Former WZPL hosts reflect on proposal that got them fired 35 years ago

Steve and Mel WZPL
Posted at 5:40 AM, Jul 13, 2023

INDIANAPOLIS — It happened fast.

"On the noon news it was, 'Steve and Mel are getting married,' and on the 5 o'clock news it was, 'Steve and Mel are fired.'"

But why?

"You never ask why in radio," Melody Stiles said.

Melody was the Mel of "WZPL's 'Steve and Mel and the Morning Music Crew." And the show came to an abrupt end 35 years ago when her co-host, Stephen Stiles popped the question.

“He proposed to me on our first-year anniversary on the air,” Melody said. "It was genius radio."

"It really was and it should have been a good thing," Stephen Stiles said. "It should have been a good thing for everybody."

But it wasn't. The duo parted ways with the radio station on the very same day they were engaged. While the news was a shock to just about everyone, Stephen says they had a feeling that something was brewing.

“There was so much friction inside that things were coming to a head,” Stephen said. “We knew where we were, we weren't sure where some of the powers-that-be were.”

Even though Steve and Mel's radio show had risen nearly to the top of the ratings chart, Stephen and Melody said some in station management weren't enthusiastic about having a woman behind the microphone.

Steve and Mel WZPL

"They did not like me," Melody said.

"To have that sort of strong, feminine voice in a studio, and I let her," Steve said. "I did everything I could as a co-host to say, you know, 'We're equal pieces. It's Steve and Mel and Mel and Steve.'"

And on July 13, 1988, Mel accepted Stephen's on-air proposal.

Station management issued a memo asking the hosts to refrain from discussing their marriage on the air.

"I don't think they realized what they were doing," Melody said. "And it exploded in their faces. I couldn't believe anything that ridiculous would really happen."

But it did happen, as did the wedding.

Steve and Mel wedding

"We were the first couple to ever get married at Park Tudor High School," Melody said.

Still happily married, the couple now calls southern California home. They look back knowing their exit from radio is the stuff of legend.

"There was nothing that you could you can't top that," Melody said.

And for those who think nobody could be stupid enough to blow up a good thing, the couple says, "Yes, they are!"