emfrancis@naplesnews.com" /> K-Rock's Joe Scott returns to the air after another battle with addiction » Marco Eagle

K-Rock's Joe Scott returns to the air after another battle with addiction

Love him or hate him, Joe Scott is back on the air at 96 K-Rock.And he's as irreverent as ever. You never know what he's going to say on "Mornings With Joe Scott," which airs weekdays from 6-10 a.m.

After wrapping a show recently, Scott sits at the far end of a long wood table at Beasley Broadcasting in Estero, the company that owns 96 K-Rock (96.1 FM).

Scott is all wound up, as usual. He fidgets in his chair, pulls at his bright green shirt, fiddles with his white baseball cap.

He's willing to endure an interview, he says, because he has a message to get out. He just returned to the air last month after another round of treatment for alcohol addiction.

In the 14 years he's been in various positions with Beasley, Scott has left the air to go into treatment for alcoholism and drug addiction five times. He says the most recent incident occurred in April, when he began taking pain killers after he was injured in a car accident. That led to the ever-familiar downspiral into drinking. Too bad, because he'd been sober for four years before that.

He says this time is different. This time he's going to stay sober. The difference is that while he was an in-patient at the Willough in Naples, his psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Ryback, diagnosed him with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

By treating the underlying hyperactivity disorder with appropriate medication, Scott won't be as dependent on the alcohol to calm him down, the doctor says.

Scott, wanting to clarify things with Ryback right in the middle of an interview, pulls out his cell phone and calls the doctor's personal cell number. Ryback answers immediately. Scott has a hotline to his doctor, and he obviously depends on it.

Even Ryback isn't spared a joke from the wise-cracking Scott.

"Yes, I'm fine," Scott reassures his doctor. "Now straighten your hair and tie."

Scott, even though he's labeled a "shock jock" by fans and media, says he doesn't like being referred to that way.

"What I do is reality radio," he says. "We talk about what's real, and if that's shocking sometimes, so be it."

Scott, 44, a divorced father with two sons, says he's happiest when he's on the air. "I transform behind the microphone," he says. "I become a magnified version of myself."

On the air, Scott says he comes clean about his addictions and struggles. "I feel it's important to be totally honest on the show," he says. "I'd rather the listeners hear it from me. I figure, 'Hey, I may be helping somebody else.'"

In a moment of vulnerability, he admits he's lucky to be here.

"Some people never get back," he says. "Some people die."

He said he gets all kinds of reactions from listeners.

"Some people call up and call me an alcoholic and a drunk, but others call up and understand," he says. "I am who I am."

Scott suddenly springs from his chair and says he needs to go smoke a cigarette. He races toward the door, leaving the interview in the hands of his on-air sidekick, programming manager Gentry Thomas, the only other person seated at the table.

"Be careful what you say to her," Scott warns Thomas as he walks out the door. "She'll print anything you say."

Thomas says Beasley Broadcasting, keeps bringing Scott back because he brings in the ratings. "When he was on in the evenings a year and a half ago, he was No. 1 with men and women ages 25-54," Thomas says.

Thomas says he'd like to get Scott's show syndicated, adding that the show seems to appeal to both men and women.

"Now that he's back, he's very focused," Thomas says. "He's becoming one of my best friends, and I care about him a lot. I want to see him be successful."

Even though Thomas is often the brunt of Scott's jokes on the air, he says he takes it in stride.

"People will ask me, 'How do you work with that ass?'" Thomas says. "Sometimes he can be an ass on the show, but love him or hate him, people keep listening."

The show is mostly talk radio, with Scott taking calls, conducting interviews and bantering with Thomas. Only two songs are played each hour. Many of the callers are regulars — some of them friend, some of them foe.

And though he says he isn't a shock jock, things can get a little rough.

On a recent show Scott is talking about Tammy, a friend off the air and a regular caller. Scott's nickname for Tammy is "Little Birdie," and he was trying to determine what kind of bird she would be.

Thomas suggests she could be a blue jay.

"A blue jay?" Scott replies. "The blue jay is the rat bastard of the bird world. It looks pretty on the outside, but it is really a scavenger — like you Gentry."

Then Thomas takes a call from "Greg from Marco," a regular on the show.

"How's your family?" Scott asks Greg from Marco.

"At least I have a family," Greg from Marco answers.

"Get out of here you jackass; quit calling the show," Scott replies.

Scott admits his show can be over the top.

"Why does Beasley keep taking me back?" Scott says. "Because they're crazy."

Scott's psychiatrist, Ryback, says Scott has suffered a lot in his lifetime.

"Sometimes out if misery comes a lot of humor," Ryback says. "Here he is, this very bright guy who grew up with some traumatic situations. He's constantly agitated internally, yet he's very gifted and he has a great sense of humor."

Ryback says that by treating Scott's ADHD, the deejay has a much better chance of beating alcoholism.

The doctor says Scott has a severe case of ADHD. He's way up the scale, Ryback says, and still displays hyperactive tendencies even though he's being treated for it.

"He has a lot to overcome, but he clearly has a superior IQ," Ryback says. "He has one of the biggest hearts on radio, even though he acts like a tough guy."

© 2005 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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