Florida talk radio personality (Edward) Shannon Burke is spending his weekend in a cage. Burke is a shock-jock who plays a biker on the radio and sometimes in real-life.
He became very famous very fast by inviting people to think of him as a drug devouring, hard drinking, Harley riding, tattoo-wearing, Arab hating patriot who did not really give a damn what anybody thought. He raised money to put an American flag in every classroom at the University of South Florida.
He promoted a motorcycle event called Shannon Burke’s Real Ride with Bruce Rossmeyer. Rossmeyer is more than just the fat man in a series of Geico commercials. He is also one of the largest Harley dealers in the country.
Burke rode a pretty, raked, Springer that was slammed down into the weeds. He did not wear a helmet. And in small doses, he was hard not to like.
You could hear him on WTKS RealRadio 104.1. Or, this now being the third millennium, you could also catch him over the net or, while it lasted, on XM Satellite Radio. The first couple of times you heard him, it was hard not to think of Burke as the comic book version of us.
Now Shannon Burke is starting to look an awful lot like Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes. Lonesome Rhodes was the lead character in an old movie called A Face in the Crowd. Andy Griffith played a backwoods oaf who becomes a television star because the mass medium emphasized the humor in his home-spun anti-authoritarianism. But as soon as the microphone went dead and he got his drink on old Lonesome Rhodes turned out to be just another small town bully.
Like Shannon Burke. This would be a much better story if you could read that Shannon Burke beat up, or even that he got beat up by, three or four cops. This story would not be here to read at all if Burke had gotten drunk and slapped around his wife a little bit and kicked his dog.
Instead Burke tried to kill his dog. Maybe because he thought that was how he could force his wife to love him. Then he wound up shooting her in the head. And, if there is a silver lining to any of this, it is that Burke is not much of a shot.
Hey Cathy, Watch This
“Shannon told me that since I obviously didn’t care about his dog, he didn’t care about my dog, either.” Burke’s soon to be ex-wife, Catherine Burke said in a public document. “He then picked Charlotte (the dog) up and threw her harshly to the ground. He walked over to the closet and grabbed his gun and told me, ‘I’m going to shoot the dog in the head and you’re going to watch,'”
Burke then aimed his pistol and pulled the trigger but the pistol misfired. So he changed clips, tried again, and shot the dog in the leg. Apparently the bullet ricocheted off the dog’s leg bone and caught Mrs. Burke in the head. “Charlotte yelped in agony, and directly after that, I felt a burning pain in the side of my head,” Catherine Burke told the court.
Shannon Burke was charged with aggravated battery and animal cruelty. He bonded out and gave his keys to a friend so the friend could go pick up his motorcycle. Unfortunately, Catherine Burke was not in the mood to find a stranger in her house when she returned from the hospital. The police were also not amused so Shannon Burke’s bail was revoked and he is spending this weekend in the Orange County Jail.
We’ve Only Just Begun
He has been fired from his high-paying radio job. An ex-wife named Susan Pendergraft and a baby-mama named Deanne Schulz have also been talking to the press; telling the tale that Shannon Burke is only funny on the radio. He has also picked up a probation violation from an earlier, drunk-driving, conviction.
So, if these things play out the way they usually do, next Shannon Burke will either be surprised to find himself in the penitentiary or he will undergo a profound religious conversion. After that, who knows. Maybe an HBO documentary. Then maybe either a television ministry or a feature film.
F. Scott Fitzgerald got it wrong. Every American life has at least two acts. And, lives lived in public have many more acts than that.