Russ and Dee Fine
Russ and Dee Fine are a husband-wife team of veteran radio talk-show hosts, Russ Fine and Dee Fine.
The Russ and Dee Fine talk show debuted in 1986 on and quickly established itself as an outlet for heated political debate of local and national hot-button issues. While on-air discussion is usually divided, with Russ taking one side of an issue and Dee the other, the couple has together championed numerous causes. Specifically the Fines have advocated tougher immigration enforcement, removal of the "wall of separation" between church and state, opposition to constitutional reform in Alabama, support for the invasion of Iraq and for racial profiling in the war on terror. They have been cited as national leaders in campaigns to stem illegal immigration.
A 1993 USA Network television movie, The Switch depicts an event in which a man (played by Gary Cole) becomes paralyzed after a motorcycle accident and befriends Russ Fine (Craig T. Nelson), who provides the suicidal patient with a mouth-operated switch he could use to terminate his life. The man chooses instead to fight to preserve his life. Beverly D'Angelo portrays Dee Fine in a small, uncredited performance.
On the air
After six years, the Fines moved their show to the talk powerhouse WERC-AM, first as a late-night weekend show, and then weeknights in from 7:00 - 9:00. In March 1998 they took over the more prestigious morning duties at WERC from radio legends Doug Layton and John Ed Willoughby, calling the show The Fine Line.
On an April Fool's Day show that year, they alleged that a 1950s state law requiring vehicle license plates on both the front and rear of automobiles would start to be enforced, resulting in a firestorm of angry calls to the Jefferson County Courthouse.
In 1999 the Fines filed a complaint with the Alabama State Ethics Commission alleging improper payments from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department to former state senator John Amari.
In April 2000, following a shouting match between Dee Fine and sales manager Steve Green, the station decided to go with a faster-paced format and dropped the show, bringing Mark Roberts to the station from WHP in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. At the time, Russ Fine said they had been contacted by the producers of Art Bell's nationally syndicated talk show about replacing him.
A month later, the Fines debuted as Russ and Dee in the Morning on Crawford Broadcasting's WYDE-AM, which was in the process of restoring its broadcast power from 9,000 to 50,000 watts. In 2002 later, they found themselves at WYDE-FM, licensed in Cullman, after it was purchased by Crawford and converted to an all-talk format.
In August 2003 the Fines began hosting an annual "Alabama Tea Party" rally for their political causes. Later that year they were sued for defamation by Ted Dial, the Building Inspector for the City of Hanceville, after the Fines urged listeners to call and complain about a project he had opposed, giving his phone number out over the air.
The Fines were among the most vocal critics of the Aruban investigation into the disappearance of Mountain Brook High School graduate Natalee Holloway. In June 2005 they were among the first to publicly call for a boycott of the island.
During the 2006 election, the Fines supported former judge Roy Moore over incumbent Bob Riley in the gubernatorial primary. Their dislike for Riley continued with a half-hearted endorsement of his Democratic opponent, Lucy Baxley after Moore was defeated. In August 2006, the Fines asserted on the air that Riley's membership in the all-white Grand Masonic Lodge of Alabama should disqualify him from representing non-white Alabamians.
Off the air
During their Monday, September 25, 2006 morning show, WYDE general manager Steve Armstrong told the Fines that their services would no longer be needed. Armstrong explained to listeners that it was time for a change. Lee Davis was selected to fill in temporarily.
The Fines claim that the firing was in retaliation for their criticism of Governor Riley's lodge membership. In a statement published on their website, they stated that, "We have yet to decide if we will return to the air waves, even if given the opportunity." (Fine and Fine - October 25, 2006}
- Nicholson, Gilbert (April 7, 2000) "Fine-tuning? WERC hosts reject contract offer." Birmingham Business Journal
- Nicholson, Gilbert (May 5, 2000) "Russ and Dee set to air new morning talk show." Birmingham Business Journal
- Buchanan, Susy (Spring 2005) "Sweet Home Alabama: Frightened right-wingers gather to keep the 'Cradle of the Confederacy' safe from leprosy, pedophiles, Spanish and rampant godlessness." Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Report.
- Harvey, Alex (September 26, 2006) "Radio talk show hosts Russ, Dee Fine fired." Birmingham News.
- Fine, Russ and Dee Fine (October 25, 2006) "Of Peters and Principles" [Russ and Dee online. - accessed November 2, 2006
- Russ and Dee Online website
- The Switch on the internet movie database