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Monday, May 20, 2024 - 08:36 AM


First Published in 1994


“The Boys Are Back in Town” - Gallagher and Hudson are Back Where it All Started 35 Years Ago

Mike Gallagher at WORD
Mike Gallagher was in the 98.9 WORD studio this past Tuesday, his second day back on the air in Greenville, with “The Mike Gallagher Show.”
Photo by James Spurck

In 1989, when talk show pioneer Rush Limbaugh had already been on syndicated radio for a year in Upstate South Carolina, local talk radio host Mike Gallagher was added to the local lineup from 10 a.m. to noon as the lead-in to the Maharushi.

After gaining popularity on the original WORD (WFBC) local station, “The Mike Gallagher Show” became nationally syndicated. Gallagher was promoted to New York City, and the Greenville local station became one of his first affiliates.

After many years, the company that Gallagher worked for acquired the former WMUU radio station in Greenville, which was previously owned by Bob Jones University.

“It's a wild ride,” said Gallagher, “and, in fact, a lot of the radio trade publications are very interested in this story because it doesn't happen this way very often.”
Mike Gallagher

The company leaders met with Gallagher to inform him that, despite his current success with a 14-share rating on WORD, they needed to transfer him to the new station (WGTK). His long-time friend Joey Hudson was the morning talk show host there, and local TV news reporter Jane Robelot was also added to the lineup.

About eight years later, Salem Radio Network decided to sell its Greenville station and change their overall format. This prompted both Gallagher and Hudson to believe that their radio careers in Greenville had come to an end.

However, the owner of WORD had other plans. Leaders from Audacy reached out to Gallagher and Hudson, expressing their interest in having both of them join the WYRD-FM “News/Talk 98.9 WORD” team. Audacy informed them they were a great fit for the market, had a strong following, and were ready to negotiate a deal.

“It's a wild ride,” said Gallagher, “and, in fact, a lot of the radio trade publications are very interested in this story because it doesn't happen this way very often.”

Signing ketchup bottles

Decades ago, Gallagher was famously known for being heavily involved with the community, much like Limbaugh’s successful “Dan’s Bake Sale” in 1993. Gallagher frequently took his show out to the streets with stunts, involving his listeners and having them interact with the show.

Gallagher and Hudson recalled a memorable event that occurred years ago on the corner of Laurens Road and Haywood Road. The event was an on-location broadcast featuring Gallagher, morning show hosts Lisa Rollins and the late Russ Cassell, who was dressed up as a clown.

Gallagher signed Hunt's ketchup bottles during the broadcast to protest then-Democrat Senator John Kerry's liberal political stance. Kerry, who was married to Teresa Heinz, the heiress of the Heinz family, was often jokingly associated with Heinz ketchup. Hudson noted that he still has one of those bottles today.

Gallagher expressed how much he missed the community interaction during his Greenville days. Although he is now syndicated on national network radio, he emphasized that he will be visiting Greenville every few weeks to do his show here, implying that some of that community involvement is coming back home. He called it “the best of both worlds.”

WORD's new powerhouse lineup

During the interview, Gallagher made it clear that he identifies himself as an outsider, similar to Donald Trump and the MAGA movement. According to him, as a populist radio talk show host, he differs from his peers in that he welcomes calls from his audience and strongly believes in giving them a voice. His show is caller-driven. He takes pride in providing a platform for people to express their views on politics and the current landscape, a platform that they might not have otherwise. In a nutshell, he champions the idea of empowering people through their voices.

Not too long ago, many people were concerned about the future of conservative talk radio in the Upstate. The passing of Cassell and Limbaugh, along with Lisa Rollins leaving, had left a void. Afternoon drive-time host Bob McLain kept things going, although many listeners wondered if he would be retiring soon.

It was not looking good for upstate conservative talk radio, but then, Tara Servatius started her morning show and became a big hit. At the end of 2020, McLain announced his retirement and was replaced by the highly popular award-winning talk show host Charlie James. Dana Loesch was chosen to fill the 12-3 slot but was later replaced with Eric Erikson. Charlotte-based Vince Coakley manned the late-morning airwaves.

Coakley never seemed to catch on with the Greenville market, however, and was replaced last year by local host Bill Frady, who already had a Second Amendment-themed program on WORD called 'Lock and Load.' His morning show, dubbed 'Straight Talk,' has been going strong ever since.

Erikson was the next to bid adieu to the Greenville airwaves. Apparently, he was not catching on with the conservative audience in Greenville, either. A few weeks ago, it was announced that there would be a major shift on 98.9. Gallagher would be brought in to fill Frady's 10-12 slot. But what of Frady? Where would he go? He was promoted to Erikson's slot, gaining a third hour in the process.

Volatile political scene in 2024

With those additions and now adding Gallagher and Hudson to the already dynamic lineup, it was perfect timing, considering the country's highly volatile situation, not to mention the turbulent local and state politics, and South Carolina is right in the thick of it.

“South Carolina is always in the middle of every political story. No matter where I go we are always watching Palmetto State politics.”
Mike Gallagher

“South Carolina is always in the middle of every political story. No matter where I go, we are always watching Palmetto State politics,” said Gallagher. That puts conservative talk radio in South Carolina in a perfect spot for him.

Being on a national network with 300+ stations and closely connected to upstate conservative talk will help Gallagher on the national level. He said that in an election year, talk radio is where people go to learn about the issues and get informed about the politicians and candidates, especially during these unprecedented times, when former president Donald Trump's enemies are trying to interfere with the 2024 election by having the 45th President chained to a courtroom to keep him from meeting with voters on the campaign trail.

“It is disgusting, it is appalling, and it is un-American. It is one of the biggest displays of election interference I have ever seen,” said Gallagher.

Gallagher says that his responsibility is to inform, enlighten, and ensure that people know the truth. He said he is blessed to have a platform with a great team at WORD. He expressed how WORD is one of the finest-sounding radio stations in America. He says their lineup and package make it a great radio station. WORD's signal reaches across much of South Carolina and sizable portions of North Carolina and Georgia.

Even his boss in New York expressed how he thought it was a big-sounding quality radio station. Gallagher and Hudson consider themselves blessed to be a small part of the WORD experience.

Gallagher noted that about 90% of radio stations are still on the AM band, which makes WORD unique as a radio talk powerhouse. It is part of the 10% that uses FM and has a large frequency footprint, recently increased to 100,000 watts. He said that conservative talk radio is vibrant and compelling. It is interactive and is here to stay. He said no podcast or TV Station can replicate that, adding that there is nothing like being live and talking with the community.

Not all Sopranos sing in the choir

Gallagher related an embarrassing moment that sometimes comes with being live on the radio with the audience. Years ago, he was talking on the air about the HBO series The Sopranos. He admitted it was edgy and dealt with adult themes regarding the Mafia.

A month later, Gallagher received a call from a little old lady in Akron, Ohio. She was furious with him and said she would never listen to him on the radio again after what he had done to her. He asked, on live radio, what he had done to her. She replied that he had told her on the air about this show, The Sopranos.

Gallagher chuckled as he concluded the story. The woman went on to tell him that she had subscribed to HBO because she just knew that the Sopranos had to be a good show about a church choir. She was shocked that, instead of hearing a lovely-sounding choir, she was confronted with violence, murder, and bloodshed. Oh well, you can't please everyone.

Gallagher claimed that the biggest challenge now with live radio is dealing with what Rush Limbaugh termed “seminar callers.” These are operatives who call and claim to be calling about a certain subject or identifying as the opposite of what they truly are. Such trolls have increased, he said, and they try to create a “gotcha” moment on live radio to embarrass the host. He said the 10-second delay helps with that, and the listeners do not even know it happened in most cases.

Joey Hudson will be hosting the “Sunrise Carolina with Joey Hudson” every weekday morning along with “The WORD on the Street” as a magazine show running Saturdays from 12-1 p.m.
Photo by James Spurck

A friend sticketh closer than a brother

As for his long friendship with talk radio cohort Joey Hudson, Gallagher was asked how they became so close professionally and personally. He said their friendship has lasted thirty-five years because Hudson has always been there for him. He said that he and his wife, Denise, along with Hudson and his wife, Peg, have traveled the world together. Later, when his wife was ill with cancer and passed away, Hudson was right in the middle of that, helping with everything and making arrangements.

Gallagher considers Hudson a blessing and said his children have commented that everyone should have a “Joey Hudson” in their lives. He expressed how they have been through good and bad times together, making the WORD launch so special. He said this is a package deal they are getting and that he and Hudson are excited about this next chapter.

Unity or division

After responding to a question about where he fits in the new WORD lineup, Gallagher said he sees himself as a good cross between Servatius and James. He likes Frady and his defense of the Second Amendment. He admitted that he has, at times, some sharp elbows and can be thin-skinned. He said he is emotional but has been doing talk radio for a long time. According to him, he has had over forty years to perfect his craft and has received the title “the Happy Conservative Warrior.”

Gallagher, having been asked about the division within the local and state Republican Party in South Carolina, responded by admitting that he has been studying it and watching it unfold. He acknowledged that this friction among Republicans is not unique to South Carolina.

Gallagher expressed his frustration and exasperation that the Democrats are always unified and circle their wagons, but Republicans cannot seem to do the same. He doesn’t want to beat up a Republican, he said, but sometimes a Republican must be called out if they step into it.

Hudson told us that when he was chairman of the Republican Party in the 1980s, the Republican Party was unified, and the Democrats were in a mess. That is how the Republicans got in control while Democrats were infighting. He stated that he believes the tables have turned, and now he is afraid that if Republicans keep this infighting going, the Democrats will start rebuilding their majorities. He said that it is possible for South Carolina to be taken back by the Democrats and go far left.

Moving forward

The hope is that this new talk radio lineup, which was already strong and just this week got even stronger, will help bring voices back together and become a beacon of truth and patriotism that will last for decades as conservatives fight one of the hardest battles yet during this highly unstable political election year. Gallagher and Hudson plan to play their roles now that they are back in town, where it all started.

So, thirty-five years later, after going national and appearing multiple times as a FOX News contributor and guest host, Gallagher is back in the same time slot where it all started for him so long ago. His close friend and cohort, Joey Hudson, will start each weekday from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. with the “Sunrise Carolina with Joey Hudson” program. Hudson will also be hosting “The WORD on the Street” as a magazine show running Saturdays from 12-1 p.m. Gallagher said that Hudson will also be playing a role on his Mike Gallagher Show every morning, doing a segment at 10:35.

The following is 98.9 WORD’s new weekday lineup:

5:00 a.m. – 6:00 am: “Sunrise Carolina with Joey Hudson”

6:00 a.m. – 10:00 am: “The Tara Show”

10:00 a.m. – 12:00 pm: “The Mike Gallagher Show”

12:00 p.m. – 3:00 pm: “Straight Talk with Bill Frady”

3:00 p.m. – 7:00 pm: “The Charlie James Show”

Listeners who live too far away to pick up 98.9's strong signal can listen nationwide on the Audacy app and website. Fans can also connect with the station via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram