Riding Out the Storm : Jessica Hahn Debuts as Radio Weathercaster

Times Staff Writer

Dubious local listeners are already calling it "Bimbo Radio."

"I'm a little nervous," Jessica Hahn whispered into the microphone at 5:31 a.m. Monday over KOY-FM (95.5).

Thus began the broadcast career of the 29-year-old former Long Island church secretary, nude Playboy magazine model and one-night consort of ex-PTL televangelist Jim Bakker.

The audience didn't even wait for Hahn's debut as the "Morning Zoo Y95 Weather and Prize Bunny" before attaching the "Bimbo Radio" label to her monotonic style of broadcasting. One listener phoned to call Hahn a "slut" before she even had a chance to predict a 100-degree high for Phoenix on Monday.

"But he called back to apologize," she said later.

As it turned out, Hahn began her 30-day trial as a novelty on KOY's "Morning Zoo" program on pop star Michael Jackson's 30th birthday. Hahn, Jackson and Jackson's pet monkey, Bubbles, all became fodder for drive-time jibes from the "Morning Zoo" anchors, Glenn Beck and Tim Hattrick. The big difference is that Hahn is being paid an undisclosed fee to suffer her abuse.

Phoenix's sixth most popular station (out of 33 AM and FM stations) hopes to catapult into first with the addition of the perky, pouty Hahn, according to station general manager Mike Horne.

The fact that everyone from convenience store clerks to cab drivers to the political cartoonist for the Arizona Republic newspaper has criticized the station for hiring an inexperienced celebrity as its weathercaster doesn't seem to bother Horne.

"It's great!" he said of the "Bimbo Radio" identification that KOY now has attached to its morning drive-time lineup. "It's terrific."

In addition to having a new career that does not always require being a visual sex object, Hahn could be breaking new ground in a broadcast genre that might be termed "aural abuse," judging by Monday's show.

Clad in a Y95 T-shirt, yellow miniskirt and Nike running shoes, Hahn appeared to come closest to showing a little outrage at her treatment when Tim and Glenn played a doctored version of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" in her honor:

"I want Jessica Hahn, when she's got nothing on. . . . Oh please, just one squeeze, I want Jessica Hahn! I want Jessica Hahn."

Though she covered her rosebud mouth in shock, Hahn professed not to be too horrified.

Though performing on radio, Hahn was pancaked and powdered for television in anticipation of a media blitz. She preened her permed auburn hair and ordered camera crews from the major networks and "Entertainment Tonight" not to shoot her from her bad side inside Y95 Master Control.

But her attitude for the most part Monday was deferential before, during and after being made the butt of the "Morning Zoo's" jokes.

"Say hi to Ron and Jerry at Airco," Hattrick ordered.

"Hi, Ron and Jerry at Airco!" Hahn repeated in a clear, unmodulated voice.

She seemed to fit right in with Y95's shift last year from easy-listening instrumentals to the frenetic pop vulgarity of the "Morning Zoo" format. And though listener reaction seemed to bother her a little from time to time Monday, Hahn predicted a future for Bimbo Radio as certain as Arizona's continued hot spell.

She just wishes the audience acceptance of her transformation from Jessica the Sex Object to Jessica the Deejay would move along a little more quickly.

"Oh, sure," she said sarcastically to Hattrick after he had taken a nasty listener's call in the studio. " 'They'll lighten up,' you said. I won't be able to show my face for six months."

Another call came in from a man who claimed to have been a member of the Full Gospel Tabernacle Church choir back on Long Island, where Hahn recently said in a published interview that she was both secretary and mistress to the pastor for several years. Hahn listened to "Morning Zoo" producer Tony Angelo say the caller's name and then she pantomimed a phone hang-up. Angelo suggested that the alleged choir member attempt to call back later in the program.

Throughout the morning, while the records played or during news breaks, Hahn did interviews that generally went the same as this exchange with a local television reporter:

Reporter: "Well, Jessica, are you a radio veteran yet?"

Jessica: "These guys are pros. This is radio. This is fun! Oprah Winfrey, eat your heart out!"

And so it went until the show ended at 10 a.m. By 10:30, she was off to yet another TV interview show talking with yet another talk show host about her newfound career as a broadcaster.

In the hallway outside Y95 Master Control, one KOY veteran complained about the inequity of the broadcast profession. He pointed to the fact that he once had been recognized by his peers for his own broadcasting achievement by being given a national award.

He shook his head sadly as Hahn bounced toward the control room door.

"And I didn't even get one line in a newspaper," he said. "Tell you what: I should have gone out with a preacher."

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