By Theresa Goffredo Herald Writer
When Bob Merrick is having one of those yardstick moments, when he measures how far he has come, he always starts in 1988. He was 13, in his bedroom weeping as he listened to the New Kids on the Block band on the radio playing at the Puyallup Fair.
Bob listened on his clock radio and cried in his Everett bedroom, believing he was the only kid in town not at that concert.
By most standards, Merrick has come a long way from that sad childhood as a shy boy with a shaky home life to a successful prime-time radio talk show host whose program receives 80,000 downloads a week and whose guests have included a wide range of stars and emerging stars such as Winona Ryder and Brian Baumgartner, who plays Kevin on “The Office.”
Merrick resides in Hollywood, where he is living his dream of having his own radio show where he can interview people and share positive messages with his audience.
In fact, the concept of “The Baub Show” is that it’s the positive side of pop culture. Stars share their successes and philosophies on how they rose from the bottom or persevered or fought back demons.
It’s celebrities doing good. It’s the anti-Lindsey Lohan interview.
Merrick’s radio show started as a podcast in his kitchen in 2008. But after returning from working on “Iron Man 3” in North Carolina, he decided to take the plunge and invest some money to start a live broadcast of “The Baub Show.”
His audience grew, and Merrick began to get more big-name guests until he amassed a following that in February attracted the attention of the Universal Broadcasting Network in Hollywood, which offered Merrick his own drive-time morning radio show, also to be called “The Baub Show” (www.thebaubshow.com).
“The Baub Show” airs from 9 to 11 a.m. weekdays.
Merrick recently contacted The Herald, not to brag about how he, a former Herald newspaper carrier, is now flying around on private jets, but to deliver the message that hard work, dreaming big and treating others with respect will pay off.
“We have a light inside of us and it really is up to us whether we let it shine or not,” Merrick said in a phone interview.
“A bad childhood or not, that was a time in my life where I was at a crossroad. I could have gone down the path and become my mother, gone the way of drugs, homeless in the U District. That was an absolute option for me.”
The unconditional love of his grandparents and hard work pulled Merrick through. He does admit that, without a college degree, he winds up working twice as hard.
He worked on 17 feature films before his radio program, behind-the-scenes labor in 16- to 18-hour shifts on “Three Kings,” “Cast Away,” “Wild, Wild West” and “Iron Man,” to name a few. Those films gave Merrick a big network.
“You cannot dream big enough; growing up never taught me to dream,” he said.
“A lot of my success is based on attitude and recognizing people are people. That person might be a millionaire but that does not make him better than me. Maybe you don’t own a home or you have holes in your socks, but you are not less than me.
“That is what my show is about.”
“Accentuating the positive” is the show’s tagline. The positive is a hard sell, Merrick admitted. It would be so much easier to become famous by having as a guest someone like Amanda Bynes, an actress who has lately been considered a certified whack job in Hollywood circles because of her crazy tweets and actions.
But Merrick said he would refuse to interview a fallen star even if she asked to be on his show.
“I work very hard at the whole positive thing,” he said. “Bad news sells, but truthfully, at the end of the day, I want the performers who show up on time, who are doing good in the world.
“I believe we need more good news and I’m made fun of for that, but I’ll take it to make the world a better place rather than jumping on the bandwagon being part of its demise.”
One of Merrick’s favorite guests has been Geri Jewell, who starred as Blair’s cousin Geri on “The Facts of Life” and became the first person with a disability to have a recurring role on prime-time television.
She came out as a lesbian in her upcoming memoir, “I’m Walking as Straight as I Can: Transcending Disability in Hollywood and Beyond.”
“Here’s a woman who has cerebral palsy and who spent her entire life fighting to live and she’s so hilarious and the stuff she has gone through I would have killed myself,” Merrick said. “But she has this beautiful life and this is why I’m doing this, because the amount of people who reached out to me after that show.”
She had that never-give-up attitude, Merrick said.
And it’s keeping that attitude that is the message he’s trying to send to young people who might be struggling like he did.
It’s all within your reach, Merrick would tell them.
He said he still has several goals he’s reaching for and laughed when asked whether he is rich. He called himself “self-sustaining.”
Self-effacing, he said he has no voice for radio and wishes he had better enunciation.
But Merrick never forgets that day in his bedroom in 1988.
“I remember that moment because that’s how I gauge how far I’ve come,” he said. “Being given this opportunity to be in the mix with some of these people that I interview is so far beyond my dreams, it’s not even funny.”
4 things to know about Bob
Bob Merrick is an Everett High School graduate and former Herald newspaper carrier who now is the host of a popular daytime radio talk show.
1. His show is “The Baub Show.” That’s the way Bob once spelled his name at Everett High: He needed call letters for the radio. Check it out at thebaubshow.com.
2. Bob has interviewed Guy Pearce from “Iron Man 3”; Macy Gray; Wynonna Judd; Gavin DeGraw; Jill Sobule; Jane Wiedlin; David Archuleta; Neve Campbell; Anna Faris; Octavia Spencer; and Shannon Elizabeth.
3. “The Baub Show” averages 100,000 listeners a week.
4. Bob Merrick is 39, lives with his boyfriend in Hollywood and jokes that the love of his life is his mini golden retriever, Gus.