Once a mainstay of drive-time talk radio, Don Geronimo started a slow fade when Freda passed away. . . .
Frederick, MD, April 11, 2008: Once a mainstay of afternoon drive-time talk radio, the Don & Mike show is, as of this afternoon, no more. Don Geronimo (real name, Mike Sorce) and his “sidekick,” Mike O’Meara, began as a somewhat unbalanced team over 20 years ago on Washington, DC radio. Local listeners realized that Don was the boss from the get-go, mainly because he said so, and the audience took to the cantankerous team. They were outrageous, blatant, usually rude, often vulgar . . . yet listeners always came back for more. There was chemistry: between Don and Mike, but also alongside their news sidekick, Buzz Burbank, and various on-air producers they had over the years and through their change in stations, going from local to limited national markets.
Yet for women often the real chemistry, the actual point of humanity that kept them coming back for more, was the genuine love affair between Don and his wife of many years, Freda Wright-Sorce. Freda had a radio background herself, so she well understood what her husband had to do to keep the gags going. She was soft, but she was tough with him as she called in to the show almost daily, at any given moment, commenting on whatever tidbit of the duo’s outrageousness sparked her interest. Freda made Don human, real, and somehow, she brought out a good-natured sweetness in him that almost never showed without her input. Freda was his rock and, it was shown to play out, she was the show’s rock, as well.
That flame of humanity was snuffed out in the fall of 2005, and listeners learned the shocking, horrible truth – Freda was dead. She was killed in a head-on auto collision coming back from the couple’s beach home in Ocean City, Maryland. Everyone was stunned. It was somehow like having a good friend die – someone who came into the home nearly every day and then, suddenly, she was gone forever.
Yet no one, of course, felt her absence any more than her adoring husband. The fire slowly and publicly seeped out of Don. He lost his true love that day, but he also appeared to lose the manic need that had always previously compelled him to be that rowdy, wild, barely-legally contained personality bringing in the crowds for all those previous years.
Today’s last Don and Mike show drove home the truth of this when Don took to the microphone for a lengthy, uncharacteristically-serious and emotional monologue on why he was leaving. Freda was the crux of his decision, he explained. She had been his angel, the one person who loved him no matter what. She'd been not only important to the show for the show, but she was his most avid support and, without her, he no longer had it in him to continue. Freda was his past and now that she was gone, the show did little more than remind him of her every single day in ways too painful.
Don, almost apologetically but no less as happy as a schoolboy in love, explained that he now has a new lady. He felt it was only fair to his memory of Freda, his love for his comrades on the show, his family, and, yes, his new love, that he move on to a different stage in his life. And that’s fair. The radio world will forever identify Don Geronimo with Freda, his loving and ever-suffering (though not really) wife.
Maybe it is time for him to let her be his past—never forgotten, always held dear, but no longer his qualifier—and allow himself to open up to the next chapter in his life.
NOTE: The Don & Mike time slot will continue on Monday, 4/11/08 . . . with Mike O'Meara taking the reins of the now so-named Mike O'Meara Show. After all these years -- it's finally his turn.
For readers interested in a one-on-one interview with Freda done by Linda Alexander in 1987, visit: