By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
When you hear that voice rolling over the airwaves, you envision a playboy. And if that is where your imagination takes you, you are right and you are wrong.
The man inside the KRNB-FM 105.7 studio does know how to wear the role. The looks -- oh yes, what you've heard is true -- the earrings, the silver jewelry, the blue-tinted sunglasses worn well after dark.
And the JESUS pinkie ring. It takes a special man to wear a JESUS pinkie ring.
It's Monday night, two days after Christmas, and Rudy V sits in near darkness, perched at the control console of the studio in Grand Prairie. His only sources of light are a computer screen and the flicker of soft candlelight on the walls. Sweet-smelling incense burns next to phone lines blinking like Christmas trees.
He takes himself seriously, this man behind The Quiet Storm, KRNB's hit 7 p.m.-2 a.m. show, broadcast Sunday through Thursday. His audience takes him even more seriously.
Every night they call in, asking for advice. Should I leave my wife? How do I know when it's love? My mother just died -- how am I going to make it?
Rudy V responds with commiseration, with advice, with parental homilies and Bible bits. "A lot of people depend on the show," he says. "It's like a kinship. It's a responsibility of sorts."
But most of the time, Rudy V spins the greatest old-school love songs of the '80s and '90s. Hits like "Fire and Desire," the electric duet between Rick James and Teena Marie, and Heat Wave's "Always and Forever." Songs that take you back to sweaty summer nights crowded into somebody's mama's basement, dancing way too slow beneath the glow of red light bulbs.
Rudy V switches smoothly from call to call, not at all hurried by the blinking lights.
"Hi, 105.7 can you hold?" he says to one caller after another. Some answer breathlessly. Some can't believe the voice is really talking to them.
"Who is this?"
"This is Will."
"Will, what can I do for you, my brother?"
"My wife and I are sitting here listening to you..." The caller pauses.
"Man, we're about ready to tear each other apart."
The men share a lascivious chuckle.
"Isn't the animal attraction between a man and his wife a beautiful thing?" Rudy V asks.
"Yeah..." the caller says, sounding surprised. "Yeah, it is."
"You do know, Will, that there is nothing -- nothing -- that is defiled in the marriage bed?" Rudy V says, alluding to a Bible verse.
"Is that right?"
"That's right, anything goes. You can do whatever you please."
Riding the mood, Rudy V selects an Isley Brothers classic for Will and his wife. There's just no way two lovers could stop themselves from being carried away on the silky notes of Ronald Isley's crooning.
Rudy V may as well have escorted them to the bedroom door, handed them a certified letter signed by God, and placed the "do not disturb sign" on the doorknob.
With a choice few words, he's set up his callers for a night of passion, at the same time sanctifying their marriage bed.
Sure enough, Rudy V is a playboy, but he's God's playboy. You might say he's trying to have it both ways, mixing sexy R&B and old-time religion. But listen closer.
His message is subtle this evening, but on any given night Rudy V will explicitly warn his listeners that fornication is a sin. This creates some odd juxtapositions -- one night the DJ might play Shirley Murdock's "As We Lay," a song about infidelity, followed by a brief exposition on what the Bible says about adultery.
"There's a lot of spirituality going on in the show," Rudy V says. "Without question, I'm proud of that."
It could be a big turn-off for some, but in a city of profound moral contradictions -- with high crime and strange liquor laws and a church on every corner -- The Quiet Storm listeners love it. Every third call is a compliment. Every second call is a come-on. Every other call seems to be for counseling.
Can they hold? You mean how long?
After four years on the air in Dallas, Rudy V has cultivated an adoring fan base that he calls "The Quiet Storm Family."
According to Arbitron reports, people who listen to Rudy V listen for a very long time. They tune in, but they can't tune out, listening for an average of three hours each day. The show ranks fourth in its time slot among listeners age 18 to 34, a surprisingly young crowd for a classic R&B station. It's a remarkable performance for a show on a station that ranks 23rd overall in this market.
Quiet Storm listeners tune in for more than entertainment. They are seeking soul salvation in love and life, and Rudy V seems to hold all of the answers.
Night after night, he dissects relationships and personalities, picking out the flawed pieces and holding them up for his listeners to see so they can change their ways. So that they might live, as Rudy V says, "in heavenly marital bliss."