Friday, March 16, 2012


c. 2012 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to Readers: Fourteen years have passed since ‘Thoughts At Large’ first entered the lexicon of Geauga County. Thanks to patient support from this newspaper, the series has endured and evolved from its humble beginning as a personal reflection on everyday habits. But while the debt of gratitude owed to this journal might be obvious, another figure has helped inspire the column, indirectly – Mike Trivisonno.

His name is well known to radio fans across thirty-eight states, and half of Canada. He is authentically larger than life, with a tenth-grade education and lots of street smarts, for good measure. His bread-and-butter is promoting verbal conflict, on-the-air. No one ever accused him of being overly sensitive.

He is WTAM’s flagship personality.

What follows here is a short reflection on his fame as a genuine Cleveland hero. I offer it with gratitude, and respect.

ANTI-HERO? (May, 2008)

He is huge.

There's no escaping that first impression. Trivisonno is a bombastic, overgrown oaf in sunglasses and attire rescued from the laundry hamper for a second go-round at being worn in public.

He is loud and uncooperative. His rants about Program Director Ray Davis are the stuff of legend. But everyone in Cleveland knows that he is an unrepentant foot soldier for the everyman.

In reference to fans: he is glad to have 'gotten over' in an industry dominated by chaos, and marketing bullcrap. Triv invites lesser on-air celebrities to eat his dust.

In reference to detractors: he knows you don't like him. He doesn't care. He suspects that you are jealous of his success as a blue-collar hero. That validates his considerable ego. Trivisonno is Joe Six Pack with a winning lottery ticket. Short on pedigree, long on savvy. His personality is a bi-polar dance between exuberance and scorn. Yet he remains pure, like rough-hewn lumber or forged steel.

Triv doesn't just speak for us - he IS one of us.

We are Cleveland. We are cranky, under-appreciated, overworked, wrinkled blobs of humanity. We distrust government, but cling to the flag and our bibles. We drink, smoke, and gamble while we pray - not always in church, but religiously in front of the television. We pray for an elusive sports championship in football, baseball, or basketball. We pray for hope amid construction, neglect, and mismanagement.

Triv is our mouthpiece. He says what we'd like to say. He offends those we'd like to offend. He offends even those on his side of an argument. But it's all part of the formula. It works.

I met Trivisonno in Painesville, in the 90's. He was an unmistakable figure: long, shaggy hair, pro-wrestler sunglasses, a Hawaiian shirt unbuttoned to his belly, wrinkled beach shorts, and sandals. We shook hands after I pretended to know him. It was a close encounter with lightning-in-a-bottle. His personality seemed authentic, captivating, and proletarian.

In my own mind, the legend became flesh-and-blood on that day.

We met again a decade later, during a station tour provided by Monsieur Davis. Triv was surrounded by his troupe of radio performers. Marty Allen, Paul Rado, and Alison. Mark Schwab popped up in a sound booth, going over a sports report. The air crackled with improvisational magic.

Is Triv an example of success through smoke-and-mirrors? Maybe. Or perhaps he wants you to believe in the miracle of a guy from the street gettin' paid. The truth? He works hard to assemble each show. His contacts around the Northcoast are many. It may look easy, but YOU couldn't replicate his success.

Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Believe what you want. Just keep listening.

Postscript: Triv has survived everything - even losing sports teams, and the revision of his supporting cast. In an industry where heroes fall on their swords and ratings numbers are fickle, he continues to win. In a sense, he gives listeners the Superbowl, NBA Championship and World Series experiences that we have never known. Each moment before the microphone is a victory lap for him, and for the everyday people of northeastern Ohio.

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Blogger unigami said...

Awesome tribute. When I first started listening to Triv I formed a mental image of him based on the sound of his voice. Usually when I do this to a radio personality I find myself to be pretty far off the mark when I finally see them, however with Triv, this is one of the few cases where the voice matches the body to a T. The guy is authentic thru and thru.

8:34 AM  

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