Longtime radio partners Bob Lacey and Sheri Lynch tell the story. John D. Simmons The Charlotte Observer
Longtime radio partners Bob Lacey and Sheri Lynch tell the story. John D. Simmons The Charlotte Observer

Entertainment

Against odds, Bob & Sheri proved a longlasting pairing

August 23, 2017 04:14 PM

UPDATED August 23, 2017 06:13 PM

“It’s kind of like a marriage,” Bob Lacey says, describing his quarter-century-long relationship with Sheri Lynch, “but without the sex.”

“Which has been a source of grief for me since Day One,” Lynch chimes in, sarcastically.

Lacey reconsiders: “Actually, it’s exactly like a marriage.”

“You know, I’ve been married three times,” Lynch adds, “and all of my marriages together don’t add up to my happy days with Bob Lacey. ... Ugh, three. When you say it out loud, it just sounds so tacky. ... But as I tell people when they go, ‘You’ve been married three times?’ I say, ‘Well, this kind of magic, it would be selfish to limit it to one husband.’ 

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As for Lacey and Lynch at “The Link,” their magic started back when WLNK was WBT-FM “Sunny 107.9,” and Lacey – already a Charlotte talk-radio and TV veteran – was hosting the morning show. He was struggling in the ratings, and the higher-ups decided they wanted to pair him with a female co-host.

“It’s interesting when you drain the sex and the threat out of a male-female relationship,” Sheri Lynch says, “that what can be left is this really strong camaraderie – kind of like brother and sister, but more than that even.”
John D. Simmons jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

Of the three dozen or so women who applied and sent tapes, Lacey liked the sound of exactly none of them. One morning, WBTV sent Lynch – then a marketing department employee who’d been applying to graduate schools – to make an announcement about a programming change at the TV station.

Lacey asked Lynch, out of the blue, if he could put her on the air. She killed. He asked if she would come back the next day. She killed again. She was bitingly funny, brutally honest, and even though she’d just met him, she didn’t back down when Lacey tried to mess with her a little.

“I went to the management and I said, ‘This is the person that I want,’ ” Lacey recalls. “And they said, ‘No way. She’s inexperienced.’ ” He argued, but they wouldn’t budge.

“So I said, ‘OK,’ and I went across the street to another station, cut a deal with them, came back, and said, ‘I’ve cut a deal across the street. You take her, or I leave.’ And they said, ‘Alright.’ 

“There’s a great scene in ‘Notting Hill’ where there’s six people, and they’re having dinner together, and the conversation is just so charming ... but it’s the women who are doing the zingers, getting the one-liners,” Bob Lacey says. “And that’s what we wanted to do with our show. That didn’t exist before us in radio.”
John D. Simmons jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

But the negotiation wasn’t over yet.

At WBTV, Lynch was barely making minimum wage. Lacey, who had two decades’ worth of experience on her, was earning a very cushy salary by radio standards. Lynch demanded the same exact deal.

“If you want me to do the job,” she recalls thinking, “and if you want me to do half the work – I mean, you’re not telling me that I get to phone it in – you’re gonna have to pay me the same pay.”

After much hand-wringing, management gave in.

“The manager at the time said, ‘This had better work. I’m not sure about her at all,’ ” Lacey recalls. One year later, that boss was gone, and the Gracie Awards named her the top female radio personality in America. Lynch has since won four more Gracies, most recently in 2016. “So,” Lacey deadpans, “I’m a genius.”

“You owe it to those people who are tuning in and giving you their time, which is the most valuable thing – far more than money,” Sheri Lynch says. “You’re gonna give me your time, I need to give you something back for that. I need to respect that, by challenging myself as a performer, to go beyond what you already think I can do. And I think that’s been what’s driven us, honestly. That and the fear of returning to our childhood poverty.”
John D. Simmons jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

But while she often gets a lot of the attention, it’s their chemistry that has helped put them in 41 affiliate stations across the country.

And they’ve embraced openness with listeners as much as laughter. Lynch’s dysfunctional-family stories of being raised in poverty by a father who was “a scrappy little gangster meth cook” are legendary, and Lacey calls publicly sharing the pain of losing two adult sons in just 14 months “the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

The only time it seemed they might break up? Perhaps in 2013, when Lynch earned her master’s degree in social work from Winthrop University. “I wasn’t panicky, but she was talking about it a lot on the air...” Lacey says.

She now works part-time as a social worker at a hospital in Charlotte. But her heart remains in radio.

“When I took this job, it was a lark,” Lynch says. “I thought it would last about six months, I’d get fired, and I’d have a great story to tell. I never thought in a million years that this would be a career. I mean, I grew up in northwestern Wyoming without (radio or TV).

“So when people ask me what radio is for me, I want you to imagine going out on a Tinder date with someone that looks really shady – then you wake up one day and you’re married with kids, and this is the love of your life.”

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Bob & Sheri

Co-hosts: Bob Lacey, 67, and Sheri Lynch, 51.

Station: 107.9 WLNK-FM, aka “The Link.” (Adult contemporary; owned by Entercom.)

On the air together in Charlotte since: February 1992.

Supporting cast: Max Sweeten (director) and Todd Haller (producer).