Elvis Duran, who speaks with News 12's Elisa DiStefano about his new memoir "Where Do I Begin?" on Oct. 23 at Book Revue in Huntington, hosts a syndicated Z100 radio show heard by millions every morning. With co-hosts Danielle Monaro and Medha Gandhi and cohorts including executive producer and occasional on-air kibbitzer Skeery Jones, he airs a four-hour block of Top 40 hits and all the usual well-crafted idiocy of any morning-zoo show.
The book covers territory from Texas to TriBeCa, with behind-the-scenes stories of hosting the annual Z100 Jingle Ball and interviewing stars on his show; of the murder of a DJ friend; of meeting and falling in love with his now-husband, Alex Carr; and of being on air the day after 9/11, serving as an information clearinghouse to help connect people or to urge that food be taken to responders at Ground Zero.
Yet for all that, Duran, 55, retains some mystery. In an interview he confirms his birth date as Aug. 5, 1964, but mentions it nowhere in the book. In an interview, he allows that "Elvis Duran" is a pseudonym (he was born Barry Brian Cope) but he also states that nowhere in the book.
The first name, "Elvis," he says now, "was given to me. I didn't choose it at all. It was the name given to me if I wanted the job" at KIKM (now KATH) in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. That was a part-time gig in addition to his first job in radio, at a station in his native McKinney, Texas, where he worked from 1979 to 1981 while still in high school.
"I said I felt uncomfortable doing that," he recalls of the request to use a pseudonym. "And they said, 'Well, we'll just hire someone else.' So I'm like, OK, I'll take the name." His nom de radio eventually "evolved into Elvis Duran. That was in San Antonio."
MEET THE PARENTS
Additionally, the autobiography paints a loving description of his life-of-the-party parents — the late Valeta and Billy James "BB" Cope, who were supportive and accepting of their gay son in 1970s Texas — but the book never gives their names.
"We had some security problems where people were bothering them and my family," Duran states. "So I didn't feel like it was important to include that" even though his parents are deceased. "But the rest of my family's still here," he says. "And you know what, it really became a major problem. … It was really bad, including having to hire some people to keep everyone safe." So were they being stalked? "It wasn't something that was like a chorus of people bothering them," he says, without specifics, "but it became something I took very personally."
He also notes that as associated with New York as Z100 (WHTZ/100.3 FM) is, "When I first came to Z100, we were told, 'There is no Manhattan, there is no New York City. It's only Long Island and New Jersey.' That's where they had figured out that the majority of our listeners lived. And so I thought it was sort of interesting, as big city as Z100 always tried to sound, that they were always very, very careful to keep us focused on Long Island and New Jersey."
And as confident and freewheeling as he is on radio, Duran says he is still nervous about the book, which was written with Andy Barr. "I remember the first person who told me they read it — I got nervous," he says. "I didn't want to hear what they had to say, because once it's out there, there's nothing you can do. It's done. You can't take it back. You can't rewind time" — only try to capture it between two covers.
Elvis Duran in conversation with Elisa DiStefano
WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m. Oct. 23, Book Revue, 313 New York Ave., Huntington
INFO Free; 631-271-1442, bookrevue.com