HICKS COLUMN: Richard Todd signs off ‘Morning Buzz'
After 21 years in local radio, Richard Todd is, as he puts it, “walking away.”
He will sign off as WTMA-AM's “Morning Buzz” host for the last time today, and you've got to figure that Nikki Haley, Jim Clyburn and Lindsey Graham — or Flimsy Grahamnesty, as Todd calls him — are ecstatic. But a lot of other people aren't.
For more than eight years, Todd has ruled local airwaves with a very popular talk radio show. The best part of Todd's “Morning Buzz” was that he tackled primary local issues. And boy, do we have issues.
On any given day, Joe Riley, Robert Ford or Mark Sanford might find themselves grilled. Or Todd might take the time to berate state laws banning poker, a favorite pet peeve.
He gave a voice to a lot of people screaming to be heard, and the silence he leaves behind will be deafening.
If there is any sliver of an upside to the unfortunate circumstances surrounding his departure, it is that he is going out on his own terms.
You see, in January his wife passed away. Mary Todd, a local school teacher, was a victim of cancer at the young age of 44. And something died inside Richard Todd.
Now, the dream job that he had hoped to keep until he retired — or they fired him, he jokes — is not nearly as important as raising his 9-year-old son.
He is a single parent, his heart is “broken in a million pieces” and this show just reminds him too much of his old, idyllic, life.
Lost the fire
When word started circulating among media types this week, some feared that Todd was going to be another casualty of corporate downsizing.
That's not the case. To their credit, the new owners of WTMA saw the value in Todd and tried to accommodate him, offering a different time slot — anything to keep him on the air. Because, fact is, working a morning drive show is not conducive to getting your kid to school.
Todd said he was flattered, but he said no. The six weeks since he returned to the air in February have been miserable for him.
“It's not just the schedule,” he says, “I just don't have the passion for it.”
That's completely understandable. Todd spoke of his “soul mate” on the air often, keeping listeners up to date on her treatment over the years.
Next to that sort of loss, a high-profile media job just doesn't hold much appeal.
“This is just a job, not a life,” he says.
Real family values
Even when you didn't agree with Todd, you respected his position.
He did his homework and actually understood issues — unlike some people in the biz.
He never used his libertarian/conservative leanings to preach family values. He just set a great example of it. Todd is pure family man, on and off the air. Now his son is his total focus, and that may end up being his best message ever.
“If you want to be sad, be sad because my wife died, not because of a radio show,” he said Thursday. “Be sad that my son doesn't have a mom anymore.”
So, as much as many of us hate to see him go, you have to respect him for making the right decision for the right reasons.
As usual, he knows what he's talking about.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @BriHicks_PandC.