Underrated Radio

WHO: Jay Thomas

WHAT: Underrated Radio Host

WHY: Jay Thomas is the host of the Jay Thomas Show on Sirius XM Satellite Radio. I actually discovered his show entirely by accident a few years ago. When it comes to trying new radio shows I am pretty closed-minded so whenever his show came on the air, I quickly changed to something else. I never heard of this Jay Thomas and just figured he was like all the other generic radio hosts. One day I was relaxing in bed and was too lazy to get up and change the dial. Lo and behold, the Jay Thomas show came on and within a few minutes I was hooked. Wow! Why was I not listening to this before! This was a fresh radio show that quickly captured my attention. First, Jay Thomas pulls no punches which I greatly appreciate. He isn't afraid to voice his opinion and he has a plethora of those. It is refreshing to hear an honest
opinion on a wide range of topics rather than the hackneyed politically correct answers. There is not any subject he is afraid to talk about from the silly to the taboo, and his guests reflect that. He has had a number of quirky guests including psychics, convicts, D-list celebrities and everything in between. Not only that, awkward moments abound, especially his very uncomfortable interview with Kevin Bacon. This is real radio folks, and anything can happen.

Jay is also not afraid to make fun of himself, and regularly proclaims that his radio show is the easiest show to call in to.
He also regularly mimics his mother using a high pitched female voice with a Louisiana accent that rivals the hilarity of Howard Stern channeling his own parents Ben and Ray Stern. One of his regular callers/tormentors is Jesse from San Diego. Let's just say Jay doesn't like him very much and he lets him know it. After berating him, he will usually utter his signature line of "Get Rid of Him". 
Since Jay considers himself to be on the fringes of Hollywood he has nothing to lose and doesn't mind revealing stories from his personal life often involving other celebrities. His audition story with Robert De Niro and his stories about Rhea Perlman's distaste for him remain personal favorites.

Jay also has a number of regulars on his show that are more than willing to participate in the shenanigans, the most interesting being the mysterious Ira the Weatherman. Imagine your grandfather doing a radio show while drunk, and spouting non sequiturs with a distinct phlegmy voice! And I still have no idea who he is, his origin remains an enigma wrapped in riddle. Jay will ocassionally ask him what movies he rented from the library and a hilarious review will ensue usually with a movie that nobody heard of or has seen, many times due to the fact that Ira botches the titles. His
constant interruptions when Jay is interviewing guests are very amusing. Jay's producer Garrett Andritz and his call screener Cristina Palumbo make perfect fodder for his sharp wit. Garrett has a knack for playing devil's advocate and usually brings up interesting counterpoints to Jay's arguments. The feisty Cristina is frequently teased by Jay but she is not afraid to fight back. They have a real love-hate relationship that can change at any moment. Jeff Furlotte calls in while impersonating several celebrities including Charlie Sheen and Michelle Obama. His jokes go right for the jugular, and the biggest joke is that all of the impressions sound alike! Comedian Shuli is a welcome presence on the Friday show. He brings many years of experience as a stand up comedian and much like Jay, he truly shines when telling stories from his own personal experiences. Comedians Kevin Meaney and Rodney Lee Conover are also key contributors to the show. All these other radio personalities allow for a very dynamic listening experience and also allow Jay to play some fun games like Around the Horn (sure, many have seen this game on ESPN but it has never been this funny since maybe the Max Kellerman days).

In addition to Around the Horn, there are many other amusing recurring spots that Jay does. During a segment entitled Alex Gavel to Gavel, he discusses current legal cases with lawyer Alex in an often comical manner. The Voicebox feature is a way for fans to interact directly with the show. Fans can call the Voicebox and leave messages for the show and they are played on the air. Whether you love or hate the show, you can call in and have your voice heard. The Cool Moms/Cool Dads segment involves current news stories where moms or dads do really stupid things. While the story is read aloud, Cristina and Garrett will sing either the Cool Mom or Cool Dad song respectively. 

The Jay Thomas Show is a truly wonderful experience. Jay has a great supporting cast and does fun recurring bits.
What really sets this show apart is that Jay answers to nobody. Jay Thomas' honesty and fearlessness allow him to be one of the most interesting voices in radio.  

CHECK THIS OUT: The Jay Thomas Show on Sirius XM Satellite Radio

Article by CJ Ramirez
I've beaten Dalton at the Celebrity Name Game sooo many times. One, two, three...

THE SHOW: EW Morning Live

WHAT: Underrated Radio Show

EW Morning Live is a radio show on Sirius XM Satellite Radio that places a particular emphasis on TV, movies, and entertainment news. An offshoot of Entertainment Weekly Magazine, the show launched in May of 2013 and has rapidly developed into one of the most entertaining radio shows on the satellite waves (on any waves for that matter). Hosts Dalton Ross and Jenna Morasca have great chemistry and have created an exciting show that seamlessly integrates numerous supporting players.

Former Survivor winner and former TNA wrestling superstar Jenna Morasca is a great co-host. She is so enthusiastic for a lot of really cool movies and shows like Sons of Anarchy (although I am only on season 2), Pretty Little Liars, Game of Thrones, The White Queen, American Horror Story: Coven, Banshee, The Human Centipede (First Sequence),  and MTV's The Challenge. I get the sense we are around the same age with all of her 1980s and 1990s references, which are awesome. I can appreciate her references like when she drops it like Biggie, "Kick in the door, wavin' the four-four," or starts singing the Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears (wow, never knew that was the official title) theme song. OK, so I hated the Gummi Bears as a young lad but I still find that song incredibly catchy. Jenna and Dalton work so well together, you can tell they like a bunch of similar shows and I also get the sense that they really also dig horror movies. However, they are not carbon copies of each other which is crucial to having a good radio show. You need a little bit of disagreement every now and then. They do have quite a bit of differences when it comes to tastes and I love to hear them disagree and defend their position to the bitter end. Jenna is also brave enough to blurt out movie sacrilege such as saying that E.T. was merely OK and not the greatest thing since sliced bread. She also is great at coming up with funny quotes such as her take on the Charles in Charge theme song. "Eew, creepy. First of all it sounds like a cult. This guy has moved in downstairs to take control of us. It sounds like a bunch of weird cult people around a flame of fire with Charles in the middle." As far as E.T. not being the greatest thing since sliced bread, hear hear!

Dalton Ross has to be the hardest working man in media. Remember when Samuel L. Jackson was in like every other movie that came out? Jerusalem's Let's Play of Grand theft Auto: San Andreas said it best, "Samuel L. Jackson has appeared in every movie ever made, including all those to be made in the future. If you're working on a funny little home movie with your buddies, Samuel L. Jackson will show up at some point onscreen. If you accidentally leave your camcorder on, he'll end up in front of it. And in homes all over the world, young couples are staring in confusion at their nannycam as Samuel L. Jackson shows up to berate the babysitter." Like Samuel L. Jackson, Dalton Ross is everywhere! He is the MVP of the Entertainment Weekly staff. Dalton served as moderator for the Orphan Black  press conference at San Diego Comic-Con (I just saw it on YouTube and the energy in that room was electric), he has reported live from the set of some of the biggest TV shows such as The Walking Dead, he writes columns for, and he also writes feature articles for EW the magazine. Dalton is also an impressive walking tome of knowledge. I am amazed by how much information he knows about music, TV, movies, etc. I love hearing the random tidbits of trivia he throws out there, like wonderful little breadcrumbs of insight. Did you know George Lazenby was a big counter-culture figure and decided not to play James Bond anymore because Bond was seen as a paragon of conservativism? Well, I didn't and love learning things like that. Dalton Ross can also switch up what he is talking about and go from Roger Corman B-movies to Gheorghe Muresan in My Giant with ease. I also learned a valuable lesson from listening to the show. I always wondered how everyone expected media personalities to know everything about every show. I remember hearing Dalton saying something to the effect that you can't watch everything. It sounds so simple but it is nice to hear it actually said. You can't possibly be expected to watch everything, watch what you like and keep an open mind to new things and you may be surprised what you discover. This led to a little game about pop culture blind spots where Dalton and Jenna revealed some big shows and movies that they have never seen. It is nice to know I am not the only one on the planet who has never seen Lawrence of Arabia. You can't know everything about everything but if there is someone that comes close, it is Dalton Ross. There is another Dalton Ross that does Bob Ross (the PBS painter of happy trees) parodies, so perhaps he has a bunch of clones helping him out.

Now that is not to say Dalton has an absolute advantage when it comes to all things trivia. Sure, he has been doing this a lot longer than Jenna but it never seems to translate into wins when they play the Celebrity Name Game. Dalton and Jenna are paired with a caller and have to give clues so the caller guesses the name of a famous celebrity, similar to Password. I remember hearing that Jenna always wins. Then I heard her play and understood exactly why. It was like clue, boom, answer, boom, game over. It was like rapid fire. Great quick clues. In all fairness, Dalton's Jessica Lange King Kong clue was a good follow up clue after he gave the American Horror Story clue. However, it really has become Charlie Brown attempting to kick the football over and over again. He never wins! But fear not, apparently Dalton is a big Washington Redskins fan. I have a friend who is a DC sports fan and he has taught me well as far as how the DC teams will break your heart every time. Dalton Ross is well equipped for the repeated drubbings.

The supporting cast on EW Morning Live helps keep things running efficiently and they add to the dynamic nature of the show. It was great checking in with James Hibberd, the resident Game of Thrones expert and hearing his take on the latest happenings in Westeros. A show like that needs a resident expert since there are about 1,000 characters and almost an equal amount of major moments (at least two of which still have some fans reeling). (Funky Cold) Madena, the intrepid board operator, keeps things running smoothly. Tim Johnson serves as the producer of the show. His Australian accent immediately made me think of the line vegemite sandwich from the Men At Work song Down Under. Former Atlanta Braves Aussie sidearmer Peter Moylan once described what a vegemite sandwich was and it seemed like a putrid mixture akin to the cod liver oil I was forced to eat as a kid. Tim referenced a vegemite sandwich on air which made me laugh incessantly. If I recall correctly, he even brought some in for Jenna to sample. When Dalton is out and Tim sits in with Jenna, it is like two kids seeing what they can get away with since the parents are not home. They particularly love to mess with Dalton's beloved 1980s EW Morning Live theme song In a Big Country by Big Country. They even had a segment  where Tim hilariously professed his love for Jumanji, although I forget the exact context. Tim will forever be known as Producer "Day-boo" Tim as he struggles to pronounce the word debut to hilarious effect. Owen Gleiberman, EW movie critic extraordinaire, will periodically check in to discusses exciting movie news and notes. Last but not least is Grady Smith and his weekend box office recap. He usually checks in with the gang on Mondays and talks about movie grosses, box office expectations, box office disappointments, etc. His retention of all that box office minutiae is astounding. 

The radio show started in impressive fashion with the EW TV Bracket Showdown. The TV brackets worked similarly to March Madness brackets but instead of using basketball teams, TV shows were paired against each other. It was a veritable showcase of some of the biggest and most loved shows currently on TV. Fans could vote for their favorite shows and each week they would examine a different pairing and let us know which show won. It was fun trying to predict how the voting would go and also cross my fingers and root my favorite shows on. The finale was an epic showdown between Game of Thrones and Doctor Who and the battle was eventually won by Doctor Who. Now I would have guessed Dany's dragons would have torched the good Dr. but alas, it was not to be. I suppose Doctor Who has some sort of special power I am unaware of, being that I have not watched the show. Perhaps it was the revelation of Peter Capaldi (who was so great as Sid Jenkins' dad on Skins UK) being the new Doctor Who that staggered Daenerys, which led to a weakness in her defenses that the Dr. exploited.  

Another exciting feature is their exclusive coverage of the EWwy awards. TV shows and actors that were snubbed by the Emmy's get to duke it out for one of the most prestigious awards in the industry, lying somewhere between the Teen Choice Awards surfboard award and the Razzies Golden Raspberry trophy. The award is quite legendary and gets its name from the slogan "turning the Emmy's upside down" (upside down M's are W's) and the fact that the trophy is a sheep (a ewe is a female sheep). It was particularly exciting to see Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black win along with John Noble of Fringe, and Natalie Dormer of Game of Thrones (previously fantastic on The Tudors as Ann Boleyn). It was also nice to see Emmy Rossum nominated for her great work on Shameless. (She will one day win an actual Emmy because her name is Emmy, it's her destiny!)

In addition to the aforementioned Celebrity Name Game, EW Morning Live also administers the Pop Culture Pop Quiz on a frequent basis. There are five pop culture trivia questions and whoever answers the fifth question wins an EW prize package. The first caller has access to the Daily Double and gets a super duper prize package if they can answer five in a row. Whenever a person gets a question wrong they are out and the next caller takes over from the question the previous caller missed. So in essence, someone can answer four questions, miss the fifth, and the next caller can answer the fifth question and vulture the win like an MLB relief pitcher! I love it. The questions range from, guess the TV theme song (the Pretty Little Liars theme song would have been a slam dunk for me, embarrassingly enough. I am 99% sure Jenna made up that question, if not it had to be Dalton's little daughter) to something like, which floor was haunted at the hotel in Ghostbusters (great question, I guessed wrong three times on that). 

Perhaps my favorite feature is Throwback Thursday. EW Morning Live rewinds the calendar each week by hopping in the DeLorean and revisiting a year gone by. For example, they recently revisited 1982 and discussed all of the big TV, movie, and music releases including E.T., Cheers, Rocky III and even Olivia Newton-John. The real fun begins when Dalton and Jenna debate which things were great and which things were not so great from any given year. Callers will even call in to defend a particular movie and it always amazes me that they can find someone out there that will defend a particular movie or TV show no matter how horrible it is. 

Besides all the fun and games, EW Morning Live has had a number of exciting interviews. They seem to have a knack for extracting interesting information out of their diverse guests. In fact, the excellent Hugh Jackman interview was the very inception of EW Morning Live. They have had fascinating interviews with the cast of True Blood and Game of Thrones just to name a few. Now, Game of Thrones is my show so it doesn't take much to get me excited about that.   What is truly impressive is that I find myself enjoying interviews of shows that I don't even watch! In particular, I greatly enjoyed the interview with Burn Notice creator Matt Nix. I have not watched the show despite being a huge Bruce Campbell fan (from Xena, The Evil Dead movies, Army of Darkness, My Name Is Bruce) but it was fascinating to hear about the writing process, how the creators labored over the decision to off a main character, and the whole "Blue Skies Network" image. I didn't know there was an actual term for the very reason why I generally avoided USA Network shows. (Isn't there always a beach, sunny skies, and the good guy always wins?) I learned so much from that interview and enjoyed it thoroughly, without having to be a superfan of the show. That, is truly an accomplishment worthy of praise. 

The weekly dose of entertainment the show provides is great in and of itself but EW Morning Live also has some great TV suggestions. None greater than the suggestion to WATCH ORPHAN BLACK NOW! I remember Dalton telling Jenna that she had to check out this show Orphan Black and going on and on about how great it was. Jenna eventually got around to it and absolutely loved it. I added it to the ever expanding proverbial "list of things to eventually find time to watch." However, I heard BBC America was re-airing the show in its entirety so I decided to give it a chance. Seven episodes or so in, and all i can say is WATCH ORPHAN BLACK NOW! It is fantastic. Tatiana Maslany is mesmerizing as the character of...let's just say she is mesmerizing! Once I finish the season, I will be giving the show its proper treatment here. 

EW Morning Live is a refreshing take on TV, movies, and entertainment news. You can tell that the hosts Dalton Ross and Jenna Morasca are having a great time which makes the show even more enjoyable. Jenna's enthusiasm (along with her taste in TV shows) and Dalton's endless vault of knowledge are a formidable pairing. The show has impressive access to TV stars, movie stars, and showrunners and I always find myself learning some interesting tidbit about the industry. Their interaction with fans through the numerous games and giveaways is also appreciated. Tune in.

CHECK THIS OUT: EW Morning Live on Sirius XM Satellite Radio

Article by CJ Ramirez
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WHO: Steve Somers

WHAT: Underrated Radio Host

WHY: "Good evening to you, and how you be? Steve Somers here and you there." The signature opening salvo of the Steve Somers broadcast is a welcome invitation for fans of one of the most exciting and elusive shows on the radio. Steve Somers has been a sports broadcaster for WFAN New York since its inception in 1987. The man affectionately referred to as the Schmoozer has created one of the most unique and entertaining shows in sports radio broadcasting.

The best show on WFAN is also the most difficult to find...well, impossible to find on a regular basis anyway. Steve Somers' broadcast airs anywhere from 6:30PM to 2:00AM. When i say anywhere, I mean anywhere. It really depends on what other sports programming they have going on at WFAN. He may come on before a Mets game or after a Devils game. You never quite know when you will hear him. There have even been instances where his show was broadcast for a whopping total of ten minutes to be interrupted by a Devils game and then he came back almost four hours later to resume. The man gets less respect than Rodney Dangerfield. However, finding his show is worth a little effort as you will be rewarded with the Holy Grail of sports radio shows. 

Somers happens to be one of the quirkiest hosts in radio. His idiosyncrasies are evident and often embraced by his listeners. The first thing you notice is that Somers has a very unconventional radio voice. He sounds almost like a high- pitched cartoon character at times. It is not your typical radio voice and is a sharp contrast to the deep and gruff voice of Mike Francesa. At the top of the hour, like every other host, Somers gives the time except he gives it down to the exact second. Precision and detail seem to be quite important to the Schmoozer. Somers also spells out the station number in an even more unique manner by refusing to say the conventional sixty-six sixty-six in the phone number. He instead emphatically spells out six-six-six-six like some sort of a cheerleader rooting on the home team. 

Somers' show is so entertaining because he is able to successfully combine humor with his sports updates. However, these are not just quick one-liners. This man prepares material as if he was going on the road months at a time to do a stand-up tour. The sheer volume and quality of his radio bits are quite impressive. Perhaps his most effective technique is his pointed opening monologues. Whether he is poking fun at the Mets ineptitude or the latest A-Roid or Barroid (as he calls Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds respectively) scandals, Somers never fails to entertain. His monologues really are a throwback to the radio days of long ago. You just don't see this much time, effort, and attention to detail when it comes to sports broadcasting. Somers also clearly appreciates his audience and has fun with them. There is a certain level of respect that he has for the fans. He is patient and will let his callers make their point before conversing with them. It is a welcome thing to hear since guests are frequently cut off or talked over on other radio shows, as their opinion is regarded as worthless to know-it-all hosts. 

He has also had a number of famous callers to his radio show including Jerry Seinfeld, Andrew Dice Clay, Tony Roberts, and Charles Grodin (he is NOT Josh Groban's father no matter what they tell you on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) to name a few. How he met Seinfeld is quite the story in and of itself. Somers first met Jerry Seinfeld at the cereal section of a bodega. Somers had noticed Seinfeld in the aisle and decided to approach him. After he gathered up the courage, he said "hello" and gave Jerry his business card while mentioning that he was a big fan. As soon as Seinfeld saw the name on the card he said, "You're Steve Somers? I listen to you all the time." That Monday he would be a guest on Somers' show for the first time and would be a frequent caller ever since. Speaking of Hollywood, THE Steve Somers was in the 1980 movie The Visitor!

Somers' best callers perhaps have been some of the fervent regulars that have called over the years. These regulars are just as passionate about sports as he is, in particular the mercurial Jerome from Manhattan. A devout Yankee fan, Jerome would always seem to take it quite personally whenever his Yankees lost or made an unwise roster decision. He had one of the most famous quotes in the history of the station when he declared the Yankees are "done!, D-O-E-N: DONE!" Jerome even had his own theme music on occasions, the Twilight Zone theme. "You are now entering the Jerome Zone". Somers frequently makes his callers like Jerome part of the act and the results are always laughable. In addition to bantering with his callers he has also done many memorable bits over the years.

One of his best bits to date is the Angry Tom Coughlin bit. Somers trades insults with the irascible New York Giants coach to hilarious effect. When it aired there were many listeners who thought it really was Tom Coughlin calling in to the show. The impression was extremely good (thanks Gregg Giannotti!) but anyone who has heard Imus back in the day on WFAN will recognize this type of sketch since Bernard McGuirk had impersonated numerous people including Maya Angelou and Cardinal Egan. Coughlin exclaims,"You asked me the same question last time you called me up." "I answered adequately, more than adequately!" He even chides Somers for not showing up four to five hours early to prepare for his radio show. Somers sells the whole bit perfectly especially when he says, "Now shut up for a second" and proceeds to yell back at an irate Tom Coughlin. Somers does a great job of lending credibility to the bit and he literally sounds ticked off at Coughlin.

Another one of my favorite skits was entitled (unofficially) Ray Lewis Saint and Sinner Deer Antler Velvet Extract. Somers commented on the deer antler steroid scandal involving Ray Lewis and hilarity ensued. "I'm thinking tomorrow during the game maybe around the second quarter, maybe sometime during the second half he is going to make a tackle and  we are going to see on the helmet, antlers!" Somers appreciates the whole ridiculousness of the situation and can't resist repeating the term "deer antler velvet extract" because it sounds so ludicrous. He then goes on to poke fun at the newly reborn Ray Lewis who now portrays himself as a preacher man and plays clips of him discussing his legacy amid Gregorian chanting. When reporters inquire about his connections to a double murder Somers plays devilish laughter in the background acknowledging the dual nature of the enigmatic Ray Lewis. Somers is really adept at these witty segments and their lighthearted nature keeps the audience laughing. He also has a calming and soothing way of talking to his audience which helps the listener during, what is for many, the most brutal part of the workday.

The opening monologue for Steve Somers' show has always been a tad bittersweet for me, and many other listeners I reckon. Whenever I heard his voice come on the radio I knew that A) I was still at work and B) It would probably be a really long night. I am beholden to Mr. Somers for getting me through some unbearable late nights at work. Somers has always been able to make me laugh no matter how exhausted I was. His brilliant comedy bits almost seemed to energize me and get me through the rest of the day. Somers had an invigorating effect on me much like Hulk Hogan getting his second wind in a match and "Hulking up". I don't know how I would have gotten through some of those long nights if it wasn't for Mr. Somers and his extremely entertaining radio show. 

Steve Somers' unique brand of radio is a breath of fresh air in a rather stagnant sports radio environment. He generally flies under the radar at WFAN due to the immense popularity and success of Mike Francesa. Somers remains the best kept secret at the station. Not only is he one of the best things going on WFAN, he is one of the best things going in sports radio period.

CHECK THIS OUT: Steve Somers on WFAN

Article by CJ Ramirez

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