ORLANDO, Fla. – Russ Rollins has been the voice behind ‘Monsters in the Morning’ for decades, but he says the radio show was almost snuffed out before it ever became a true staple in Central Florida.
He told Matt Austin and Ginger Gadsden on Florida’s Fourth Estate he didn’t understand the weight of his words when he first began his career.
Early on he said he was involved in a controversy surrounding a man who was murdered in prison.
Rollins said he had an author on his show who wrote a book about the sexual assault and murder of Ursula Sunshine Assaid.
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“It is a horrific, true story of this 8-year-old girl who was tied up to a tree, starved to death, and the mother didn’t do anything because she was afraid to say anything. And the boyfriend is the one who murdered the kid. Terrible, terrible story,” he said.
Rollins said he was upset the man was set to get out of prison soon and started reading detailed passages from the book of the man’s crimes on the radio.
“(I was) trying to make the point that he should never get out of prison, not realizing that he was in prison in our area. And all the inmates were listening to the story. So, one of the prisoners goes out into the yard gets a horseshoe stake beats the hell out of him and said, ‘I’m doing this for Russ and Bo,’” he said.
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Rollins said people started talking about the murder across the nation.
“They were like talk radio committed a murder,” he said. “The media was really trying to make us look really, really bad. And we were in huge trouble there,”
He said while his show was in the spotlight, he started a petition to change how child molesters are sentenced in Florida.
“We thought it would be the right thing to do if anyone molests a child, they should be chemically castrated. So we got 80,000 petitions signed,” Rollins said.
Rollins said the law was changed, but since then it has only been used twice.
Looking back at the situation Rollins said “it was a little overboard probably”, but calls the experience “insightful.”
He added this wasn’t the only time he had to learn to curb his tongue and his actions. Not long before the prison attack, the shock jock said he was trying a new approach to fundraising.
“I saw a story somewhere where there was somebody that wouldn’t accept money for some donation, and I’m like, ‘Let’s do this. Let’s do a topless carwash and then we’ll donate the money to breast cancer.’”
As Rollins tells it, he set up a tent and charged people to come through and get their cars washed, but didn’t think to put a top on the tent. He later realized the fundraiser was set up next to a three-story building, and people inside could look down on what was happening below.
“So, the MBI gets video of it,” he said. “We almost got arrested on this.”
Even before these two situations, Rollins said what really catapulted him into radio was a massive fire.
The radio show host said he was running a party rental company while trying to get his foot in the door of radio. He said the more he focused on radio, the further his business fell to the wayside and then it caught on fire.
“When it caught on fire, I lost about half a million dollars worth of equipment and stuff. And I’m like, ‘OK, I’m either gonna go back into business or go full-time into radio,” he said.
So, he went into radio.
Despite a steep learning curve and a bevy of different personalities that have come and gone over the years Rollins said he’s happy to still be joining Central Florida on the radio for five hours a day, five days a week and hopes to be doing it for years to come.
You can hear more from the Monsters in the Morning host on Florida’s Fourth Estate, including the secret to how he comes up with hours and hours of content every day. You can download the podcast from wherever you listen to podcasts or watch Florida’s Fourth Estate anytime on News 6+.