Marc Charles compares his story to how WCW Monday Nitro was greenlit.
As legend goes, WCW President Eric Bischoff was pitching Ted Turner on licensing WCW programming to a Chinese broadcasting company owned by foe Rupert Murdoch. The billionaire mogul interrupted Bischoff’s presentation to ask one question: What do we need to do to become competitive with Vince?
Put on the spot, Bischoff suggested that WCW have a prime time television slot. The rest is history.
In similar fashion, Marc Charles conducted a wrestling shoot interview-style podcast while working as a board operator and announcer for WHFS-FM 98.7 in Tampa, Florida. When CBS Radio swapped the station with Beasley Broadcast Group, Charles knew an opportunity had opened up. For six months, he romanced his new boss, radio legend Sgt. Charlie Ochs, pitching new marketing and content ideas.
One day, he finally popped the question: Can you put my wrestling show on the air?
For the past three years, Outside Interference Wrestling Radio has made history.
“I don’t brag about accomplishments. I want people to see them as possibilities,” Charles says. “It shows hope for people who want to do it, too.”
In actuality, Charles’ journey to hosting a weekly pro wrestling talk show on terrestrial radio lasted longer than six months. Born in Canada, he’s a self-proclaimed “third-generation wrestling fan.” His grandfather loved Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling, passing the fandom down to his daughter. Charles’ father grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, worshipping the Nature Boy.
After attending Henry Ford Community College and the Specs Howard School of Media Arts in Michigan, Charles worked in Detroit and Toledo at a Top 40 station doing overnight broadcasting at nightclubs while producing his friend’s talk show. In 2007, he moved back north of the border to work in production and promotions. Part of his job was to take clients out on the town, and that’s how he befriended a bouncer named Brice, who just happened to wrestle on weekends. With his foot in the door, Charles finessed his way into living his grandfather’s dream.
He was the announcer for Stampede Wrestling’s relaunch.
“I was directing and producing and announcing,” Charles says. “Ross Hart, Smith Hart and Bruce Hart all came up at different times and told me they really liked my work. Later that same night, Dynamite Kid’s daughter came up to me at the after party and said the same thing. I knew I was onto something.”
One Step Back, Two Steps Forward
After a few years, Charles had the itch to return to radio. However, as is the norm in the industry, you can’t just show your degree and hop on the microphone. So he took an entry-level position as promotions assistant at WRBQ-FM Q105 in Tampa.
“My parents would ask me what I’m doing, telling me I have to make some money,” Charles says. “I took a job I thought I’d never take just to get a key to this building. If you ever want to get in radio, don’t think you’ll be a host or producer. You’ll be someone who hangs up posters and hands out flyers. Don’t ever be afraid to take that job. If you have a key to the building, you can learn. You took an entry-level job, but really you took the opportunity to be whatever you want to be.”
Charles always wanted to have a show, but he knew he’d have to wait. The only other option was podcasting, and radio personalities tended to feel superior to that emerging platform. It’s an antiquated perception now, but at the time, they thought broadcasting over the internet was amateur hour. It wasn’t until Stone Cold Steve Austin launched his podcast that Charles changed his mind.
“I was high and mighty, looking down on the podcast world,” he says. “But everything has changed. Stone Cold made it okay to have a podcast.”
The “Outside Interference” name is sort of a double entre; outside interference is wrestling jargon, and it describes outsiders like Charles and his co-host Alan Wojcik chiming in on the industry. It’s so catchy that another outsider tried to use it – Rob Feinstein.
To attract some publicity for his show, Charles looked through his contacts to see who would be interested in shoot interviews. He says he contacted Feinstein and asked if he was interested in being paid to tweet about the show. Charles says Feinstein appeared interested at first, but as the negotiation went on, he ended up pulling out.
Fast forward a year or two later: Charles says he was scrolling through Facebook and noticed an ad for Feinstein’s new podcast titled Outside Interference. “It would be one thing if I never spoke with Rob,” he says. “But I already put episodes out and I told him the name several times. I put it out there on Facebook because I needed people to know it was complete bullshit.”
After a back-and-forth dispute on Facebook, Charles says he screenshotted their previous conversations and sent them to Feinstein in a private message. “He didn’t say a word,” Charles says. “I haven’t heard from him since.”
Soaring the Airwaves
Charles’ first interview was with Big Daddy Yum Yum, an indie talent in the South. While the quality was superb, it didn’t matter unless people were listening. So he went back into his Rolodex and called upon a name from the past: Smith Hart.
“That was the first interview that got attention,” Charles says. “He was very, very generous, just really great to me.”
In the years since then, a who’s who of pro wrestling has stopped by Outside Interference Radio, including most recently, Charlotte Flair, Jeff Jarrett and Gail Kim. The format of the show doesn’t revolve around Raw and Smackdown reviews; instead, Charles focuses on the big stories in the industry, especially those in WWE. “I never leave WWE out of the conversation because they are the king,” he says. “I don’t ever trash WWE. You’ll never see that on social media unless it’s tongue-in-cheek or a joke.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean he strays from constructive criticism regarding the WWE product. For example, when AJ Styles faced Finn Balor at TLC, Charles wasn’t pleased with the last-minute buildup. “It’s great that they gave us that, but they watered it down to hell,” he says. “It was like 48 hours’ notice. They gave it to us cold on a platter like ha ha, here it is, but not how you expect it.”
Hosting one of the very few wrestling shows on terrestrial radio is a privilege that Charles doesn’t take lightly. He’s worked hard to book interesting guests, develop entertaining content and maintain a level of professionalism – and that was only after years of grunt work to get that precious key to the building. Now that his concept has been validated, Charles hopes other aspiring broadcasters work toward hosting a wrestling radio show in their market.
“Don’t be afraid to call some of the small sports stations,” he says. “You’ll be surprised how many sports station program directors are wrestling fans. I can assure you they’re not going to pay you. But ask for an hour on Wednesday nights at 11 or Sunday mornings before the real stuff starts to happen. And if you’re going to call, have a demo tape ready.
My ‘yes’ came 12 years after coming into radio. Stick to it and don’t let anybody else derail you.”
Outside Interference Wrestling Radio with Marc Charles is live Sunday mornings at 9EST/6PST on 92.1FM, 103.1FM & 1010AM in Tampa, Florida or on the Money Talk 1010 phone app on your smartphone. Past episodes are available at outsideinterferenceradio.com.