It’s 4:40 AM on a weekday morning and Amy Faust reluctantly rolls out of bed after having racked up about 7 hours and 10 minutes of sleep – if you count the half-hour she spent reading her latest novel as slumber time. This has been the routine for the last eighteen years for this media personality – she’s the Amy of the Mike and Amy in the Morning Show which airs from 5:30 to 10:00 AM each weekday morning on KWJJ The Wolf at 99.5 FM. http://www.thewolfonline.com/shows/mike-amy-morning
Well, the above period of time needs to be modified to state, “This has been the routine for the last eighteen years except for about a two-year period between 2012 and 2014 when she slept more normal hours.” During that period, she made her living using her considerable talents in various other jobs, because management of the station had unceremoniously fired the popular duo in an economy move – they were replaced by a cheaper syndicated show based in Seattle.
But Amy’s morning routine returned in mid 2014 when she and her broadcast partner, Mike Chase, who after being terminated, had moved to North Carolina to take another broadcasting job, were reinstated. The station ultimately responded to the uproar from the Mike and Amy fans, which were voluminous and incessant. Perhaps, it’s best described by this June 12, 2014 excerpt from The Columbian – the newspaper in Vancouver where the duo has a lot of fans:
“Getting fired isn’t so rare, especially in the churning world of broadcast media. But getting rehired by a media company that publicly apologizes for its flub is a singular career achievement.
‘I want to speak to you about a mistake that ‘The Wolf’ made back on Aug. 6, 2012,’ program director Mike Moore of Portland country music station KWJJ ‘The Wolf,’ recently said on the air…….. Faust said she’d both halfway expected the pink slip and yet was ‘absolutely shocked’ that corporate station managers based on the East Coast actually went through with it.
But something unexpected happened, Moore continued: ‘Almost immediately, many of you told us that we’d made a mistake. We received thousands of calls, Facebook posts, emails and even snail mail letters. The overwhelming sentiment was that you really missed Mike and Amy, and you wanted them to come back. You also wanted a local show.’
During their off-the-air stretch, Chase and Faust tried putting out a podcast and worked together for the quirky TV show ‘Portlandia,’ Chase as an actor and Faust as a location manager. Faust also did some writing, some traveling and some ‘sitting on the couch’ in genuine mourning, she said, because she’d loved working with her pal Chase and loved working in radio. Eventually, though, the station invited them back — and publicly called their firing a mistake.
‘I’m not gonna lie. It’s a little satisfying,”’Faust said.”
In Moore’s defense, Amy confirms that it was not his decision and he successfully campaigned hard to get them back on the air. It had been a perfect job for thirteen years and she remembers when they told her on a Monday with no notice “Your services are no longer required. Here’s a brown box to take out your stuff – and you should be gone within four hours…..” Her first reaction was to laugh and say, “Mike was right,” because he had the feeling for six months that they were on the chopping block and even said on the previous Friday, “I think we’re getting fired on Monday!”
In retrospect, it was a positive experience because she was able to take time off with the six months salary remaining from what was a “no-cut contract,” and take a wonderful road trip to the Redwoods with her daughter, Alice, and then able to drive her to school each day.
Amy Faust is the first individual in 2017 to be named Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter and joins the “elite” list started on this blog five years ago which includes writers, military heroes, academicians and even the crew of the USS Constitution for their “legendary” war cruise in 1798. Although this is a blog about bars and beer, a number of these individuals have nothing to do with my favorite beverage – they are just interesting individuals who have made worthwhile contributions to society and have a good story which should be told.
Past recipients have been authors such as Dr. Harry Frankfurt (On Bullshit) or Portland’s own Brian Doyle – **** see note at the very end of this post **** (Mink River and The Plover), athletes such as former All-coast and then NFL tackle, Craig “The Dude” Hanneman and Viet Nam veterans and heroes, Jud Blakely, Doug Bomarito and Steve Lawrence. And the most recent recipient before Amy, is also a media personality – The Godfather, Dwight Jaynes of CSN. To see the posts for this distinguished group, go up to the blog header and click on the tab entitled “Beerchaser-of -the-Month or Quarter.”
And it should be noted that Amy becomes the first direct relative of another Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter. Her dad, Jack, retired appellate lawyer at the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt firm and former moderator of the award-winning public affairs program, Town Hall which was broadcast for many years each Sunday on KATU, was so named in September, 2014.
The elder Faust’s story can be viewed at https://thebeerchaser.com/2014/09/02/john-r-jack-faust-fall-2014-beerchaser-of-the-quarter/
One of three children (also Barbara and Charlie) of Jack and Alice Faust, she was born in Portland and attended Wilson High School where she graduated in 1983 “as a straight B student – I was an academic late bloomer…….!”
Her mom has been active in civic and public affairs having served as a commissioner over 6 years on both the State Commission for Women and the State Child Care Commission and was appointed by both Republican and Democratic Oregon governors.
You can see by the picture below from Jack’s law school years that Amy grew up in a conservative and formal household……
Amy attended Scripps College, majoring in American Studies and loved it. During summers, she had internships first at KATU and then in Washington DC for the Senate Commerce Committee when Oregon Senator Bob Packwood served as its Chair. She also worked for Public Broadcasting in LA on some documentary films which gave her background for later work.
Admitting that “I had terrible taste in boyfriends in my youth” (something both her parents confirmed), she moved to New York after college graduation “driving my car across the country with a Frenchman.” After she sold it to an artist, the car was impounded shortly afterward and then smashed in a tow yard after being towed for non-payment of nine parking tickets. (Time constraints precluded research on similar outstanding tickets in Portland.)
Her experience in New York lasted nine years in which she worked on freelance documentary productions including helping to write a news book for ABC with Peter Jennings.
She also appeared in a band named “Bushmills” in which she sang and played the mandolin in “underground clubs.” “We were an all-female group similar to the Dixie Chicks although with a lot less talent.”
She leveraged her experience as a disk jockey in college for a gig as a DJ in a venue named Rub-a-Dub – it was a club not a car-wash….
She met her future husband, Kevin, at a party in the Ex-Lax Building (“Things have been going smoothly ever since…..”). They were both dating other people and were friends for a year before they became a couple. They moved to a wonderful six-unit apartment in Brooklyn right across the street from the bakery where the movie “Moonstruck” was filmed.
“We paid only $350 per month and fortunately Kevin had handy-man talents which the 91-year old landlady needed because even though he was Catholic and had been an alter-boy, she always thought he was Jewish and discriminated in her leases.”
One of her real estate regrets is when they decided, based on cashflow (or lack thereof) to turn down the opportunity to buy the apartment building for $300,000 – it’s now worth $10 million!
Kevin then graduated from the prestigious Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, with a degree in architecture where he was class valedictorian.
Founded in 1859, Cooper Union is among the nation’s oldest and most distinguished institutions of higher education. (He gave the valedictory speech from the same stage on which Abe Lincoln delivered what has become known as his “right makes might” address” in 1859.)
They moved to Ireland where Kevin taught architecture for a year in Dublin. Amy did a few television jobs as a production coordinator.
Then it was back to Portland with no jobs. They still live in the same NE Portland house that became their home in 1996. Kevin got a job in a high-end construction firm (Hammer and Hand) and Amy worked as a freelance writer and authored advertising copy for clients and produced television commercials. (“It was an experience where I was totally over my head and was stressful because I am not the epitome of a detail-minded person…”.
That’s when she first met Mike Chase – he auditioned (and got the part) for a bank commercial Amy produced. He had just been fired from a weekly radio show on 94.7 FM and got a job on 1080 AM, where he asked Amy to work on the weekly show “just for fun.” Flash forward to 1998 — Amy is pregnant and gets a call from Chase who has been hired by a country-western station and asks Amy to be co-host (“By the way, our show starts at 5:00 AM.”)
Their thirteen year run brings us back to the spontaneous termination and Amy is back trying to figure out what she wants to do when she grows up. So she returns to freelance writing and lands a gig as a location manager for Portlandia – a job she loved but was like solving a crazy puzzle for each show – trying to get the permits and the right background for each scene as well as figuring out details such as disposing of trash and parking for the cast and crew. She managed five people and did the job for about four months the first year and has worked a little on each season ever since.
Amy, notwithstanding her modesty, is a talented writer and also wrote a column for a low-budget publication – “Our Town.” After that it was freelance work for Willamette Week. You can see a sample of her writing at the end of this post. It will take you to an excerpt from the account of her dad’s fascinating experiences with the RajNeesh when he featured the topic of the cult’s “invasion” of Antelope, Oregon, on three separate Town Hall shows. The article was originally published in the July, 2014 edition of 1859 magazine. https://1859oregonmagazine.com/think-oregon/art-culture/rajneesh-oregon-cult-history/
This woman of many talents does not consider herself to be a local celebrity. “Because I’m on radio rather than television, I’m not recognized except when I go to hockey games or am in doctor’s offices.”
Her dad’s account contradicts that, however. “When I used to host Town Hall, people meeting Amy for the first time would always ask if I was her father. Now, I’m the one who gets the inquiry, ‘Is Amy your daughter?’”
Amy and I met for our first interview in Grand Central Bakery in NE Portland and about 45 minutes into the session, a guy walks up to her and greets her with a hug. It was Bill Wadhams who led a 1980’s one-hit-wonder band named Animotion. She had interviewed him while working for Willamette Week.
Perhaps she does not have the visual profile of local television personalities, but she was also “recognized” in the Buoy Beer Company Brew-pub in Astoria. “Our group was being kind of rowdy and I was talking and laughing rather loudly and a woman at the table behind us turned around and said, “Aren’t you Amy Faust from KWJJ The Wolf.”
Evidence that she can be recognized by her laugh can be garnered by listening to this brief interview Mike and Amy had with Keith Urban. https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=mike+and+amy+kwjj+the+wolf&&view=
Her preparation for the show (besides setting her alarm for earlier than any of us would want to consider) consists of filing things away for discussion pieces and the quizzes they feature each day. She also stays abreast of trending topics on social media and what’s going on in the community. “We’re always looking for topics. Our show is a context eating machine…”
Daughter Alice is now a high school senior at Grant High and a member of the Constitution Team which recently placed first in the Oregon high school competition and will soon travel to Washington DC for the “We the People” national finals. She has previously admonished her mom, “Don’t ever mention me on the show.” Alice will attend the U of O in the fall.
I reminded Amy about a show I enjoyed some years ago when, in the absence of Mike Chase, she got her dad to be the guest co-host. “It was a fun show although I had a “dump” button with a seven-second delay to control what he was saying if necessary.” (She didn’t have to use it.”)
Amy is also active in the community. One of her favorite civic pursuits is volunteer coordinator for Portland Meet, an organization that “……welcomes and befriends immigrants and refugees, enriching community by creating mutually beneficial mentoring opportunities that promote cross-cultural learning, enhance work skills and build trust.”
Her involvement was inspired after she read the book What is the What, a novel by Dave Eggers based on one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, who after fleeing his country during the civil war, eventually immigrated to the US. The book portrays his “struggles to adjust to the mixed blessing of his new life.”
She teaches citizenship classes – the picture is of Howa, a woman from Somalia who gained citizenship after the class.
Amy also related how their listeners “never forget anything” and in response to my question about examples of this premise, she launched into some interesting (if not curious) stories about her cat that used to lick the wax from her ears and the sucker fish that died an ignominious death in her basement after Amy forgot about it – “I still have nightmares about that.”
Each Beerchasing session in which Amy has joined Jack and her brother, Charlie, (at Kelly’s Olympian, MadSon’s Pub and The Independent) has elicited other great stories such as when she met Dolly Parton and the legendary, George Jones. They are always fun to hear her recount although people in surrounding booths often wonder who in the group has the unique laugh.
While Mike and Amy’s gig on The Wolf is going quite well, I can assure you that should the ax fall again, Amy Faust will use her considerable talents on some new adventure. We can just take comfort knowing that it would never be working in a commercial aquarium……..
Excerpt from Thebeerchaser post on September 2, 2014
Three Town Hall shows on the Rajneesh and the Bhagwan concluded with two in Rancho Rajneesh – now, Antelope, Oregon. Ma Anand Sheila was the spokesperson for the Bhagwan. Amy Faust, Jack’s daughter and a local media celebrity, writes a compelling account of these shows in the July, 2014 edition of 1859 Magazine. (The first two shows had not gone well for the Followers and they balked at having the third one):
“Then, just one day before the scheduled taping (of the third show), they reversed their stance, sending my dad an apology and a boxed lunch from Zorba the Budha Deli. While my dad remembers his receptionist, Jeannine Marks, saying, ‘I wouldn’t eat that if I were you,’ like a good, waste-not child of the Great Depression, he wolfed it down. ‘What are they going to do,’ he replied, ‘poison me?’
The next day, his producer, India Simmons, got an odd phone call from Ma Prem Sunshine, asking simply, ‘How’s Jack today?”’Sunshine’s tone of voice prompted Simmons to call my dad, who was in fact at home in bed with a fever of 103, horribly sick for the first time since age 5. Not wanting to miss the show, he recruited my mom to drive him to Antelope, feeling nauseous the whole way.
After a heavy does of Tylenol, he hosted the show, which was indeed more damaging to the Rajneeshee reputation than the previous episodes. In the face of criticism from detractors, the Rajneeshees often broke into loud, disconcerting laughter, and at one point responded to an angry local by bursting into song.” (Jack Faust’s response in ending the chanting was, “This show is not a musical!”)
My friend, Brian Doyle, author and University of Portland’s editor of their award-winning magazine, Portland, was recently diagnosed with brain cancer. After surgery, he is recuperating at home under the care of his wife, Mary. Whether Brian will be able to return to work is uncertain and his friends have started a “Go-Fund-Me” site to help with the costs of his recuperation.
The response so far has been good and if you want to contribute to this worthwhile effort, use the link below: