Phoenix Dog Edition January/February 2018 – By Steve Pawlowski Photo John Holmberg
A fixture on the local radio scene, John Holmberg has quarterbacked Arizona’s #1 morning show, “Holmberg’s Morning Sickness,” for more than a decade on KUPD, Arizona’s Real Rock. The show is broadcast live, weekdays from 5:30 – 10am, as John and his co-hosts, Brady Bogen, Creepy-E, and Dick Toledo interview comedians, talk smack to callers, and generally offend!
Off the radio, he’s co-written sketches with comedian and celebrity impressionist, Frank Caliendo for his national television segments on Fox and ESPN. He’s also co-hosted several podcasts with comedian, radio personality, television host, actor and director, Adam Carolla.
Of course, his success didn’t happen overnight. It took persistence, drive and some well-worn vocal cords. Holmberg, now 45, tells a story that is more complex than the irreverent bits and parodies that have made him a household name around the Valley. It’s the tale of a compassionate, cynical, part-time philosopher who honed his vocal talents by reading comics for a translation service for the visually impaired.
John was born in northwest Indiana, but has lived in the Valley since 1983. He has strong family roots in western Pennsylvania as well, which explains his devotion to the Pittsburgh Steelers. John’s radio career began after changing his major six times and working as a server and bartender for years. He reached a point where he knew he had to make his own opportunities.
He started at KZON in Phoenix, running tapes and working 18 hour days, doing whatever needed to be done – often sleeping at the station. And while he had the studio to himself in the middle of the night, he learned how to use the equipment and polished his act.
“Lack of ambition on the part of other people opened doors for me,” said John. “I had no idea what I was doing, but when I started producing the morning show, it went from #9 to #2.” And the rest is radio history.
The Softer Side:
John is well-known among the Arizona pet rescue community for his generous contributions on-air and on-site, hosting benefits and raising awareness of the homeless pet overpopulation.
He and his wife, Megan, are doing their part as the proud pet parents to SIX dogs – Frank, Yardley, Dutch, Ben, Sheila, and Gordon. It all started with one, but of course, she needed a friend. Then it just made the couple feel good to rescue.
Over the years, John has walked away from the Arizona Humane Society’s annual telethon with two dogs, including his three-legged pit bull, Yardley. “They know I’m weak and helpless,” he says.
The Holmberg clan includes two felines as well. Most notably, El Gato Diablo Guadalupe (the devil cat of Guadalupe), who darted out from behind a bush to defend an injured dog that John and Megan stopped to help. The dog turned out to be fine, but following that encounter, the kitty went home with them.
After saving Paco, now named Frank, when a heartless person tied him to a fence near a freeway onramp, John offers this advice to anyone considering bringing a dog into their lives: “Make sure you can take
care of yourself and the dog. A dog is a life, not a possession. You’re taking on an existence. He or she is yours for good.”
Up Close and Personal:
These days, John is hyper-focused on mountain biking – sometimes riding with members of the Phoenix PD. He also seems to enjoy some self-inflicted wounds. “I go out of my way to find things I don’t like and absorb them fully – the Kardashians, Adam Sandler movies, and HGTV are a few examples!”
On the music front, he’s currently listening to the bands Highly Suspect, Royal Blood, and the Foo Fighters. The most impressive concert he’s ever seen was the German industrial metal band, Rammstein. “They just assault every one of my senses!”
John doesn’t believe in bucket lists, but his dream is to buy some land, maybe a farm, where old dogs can live out their final days in peace. This yet-to-be-named sanctuary would obviously be open for adoptions as well.
If compassion and drive are the components to making this dream a reality, the senior dogs of our community most definitely have a bright future ahead.
You can hear John Holmberg’s Morning Sickness on 97.9KUPD weekday morning from 5:30 to 10 am, or see him at an animal welfare event or riding by on the trails!