Mike vs. BJ Shea

  By Shamus   Aug 28, 2008   46 comments

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.


20206Feeling chatty? There are 46 comments.


  1. Eric says:

    I just read this on pa’s site before you put it up.

  2. Eric says:

    How do we tune in, and at what time? I’m too lazy to do the math.

    PS: This BJ Shea looks like a tool.

  3. Does the radio station have a streaming feed??

  4. Eric says:

    I’m listening to a clip of his show on youtube, and it’s terrible. I hope They get raped in their eye-sockets, and then somebody with aids pees in their eye-sockets.

  5. Jeremiah says:

    There’s a link to the radio station’s site from the guy’s webpage and they have a live feed: http://www.kisw.com/

  6. Randolpho says:

    There’s absolutely no way I’d be able to listen to it live.

    Can I request a recording? Anybody?

  7. Eric says:

    I’m really angry that one of them is wearing a defaced steeler’s jersey.

  8. TheOcho says:

    I have been listening to the show for the last 20 minutes or so. The guy is a jerk for sure, he admits to it about every 10 minutes, but at least he is plugging PAX and talking about the good they do. He even is admitting that he was wrong and wants to set the record straight.

  9. The Lone Duck says:

    Even if he is the biggest complete jerk, as long as he does give that money to Child’s Play, I think for Mike it will be worth it. Besides, if they can agree on something they both dislike, than they can just mouth off on that. What will tick me off, is if this BJ guy pulls a Jack Thompson, promising money for charity, and then backing out. That would be an outrage.

  10. TheOcho says:

    That was one of the things I thought about as well.

  11. Pat Ludwig says:

    Interesting.

    While I don’t know anything about this incident, I can give you a little background on BJ Shea.

    He was a sidekick on the Brother Wease show in Rochester NY during the 80’s. He returned to Rochester to do the afternoon show on WCMF during the late 90’s. During that time, he frequented my game store with his son. He loved to play Magic: The Gathering and some boardgames. BJ was a real nice guy, and not in any way a jerk.

    After he took the job in Seattle, BJ continued to buy his Magic cards from us for a year or so. I’m sure he had plenty of easier/cheaper/local options, but we appreciated the business.

    I’ve lost touch with him over the last 10 years, but I’m pretty sure that whatever went on here was a misunderstanding or was BJ just hamming it up for the radio.

    –Pat

  12. edcalaban says:

    Lucky I saw this now or I’d have missed hearing this.

  13. Narkis says:

    Randolpho, I could record the feed as long as someone tells me how. I have no idea how to do that.

  14. LintMan says:

    I have no desire to reward the jerk by listening to his show, but in any case I’m not so sure it’ll be an ambush. The guy sounds like a jerk, but he’s really got nothin to hit Gabe with except lame “slacker gamer” cliches, while Gabe’s created a multi-million dollar kids charity.

    “I’m a lazy gamer? BJ, how much money have YOU raised to help sick kids? I’ve raised 4 million dollars.” Boom. Even a jerk’s gotta see that’s a losing battle, even on his own show.

    But even if it is an ambush, it’s not worth getting worked up about. Those shock jocks thrive on negative publicity.

  15. NobleBear says:

    Got it playing on WMP now.

    Commercials currently
    King Henry calling a divorce attorney, stupid.

  16. Sven says:

    This is actually a great interview! BJ does seem to be kind of a toolbox but he did man up and apologize sincerely and had a real conversation with Gabe. Kudos to him.

  17. NobleBear says:

    Wow. An actual apology. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, but BJ kept it gracious and gentile. Kissed Gabe’s ass a bunch, but he was OK.

  18. Doug says:

    There’s puppies on his web page. (Under the heading of “Steve’s Hot B*tches”. How bad could he be?

    BTW…For those of you who can’t listen, I believe you can download podcasts of his show here:

    http://www.kisw.com/pages/270413.php

  19. Viktor says:

    Hey, it was pretty good, at least what I heard. Both civil, seemed to be a good deal, and it made a grand for Child’s Play. I’ll wait to see what Mike posts, but seemed a success for all involved.

  20. Shamus says:

    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.

  21. Eric says:

    They were totally cool to mike.

  22. edcalaban says:

    That was actually a very good show. For those who didn’t hang on after Mike left, the Marissasbunny.com guy called in to thank Mike for the post on PA’s blog. Definitely worth listening too.

  23. Kevin says:

    How nice and unexpected! Wonder how much milage BJ will get from NOT being an asshole?

  24. I’m not part of the Penny Arcade community–I read and enjoy the comic, but I don’t read the blogs, etc.–and if I had heard about this three days ago I would have gladly donated to a “Don’t take BJ Shea’s money” fund to keep Gabe from accepting the offer.

  25. hotsauce says:

    @Kevin J. Maroney:
    May I suggest that you contribute some money anyway?
    http://www.childsplaycharity.org/

  26. Cadrys says:

    His on-air persona is quite different from the real guy. Except for the part about feeding his kids those noxious tofu dogs. Bit intense on the poker side.

    Anything that gets Child’s Play some publicity and cash is a Good Thing.

  27. mark says:

    @kevin

    Thats just childish.

  28. Dev Null says:

    Probably too late but…

    I’m sure the Penny Arcade guys will put up a transcript or podcast, if you don’t want to give Mr Shea and/or his radio station and/or their advertisers any satisfaction.

  29. Templar says:

    Actually he’s not exaaaactly on a “new station” BJ has been on KISW for a couple years now, specifically i remember listing to him humble himself last year around PAX time over this exact same thing.

    KISW is the local rock/metal station for seattle… and they kindof, overly pander to the pot-smoking beer-swilling crowd, which also means paying a lot of lip service to the Halo kids with Tourette Syndrome too.

    I don’t know if BJ has consistently gotten crap for the 2004 dustup from KISW listeners (wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest) since then, but i do know that when the local seattle area news of PAX becomes unavoidable, BJ has openly said a few times “yeah i’m a jerk, i treated Mike badly, and i’m really sorry about it”.

    When i saw the news that Mike was going to be on his show, i knew in a second that BJ wasn’t planning to trap him, and planned to own up to his behavior from several years ago.

  30. Spam says:

    ah, i knew I heard of him before! Brother Wease was one of my favorite shows for a bit. Glad to see BJ is sucking down some other radio station.

  31. Steve C says:

    I’m glad both sides were civil, but had BJ not been civil that would have also been fair. Using charity donations to get people to do what you want or look like a douche is a tried and tested move by Penny Arcade. Remember their fight with Jack Thompson?

    Turn-about is fair play and Gabe and Tycho are big boys that can take care of themselves. As others said above the entire setup was sincere so no big deal.

  32. Factoid says:

    Isn’t it slightly disingenuous to apologizing NOW, 4 years after the fact, just as he’s changing radio stations? Seems to me like he wanted to drive listeners to the new station.

    He might be sincere in his apology and it’s great he’s donating to Child’s Play…but in my book you don’t get kudos for charitable acts if you seek recognition and reward for doing it.

    Just to clarify: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with GETTING or GIVING praise for those who donate to charity…I just don’t think the praise or reward should be the REASON you contribute.

  33. Zerotime says:

    Steve C: You mean, where Jack Thompson said that he’d donate money to charity and then didn’t, and when the PA guys did it for him he tried to have them arrested? Yeah, what colossal assholes they were.

  34. Kyla says:

    Changed stations, yes. But they’re (or were, in the case of the defunct KQBZ which was where he was originally) owned by the same parent company, so his employer that gives him his paycheck is the same. It’s not uncommon for hosts to move between stations, especially during format changes if one show is popular and TPTB decide to move them to a sister station to boost ratings there.

  35. Illiterate says:

    If Bj is to be believed (which, as a listener, I’m prejudiced to do), he has been trying to apologize for four years.

    Pity he had to offer money to have his apology heard.

  36. Illiterate says:

    I’m really glad things were worked out. I was full of vitriol about this when I saw your initial posting, and I really appreciate that you were willing to admit that your initial reaction had been off.

    As I said before, I’m a fan of Bj’s show, and anything I say probably should be taken in that context. Anything I say here is a matter of opinion, I don’t know Bj personally, only through his on-air persona.

    Bj is a nerd. He’s a dork. He’s a magic playing, star trek watching, pong-playing geek.

    He’s a spiritualist. He talks openly about going to meditational workshops (he does make fun of that a bit, he’s big on self-deprecating humor), and even about a trip to Peru in which he took part in a ritual involving a psychadelic called “Iowasca”.

    He also has a big temper, and not just on air. He uses it for his show. When he is hanging out with one of his team outside of work, if something comes up which is possibly controversial, they agree not to talk about it until the show, which means blow-ups happen on-air. His show is driven to a large degree by the personal relationships between the crew, and there is a lot of conflict.

    His long-time board operator is a die-hard Steelers fan (despite never having lived in Pittsburgh), which is part of why you might see anything anti-Steelers on that website (that and the fricking STOLEN super-bowl)

    I was listening to the show when they had the initial blow-up with Mike. Bj had been having a lot of problems with guests (he still does), because the agents for those guests work hard to get Bj’s people to agree to have them on his show, and then show up late or not at all.

    When someone is late, Bj takes it personally. That could be a personality fault on his part, he probably would admit it to be. He’s an anal-retentive Virgo and he gets upset at anyone who doesn’t come through on a promise.

    Bj’s guest had been setup by an intermediary, I forget exactly what her relationship was to the show, I believe she’d been part of Child’s Play. When Mike (I keep wanting to say Gabe) came on, he blamed everything on her, said that she had told him the wrong time, or the wrong day, nothing was his fault. Bj had already made contact with that person, who swore that Mike had been given correct information. Mike’s comment was that she was lying. Bj was of the opinion that Mike had dropped the ball, and was trying to blame someone else for his own mistake, cue the DRAMA.

    As a long-time listener, I can’t possibly argue that Bj doesn’t have a nasty temper. It’s gotten him into trouble, and with much bigger names than Mike. It probably contributes a lot to why he’s not syndicated. It’s also part of his appeal. Bj refuses to be a boring “radio guy”, he exposes his full neuroses to his audience. His humanity is a large part of his appeal.

    I still haven’t listened to the interview. I just changed schedules at work to the point that I get to work an hour before his morning show starts (I’m on the same time-zone as it, too).

    I will admit that as a fan I’ve probably taken a lot of the comments I’ve read here more personally than I should have. It’s a damn good thing I’m not a regular on the PA forums at this point, I can’t imagine the flame war which might have resulted when the 1000-dollar offer was made.

    Like I commented before, Bj has talked openly about wanting to bury the hatchet with Mike for FOUR YEARS. It’s not “suddenly” because he’s on a “new station”. I think it’s pretty damn slimy of Mike to put it that way, and I’m a fan of PA. When this whole mess first came up, I felt like a child of divorced parents being forced to chose. A devoted disciple of two different cults of personality which were going to war with one another. It was frustrating and I’ve been hoping for a reconciliation ever since.

    Bj does not do ambush interviews. He, and members of his crew, have occasionally said stupid, wrong-headed, offensive things to guests(well, mostly it’s his crew, not him), but I don’t believe it’s ever something that’s really planned. When he has fights, he’s always worked hard at making peace.

    At this point I’m glad to see things have been resolved. I would really love to see Bj talk at next year’s PAX.

    And to whoever compared Bj to Jack Thompson, I am going to simply chalk it up to ignorance. Bj is a major gaming advocate who preaches personal and parental responsibility. Putting him in the same boat as that nut case causes me to want to expel bile at you.

    That’s all for now, I’ve gotta get to work. I’ve been waiting since last night to get this off my chest. I could ramble more but I’m not sure what I’d accomplish.

  37. Shamus says:

    Yeah, my initial take was way off. I’m on the opposite coast, and I’d never heard of BJ before, so his tiff with Mike was my first and last impression of the man. I’m really glad things worked out. He apologized, made nice, and gave to charity. He even gave Mike an early out if he wanted to take the money and apology and run, but Mike stuck around and it sounds like everything went fine after that. (I had to get back to work or I would have listened to the rest.)

    It was the opposite of what I expected. I’m happy to have been proven wrong.

    All the same: I’m still not giving up on being a cynic!

  38. The Lone Duck says:

    Cynicism is all well and good until someone loses an eye. On the other hand, eyepatches are pretty sweet. But then you get all the Jack Sparrow cosplayers making jokes about rum to you when you try to buy a videogame/CD/movie ticket. Not to mention once you have an eyepatch, you’ll never look good with a monocle.
    To sum, cynicism precludes all future monocle opportunities. But you probably weren’t going to wear a monocle anyway.
    Sorry for the tangent. I tend to think the best of people. That would go for Mr. Shea, though I have no interest in his (or any) radio show.
    PS I apologize for my reference to Jack Thompson. It was not a comparison, but I brought him up. Anway, fun thread.

  39. Vacca says:

    It’s NEVER too late to say you’re sorry…….

    Well, maybe after the condom ripped and the baby’s born, but that’s a different issue.

  40. Derek K says:

    Radio guys very often exaggerate the worst parts of themselves. It makes for better radio. ;)

    I agree that it’s a bit iffy to do this for ratings, but at the same time, that’s the sum total of a radio guy’s life. He works for ratings. If he can do so while also doing good (the other side of the coin), why not?

    In Austin, where I used to live, there’s a show called JB & Sandy. They do things about once every couple months for charity. It seems pretty disingenuous to me at this point (Oh, this month you want to give bikes to kids, and you *realllly* believe in it, eh?), but at the same time, they get money to charities. So I can’t really say it’s a bad thing. It’s better than setting midgets on fire for ratings….

  41. Illiterate says:

    I apologize for emo-ing up this thread.

  42. Namfoodle says:

    “emo-ing up this thread”

    That’s hilarious.

    I guess “Emo Up” is the opposite of “Man Up”.

  43. TalrogSmash says:

    Dear Illiterate,

    I wish i could express myself half as well as you just did. You did not “emo up” but were very rational and thoughtful. Quite the opposite of a random fanboy rant, i say good job.

  44. Illiterate says:

    Very kind. Still, I feel it’s important to man things up.

    “The chili dog and steak pizza I had off the breasts of a prostitute while watching the mixed-martial arts event during halftime of the american football game went extremely well with this macro-brewed lager-style beer. I did not express any outward emotions while comsuming this repast.”

  45. Shamus says:

    For me, the previous comment has resulted in the spontaneous growth of chest hair.

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