.

At a minimum, the two, both married (Dwyer has young daughter), have work weeks that stretch into the 60- and 70-hour range.

``We'd rather keep it so people think we just show up, hang out and bolt,'' Mr. Dwyer said. ``What we have to do is part of the job, and that's how we deal with it.''

Spending that kind of time together can be taxing -- even for the best of friends. The two, amazingly, have stayed free of the burnout and petty jealousies that could break up a good team.

``We're used to seeing each other,'' Mr. Michaels said while drawing a connecting eyebrow on Tatu for a promotional stunt he and Dwyer were working up. ``We just deal with it.''

For those who know the pair, it's their lack of arrogance that's their best asset.

``We're aware we have fans, that people listen to our show and we can be recognized,'' Mr. Dwyer said after reading the day's weather. That day he was in the co-pilot's chair while Michaels was running the board. ``We don't for one moment think we are something that can't be replaced and gone tomorrow. Neither one of us have ever seen ourselves as `celebrities.'|''

Time will come when the two outgrow the local market. Although they have no plans to leave, and love what they do, the goal is some day to go to a major market.

``It's a young man's business, but I think we'd like to work in a major market someday,'' Mr. Michaels said. ``We aren't big fans of the syndication thing, because we localize what we do. We don't know if, in 10 years, we'll want to get up at 3 or 4 a.m. and come to work, but getting a shot like that might be nice.''

And would be the Quad Cities' loss.

-- By John Marx (February 2, 1998)

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