Tom Barnard, the longtime king of morning radio DJs in the Twin Cities, told listeners Friday that he’s going to be treated for substance abuse and hopes to get a grip on his fits of anger.
The 61-year-old KQRS host (92.5 FM) said that drinking wine and taking pills to help him sleep and wake up were part of what led him to this decision. Early on during the show, he said he would be taking a leave from the air, but his attorney said late Friday morning that would not be the case.
That anger apparently spilled out overnight on Twitter, with Barnard expressing in profanity-punctuated terms, “I think I’m done. They don’t support me.” It was not clear whose support he was speaking about, however, a handful of Barnard’s tweets targeted the station’s sales department.
“I wouldn’t want to be in a situation where I either croak or I hurt someone really badly,” Barnard said on the air of the classic rock radio station. “I just go through periods I just cannot sleep at all.”
Turning to humor, Barnard added that “one negative thing about this decision, when I meet Howard Stern I won’t be able to punch him in the face.”
Barnard said he’s “absolutely committed to do this, or I wouldn’t be talking about it on the show.” He said near the end of Friday’s show that he will be treated on an outpatient basis at the outset, rather than in a residential setting.
“It wasn’t a volume thing, either,” Barnard said. “ I would drink just enough [to get mad].”
At first, Barnard indicated he might enter treatment as soon as Friday, but he later said, “I will be doing the show next week.”
“He won’t be taking a leave and will be continuing to do his show,” said Barnard’s attorney, Ron Rosenbaum.
Barnard had conversations with treatment professionals and was told he could be helped “equally well by doing outpatient” and remaining on the air, Rosenbaum added.
As for tension with management and the Twitter tirade, Rosenbaum said that Barnard’s “concern has been … about the level of promotion of the show.”
KQRS executive Shelly Malecha Wilkes was not immediately available to comment about Barnard seeking treatment or about his criticism of station management.
Barnard, married and the father of two, said on Facebook in July that he signed a four-year extension with the station. Also last summer, he started hosting a free podcast — one-hour episodes, five times a week — leaning heavily on his roster of comedian friends.
“I’m not going to want to get up at 4 a.m. in the morning for the rest of my life,” Barnard said at the time. “I can’t see myself being on the radio for more than 10 years. But podcasting? That’s something I can do for the rest of my life.”
For more than a quarter-century, Barnard has ruled the Minnesota airwaves with a steady stream of potshots at dumb criminals and politicians and the occasional ethnic faux pas that has angered blacks, Asian-Americans, American Indians and others.