By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published May 16, 2006 at 5:30 AM Photography: Eron Laber

As co-hosts of the city's top-ranked morning radio show, Bob Madden and Brian Nelson spend five hours a day talking to each other, news director Carrie Wendt, producer Eric Jensen and a huge audience listening on The Hog (WHQG, 102.9 FM).

While that makes them worthwhile subjects for a Milwaukee Talks interview, it also presents a problem:

"What are you possibly going to ask us?" Madden asked before the interview. "Everybody already knows everything there is to know about us. We say everything on the show."

It's true. Avid listeners to the show, which is syndicated on Madison's Fox Sports Radio (100.5 FM) and Appleton's The Fox (96.9 FM) already know plenty about longtime pals Madden (45), Nelson (46) and their journey from Union Grove High School to Gateway Technical College to broadcast stops in Melbourne, Fla., Springfield, Mo., Battle Creek, Mich., and Toledo.

But, we still had questions we wanted answered.

What makes this show tick? How has the show -- and the radio business -- changed in the 25 years the two have been broadcasting together? What impact did ESPN "SportsCenter'' host Dan Patrick and the late Channel 12 reporter Duane Gay, another friend from Union Grove, have on the program? What is the "Death City" story? And finally, what will happen when the duo's newly-signed contract extension expires in 2012?

When it came time to sit down with Bob and Brian, we could think of no one better to ask the questions than OMC's senior editor, Drew Olson, who has been a weekly guest on their show since 1998 and has known the two for the better part of his 20 years in journalism.

What follows is a transcript of a 45-minute interview that was robust, breezy and punctuated with laughter -- much like the morning show. Enjoy this edition of Milwaukee Talks with Bob and Brian.

OMC: A little more than a year from now, in July, 2007, you guys will mark your 20th anniversary doing radio in Milwaukee. Any plans to celebrate?

Brian Nelson: Plans?

Bob Madden: We're way too busy working on the Steve Czaban 11th year CD. We're way too busy to think about that.

Brian: We'll get on that.

Bob: No we won't.

Brian: We tried playing some of our old tapes honoring our 20th year in broadcasting.

Bob: If something happens -- if there is a 20th anniversary celebration for Bob and Brian, it'll be done by people on the promotions staff and they'll just slap our faces and names on it. And, we'll grouse about it.

OMC: Twenty years is a long time for any employee to be at one place. In your business, it's almost unheard of. How many people that you work with now were in the building when you first started.

Bob: One person. Marilyn Mee.

Brian: And she's over at WKLH now.

Bob: I bet that, other than Marilyn, there are positions that have turned over 10 or 12 times since we started.

OMC: How many of the Milwaukee program directors can you name?

Bob: All of them. Bruce McGregor. Greg Ausham. John Duncan. Keith Hastings. Mike Stern. Sean Elliot. And now Keith is back again.

Brian: Keith is like counting Grover Cleveland Alexander twice. It's the same guy, different administration.

OMC: In marking a recent anniversary, you played clips of your early years together. How has the show changed since that time and since you brought it to Milwaukee?

Brian: Less preparation.

Bob: Way less preparation. And no music. We used to play six to eight songs an hour. We actually used to do three for Thursdays on our show. We don't play any music. We don't do any bits any more.

Brian: We used to pre-record some stuff or even write some stuff.

OMC: What were some of those bits? I remember the football soap opera "All My Packers" being a big hit. Some of those were pre-recorded, right?

Bob: We did that Andy Rooney thing and "The Hot List." "Women's Problems" was recorded at first, then we got everyone in the room and started doing it live. A lot of that stuff we would do, Brian would run downstairs and do it and we would have (colleague/production man) Scott Stocki come in early and put it together on a four-track. Then, it just got to be easier doing it live. It was funnier. It was more fun to watch.

Brian: We tried doing "The Hot List" live, but it changed. We had a bucket of water and a towel. That stuff runs its course. There are only so many jokes.

OMC: What was "The Hot List?"

Bob: Everyone was doing a hot list back then. What's hot? It was the top five movies, the top five songs, the top clubs ... so, we did our own.

Brian: You have to know some Warner Bros. history. The cartoon where Daffy and Bugs wind up in Nepal or somewhere and they encounter the Abominable Snowman and he talks (effects an accent) like Lenny from "Of Mice and Men," and he calls everyone "George." We started doing things like, "You know what's hot? When the sun has been shining on the chrome by your window on your car, and you roll down your window and set your elbow on that? Gosh, is that hot."

Bob: It got to, "Drinking gasoline and lighting a cigar and your whole head is on fire. That's hot." But, we had a big ash tray. It was copper or tin or something? We'd fill it with about an inch of water and he'd have a sponge and it made the greatest sound of water dripping into what sounded like this huge cauldron. "Gosh, that's hot." It was stupid. It was dumb.

Brian: That was the only bit that we did that resulted in a puddle anywhere.

Bob: It was pre-written, but we actually did it live.

Brian: I found out something, and I would teach this in radio school. I would come upstairs with a recorded hot list or something or some piece of something and I would tell Bob and Marilyn (Mee, the newswoman and sidekick), "This is going to stink. It's going to be awful. This sucks." Undersell it. Then, if it was funny at all, it was way funnier. If you're expecting some super-funny thing and you're just waiting for it to be super funny, it doesn't work. Lower expectations make comedy work.

OMC: Was the show fundamentally the same in all your stops?

Brian: I would say so. We did pretty much the same thing from school all the way through.

Bob: We were in Florida, Missouri and Michigan was in there, too, Battle Creek. We called it summer camp. We showed up in May and left in August. Then we went to Toledo. Those first three or four stops -- until about halfway through Toledo -- I was really nervous about things. I'd say, "We've got to get this just right. It's got to be perfect." Then we got working with a friend of ours, Pat Still, who was like "Boys, it's just radio. It's not that hard." We got to a point where we just said "All right, we'll do what we do." It got to be easier.

Brian: In Toledo, we kind of developed a bit of an attitude because we had management that kind of drove us nuts.

Bob: To be honest, we didn't think they knew what they were doing. We thought they would be the demise of our show, if we listened to them. Luckily, we got together with Pat Still, who they brought in as a consultant. Our first meeting, it was Pat, Brian, me, our general manager and our program director. We sat down in the room, and Pat looks at the general manager and program director and said, "Why don't you guys go get some lunch and we'll catch up to you in about a half-hour." He just dismisses them. They get up and leave, the door closes and he goes, "All right, boys -- here is what we're going to do. It's just us now. We're just closing ranks. It's the three of us. We're not going to listen to anything they say. We're not going to take any advice from them. We're going to do it our way now." At that point, it was like "Boom!" The light went on over our heads.

Brian: Yeah, the chains fell off.

Bob: We did what we wanted and ratings were ridiculously good.

Brian: There wasn't a lot of meddling.

Bob: They tried to meddle after that, but Pat's theory was, "Don't worry about that. I'll give them another problem to solve or you give them a problem to solve." His theory was -- and these were Pat's exact words: "If you don't want the kids to play with the outlets, give them a box to play with." So, he'd give them these phantom problems and kept them out of our hair. That's when the whole thing kind of took off. Then, we got to work with Greg Ausham, who was like Pat Still. He was an in-your-face type of guy.

Brian: Greg was more of a pirate.

OMC: At that time, Lazer 103 was kind of an upstart, underdog station. It had an attitude.

Bob: the one thing I remember Greg said to us: "I want you guys to be the (legendary Chicago radio team) Steve (Dahl) and Garry (Meier) of Milwaukee. I want complaints. If I'm not getting complaints, then you're not doing what you're supposed to do."

OMC: Here is a pretty basic question. Going back to the start of this thing, who was the genius who decided Bob's name should be first? Is that the key to the whole thing?

Brian: We bought it from the "Bob and ... " franchise. There was "Bob and Ray," "Bob and Tom," and then there was "Mark and Brian." Brian was going to come in second, no matter what.

Bob: Brian is secure enough with his position on the show ...

Brian: It's like Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. If your name goes first, you get all the credit. If it goes bad, you get all the blame. I'm a coward, so ...

OMC: The station's flip from "Lazer 103" to "102.9 The Hog" last August created a buzz in the city and it seems to have helped ratings in other parts of the day. What did you think about that, and was there ever a time that you liked -- or even cared about -- the music being played on your station?

Brian: I still have trouble telling people I work at "The Hog," when I'm out in public. It seems kind of weird.

Bob: When you're on the phone and you say, "This is Bob, from the Hog" -- see, you laughed. There are times, I swear, I forgot the call letters until about two months ago. Actually, it was a relief switching the music. The name kind of worried me. Even though we didn't play music, we were affected by how that format had completely burned out. We were starting to see some erosion in our daypart because that format was cooked.

Brian: The closest we've ever come to working at a station where we really liked the music was our first job.

Bob: Because we programmed it.

Brian: After about six months, we were in charge of the music. We'd bring in Bob's albums and play them.

OMC: In preparing for this interview, I tried to Google you guys and there wasn't a whole lot of information considering your status as a top-ranked show. Bob, are you aware that there is a Bob Madden's carpet and tile shop in Dayton, Ohio?

Brian: (Laughs).

Bob: I'm glad to hear that. I hope he's doing well. My wife is from Ohio, I could swing over to Dayton. I've got like a week when I'm supposed to be visiting my in-laws.

OMC: I also found out that Brian got a couple of speeding tickets in the last two years.

Brian: You can Google "Brian Nelson." He was some kind of double-crossing terrorist for the IRA, too.

OMC: There is also a guy named Brian Nelson who is younger than you who is leaving delinquent bills and getting taken to small-claims court all the time.

Brian: That's about right. (laughs). Bob sells carpet and I'm a scumbag. I'm even below the carpet salesman. I'd take the carpet salesman. I get demoted lower than that.

OMC: Are you aware that you have your own Wikipedia entry?

Bob: No. We don't self-promote very well.

OMC: Speaking of the Web, things have changed so much in the last few years. Is the show easier or harder to do in this age? I imagine being able to look stuff up and having the world of reference at your fingertips is great, but years ago you could have killed an hour when something stumped you because you could take calls on it.

Bob: It's easier and tougher, for the same reason. You can get information, but it's available to the audience. When you do a contest, you have to really think through a question so that you don't make it easy for them to just go in and enter the subject of the question and -- boom -- they've got the answer.

OMC: I bet that makes it tougher to do "You Can't Win."

Brian: Yeah, five questions would go in five days now.

OMC: Can you imagine doing a show now without the Internet?

Brian: With the technology we have now, some of the things we did back in the beginning would have been tons easier.

Bob: Especially with .wav files and things like that. The guy who did Forest Gregg's voice lived in Cincinnati. We had to get him stuff a week in advance.

Brian: We had to -- without knowing the outcome of the game -- come up with three different scenarios for the week's episode that would make sense.

Bob: Now, we could do that in two minutes. The guy could just e-mail us the stuff.

OMC: When you first started in Milwaukee, you broke one of the cardinal rules of radio by making fun of the other morning shows in town -- including the team that now resides across the hall (Dave and Carole on WKLH). What is your relationship like today with Dave and Carole and other radio personalities in the city, and how does it feel to have been around long enough that newcomers will probably come on and make fun of you?

Brian: Who is making fun of us?

Bob: When we first got here, we had no money in the promotional budget. We'd just get on the air and try and be better than everyone else. The only way we were going to get attention was to make as much noise as possible. We made fun of Reitman and Mueller, Dave and Carole, Dick and Ellen -- all of them. We said things that -- if Bob Reitman came up and slugged me in the mouth at his retirement party, I'd probably just have to take it. We still wouldn't be even.

Brian: To their credit, those guys have never held it against us.

Bob: Part of it was being young and stupid, too. It was fun, though, I'll say that. Just having complete autonomy and being able to say whatever you want.

OMC: Speaking of the local media landscape, Mike Gousha's recent decision to resign at Channel 4 ...

Bob: Shocking.

OMC: It was shocking, but it also was another reminder how stable this media market is. So many of the morning shows have been around for so long. Now, you're part of that.

Bob: It's a weird city.

Brian: I don't know. Ethnically, it's very German. I don't know if that has anything to do with it.

Bob: Well, I'm German and I think it is very weird. No where else in America is like this. Maybe Detroit. But, it's weird.

OMC: Another thing you heard with Gousha was people saying, "He is so talented and successful here, why didn't he ever go to a bigger city?" How tempted have you been to move to brighter lights?

Brian: Since my son (Nik) was born, I haven't considered leaving. That's about 17 years.

Bob: We've had plenty of calls.

Brian: There were chances between here and there, but we wouldn't do it.

OMC: Would your show work outside of Milwaukee and Wisconsin?

Bob: Yes.

OMC: But, you would lose the "home field'' advantage in a way. You've been the new guys in town before. Is that harder?

Bob: When we left someplace, whether it was on our own or they told us to go, we were both single. We didn't have families. Now, I'd have to sell a house. I'd have to do a lot.

Brian: We're rapidly getting to the point now where we won't have any kids at home.

OMC: Speaking of big-market radio, identify the speaker of the following quotation: "I have no hatred toward them, but I do want to destroy them. These guys are about ready to get their clock cleaned. I think they're going to have whiplash from going 'What happened?' because once people spend five minutes with me and hear the excitement of this show, they can't go back to that 'Hee-Haw' pace. It's Lawrence Welk versus 'Saturday Night Live.' They don't have a chance."

Brian: (chortles).

Bob: That was Mancow, five years ago.

OMC: Correct. When you look at your syndicated competitors, Mancow, Jonathan Brandmeier, Kevin Matthews, Bob and Tom -- nothing has ever worked. Why is that?

Brian: We could tell you, but ...

OMC: Did the competition from outside make you think, "OK, we have to be better?" Did it make you nervous or did it inspire you and give you extra motivation?

Bob: I noticed, but I don't think we changed anything.

Brian: It might get your blood pressure up for awhile, but after awhile you sort of go, "Well, if I beat these guys, they'll just bring in someone else and everyone will be all excited about that for a couple of weeks. Then, we'll crush them and the same thing will happen all over again. After awhile, you just kind of say, "I'm here. I'm doing this job. I'll be here."

Bob: It's always going to be somebody.

OMC: When you are doing the show or thinking about the show, how do you picture your audience? Or, do you?

Bob: It's always a surprise to me when I go somewhere and people say, "I heard you say this and this and this." That always surprises me that people are actually listening to what we're saying because when I talk, I'm talking to Carrie (Wendt) or Brian or Eric (Jensen) or Steve (Czaban) or Gary (Graff). You know that you're on the radio, but you don't think about, "What should I say?"

Brian: The best portrait of our audience is probably the golf outing. We get all kinds of people.

OMC: Yeah, but in that case it's mostly drunken white males, ages 25 to 54.

Bob: We get calls from African-Americans and we get African-American people come up and say they listen, and that always floors me.

Brian: If anybody at all in the African-American community is listening to us, I'm completely surprised.

Bob: Women, too. I said on the air a couple weeks ago, "Women don't listen to us," and we got this flood of calls.

OMC: You mentioned that when you do your show, you're only talking to a handful of people. In your studio, it almost seems like you have an isolated -- I don't want to say a cocoon around you -- but, you've got your inner circle and it's pretty tight.

Bob: That's on purpose, too, trust me.

OMC: How do Eric (Jensen) and Carrie (Wendt) fit into what you do? How important are they in keeping you grounded and keeping the show fresh?

Brian: I, honest to God, feel like the most useless person in that studio. Bob is running the board. Eric is doing stuff. Carrie comes in with news. I get in there in the morning, I get the news services that we get. I read that stuff.

Bob: He does a lot of reading.

Brian: Then, I just react. I hope everyone that does find out what a charlatan I am.

Bob: That's not true. When we do the camping stories or the home remodeling stories, every day there are stacks of stories that he has to go through, which I would never want to do. Eventually, just the ones that he shows me, they all get to be the same. And then it's not funny anymore. He has to read these stories and after he has read 300 of them, he has to decide, "Is that one funny? What makes that one funnier than the other one?" That's hard to do.

OMC: The camping stories reference makes me think of something else: One thing you guys do that some shows do not is take your vacations at the same time. A lot of teams don't do that. Has that ever been hard?

Brian: I pretty much always turn that over to the guy who has the family.

OMC: It seems like when one person is gone, whether it's one of you or Eric or Carrie, the dynamic changes and it's a different show.

Brian: If you take vacation at different times, you have eight weeks a year where you don't have your starting lineup in. That seems crazy to me.

Bob: I have no interest in working with some pseudo guy who thinks he can do a radio show. No thanks. I'm too old to do that. I'm old enough now where I wouldn't be nice to 'em after a couple days if I thought they sucked.

OMC: That's a perfect segue to the next question. In her Milwaukee Talks interview here at in August of 2001, Carrie revealed that you guys treated her like crap the first few months. I'd like to offer you a chance for rebuttal.

Bob: I don't remember that, (to Brian), do you?

Brian: I thought we were just being ourselves. I wonder if she has tape of these things. (laughs) But, if she wants to say that, I'm not going to argue.

Bob: In our defense, we're better people now. I think Carrie got used to being treated the way that she's treated now. Because I don't think we're treating her any different now than when she first got here. She's just used to it now. She's been chased out of the studio and had tape put in her hair. There has been name-calling from time to time.

OMC: Like when you lovingly called her "a booze hag?"

Bob: What did you call her recently? She's no longer a booze hag she's a ...

Brian: Hausfrau?

Bob: A brood mare.

Brian: I don't remember that.

Bob: It's on an album somewhere.

Brian: I hope it's just a case of Carrie getting used to us and kind of waking up and realizing that we don't really hate anybody.

OMC: You mentioned the CD's. That makes me think of two guys who were key in the evolution of this show. The first was (ESPN anchor) Dan Patrick, who was the brother of your station manager at the time and became wildly popular as your "sports guy."

Brian: Our stint with him kind of put us on the map.

Bob: We used to replay Dan in the 9 o'clock hour. I remember when he called me at home and said ESPN won't let him do radio any more. I remember thinking, "Oh, boy. How are we going to fill that hole?"

Brian: But it was just like (tight end) Jackie Harris leaving the Packers, remember? How are we going to replace Jackie Harris. You know what? Czaban is our third sports guy. We're doing fine.

Bob: I like Dan, don't get me wrong. It's a whole different thing we do with Steve than we did with Dan.

OMC: In a way, both Dan Patrick and your show really took off at that point, didn't they?

Bob: Believe me, I'd have rather been on his ship than our's.

Brian: Really? You want to write a book with Keith Olbermann?

OMC: Dan Patrick led to Mark Patrick, who had a good thing going and then left you guys for WQFM.

Bob: I told him not to do it. He was in my car. He was in town and this whole thing with QFM was coming up and he was telling me how much money they were going to pay him.

Brian: He said it was going to change his life. It was life-altering money.

Bob: I said "Mark, you're never going to see all that money. They'll suck you in. There will be nobody over there to work with. It's going to be bad. You won't be making as much money right now, but eventually you will. I begged him, literally. He was in my car and I said "Don't do this. We have a great thing going here."

OMC: Mark Patrick gave way to Czaban, whose segment is hugely successful, too. It's kind of like Spinal Tap changing drummers -- the show just kept rolling along.

Brian: I don't think it seems like we adapt our game to different guests, but when you look at the track record, we must be doing something where we're flexible enough to change things. Dan, Mark and Steve -- those are three different kinds of sportscasts -- but, they've had big fan groups; every one of them.

OMC: Another key guy in the evolution of the show that I have to ask about was your friend, Duane Gay (who died last year after a long battle with cancer). He's been on so many CD's and the bits are so memorable that it seems like he was on the show more than he was.

Brian: He fit in so perfectly. We didn't care how long the story was or what day he came in. It was just, "Come on in and tell your story."

Bob: There was a time when we tried to make it a regular thing "The Rest of the Story with Duane Gay." Our general manager, Tom (Joerres) wanted to make that a regular feature. He knew how good Duane was. That never worked. That's not how Duane operated. He never operated on a normal schedule. Then, he got sick. Then, he got better. Then, he got sick. You just got Duane when you got him. It was always nice to see him.

OMC: During your recent radiothon, I noticed that a lot of the requests for bits with Duane.

Bob: It's huge. The album we did last year, after he passed away, all the money went to the Duane Gay Memorial Fund. I couldn't believe how many of those we sold. It was a limited amount of time and we raised $70,000 or $80, 000. People still ask how they can get one of those.

OMC: Almost the entire time that Duane was sick, you were getting calls about him -- whether it was the "One Question Line" or at different times during the show -- was that ever difficult? When people would bring it up, was it hard to keep your energy up and stay focused when that kept coming up?

Bob: Not on the "One Question Line." The answer was always the same. We'd say, "We'll get a hold of him." Or, "He's getting treatment." The worst day was the day after he passed away. It was awful.

Brian: Yeah, I remember Bob saying, when we listened to one cut and you thought, "You're never going to be able to do that again." You're never going to have a chance to do that story again.

OMC: What other people who have had a hand in your success?

Bob: Tom Joerres, our station manager now and Dave Crowl, who was the station manager when we started. Those guys have been big. Dave Crowl is a big wig at Clear Channel now. I remember he told us two things when he hired us. He said, "Be funny and don't piss off any advertisers."

OMC: We're getting into the home stretch of this interview now. You guys know each other as well as any two humans on the planet. Brian, tell me something that the listeners or even the people inside the cocoon don't know about Bob.

Brian: Well, that's a tough one because Bob pretty much wears his whole life on the outside like a chocolate coating. A lot of people don't know that Bob has some sincere bones in him. Usually, all they get is the bluster but it's not always that way.

OMC: Marilyn Mee calls him the best father she has ever seen.

Bob: That's not true. That's what I was going to say about Brian. He's a great dad.

OMC: Bob, what else can you say about Brian?

Bob: People know that Brian is a good yard-steering guy, but he's also good road steering guy, too. He's an awfully good driver. He saved my life years ago when he was driving.

Brian: I don't get credit for the wheel man that I am.

OMC: When did he save your life?

Bob: What were we -- 18 or 19? That's the Death City Story.

OMC: What's the Death City Story?

Brian: We were coming up some back road from Kenosha to Racine. It was like some winding highway. What were we in, my Vega? We come to this bend in the road and there is a gravel truck passing a car.

Bob: In our lane.

Brian: It was headed right for us. We were going to hit it.

Bob: I thought "This is it."

Brian: Bob is over there and he says "Death City!" I was doing all I can to steer off the road and not get killed. The truck went zinging by. We never really stopped.

OMC: You didn't stop to change your underwear?

Brian: After that moment is gone and you're kind of shaking it out it was like, "Do you know that your last words were going to be "Death City?" Do you realize that?

Brian: Funny to the end.

OMC: OK, we're near the end and yet we have to fast-forward. You are booking your last show. Who are your favorite guests of all time? Who would you have loved to have had on but couldn't? What guests have you had on but would like another crack at?

Brian: Is this like a "Seinfeld"?

OMC: Exactly. When they brought back the Soup Nazi, the Bubble Boy, Jackie Chiles and everybody else. It's your last show: Who are your guests?

Bob: I'm really bad at remembering interviews. I only remember the most recent ones. If you just took a poll of our listeners, they'd say Bobby Heenan was the greatest interview of all time. I thought that was good. It was OK, because he was chatty. But, people -- to this day -- still talk about how great the Bobby Heenan interview was.

Brian: I don't think that has anything to do with Bobby Heenan. It's just how much people like that old wrestling stuff.

Bob: Who would I like another crack at? The author Tom Clancy.

Brian: Tom Clancy, Howie Mandel, Paul Hogan and Gary Shandling were all bad. So was Chris Rock, he sucked.

Bob: You know who was good? Chris Elliott. He was good. I'm bad at remembering old interviews. Put Jenny McCarthy on the favorite list. She's always fun. We've had her on a few times.

Brian: I'd like to have a crack at Charlie Sheen, lately. "What are you thinking, man? What's going on?" I think I'd like to have on Christopher Hitchens. I don't know if anyone knows who that is. He's like a Vanity Fair, Slate, Salon writer. He was pretty much a Trotsky-ite, but he sort of flipped his way of thinking with the terrorist attacks.

I think he'd be interesting for me, personally, because I still don't trust him completely. He's still pretty much of an atheist / socialist. But, I'd like to talk to him.

Bob: Another one I liked was Bernard Goldberg.

Brian: Bart Starr was a good one. Getting Bart Starr to laugh was a highlight of this whole thing.

Bob: I've passed on things because I just wanted to be a fan. I didn't want to meet them or talk to them. I had a chance to have dinner with Don Henley once and I didn't. I knew it was going to be no fun, because he was just going to be ripping on the conservative values. I didn't think that would be any fun.

OMC: It's obvious you guys have a lot of fun and you've gotten to do some cool things. Do you ever have those moments when you're kind of floating above your body, looking down and you are interviewing a cool guest or doing something else and you say "This is pretty cool. We've got it pretty good." Does that ever happen or do you not have time for that kind of reflection?

Bob: I try never to never take that feeling for granted. I said it at Duane's thing when he got the lifetime achievement award for broadcasting this year and how he always used to look around and say, "Can you believe we get to do this?" I said it to (Fox 6 anchor) Ted Perry not too long ago in the studio: "Do you think Carl Zimmerman and Bob Berry ever sat around and had this much fun?" To somebody looking at what we're doing, that's the picture they get. I say that to Ted all the time "I can't believe we get to do this."

Brian: When that last ratings load came in, we were standing around in the studio, me and Bob, and I said, "You know, we've got a pretty good job. Let's not screw this up."

OMC: There is such an effortless air about your show that everybody thinks you have the easiest job in the world and a lot of people think they can do it better. What do you tell those people?

Bob: They're right. Somebody can do my job. Someday, somebody will come along and take that job.

OMC: But nothing is ever as easy as it seems. Other than the early hours, what are the bad parts of your job that people don't see?

Brian: People don't see that when you've got some crappy thing happening in your life, you've still got to go in.

Bob: That's true. Nobody cares. Everybody has their problems and they don't turn on the radio to hear yours. If you do have a problem, you better present it in a funny way or an entertaining way that is amusing to people.

Brian: You have to take your personal angst and turn it into the Richard Lewis kind of comedy.

Bob: You have parents passing away. You have sick kids. You have bills. Who knows what it is? Everybody has their problems. But, nobody cares. They didn't tune in to hear about your problems. They tuned in to get away from theirs.

OMC: Sometimes, though, those problems are funny. If you get bad service at a restaurant, that can be funny. But, you've both had parents pass away, you had Duane's illness, you've had marital strife and problems with your kids. How do you deal with that and still try to be funny every morning?

Bob: I always say I don't know how people get along if they don't have a four-hour radio show; how they don't just explode.

Brian: It's an opportunity to vent.

Bob: When stuff happens to me, and I swear this is true, I can be thinking, "I'm so mad about this right now, but it's going to make a great story (for the show)."

Brian: When I was floating around Castle Rock Lake last summer for hours and hours (a mishap that was chronicled hilariously on the show), I was thinking, "They might not find me today. They might not find me tomorrow. But eventually, they'll find me and it will make for great radio."

OMC: All right, this is really the last major question: Your new deal takes you through 2012. Have you thought about what comes after that? Is there another deal after this one?

Bob: I hadn't even thought about that when we did this (deal).

Brian: Sooner or later, you're not on the lathe of life anymore. You've just got the piece in there and you're turning away and you're in the middle of all that. I don't know how long the people who are at the station now -- every one of them -- from Tom (Joerres, the station manager) to the last guy in promotions is going to be there and I don't know how that changes things.

OMC: So, you're not thinking, "One more deal and we'll take it to the house?"

Bob: I said to Brian, I was thinking in my head one time about how many more contracts we would have to sign to get to a certain age. I remember going into the studio and I said, "What do you think?" I think another 15 years and we can think about cashing this in. My kids will be grown. We'll be getting older. I remember Eric fired back and Brian said, "Bob, if we retire, I'll never leave my house." (laughs).

OMC: When you do retire, will you guys continue live close to each other and get up at 4 in the morning and go to McDonald's and hold court every morning?

Brian: That's what my dad did. Eventually, everyone else will peel away.

Bob: It'll be just be the two of us, talking to each other.

Brian: One of us will have to do a eulogy for the other, somewhere.

Bob: I've actually given Brian a pass. I said, "You'll be far too emotional to do a eulogy at my funeral.

Brian: Yeah, I'll be too broken up.

Bob: Don't worry. You don't have to do it.

Brian: OK. And you don't have to do mine.