by Mandy Feingold
Danny Bonaduce has been a renowned name in both radio and television since the 1970s, when he rose to fame at the age of 10 on The Partridge Family. After a period of well-documented drug problems and even homelessness, Bonaduce resurrected his career in the 1980s by becoming a successful radio personality. His gravelly voice, sense of humor and frank personality led him to his first radio job at Top 40 WEGX (Eagle 106)/ Philadelphia and eventually brought him to stations in Chicago, Detroit, New York and Los Angeles.
While keeping his feet firmly planted in radio, Bonaduce also found a second career in reality television as he recently starred in 2005’s Breaking Bonaduce on VH1, which was a chronicle of his personal life, and I Know My Kid’s A Star about stage parents and child star hopefuls. Bonaduce was part of The Adam Carolla Show in 2007, but after the two proved to be a mismatch, he shifted to a daily one-hour solo spot on Los Angeles talk station KLSX. In November 2008, he returned home to his native Philadelphia to take over the morning drive slot on Rock station WYSP with co-hosts Metro and Shila, while still hosting a one-hour talk show in Los Angeles as well.
On top of all this, Bonaduce studies martial arts and has been involved in celebrity boxing tournaments. He recently defeated Rev. Bob Levy from The Howard Stern Show in a match for the Celebrity Boxing Federation, leaving Bonaduce with an unblemished 12–0 record with ten knockouts. This eQB interview was conducted just before he faced baseball basher Jose Canseco in a January 24 boxing match, which incidentally, ended in a draw. “I have nothing against the guy. I just have faith in myself,” Bonaduce proclaimed before the fight. “I have beaten drugs, I have beaten alcohol and I believe I have beaten being a man of bad character. It’s the only thing left for me. I will beat the giant.” Though the fight didn’t end in another win for Bonaduce, the feisty, 49-year-old workaholic is just grateful for getting a second chance in the spotlight.
How does it feel to be back on the Philly airwaves?
I was born in Philly. I got my first paying radio job in Philly, and now I’m back for hopefully what’ll be my last paying radio job in Philly. I’m having a fantastic time. Being on a Rock & Roll station that plays music and has contests and fools around is really fun. Straight talk radio is okay, but I like to really fool around and just have some fun on the radio, so this is the right town and the right station for me.
There have been a lot of great radio wars throughout Philly history. Do you feel like there is still a healthy spirit of competition between Philly morning radio shows?
No, I , don’t…not in Philly anyway. I came here prepared to fight absolutely with these two kids [Preston & Steve at WMMR] who have a 10 share. I was going to come in and be mean and horrible and go to war like we used to. But these kids are apparently very nice and they do a cute little show. It’s not like it was when I started here a long time ago. When I was at Eagle 106, the competition was the other Top 40 station, and we’d go to war! We’d literally take each other’s station vans and set them on fire. Those were the good old days! To be honest with you, not to sound like a big blow-hard or anything like that, but nobody wants to take the gloves off with me. Nobody’s trying, I wouldn’t think, to say, “Okay, let’s see how mad we can make Danny Bonaduce.” I don’t think it’s in anybody’s best interests.
Philly and L.A. are two markets with very different characteristics, yet you’re doing a show in both. How do you go from east coast mode to west coast mode every day?
I do 6-10 a.m. in Philly, and 2-3 p.m. in L.A., which is actually 5 to 6 on the east coast. So I go to work at 5 in the morning and I go to work at 5 at night. But the L.A. show is only one hour, so really all I have to do is pick out what was the most interesting thing in the newspaper or in my life that day, and then the show just breezes by. I don’t really have to go into any “ L.A. mode.” And in Philly, with the Eagles being in the playoffs, I barely had to show up at the radio show! As long as we have a couple members of the Eagles, or [Eagles announcer] Merrill Reese talking about the Eagles, that’s good enough with Philly. They don’t really need me as long as somebody’s talking about the Eagles.
What would you like to accomplish with the WYSP morning show in the next year?
I would like to take over the number one spot with adult men. That’s what they hire you for. They don’t just hire you to come, they hire you to win. So I would like to be in the number one position with adult men within a year. One of the main reasons I would like to do it is because I would really like to buy a home here. I would like to buy a house and live a life here and get married, have my kids come and stay as often as they can. That’s the main reason I want to win. It’s not to beat anybody, but just to live in one place again for a long time.
How are you preparing for your fight with Jose Canseco?
I’m so busy. I do mornings and afternoons, and I do a lot of promotion for the fight, so I have a heavy weight punching bag and a full weight set at my studio. I go to work early and work out in my studio. I have a full gym in the building where I live. Anywhere that I have to go, I have a small boxing gym there. I train mostly on my own, but I train several hours a day every day. I’m going to be fighting a guy who is a foot taller than me. I’m 5-foot-6 and he’s 6-foot-6. I’m 165 pounds; he’s 265 pounds. So it should be an interesting spectacle. All I have to do is get through it, and I honestly think I’m going to win. I think I’m almost as strong as he is. It’s just that his reach is so big and his body is so big, I don’t think my hands are big enough to do a lot of damage unless I hit him an awful lot. I’m really working on my conditioning so I’ll be able to continuously swing from beginning to end.
Do you have any other projects coming up?
I have a couple more reality shows. Two of them I’m not in, I’m just the executive producer, and one that I am in called Danny 911. It’s going to shoot here in Philly. It will begin and end at the ’YSP radio station, which is a neat little bonus. I can’t say too much about it yet because we haven’t started production. But the idea started from a couple of calls I got on the radio, and I got involved in people’s lives on a personal level and the show kind of sprung from that. It most likely will be on the TruTV network. I already have a show on TruTV that I do with a bunch of other people called World’s Dumbest Criminals and World’s Dumbest Drivers, things like that. It’s a very funny show.
Between doing two radio shows, the physical training and your reality TV projects, how do you have time to do all of it without going crazy?
Learning to go without sleep for days at a time takes some real getting used to! My girlfriend is only 26-years-old and she was a 10th grade math teacher [before becoming my manager]. I thought, “If she can handle thirty-three teenagers then she can probably handle me.” For the first six months of our relationship, she was actually really worn down. She had no idea that when I say I work twenty hours a day everyday, it’s not just an expression. When you’re really part of it, it’s tiring. It took her awhile to get used to it, but now she works as hard as I do. I leave for work at 4 a.m. and she’s at the computer. When I come home after the first show of the day, she’s still sitting at the computer taking care of e-mails and contracts and all that stuff.
You’ve got to remember, you have to strike while the iron is hot. I used to be the guy on the Partridge Family. In 1972, in Life magazine, there was me and forty-nine other people and it said: “The 50 most famous faces in America .” Ten years later I was homeless. This stuff can come and go in a big hurry. You can have as much money as you want, but you can never wipe the taste of homelessness out of your mouth. So I will work 20-hours-a-day until nobody wants me to work anymore. Then I will retire. I’m just happy to do it. It’s an honor.