Steve Maney, Roy Brown and LauRen Merola were merely supporting characters on TLC’s “My Big Fat Fabulous Life,” but the Kiss 95.1 morning show hosts might be entertaining enough for their own reality-TV series.
There was that time Merola took Brown on an airplane for the first time in his life, to the Tortuga Music Festival in Florida, where they had so much fun she accidentally walked into a screen door.
Or the time the three got to watch a Carolina Panthers game in friend-of-the-show Cam Newton’s suite, which they had to leave if they wanted to air grievances. (“Can’t be yelling, ‘Oh, come on, Cam! What are you doing??’ His cousin was in there,” Brown says.)
Or the time Brown’s cell was stolen at a gas station when he and Maney were driving back from a convention in Atlanta. After the Find My iPhone app tracked it to a truck stop, they banged on the door of a semi till a bleary-eyed trucker emerged.
“He’s like, ‘No, man, I don’t have your phone. You wanna come in and check?’ ” Maney recalls. “We were like, ‘Uh... no, we’ll just take your word for it.’ ”
“We’ve seen enough scary movies,” Brown says.
All of this is to say that Maney, Brown and Merola have been through a lot since being thrown together as an “arranged-marriage” morning-radio team 2 1/2 years ago. (Maney had teamed with P.J. “Drex” Rener and Cassiday Proctor, who left for a job in Atlanta; Rener and Maney replaced “The Ace & TJ Show” in 2012.)
They were an unlikely trio on paper: Merola was a Miss USA finalist, an NFL and NBA cheerleader, and had mostly done sports radio. Brown is a “Southern boy” from Roanoke, Va. Maney, at 40, is the sole Gen-X-er.
“When Roy was born, in 1992, I was a junior in high school,” Maney says. “So they never know any of the references I make. ... And we’re not even talking about old ’70s references. I bring up ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ and they’re like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa! Easy, Grandpa!’ ”
Yet they’ve clicked on-air better than the marriage-arrangers could have expected.
They’ve hooked listeners with fan-favorite bits like “War of the Roses,” in which the trio cracks down on cheaters, and “Confession Wednesday,” where listeners can call in and get something personal off their chests.
They’ve made ’em laugh with contests like the “Walmart Prize Walk,” in which listeners called in to blindly guide a Kiss staffer through the store, winning whatever item the employee ended up standing in front of.
And they’ve made ’em cry with segments like the one back in April 2016 in which Merola – who had been struggling with fertility issues – took a pregnancy test during a show, and revealed the results live on the air.
“We had a cake that said, ‘Congratulations... or Not,’ ” she says. “I was scared s---less.” But, happily, the test was positive, Maney rolled the chorus of Justin Bieber’s “Baby,” and Merola wept tears of joy as Brown applauded and Maney raised his hands in triumph.
It was a moment that oozed chemistry, a quality that can be seen and heard beyond the walls of the Beasley Broadcast Group’s station in South End.
“We’ll go out to lunch and it’s like we’re still doing the show,” Merola says. “People come up and they’ll say, ‘Oh, I heard your voices and I realized it was the three of you together,’ because we’re no different off the air than we are on it.”
“Yeah,” Brown says. “We’re not faking it.”
Adds Maney: “We’re probably the highest-rated group of friends in the city.”