Russ Martin dead at age 60

Most visitors to the website probably do not know who Russ Martin was. Russ Martin was a local talent at the freeFM station in Dallas Texas.

For a brief period, Mel Karmazin tried to save CBS radio from itself, until Mel was scared away by the ghost of CBS legendary newsman Edward R. Murrow. He brought controversial people to FM talk radio during an experiment targeted at young men called FreeFM. Howard Stern was to be the morning anchor nationwide, but he signed an agreement to go work at Sirius with his friend Mel and CBS would not release him from his contract.

Most of the last year at CBS, Howard Stern was promoting Sirius, which ultimately resulted in a lawsuit. Sirius eventually agreed to pay CBS $2 million to get the lawsuit dismissed.

Howard Stern had been very successful at Infinity broadcasting, before it was acquired by CBS / Viacom. As an epilog, CBS Radio no longer exists, having been merged into Entercom in 2017.

Without Howard Stern, CBS radio instead chose David Lee Roth, who was an absolute disaster, dooming the entire concept of male oriented hot talk. David Lee Roth had been the lead singer of the rock group Van Halen. My memory is that the shows were as dull as you would expect from a rock singer at 6:00 in the morning. Many days it appeared that he didn’t even show up to work, and they would just play music. The show ended after 4 months.

The freeFM affiliates had some shows they produced themselves, and some they got from the syndication. Penn Jillette, Tom Leykis, Opie and Anthony, Rover’s Morning Glory and Dr Drew’s Lifeline were some of the shows carried by FreeFM.

Russ Martin was the local FreeFM guy in Dallas Texas on KLLI-FM His “hook” was that he had acquired the Batmobile from the TV show and would use it at station promotions. His show eventually moved to iHeartradio’s KEGL-FM, where he had worked prior to joining Infinity Radio.

Russ was not as controversial as Howard Stern, but he was doing broadcast radio in Texas. He was moderately interesting, but not likely to wind up in the radio hall of fame in Chicago. Talking about your batmobile can only take you so far.

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