Besides work ethic, Taco Bell gave radio host Bert Weiss the ability to roll a mean burrito. “Whenever I walk into a Taco Bell,” says Weiss, “I still think I could do a better job.” Naturally, the lessons he learned in fast food as a teen led him straight to morning talk radio.
But the Bert we hear on our D.C. commute is not the one many of us knew before his move to Atlanta. In 1993 the infamous Jack Diamond employed a fun-loving, wild young man as his producer and partner-in-crime. “When I was first in D.C, I was such a different guy. I was going out every night, I was drinking, I’d come in hung over—I think I was known as the party guy.”
All that changed, as most things do, with an increase in responsibility. Weiss was offered his own Atlanta show in 2001, which would in May of 2013 replace his predecessor’s in Washington.
Yet Weiss still considers himself thankful to have been the student, and it was Jack who spoke a line he would never forget. He used to say, “It would be irresponsible for you to have this kind of voice in the community and not use it.”
“While we can go on the air and joke about a whole bunch of superficial stuff like the Kardashians and reality TV, at the end of the day, I believe what Jack said.”
Bert’s Big Adventure is his main charity, which takes children with chronic and terminal illnesses on an all-inclusive trip to Disney. Then there’s the Big Thank-You, which challenges communities to write notes of gratitude to their troops.
“To look (at me) 16 years later and compare the bios, it’s a totally different guy,” says Weiss. “Now it’s family first.”
He’s also consistent. “I don’t believe in the kind of radio where you’re one person … and a totally different guy off,” says Bert. But with a segment titled “What The @^$# Is That?!”, you wouldn’t anticipate the host to be a father who cries over “The Notebook” and writes lovingly about his son riding a bike. But Bert—on air or off—isn’t easily labeled. Maybe that’s what’s getting him into trouble in D.C. by listeners who want an easy, predictable show.
“Sometimes life is messy,” he says—to anyone who will listen. Between alcoholism, marital struggles and selfishness, nothing is off limits.
Many may find Weiss too inexperienced, racy or unlike Jack to make it big, but his track record speaks volumes. —Anthony Baracat
More Info: Mornings on MIX 107.3 FM; thebertshow.com