By MAUREEN NEVIN DUFFY • Correspondent • April 6, 2008
It's hard to think of anyone else's miserable mornings when you're hauling yourself out of bed in the dark and slamming the pedal to the floor just to get that old clunker down the road once more.
But the reality is that the rejuvenating voices inside the radio on your dash, the ones that keep you from sneering at your boss when you finally stagger into the workplace, belong to people who bolt out the door hours before you do.
Are they sub-humans or super-humans? Fanatics or robots? As I learned long ago by reading Gene Klavan's excellent memoir, "We Die at Dawn" (DoubleDay, 1964), the morning DJ ranks among our culture's truly underrated heroes. They alone get the wretched masses to work.
Take Mike and Dianne — Mike Fitzgerald and Dianne DeOliveira, the morning DJs weekdays from 5:30 to 10 a.m. at The Breeze/WWZY-FM (107.1). DeOliveira is out of bed at a tidy 3:15 every morning. She keeps the "deafening alarm" on the other side of the room so she has to get out of bed to turn it off.
Fitzgerald, on the other hand, "hates when the alarm goes off at 4 a.m.," but after a hot shower it does get better, he says. He's out the door 20 minutes after the alarm goes off. No breakfast — not even coffee until he's on the road because making it at home takes too long.
"I want to sleep every second I can," Fitzgerald says.
"I try to go to bed around 8:30 or 9 p.m." DeOliveira says, "but with shows like "American Idol,' "Lost' and "24' suckering me in each week, I end up staying up until 10 and then suffer through the next morning."
Fitzgerald relies on TIVO and DVRs for his favorite shows: "Monk," "24," "The Closer" and all of the "Law and Order" and "CSI" editions.
DeOliveira's friends and family take their lives in their hands to call after 8 p.m.
"They know they'll have to suffer my wrath," she says.
And it's not easy to retrain your body for the occasional schedule change. To make a Friday night event, DeOliveira needs the week to mentally prepare herself.
Lights out at 8 or 9 p.m. cuts into Fitzgerald's social life, too. Dinner with friends or catching a movie is strictly relegated to the weekends. On weekends, he says, "I sleep until 8, and it's like sleeping till noon for most people. It's four hours more than I usually get."
Not so for DeOliveira.
"I'm training for the Boston Marathon," she says, "so I usually wake up by 6 to do long runs or local races."
Of course, the flip side of an early start is the early finish. Fitzgerald and DeOliveira have their afternoons free, a plus Fitzgerald and his wife enjoy by shopping without the crowds.
In her afternoons, DeOliveira usually will run, mountain bike, go to the beach or out on the family boat.
Fitzgerald credits DeOliveira with putting up with his early morning grouchiness, or as he puts it, "when I'm not at my best."
"I will say here that Dianne is very much her own person and will not let me get away with anything chauvinistic on air or off," he adds. "I am very patient and calm until something gets me to my boiling point — then I can be tough on anyone near me, which means Dianne in the morning."
This is one combination that seems to be working. Fitzgerald and DeOliveira just entered their third year on The Breeze.
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