Meet the Host of DC101’s ‘Elliot in the Morning’ Show
You may not recognize him in the grocery store, but you might have heard him on the air.
“How cold was your tushy?” Elliot Segal asks a woman calling in to his radio show on a January morning just days after she gave birth on her freezing driveway. “So you showed your bagoon to the whole neighborhood!” he declares with jocular bemusement, seemingly coining a new euphemism for female anatomy.
With that crass remark, Segal’s co-host of 23 years, Diane Stupar Hughes, demands that he apologize to the caller. But he doesn’t. It’s likely no one really expects him to.
Few topics have been off limits for the host of DC101’s (WWDC-FM) “Elliot in the Morning” show since its 1999 debut, although bawdy banter has, on occasion, gotten him into trouble. In 2003, the Federal Communications Commission fined station owner Clear Channel Communications (now iHeartMedia) $55,000 for a segment in which Segal chatted up high school girls from Bishop O’Connell about their sex lives.
The following year, the feds levied a $247,500 fine against Segal’s employer, citing “indecency violations” after a call-in guest described, in graphic detail, her affinity for porn star Ron Jeremy and his films. That was the stunt that prompted the show to begin airing on a seven-second delay.
Segal certainly isn’t the first iconoclast to rock DC101. By the time he arrived to claim the morning slot, 17 years had passed since legendary shock jock Howard Stern was fired from the station after clashes with management.
But nearly a quarter century later, Segal, 54, who lives in Arlington’s Tara-Leeway Heights neighborhood, has earned bragging rights for longevity. No fines have been handed down since that 2004 whopper, though it’s unclear whether the DJ has toned it down or the listening public has simply become unshockable. It may be a little of both.
There’s “a natural progression of how society has changed and evolved,” he says in his broadcast staccato. “When I first got here, I was single, I had no kids. [Since then] I got married and I have two kids, so I’ve grown up and evolved, [too].”
Raised by a bookkeeper mom and a dad who did odd jobs, Segal fell in love with radio as a middle schooler in Houston in 1982, when a new Top 40 station, 93Q (KKBQ-FM), came to town. (Today it plays country music.)
“It’s what I listened to. It’s what all my friends listened to,” he says. Songs by the J. Geils Band, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, and Survivor filled the soundtrack of his youth.
In high school, he worked a string of jobs—at a movie theater, at Walmart and, for a hot minute, at Burger King. (He quit that one after his first 7 to 11 p.m. shift when a manager said he had to stay an extra hour to clean trays.)
He was nearing the end of 10th grade when he found an “in” at 93Q after meeting the DJ who worked the night shift and telling him he wanted to learn everything he could about radio. “We stayed in touch, and after a couple of months, the station had a job opening,” Segal says.
Soon, he was living the dream, running errands, folding T-shirts for promotions and handling 3 a.m. Sunday public-service shows. “If they asked, I did it,” he says. “That got my foot in the door.” Eventually, he worked his way up to morning-show producer.
After high school, Segal spent a few weeks at Houston Baptist University but left when a morning-show producer job opened at Los Angeles’ Pirate Radio (100.3 KQLZ-FM). From there, he hopped to Eagle 106 in Philadelphia (WEGX-FM) and then New York’s Z100 (WHTZ-FM)—where, in 1996, he became a morning show co-host—before landing in the DMV in 1999.
Airing weekdays “from 5:48 to 10-something,” “Elliot in the Morning” amassed a devoted following, even as streaming music platforms and podcasts gave listeners a universe of competing distractions for their morning commutes and dog walks.
Radio isn’t dead yet. To the contrary, some 236 million Americans still listen to the radio every week, according to Nielsen Media Research data published by the Radio Advertising Bureau. In addition to airing in the D.C. market, “Elliot in the Morning” is syndicated in New York City (Alt 92.3, streaming), Richmond (Alt 102.1, WRXL-FM) and Kansas City (Alt 96.5, KRBZ-FM).
And while an Atlanta station recently dropped the show after nine months due to low ratings, “Elliot in the Morning” was the DMV’s top radio show among listeners 25-54 for most of 2022, according to Nielsen.
Knowing listeners are counting on his crew for a morning pick-me-up, perhaps with a side of potty humor, is motivating for Segal. His alarm goes off at 2 a.m. most days, rousing him to head for the studio in Rockville, Maryland. He arrives at work around 2:45 a.m. to prep for the show, which also features Tyler Molnar and Krysten Warnes.
Eleven hours later, he comes home. “Then I live life,” he says—perhaps going to a Caps game, grabbing a bite with his wife, Jacquie, at Sushi-Zen or District Taco near their house, or watching their younger son, a high-school junior, play travel hockey at MedStar Capitals Iceplex. (Their older son is a freshman at the University of Tennessee.)
Bedtime is between 9:30 and 11:30 p.m. “I know I don’t get enough sleep,” Segal admits. “But I love it.”
“He is the hardest-working person I’ve ever come across in all my years in radio, and I’ve been doing this since I graduated college in 1990,” says co-host Stupar Hughes, who lives in Alexandria and grew up in Burke. “He expects a lot of you, but that kind of makes you want to be better.”
In 2021, Segal was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.
What’s the secret to his show’s epic run? “People listening,” he quips. “Through their antiquated system, people are listening and liking it.”
A journalist for 23 years, Stephanie Kanowitz also enjoys contributing to antiquated media.