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The Dr. Is In, If You Have An FM Radio

Published: Aug 23, 2006

ZEPHYRHILLS - Dr. Thayer - high school teacher, bodybuilder, radio station owner, body paint aficionado - sometimes worries he's becoming overexposed.

Some weekends, you find him recording live from The Clock diner on U.S. 301. The next minute, he slathers on green body paint to become his alter ego, the Impressive - not to be confused with the Incredible - Hulk and serves as master of ceremonies for a downtown Zephyrhills street festival.

All the while, though, it's a good bet Thayer is thinking and brainstorming about "The Zephyr," a low-power, oldies radio station he operates out of a small trailer off Chancey Road.

It's the city's only FM radio station. It's also Thayer's childhood dream.

"It's even better than I've dreamed of," Thayer, 57, said recently. "I'm the Scott Shannon of Zephyrhills."

That might be a bit of a stretch. Shannon's famous voice booms over 400 radio stations across the nation, and Thayer's voice resonates in homes and car stereos within nine miles of Zephyrhills.

Drive down any city street and you'll spy a poster, yard sign or bumper sticker for WZPH, 96.7 FM. Attend any Main Street function, and there's Thayer, microphone in hand, egging on the crowd or recording "shout-outs" to be broadcast over the airwaves later.

Thayer does it all gratis. He doesn't make any money off the station, either. There are no ads on the air. Even if he could sell ads (he's tried - no takers), he couldn't charge much; technically, The Zephyr is a nonprofit radio station.

He pays for the station's upkeep, rent on the empty pasture where he parks his trailer and all that green body paint, imported from Germany, out of his own pocket. Thayer works as a math teacher at Land O' Lakes High School and as an online instructor for distance-learning colleges.

He'll tell you Dr. is the name his mama gave him, but then admit he went by something else, John, and changed his name as an adult. Voting records list him as Dr. Thayer.

Nicola M. White