"Don & Mike" are well-known radio personalities. In 1987 I interviewed Don's wife, Freda, for a newspaper article. As you read, keep in mind that all references are made to their life as it was in 1987. The Don & Mike Show is now nationally syndicated across the United States, and they are on in afternoon drive-time, not the morning. And Don and Freda are still married . . . so they must be doing something right. Make your own determinations.
Copyright March 11, 1987, Linda Janus-Napier, Express Correspondent (aka Linda Alexander)
Published: Chronicle Express Newspapers (suburban Maryland newspaper)
"Pert" is a term used to describe some women. Yet one definition says of the word, "impertinent, saucy." For Freda "Geronimo," wife of the uninhibited Don Geronimo, [Washington, DC station, now with a different focus] WAVA'S morning radio personality, pert is definitely apt.
Tall and willowy, she's attractive, instantly likable. And, in talking to her, it's obvious radio is in her own background, as well as her husband's.
"The guy putting in our carpet asked me how deejays know when to stop talking before the music." Here Freda's eyes widen and she leans forward, obviously very attuned to her conversation topic. As a Sunday afternoon disc jockey for WASH, now EASY 97, she's known to listeners as Freda Wright. And she's very capable with technical questions only someone in radio could answer.
A native Washingtonian, she grew up in Montgomery County and attended Magruder High School. Her husband also went there, but school wasn't where they met. They graduated in different years and it wasn't until some time later that they met at a radio convention.
Was it love at first sight?
"For him it was," laughs Freda. "I just wanted to be friends. He didn't like that idea."
Don won out, and in less than a year they were married.
As a single woman, Freda was with WASH full-time. She worked in production and took over on-air for vacationing disc jockeys. Once she and Don married, she quit full-time employment.
"We moved around," she relates, "and I didn't want to lose touch, so wherever we went, I'd work weekends. Don would do a weekly shift, and I'd do Saturdays and Sundays." She laughs. "We got along great then!"
Which brings up a question. What about now? Anyone in Washington who listens to morning radio likely knows of Don Geronimo. As well, they're surely aware of his controversial attitude toward his wife. How does she put up with it?
"I know he's not serious," is Freda's simple answer. Listeners are often subjected to the couple's dirty laundry. "There are times when I get angry. But when we argue off the air about something like being messy, let's say, and Don publicly mentions it the next day, it puts it in perspective. I see how silly the fight really was. I'm forced to hear it as a listener."
Their conversations aren't staged. Freda knows her husband is likely to call mornings after seven. If something comes up between shows, he might tell her he'll be mentioning it, but everything heard on air is fresh, unrehearsed. She's not on contract with the radio station. "I've ribbed the station about that on the air," and she laughs again. It seems she's always laughing. And she's married to Don Geronimo. . . . Amazing!
"I have the radio on every morning, while I'm doing whatever. I hear most of what Don says." If she doesn't like what she hears? "That's one of the good things about his show. He encourages my input. The other day, for example, he was ribbing women, labeling them 'broads' too many times. So I called and told him to lighten up." She smiles. It's the look of someone very secure in her position, and happy to be there.
"He gets a woman's point of view. And he really respects my opinion, believe it or not."