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But it is not all white-hot anger on the call-in circuit. In fact, anger is merely the most predictable, least appealing aspect of these shows, each of which has its own personality and, often, a kind of zany spontaneity. Even when passions are high, a caller will utter something unforgettably obtuse and relieve the tedium of commuting.
"Back in '82," Hitzges remembers, "when the NFL players were on strike, that's all anyone wanted to talk about. Well, one morning, I got a caller who said, 'Norm, I don't claim to have all the answers about this strike, but one thing seems obvious to me.'
" 'What's that?' I said.
" 'Well, I think they could settle their problems a lot quicker if this guy Garvey would stick to business.'
" 'How do you mean?' I said.
" 'Well, I think he ought to quit playing baseball, for one thing, as long as this strike is going on. I mean, it seems like until that's over, he ought to work on it full time.'
Like all call-in hosts, Hitzges has regular callers, people who have made the show a vital part of their lives. Some of them call every day.
"We've got one caller, Leon, who is just wonderful. It always picks me up and picks up the show to hear him come on the air. He has this deep, gravelly voice, and I always know it's him."
Leon Simon is a barber at the Nice Look barbershop in Oak Cliff, a neighborhood in south Dallas. "I like to talk about issues," he says. "I'm not into personalities. When people were all over [Cowboy owner] Jerry Jones for the way he fired Tom Landry, I wanted to talk about how three months earlier, everybody else in town had wanted to fire Landry too. He had the longest funeral in history. The body was on view every day for three months. I tried to tell people that maybe it was time for the Cowboys to stop standing on their past."