On Gene “Bean” Baxter’s final day on the air at KROQ as part of “The Kevin & Bean Show,” emotions were expected to run high, and did — but maybe not quite in the way that was expected when Jim “Poorman” Trenton called in to bid farewell to Baxter, in what was his first appearance on the station’s airwaves since he was fired 26 years earlier for targeting Baxter in a prank gone bad.
Was it a fond farewell? For a few moments at the end, yes, at least as lip service goes. Prior to that, though, were six of the tensest minutes you could ever hope to hear on the radio, amid a four-hour sendoff otherwise devoted to tears, laughs and teary laughs.
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This transfixing reunion was set in motion after Bean took a congratulatory call from the morning show’s newsman of many years ago, “Doc on the Roq,” now an Episcopal clergyman in Santa Barbara, who bantered easily with the duo and in-studio guests Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla, both KROQ alumni. It came up, in jest, that maybe they’d be hearing from “the Poorman” next — in jest because Trenton’s firing was an ugly one, involving Bean in a big way, and landed in court in the mid-’90s, with the radio station prevailing.
And then suddenly it was no joke, as the team, which was about to welcome Dave Grohl onto the show, announced that the Poorman was waiting on another line, and took a voice poll over whether to let the station’s most famously disenfranchised former employee come on.
They did, and things got even realer than anticipated, even after Bean flatteringly introduced Trenton as being “on the Mount Rushmore of KROQ personalities” and “one of the greats who helped build this radio station into the icon it is today. He did not leave under great circumstances, though…”
“Hey, Kevin & Bean, it’s the first time I’ve been on KROQ in 26 years,” Trenton declared. Things quickly took a turn as Trenton was introduced over the air to Carolla, “the man who had you fired so he could steal your radio show” — a tongue-in-cheek reference to the comedian becoming co-host of “Loveline” in 1995, a couple years after the Poorman was fired from the show he co-created. “Thanks a lot, Adam,” Trenton said, with no apparent tongue in cheek. “You owe your whole career to ‘Loveline’ and my show … damn it,” he added, with some apparent bleeping involved.
“I’m simulcasting you guys on my new morning show, 101.5 KOCI. It’s in Orange County. It’s the low power blowtorch. So you’re on my morning show in Orange County,” Trenton announced, plugging his current call letters for not the last time. “You know what, Bean? You should have enjoyed the birthday party… I had my birthday party on your front lawn. That’s how I got fired. I brought 500 KROQ listeners, a couple of birthday cakes, Rodney on the ROQ. We just wanted to have a party with you, and you should have enjoyed the birthday party in the middle of the night in Hancock Park. I just wondered why you didn’t have fun?”
“Well,” said Bean, “I mean, your listeners showed up, and it was clear that you were mad that night, (and) that (is why) you sent people. I’m not saying that you intentionally incited vilence, but… There were fires. People set fire to the front lawn. Somebody drove by the next day Poorman and threw a brick through the front window of my house. These were your people…I’m not saying that that was your intention, but sometimes, just like our president when he riles up his supporters to chant and do bad things, that’s kind of what your audience did — they kind of looked at you being mad at me and thought they were going to get even with me. And I mean, I literally had to move. We had to pack up and move out of that house as a result of what you did on the radio that night.”
Trenton responded, “Well, Bean, I’m sorry about that, honestly. But i didn’t give out your address. I told people to go to the radio station and caravan with me, so we had a caravan of 500 people that came to your house. So I didn’t give out your address…”
“It still ended up with 500 listeners in my lawn. Oh, by the way, they also got into the fusebox and turned off the power to my house while you guys were out there as well. So we’re inside, and people are banging on the doors and banging on the windows trying to get me to come out. We’re sitting there in pitch-black darkness having no idea what was going to happen. It was honestly one of the most terrifying things that we’ve ever lived through.”
Trenton: “And you know what, listen, I truly am sorry about that. But you realize what precipitated that was in the morning, you sent Michael the maintenance man, and Ed, the intern who knew where the key to my house was hidden, and they broke and entered into my house, and I woke up with them in my bedroom. So you started it, dude, and I was just doing a return prank.”
Kevin Ryder responded, “Let me just say this: they were coworkers and you knew them, and they had the key to your place. It’s different than bringing 500 listeners to somebody’s house.”
Poorman: “But here’s the thing, okay — and I agree, I should have not taken 500 listeners there. And I lost 180 grand a year in salary and my gig at KROQ, which in the end, you’ve gotta think that was pretty stupid of me, right?”
Kevin: “But Poorman, just for context here, weren’t you fired at KIIS-FM, weren’t you fired at Star 98.7, weren’t you fired at Power 106 — like almost every radio station you’ve ever worked at, you’ve been fired for doing something dumb. I mean, you kind of have a history of making poor choices.”
Then Carolla jumped in, still stuck on the $180,000 revelation. “Also, Poorman, you got a buck-eighty? They started me at 65!” He demanded to get the former program director on the phone/ “He told me Poorman was making 60!”
“Hey, Adam,” said Trenton, “you’ve always been terrible in comedy, I must tell you.”
Carolla: “I know, I know. That’s why I’m coming on 30 years, because that’s how it works.”
“Your voice is so annoying, you could shatter glass, but other than that, you’re great.”
The hosts regained control, with a plaintive question: “Poorman, why are you still so bitter? Why have you not moved on? By your own admission, you’re very talented; you have another radio show. Why can’t you be happy?”
“No, I just wanted to wish Bean a goodbye on the air, on KROQ, and on my station 101.5 FM,” Trenton said. “Bean, let’s bury the hatchet. I absolutely agree. It’s stupid. Honestly, I have moved on, I honestly have. And I wanted to call in and wish you all the best in England, dude. Seriously, congrats on being in the Hall of Fame [an honor Kevin & Bean will get in New York Friday night] and also 25, 30 years on the air. Any radio guy that can go on the air that long deserves accommodation, regardless. So I’m over it.”
“If you’re being serious about that,” Bean responded, “then I accept your congratulations, and I am very happy to bury the hatchet. I certainly do not want to go through life being mad at anybody. I mean, it was an awkward, uncomfortable thing for both of us at the time. And I wish you success, Poorman.”
“Yeah, and back at you, my man,” said Trenton. “And you have an invitation to come on my radio show.”
Carolla couldn’t resist a bit of knife-twisting, amid the marginally happier ending to the call: “It was the best thing that ever happened to me,” he said.
Afterward, keeping the Foo Fighter on hold just a bit longer, Bean expressed gratitude to his long-estranged former station-mate. “I thought that it was nice that Poorman made the effort,” Baxter said.
“I agree,” Kevin said, “although he did say pretty much the opposite for the first 99%.”
Soon, the blither mood returned as Grohl came on-air, saying he was a daily listener, and urging Bean not to retire — which led Baxter to say he won’t be retiring, as he’s hoping to get a radio gig overseas upon his move to England. “There’s so many more things to drink there,” Grohl said in support — “it’s a perfect place to wind up.” “What if I told you he doesn’t drink?” said Kevin, leading to an exasperated groan from the rocker.
Toward the end of the four hours, Bean, who admitted he had originally planned to take a last day on the air without even telling the audience it was his last day, made another confession: “Can I just say that I was wrong — this is really fun? Having everybody calling in and the boys in the studio, I’m having a good time today.”
And, as they returned briefly to the subject of the unexpected Poorman call, the hosts said it’s unlikely they would have scheduled in that particular call if it had been broached ahead of time, but, said Carolla, it was “cathartic in an end-the-chapter kind of way. I think we would regret it if that conversation didn’t take place.”
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