WDEL-AM radio host Al Mascitti talks about Rick Jensen of New Castle County, Delaware
Photograph by Jared Castaldi
DT: Do you subscribe to The News Journal?
AM: Noooo. I read it online like any intelligent person would. I’m the cheapest person you’ll ever meet.
DT: How much of you on the air is you and how much is it an act meant to entertain?
AM: When I’m not being me, I usually do it in a different voice. A lot of the voices aren’t particularly good or anything but it’s the idea that you’re getting across that you’re speaking in the voice of someone else. I think it’s a way to make clear to people that, here’s another point of view that I’m going to then mock mercilessly.
DT: How do you prepare for the show?
AM: I get up about 5:30 or 6 and then I spend two hours reading, get a shower, then I read some more so that I’m getting to the station just before the show. I think about what I’m going to open with on the drive in. I don’t want to be in the studio because then I start thinking about stuff and it won’t be spontaneous enough for me. People seem to react best when I do a 15-minute essay piece to open the show. It rambles all over because I’m scatterbrained.
DT: Sometimes I would call it a rant.
AM: That’s what people call it. But it’s usually not a rant. I hope there’s more logic behind it than that. Once in a while, when I’m feeling particularly cantankerous, it might come out as a rant, I guess. It’s partly my voice. For one thing, it sounds sarcastic. I hate the sound of my voice. Anyone who wants to criticize me says, “That blowhard. He loves the sound of his own voice.” No. For the record, I hate the sound of my own voice. My problem is I have a sarcastic sounding voice. I think I first realized it when I told my wife I loved her and she smacked me. She thought I was being sarcastic. I just sound like a sarcastic bastard, no matter what I say. I think about this crap and am capable of thinking it in complete sentences. I think that sets me apart from your average American.
DT: How do you truly feel about your callers?
AM: I like to talk to these people and actually get to know them. Normally what happens with these shows is a little cadre develops and the only thing I did that’s different from that is that I got a big cadre of people. I have 30 or 40 regular callers.
DT: Earlier this week you had three callers—I think it was Larry, Darryl and Darryl—and you cut two of them off.
AM: It was weird. That morning, I just did not want to hear people whine.
DT: You told one guy to stop whining, go buy some Depends and wet himself.
AM: I have to restrain myself from insulting people. It’s mean and horrible and comes from some place in the id or something. The good part is, you’ve gotta spice it up with something. I can’t do it now. I can’t fake it. Somebody has to say something that sets me off. And one of the great things you can count on with the general public is that they will. I’m a guy very easily annoyed.
DT: Rick Jensen had some stuff to say about you in the magazine last month. What do you have to say about Rick?
AM: Rick taught me everything I know about radio but I don’t know anything about radio. But he did hire me.
DT: He said that was a dark day.
AM: It might have been for him but it was a very bright day for me. That’s the way it works. One side of the earth is in darkness and the other side is in light. Somebody wins and somebody loses. I won. He lost.
DT: In a nutshell, describe the differences in your political views.
AM: I would say that Rick is a conservative who most often votes with the Republicans. I am a skeptical who votes with whatever party is offering the more fun primary. I switch my voter registration like other people change socks. Myself, I wear the same socks every day.
DT: Who is more intelligent?
AM: It depends on how you determine intelligent. Who is more successful? Rick. Easily.
AM: He knows how to work an angle. He knows how to make a buck. He is an entrepreneur. Rick Jensen is a financial mastermind.
DT: Are you guys friends?
AM: Yes. When we don’t talk about politics, we get along famously. We have the same 12-year-old sense of humor. We both have ADD to a high degree. We’re both fascinated by shiny objects. We both know music. He can actually play it. We both know it the way every radio person knows music. If you have ever met someone who knows a lot of music trivia, the radio station is all of those people. Every person who works there knows music trivia to a level that would amaze a layman.
DT: Who is better looking?
AM: Rick. Easily.
DT: Anything else you’d like to add about Rick?
AM: Things I should say about Rick Jensen ... I don’t agree with him at all on national stuff. But on local stuff, we are remarkably close together. And this guy will give anything to any charity. He gives all kinds of time and effort to all sorts of charities. Rick Jensen is a good egg. When it comes to national politics, he’s bat guano crazy. But when it comes to being a human being, he’s a good egg. I need to say that. Most people think of him as this politically doltish conservative. I do myself. He and I have come to blows a couple of times over politics. I know better most of the time now because he knows some kind of jujitsu.
DT: Did you guys trade punches?
AM: Oh, goodness, no. We are both the kind of people who know how to argue and one thing you can do to intimidate people is invade their physical space. And we both know that. The last time we did this, Rick stood with his nose one-quarter inch from mine and chewed me out, up and down. It was like having a buzz saw go, not all the way through me, just a few inches deep up one side and down the other. And I just stood there and let him finish. And I thought, I deserved that. I said some snotty things. (laughs) I realize it’s kind of fun and it’s a good marketing tool that we don’t like each other, but the fact of the matter is, I do consider him a friend.
DT: What’s next for you? Is radio something you’re going to keep doing for years?
AM: As long as they’ll have me.