09/21/1992 at 01:00 AM EDT
WHEN LAST WE SAW CLAUDIA LAMB, she was bratty little Heather, a sort of Bart Simpson prototype in pigtails on the satirical soap Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (1975-77). Five nights a week, Heather went mouth-to-mouth with her hyperspace-cadet TV mom, Mary Hartman. "It was a blast," says Lamb. "If I'd said those things at home, I'd still be looking for my teeth."
Fourteen years later, Lamb—now 28 and minus the pigtails—still has a smart mouth, but these days the lines are all her own. As the morning drive-time talk host on KCMO-AM in Kansas City, Mo., she sounds off daily between 6 and 9 A.M. on any topic likely to get the show's 11 phone lines ringing. The Barbara and Hillary roast? "Since when did running for President become a quadruple ticket?" Insurers who won't pay for nicotine patches? "But they will pay for thousands of dollars worth of surgery."
After Hartman ended, Lamb—an L.A. native and the youngest of six—continued acting in TV ads and attending school. But in 1984 she ditched college, three credits shy of a theater-arts degree, and headed for Denver, where she taught children's theater and tried stand-up comedy, which led to her first radio job in 1989. "Radio's like performing without a net," she says. "If you mess up, everybody hears."
Now married to Scott Augusto, a computer designer, and the mother of son Eliot, 4, Lamb has only fond memories of her Hartman years. "They were like a family to me," she says of her castmates.
As for former child stars who've landed in rehab or jail, Lamb has little sympathy. "They are using the very best thing that ever happened to them as an excuse for why life isn't being fair," she says. "We all make our own choices. Take responsibility for them."