on Aug 28, 2008
EDIT: I stand corrected. I’m crazy busy this morning and don’t have time for the whole thing, but the first few minutes were conciliatory and civil. I am thrilled to have my cynicism proven wrong. Onward. Original post follows:
This will not end well. (3rd post down.)
Back in 2004 Mike Krahulik – “Gabe” of Penny Arcade – agreed to be on a radio show. Due to a misunderstanding or a mistake, he called in twelve minutes late. You can read his account of it here. Now, I’ve heard radio shows where the guest was late or a no-show, and I know it’s no fun to have your plans messed up like that. But if you’re a morning host or a talk radio host, then extemporaneously filling air time is what you do for a living. The hosts I’ve heard in the past have always been gracious, if for no other reason than they want to have guests on in the future, which will be less likely if you go around abusing them at a whim.
But when Mike called in 12 minutes late, he was insulted, dismissed, and then the host took to the air to misrepresent what Mike had said. The host then, “talked for 45 minutes about video game playing bums who are too lazy to get off their asses and do what they’re supposed to do. He even made it the topic for the call in portion of his show.”
I listened to talk radio a lot in the 90’s – back when I had a commute and an office job – and I never heard anyone respectable pull this sort of thing. This is not how responsible journalists and commentators behave, but it is how sensationalist talk radio guys get easy ratings: 1) Find someone more famous than you are. 2) Pick a fight with them.
Keep in mind this was in 2004, when people were still humoring Jack Thompson. I don’t think BJ Shea ever had any intention of conducting a friendly interview with Mike. I’m willing to bet it was an ambush-interview hit-piece from the start, and when Mike called in late it let BJ Shea launch his attack without even needing to pretend to give Mike his say.
So now BJ is on another station, and he wants to “bury the hatchet”. He’s offering $1,000 to Child’s Play if Mike will come on the show again. This is insidious. Mike can’t refuse without seeming petty, and losing a nice chunk of cash for his charity. For BJ Shea, that $1,000 is going to buy him a nice chunk of exposure – more than he could ever hope to get if he just threw the money at some form of advertising.
BJ is on a new station, and no doubt he’d like a little ratings boost for his new digs. He’s essentially holding the charity money for ransom, and the donation will be released once Mike comes on and takes his stripes.
It’s exceedingly difficult to engage a hostile radio host on their own turf. Since they are the one conducting the interview they control the tempo, the tone, and the questions. If you get the upper hand, they control the commercial breaks and the nuclear option hang-up button. If they decide to take calls, they control who gets through and what sorts of questions you have to face.
You can see what sort of guy BJ Shea is from his website. Wrestling, bikini girls, and frat-boy humor. At the top of his page are the words, “Will BJ Get Angry? Total Days Without Incident: 0” Yeah. This guy is not inviting Mike on to make peace with him.
Jerry and Mike are big boys and I’m sure BJ Shea has no tools in his employ which can inflict anything more dire than a few hours of irritation. But it bugs me to see him get away with it. It also bugs me that now I feel compelled to listen to his show and find out what happens.
I really hope I’m wrong. I’d love to hear Mike talk about how Child’s Play is doing. I’d hate to see him walk into a bunch of pointless drama.
The show is on at 7:25am PST – which works out to… right in the middle of my work day. Bah. Maybe I’ll tune in for the first couple of minutes and see how it goes.
Friendly reminder: No politics. Thanks.