News & Politics

Make Over: Basement Humor

When inspiration strikes, the Greaseman can head downstairs to his recording studio.

Doug Tracht compares his basement studio to a bunker: “It’s a keenly focused operation down here. It’s the NORAD of Potomac.” Photograph by Matthew Worden.

Not many people could broadcast a radio show to anywhere in the world from their basement. But Doug Tracht, better known to his fans as the Greaseman, is not like most people.

In the basement of his Potomac home, his studio has all the features of a radio station: a mixing board, automation system, computers, and sound-effects machines—an integral part of the shock jock’s ribald routine.

His weekday morning show airs on WMET, which moved offices this winter from downtown DC to Silver Spring. For several months during the move, Tracht broadcast the show from his basement.

He uses the studio to research and practice material and record voice-overs. “If I get an idea at 9 o’clock at night and I have already had two Scotches, there’s no problem,” he says. “I just walk downstairs in my flopping bathrobe and lay it down for the next day.”

A home studio has a downside: He can never get away from work. Tracht laughs as he compares it to Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”: “I hear it beat. It calls me to it.”