John Boy and Billy explained

John Isley and Billy James, known as John Big Boy & Billy, are American radio hosts based in Charlotte, North Carolina. They primarily broadcast on 99.7 WRFX-FM "The Fox." Their comedic morning program The John Boy & Billy Big Show broadcasts from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. eastern time in several southern and midwestern states via syndication through Premiere Radio Networks.

The show is especially popular in the Southeastern U.S. and is syndicated to both Classic rock and Country Music radio stations. The format consists of talk segments intermixed with music, contests and family friendly skit-based humor. Broadcast states include North Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The duo frequently interview musicians, comedians, NASCAR drivers, professional wrestlers, and other public figures. Robert Earl Keen, Killer Beaz, Tim Wilson, Rodney Carrington, and James Gregory are occasional guests. The show also markets a popular line of Bar-B-Que sauce (named John Boy & Billy Grilling Sauce) in a variety of flavors which can be purchased in supermarkets in the southern United States.

The crew

John "John Boy" Isley - John Isley (born March 28, 1956) is from Graham, North Carolina. He is the host of the Big Show. Before entering comedy, he worked as a gas station attendant, but started in radio by running the tapes on his hometown radio station in 1975. One of his early radio gigs included a stint as an afternoon and evening DJ for WRJZ-AM in Knoxville, Tennessee during the late 1970s. Isley has been married for over 20 years and has three sons. His catchphrases include "Oowa oowa oowa", "Where's my big bag?", "Love ya, mean it!", and "I care, I'm just not going to do anything about it." John Boy is an avid sports fisherman and often refers to his boat, the "Duh Huh".

Billy James - Billy James serves as the co-host. He is from Gastonia, North Carolina, and attended a technical school in Atlanta. His first radio job was at WADA-AM in Shelby, North Carolina. Billy has been married since 1986 and has two children. In character, Billy plays a straight man and a sidekick role.

Robert D. Raiford - (born December 27, 1927) offers political and social commentaries during the show. He is from Concord, North Carolina, and majored in communication at the University of South Carolina. Raiford started broadcasting in 1944 by commentating on baseball games. His first radio presentation job was at WEGO in Concord, North Carolina. Raiford has appeared in 28 movies; he usually plays judge characters. He is known for his quote "Who says that? I say that!" which is also the title of his book containing excerpts from his commentary from the show. A running gag has been made about the amount of whiskey Raiford drinks, though Raiford often says "I spill more than I drink."

Randy Brazell - Now General Manager and Executive Producer, Randy Brazell (born 1961) is from Gastonia and attended the same high school as Billy. Randy is married with one daughter. He frequently participates in the show's skits. Randy's background in radio goes back to his childhood: His father owned a radio station. He is occasionally teased by rest of the cast for being "the pretty one" or for being a "geek".

Jackie Curry-Lynch - Assistant Producer Jackie Curry-Lynch (born May 22, 1962) is from Grottoes, Virginia. She originally began as the front desk receptionist, but has become a regular part of the crew. She participates in a number of the skits. She is referred to frequently by the hosts as "Jackie and the Twins", in reference to her breast implants. She especially enjoys oral speech. She is the sister of former Charlotte Hornets shooting guard/small forward Dell Curry and aunt to Stephen Curry.

Jeff Pillars - (born July 13, 1958) is from Kalamazoo, Michigan, and is a writer for the show. He writes many of the skits for the show and performs several of them. He has also acted in a number of movies and television shows.

Marci Moran - Marci Moran is a Dallas, Texas native. She is the Guest Coordinator, but often finds herself on air alongside the others, especially in the "Playhouse" skits. She is nicknamed "Tater". Marci and her husband Trey have been happily married for the last 9 years.

Terry Hanson - Terry Hanson (born June 16, 1947 is from East St. Louis, Illinois. He is a regular member of the ensemble, responsible for current content, media news and sports.

Barry Hopson - Barry Hopson (born October 7, 1965) (Big Show listener Barry Hopson, as John Boy refers to him) is from Tyler, Texas. He is the show engineer and "2000-2005 Big Show Employee of the Year."

Marty Lambert - Charlotte native Marty Lambert is in charge of affiliate sales and syndication for the show. Whenever Marty is mentioned on the show, a musical jingle is played of a chorus singing: "Smarty Marty, the One Man Party!" He is frequently the subject of jokes on the show, particularly about his fashion sense and an incident when someone at a Big Show public appearance commented to John Boy, "I didn't know Marty was gay!" However, Marty is happily married to his wife.

Jay Wilson - Jay Wilson (born October 23, 1960) is from Kingston, New York. He is the Senior Account Executive and primary sponsor liaison for the show.

Steve Burgess - Steve Burgess (born January 14, 1974) is from Charlotte. Formerly referred to as "Steve the Idiot Intern" by John Boy and Billy now referred to as "Steve Behind the Glass", Steve is now no longer an intern and has become the Weekend Director for the show. The hosts used to frequently tease Steve about his usage of the expression "Dude!" He was the "2006 Big Show Employee of the Year."

Donnie Presley - Donnie Presley (born February 17, 1964), also from Charlotte, is a former police officer and current Director of Merchandising for the show.

Jeff Kent - Jeff is the program director for flagship affiliate WRFX 99.7 in Charlotte, and frequently hosts "The Best of the Big Show" Saturday broadcast.

Popular characters

There have been many characters played on the show. Some of the most popular are listed here.

Show segments

is a real restaurant and bar in Valley, Alabama. John Boy and Billy frequently play recordings of the "Ad Talk Guy" who records their answering machine messages. He is a big fan of the Auburn Tigers, and his most common quote is "War Damn Eagle!" Dell's Den has an "Ad Talk" line with often hilarious rambling messages about anything and everything. The number for this line is (334) 756-3336.


The Big Show has a number of call-in contests where callers have a chance to win an assortment of prizes (the "prize package"), usually donated by the show's sponsors. The current contests are shown below, taking place at 20-30 minutes past the hour in the following order.

Contest winners are also entered in a drawing to win a larger prize package. Typically, the drawing is held at the end of Friday's show, with all winners from that week (Monday through Friday) being eligible. In some cases, a prize is given away each day, with only that day's winners in the drawing; in others, two weeks' worth of winners are entered in a drawing for a very large prize, held on Friday of the second week.

Former contests

Big Show traditions

First-time callers to the show always have a cow "moo" sound effect played for them. Also, every John Boy and Billy Playhouse segment ends with a recording of former cast member Dub Starnes saying, "Hey, big man, lemme hold a dollar!" This was the last Playhouse line that Starnes delivered prior to his death in 1998; it is now used as a tribute to him.


Their official website mentions that they do have to time-delay their programming, so this may be to blame for some of their discrepancies.


John Boy and Billy have released many albums throughout the years, ranging from the 1990s to the 2000s. Most albums are available through the iTunes Music Store.

Main albums


Box sets



For more than five years, John Boy and Billy hosted the morning show at Top 40 WBCY in Charlotte. Their comic talents made them number one with the station's 18 to 34 listeners. But John Boy quit in February 1986 for "religious reasons", while Billy stayed for a month and a half, partnering unsuccessfully with Jim "Catfish" Prewitt[1] .

WRFX, which changed to album rock that same year[2], signed John Boy and Billy to do their morning show, but they could not start their new show until November due to a noncompete clause. A $250,000 billboard and television campaign[1], in which the jocks had bags over their heads[3], preceded their return. On November 8 at 9 A.M., they announced, "They're back!" and played "The Boys Are Back in Town" by Thin Lizzy. One difference on the new station, said John Boy, was "We'll actually listen to the music ... we're rock 'n' roll guys." [1]

John Boy was arrested at a night club October 21, 1990, and charged with felony possession of marijuana, but the charge was later reduced to a misdemeanor because the amount was small. As part of his plea agreement, John Boy agreed to broadcast anti-drug messages on WRFX[4] .

Early in 1993, the news came out that John Boy and Billy were being asked by Mel Karmazin (boss to Howard Stern) to move to Atlanta, Georgia, and syndicate their show. At the time, WROQ in Greenville, South Carolina, was the only other station carrying the show. WRFX general manager Jack Daniel said the station made a 6-year deal that would keep John Boy and Billy at WRFX but also allow the show to be heard in Atlanta, along with Raleigh and Columbia in the Carolinas as well as Texas, with the hosts getting a share of syndication income. One disadvantage: the show would include less locally-oriented humor that people in other markets wouldn't understand[5] .

By August 1994, the show was heard on 14 radio stations, most playing rock. Two of the stations were sports talk--WRFX-AM (co-owned with flagship WRFX-FM) and WFNS in Tampa, Florida. The other stations were in WZZU in Raleigh; WROQ in Greenville; WSFL in New Bern, North Carolina; WGCX in Mobile, Alabama; WYBB in Charleston, South Carolina; WMFX in Columbia; WKLC in Charleston, West Virginia; WDRK in Panama City Beach, Florida; WVRK in Columbus, Georgia; WJMX-FM in Florence, South Carolina; WIMZ in Knoxville, Tennessee; and WEKL in Augusta, Georgia[6] . WRFX-AM went back to sports talk in the morning early in 1995[7] .

On July 6, the show added KZPS in Dallas, Texas, which at number 7 in the nation was the largest market yet. Now on 19 stations, its largest markets had been Orlando, Florida, and Nashville, Tennessee, but now John Boy and Billy had the potential to be mentioned alongside Stern and Don Imus. John Boy hoped to be heard up north, too, though many doubted that would work[8] .

By 1996, the show was heard on 28 stations in 10 states.[9] In June of that year the first country station to air the show was WMTD-FM in Beckley, West Virginia[10] .

In 1999, John Boy and Billy were being heard on 65 rock stations in 18 states, but the show was expected to dramatically increase its potential audience when the producers added the option of country music. WHSL in Greensboro, North Carolina, which like the show and WRFX was owned by Capstar Broadcasting, was one of the first country stations in the network. Prophet Systems Innovations, also owned by Capstar, developed the technology to easily allow different musical programs between talk segments (about three rock songs were played per hour, though country songs tended to be shorter and there might be more of them). Macon Moye, vice president and general manager of the John Boy and Billy network, said the addition of country music would allow the show to be heard in northern states where the show would not fit a rock format. Sean Ross, editor of Airplay Monitor, cautioned that the show might be "too edgy and too male" for some country stations, but Tom Taylor, editor of the M Street Daily Fax of Nashville, Tennessee, believed the show had great potential to expand[11] .

By 2002, 110 stations carried the show. At this time, oldies stations could broadcast the show with songs specific to their format. This was true when classic rock stations inadvertently aired the Queen song "Another One Bites the Dust" immediately after the show reported about the Beltway sniper attacks in October 2002. Executive producer Randy Brazell said songs were selected in advance and stored using complicated computer software. After the hosts learned from an affiliate what had happened, they decided that to mention it on the air would give the incident more attention; perhaps people had not noticed[12] .

In 2008 the show gained its first New Jersey affiliate, Country Music station 106.7 WKOE in North Cape May.


External links

Webcast stations


Notes and References

  1. Jeff Borden, "John-Boy, Billy Back to Tweak Charlotte's Airwaves", The Charlotte Observer, November 9, 1986.
  2. Jeff Borden, "WJZR Trades Old Format for New Sound, Name", The Charlotte Observer, April 15, 1986.
  3. Jeff Borden, "WRFX Radio to Reunite John Boy and Billy Team", The Charlotte Observer, August 21, 1986.
  4. Foon Rhee, "John Boy Anti-Drug Spot Airs", The Charlotte Observer, November 23, 1990.
  5. Tim Funk, "Deal Keeps Duo on Air in Charlotte", The Charlotte Observer, February 25, 1993.
  6. Tim Funk "14th Station Picks up John Boy and Billy", The Charlotte Observer, August 25, 1994.
  7. David Poole,"WRFX Cans Morning Show, but Retains Format", The Charlotte Observer, January 5, 1995.
  8. Tim Funk, "John Boy and Billy's 'Big Show' Hits the Big Time - Dallas", The Charlotte Observer June 28, 1995.
  9. Tim Funk, "More Stations Soon May Hear 'Bob, Sheri Show'", The Charlotte Observer, February 8, 1996.
  10. Jeri Rowe, "Mouths of the South", Greensboro News & Record, December 17, 1996.
  11. Bill Keveney, "'Big Show': Today Country Stations, Tomorrow the Whole Country?", The Charlotte Observer, April 7, 1999.
  12. Mark Washburn, "Song After Sniper News Offends Fans - 'Another One Bites the Dust' Was Already Scheduled, Producer Says", The Charlotte Observer, October 23, 2002.