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Don Wrege & Peter Boyles - Mediawhore

Peter Boyles and Don Wrege

(TALKERS Magazine - March 2007)

by Don Wrege

An extremely expensive executive counselor once told me that my constant letters to various Denver/Boulder, Colorado newspapers represented, "a sad cry for attention." He suggested I stop, and I took most of his advice; I started calling radio stations instead.

Letters to the editor of any newspaper are what I read first. In the 80s, George Putnam’s Los Angeles “Talk Back” show got me hooked on phone-in formats. As a talk show caller, I treated my bursts of blinding insight or hilarious phrase turns as 2-way spoken letters to the editor. I never dreamed one day I’d be putting them to music.

If greater Denver was a human body and Interstate 25 its spine, I used to work right around the asshole — just about two miles from the Clear Channel “Mothership” on South Monaco. Boulder is 45 miles to the northwest. My morning commute was usually around 90 minutes. I started this long haul in January, 1997 a week after JonBenet Ramsey’s body was found.Don Wrege in TALKERS Magazine

630 KHOW’s Peter Boyles was then, and remains a dominant Denver AM morning voice. I was soon drawn in as I drove, mainly by his relentless focus on the Ramsey case and the bumbling Boulder officials. One morning Peter started singing along with the bumper music, “Werewolves of London,” by Warren Zevon.  Instead of the usual hook, he sang “Werewolf of Boulder.”  Laughing, Boyles said, “That works, somebody ought to do it.”  I figured, why not me?  I had a studio in my basement, been a musician all my life, even got on MTV. Why not indeed.

Out of the blue, Peter received my parody song in the mail. When “Werewolf of Boulder” played for the first time, the phone lines exploded with delighted listeners wanting to hear it again and again.  Singing along with myself as I drove to work was a distinct pleasure — listener reaction my motivator. I immediately came up with a version of Roy Orbison’s “Only the Lonely,” about the Ramsey case, “Only in Boulder.”

Over the next two-and-a-half years Peter and I produced twelve tunes about the Ramsey murder — a virtual “album” that we called “Two Years, No Justice, Twelve Annoying Songs.”  In March of 2000 Boyles let me co-host a show featuring the callers’ own Ramsey songs that he made them sing. Their songs were much meaner than many of ours, and some far funnier. It made for a hilarious two-hour set.

When public frenzy over the Ramseys subsided I assumed my parody “career” was over.  Far from it.  Boulder was to provide much more fodder for mockery. In 2001 El Dildo Bandido (sic) gained national notoriety for stealing 21 life-sized, multi-colored, erect ceramic penises on display in the Boulder Public Library. We were on it with two tunes. The Ward Churchill controversy generated a couple, and last May, Peter took “Jose’ Can’t You See?” my angry answer to the “Spanish language version” of our National Anthem, nation wide.

Working with Boyles evolved from simply sending him unsolicited songs to what Peter refers to as, “calling rattler from the barn.”  He usually begins, “Donnie, I’ve had a brain fart,” then he’ll spit out a song title that matches a hot topic with a golden oldie and the rest is up to me.

When gay prostitute Mike Jones chose Peter’s show to reveal the lurid details of his trysts with New Life Church pastor Ted Haggard, Boyles knew this story was hot as hell. Religion, adultery, lies, hypocrisy, sex and drugs — all it needed was rock and roll.  Peter told me his concept: “Billie Paul’s hit, but it’s ‘Me & Mr. Jones’.”

Peter played the song with Mike Jones in the studio and I held my breath.  “Did you like it?” Peter asked.  Mike replied, “I lost my mother this year. She was a Mrs. Jones of course, and that song was one of her favorites.  I think she’s looking down on me from heaven laughing along. I love it. I want a copy.”

Take it from a confessed mediawhore. If you’re a host or producer and a listener is throwing it at you, and it holds up and the audience wants more, take it. Grow it. All I ever asked for was attention and Peter graciously reciprocated. All Peter wants is to entertain his audience and I’m happy to help. Identify the callers who may have something to offer. Find them, qualify them, then challenge them. You might just transform a chronic like me into a valuable contributor.

Don Wrege is a multimedia producer living in Boulder, Colorado. His songs featured on Denver Clear Channel stations can be found at