One of the first times I hung out with Richard Todd was on a road trip in 1993. Richard, Jim "The Critic" Voigt, and I were on our way to see Paul Westerberg of the Replacements in Raleigh, N.C. At the time, Richard was part of the Taylor and Todd with the Critic morning show on 96 Wave along with co-host Atom Taylor. I was an 18-year-old kid just out of high school who thought it was cool to hang out with some of the DJs at the hottest radio station in town. I also thought it was pretty cool that these guys were my friends. I still do.
By 1999, the Critic had a popular afternoon show on 96 Wave and gave me a shot as the "Southern Avenger." During Jim's show, I would deliver conservative political commentary in between Weezer and Pearl Jam songs. It was certainly an unconventional concept, but the Critic — whether he actually recognized something in me, was just a really good friend, or had gone completely crazy — had me on his show until 96 Wave ended in 2007. I honestly don't know what I would be doing today if it weren't for the Critic giving a loudmouth kid a chance. For this, I will be eternally grateful.
And as a loudmouth adult, I'm certain I wouldn't be doing conservative punditry at the level I am today if Richard Todd had not brought me to WTMA and The Morning Buzz in 2007. It was also Richard who put in a good word for me to the City Paper, suggesting that I might be a replacement for departing conservative columnist Michael Graham (also one of Richard's best friends). And it was Richard who taught me, whether intentionally or unintentionally, to take my craft to the next level, to understand my audience better, and, most importantly, to stick to my guns no matter what. Richard made me a better commentator in countless ways and certainly made me a more legitimate one. For this, I will be eternally grateful.
Most of the Lowcountry knows Richard because he has spoken to them nearly every morning on the radio for two decades up until his final day as the host of The Morning Buzz last Friday. But perhaps there are some things you don't know about Charleston's most popular morning radio host.
When Richard speaks to people one-on-one, he always asks about them first. I can't remember a personal chat with Richard in which the conversation didn't start with what I might be doing, how I was doing, what was going on, etc. Even when Richard would update me last year as he went through some of the toughest moments of his life, he would always start by asking me what I was doing first. That's a toughness I admire. And though Richard and I both know that he is no angel — see the aforementioned Raleigh road trip — he possesses a certain selflessness that often goes unnoticed.
Richard has always valued his independence. He would always tell the Lowcountry what he thought they needed to hear whether they liked it or not. The storied completion of I-526 or South Carolina's stupid gambling laws — these two issues alone earned Richard as many enemies as friends. Whenever I would say something crazy on the air, even when Richard might have disagreed, he would never discourage it. For some talk hosts, just being loud and obnoxious is how they define good radio. Richard doesn't mind occasionally being loud or even sometimes being obnoxious — that's part of the terrain in talk radio — but there must be substance behind it. It must be honest. It can't just be radio "shtick." We've talked about this countless times, and Richard's realness has always been a big part of what has made him a success. Richard's fierce independence has always been an integral part of what has legitimately made The Morning Buzz Charleston's meeting place.
I would need an entire book to tell you all the ways in which Richard has been so good to me, both professionally and as a friend, and how much he appreciates the listeners who've followed him throughout the years. It was a big party when we first met two decades ago and it's still a party. Richard is simply moving on to the next one.
Charleston's airwaves will never be the same, but thankfully, Richard Todd always will be.
Jack Hunter assisted Sen. Jim DeMint with his latest book, Now or Never: Saving America From Economic Collapse. He is also the official campaign blogger for GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, and he co-wrote Rand Paul's The Tea Party Goes to Washington. You can hear Southern Avenger commentaries on The Morning Buzz with Richard Todd on 1250 WTMA.