(MONEY Magazine) – BRUCE WILLIAMS, THE ANSWER TO RUSH Limbaugh for the money-inclined, broadcasts his three-hour weeknight radio talkfest from his at-home studio in New Port Richey, Fla., a suburb of Tampa. And tonight it appears he's fallen asleep in the middle of his broadcast. Williams' eyes are closed and he's horizontal, his easy chair tilted back and his stockinged feet up on his desk. Snores go out over the air. The snorting, though, comes from Mick, Williams' Boston terrier, who is curled up on his lap near the mike.

Is this any way to run a big-time radio call-in show about personal finance? Yes, apparently.

A rich baritone who got his first radio job 20 years ago by badgering the general manager of WCTC and WQMR in New Brunswick, N.J., Williams, 63, now reaches about 5 million people a week on the Westwood One Entertainment radio network. He's usually heard from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. eastern time on roughly 400 stations. Among radio talk show hosts, only Limbaugh is more ubiquitous. "My job," Williams says, "is to cut through all forms of B.S." His success yields a compensation package in the low seven figures and helps explain how he can afford his new 6,000-square-foot home looking over the Gulf of Mexico and his three-bedroom colonial in Franklin Park, N.J.

Still, he's restless. The former mayor of Franklin Township, N.J., Williams has become a political activist on a national level. After listening to hundreds of callers complain about undeserved late-payment fees from credit-card and mortgage companies, he is campaigning to change the law. He wants to ban fees resulting from a creditor's slowness to process a check or a delay in the mail. Williams is lobbying Congress to call payments timely if they are postmarked by the due date on their bills. "It's good enough for the IRS when you send in your tax return," he says. So far, the Postmark Prompt Payment Act of 1995 (HR 1963) has only 35 House co-sponsors. Banks and credit-card issuers are fighting the legislation vigorously.

Frightfully politically incorrect--he addresses female callers as "honey," "sweetheart" or "babe"--Williams' on-air appeal lies in what he calls his "hip uncle" image. Blending advice on money and life and delivering it with attitude, the burly radio host is by turns sarcastic, soothing--and blunt. More often than not, his advice is right on the money. Case in point: A Burke, Va. caller, who will soon move to Turkey with her Air Force husband, wonders what to do about her house, which has been listed with her brother-in-law the real estate agent for six weeks without a nibble. Williams' response: Fix the problem--then join your husband. "You'd be foolish if you don't stay behind and try to sell the house," he says. "Tell your brother-in-law you want to use a multiple-listing service. And lower your price."

His qualifications for preaching about money to millions? Not formal schooling (he majored in education at college) or daily preparation (he never does any). Williams, who is divorced, prefers to draw on his grab bag of experience. He has been a cabdriver, a Mr. Softee ice cream vendor, a nursery school operator, a cocktail lounge pianist and a successful real estate investor.

For someone who says he finds money management boring, Williams has amassed a lot of wealth: His net worth is estimated at $5 million to $10 million. In addition to his radio show, Williams writes a syndicated newspaper column three times a week. He owns a dozen thriving enterprises, including 21 hospital flower concessions; Jellyrolls nightclubs in Atlanta, Austin, Pittsburgh and Tampa; two Texas radio stations; a barbershop and two stores selling Christmas trees in New Jersey; and a mail-order house called Radio Merchandise that sells his two books and his $24.95 four-cassette Road Map to Financial Security, among other products. He may soon open stores selling doctor-certified low-calorie, low-fat, low-sugar food. Says his oldest son, Matthew, 38, who co-owns dad's radio stations: "He does all of that because he is addicted to action. He loves the risk."

So much so that he almost killed himself once, flying--and crashing--a Cessna in 1982. Knowing that, when Williams tried to convince me to join him in a small plane he flies at least once a week, I rather quickly said no. After three unsuccessful attempts to get me to go up, he resorted to the famed Bruce Williams persuasion technique: "Aw, c'mon," he goaded. "Don't be a wuss! Let's go cheat death!" I remained on terra firma.

Williams, however, continues to fly high. Having conquered parachute jumping and bodysurfing (well, sort of: He dislocated a shoulder and broke his collarbone and two ribs bodysurfing in Israel last summer), he now plans to tackle wing walking on an old biplane. When asked why, his answer reveals his anything-goes approach to everything he does. He asks, simply: "Why not?"

--Andrew Feinberg