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So What Do You Do, Jay Mohr, Comedian and Fox Sports Radio Host?
'If my listeners don't call, tweet, text, email or Facebook, I don't have a show'- May 8, 2013
For a number of years, Jay Mohr was a dynamic fill-in host for Jim Rome on Fox Sports Radio. In January, he finally got his own daily show and it's been nothing but growth since. At last count, the program was closing in on 150 U.S. affiliates. Meanwhile, at this year's New York upfronts, Hulu announced a new game show hosted by Mohr called Money Where Your Mouth Is, coming later this year.
In many ways, Mohr was made for AM radio. He's energetic, dynamic, funny, and as comfortable in the radio booth as he is on stage doing stand-up. But the Jersey boy and veteran actor still says chatting with millions of listeners about everything from NBA dunks to AutoZone wiper blades is his best gig yet.
Name: Jay Mohr
Position: Host, Jay Mohr Sports, FOX Sports Radio
Resume: Acted in more than 200 episodes of network television and 25 feature films, most notably 1996 favorite Jerry Maguire and the 1999-2000 series Action. Authored Gasping for Airtime, about his experiences on Saturday Night Live, and the more personal memoir No Wonder My Parents Drank. In radio, did several guest hosting stints for The Jim Rome Show and appearances on Opie & Anthony before getting his own show on Fox Sports Radio in 2013.
Birthdate: August 23, 1970
Hometown: Verona, NJ
Marital status: Married to Nikki Cox
Media idol: Ron Bennington
Favorite TV show: Sanford and Son
Guilty pleasure: Here Comes Honey Boo Boo on TLC
Last book read: Nixon: An Oliver Stone Film by Oliver Stone and Eric Hamburg
Twitter Handle: @jaymohr37
How does doing a daily three-hour radio show compare to doing stand-up, SNL, TV and movies, and what has surprised you most so far?
What surprised me most is how huge a company Fox Sports Radio is and the [interview] access that comes with that, when you can interview a member of the Knicks, a member of the Lakers, a member of the Utah Jazz, Don Mattingly, manager of the Dodgers, and so on. I come in to work every morning and the guests we have lined up are consistently top caliber.
As far as how it compares to other mediums, I've always really loved structure. I wake up at the same time every day, come home relatively at the same time each day, and it's perfect for me. It's sort of like a shotgun structure: you go like crazy when you first wake up; you just sort of go nuts for five hours, then go home and refuel. And there's no waiting around, which is the absolute worst and only bad part about acting. You spend 95 percent of your time in a trailer, eating candy and doing push-ups, wondering when they're going to use you.
|"Anybody can get the gig, but the real trick is getting asked back."|
When you first met with Fox Sports Radio, how did you pitch the vibe of the program you wanted to do for them?
Robert Morton told me when we were putting together [the 2002 TV program] Mohr Sports back in the day, rule number one of a talk show is that it has to be a "hang" for people that they don't want to leave. And I just let Don Martin, the guy who really showed me the playbook of sports talk radio, know that this is what I wanted. A lot of radio shows when I listen to them, they come off as standoff-ish, a little superior than thou, and I didn't want it to be that way. I say it all the time on the show: it's not "me"; it's "we."
If my listeners don't call, tweet, text, email or Facebook, I don't have a show. And I think that extends from coming from stand-up comedy and the idea of me talking to people after a comedy show about being happy I came to their city. Anybody can get the gig, but the real trick is getting asked back. So I'm very happy about that, and so far we're off to a great start.
Have you made any adjustments to the show since debuting in January?
No, you can't tweak your vibe. It is what it is. We have a little pirate ship that we work on, and there's obviously a few FCC regulations and corporate guidelines that you stay within that you can just call the ocean. And, once you know the parameters of the ocean, you sail wherever the hell you want.
|NEXT >> So What Do You Do, Elvis Mitchell, Film Critic and Host of KCRW's "The Treatment"?|
You make great use of Twitter during each broadcast. As someone closing in on 250,000 followers, what is your advice for being successful on social media?
Be yourself. I post pictures of my dogs; I do jokes about my stand-up act; I tweet about football or some other sport during the show. Beyond that, I would say the golden rule of Twitter is you cannot ever respond to somebody saying something negative to you. It took me a good three years to learn that, and, even still, I'll start to type something and be a sentence or two in before I realize, "What am I doing? Why am I answering this person?" I've blocked about 3,000 people. I've made Twitter this ivory tower of Babel where people only say nice things about me.
Your listeners are also doing really creative things on Twitter with sponsors, mentioning them in joke-tweets. What's the story there?
My gosh, we've created this beautiful beast and it was completely unsolicited. The listeners seem to be exceptionally smart, really, really funny people. These sponsor-joke tweets just started trickling in, and now there's about five to 10 every single day. Someone will tweet about Auto Zone and wiper blades; anything we're talking about that day they'll work into a tweet about sponsors. And so one day I said, "If you tweet about a sponsor and it's funny, it will always get read." That opened the floodgates, and I think it's hilarious. The tweets I read are very clever, and people really earn their way onto the airwaves with them.
In light of the backlash to everything from Michael Richards' heckling at the Laugh Factory to Lisa Lampanelli's Lena Dunham tweet, have you changed the way you do comedy because of cell phone cameras or social media?
Not at all; I think that's living in fear. The late, great Patrice O'Neal said it best: "You may not like what I say. You may find it offensive. But you must allow me to at least try to say it once." That's the gig. It's like monkey bars when you're a kid; you're always reaching for the next bar. You've got to let me reach to see if there's another bar there. There may not be. I may fall and it may be offensive, but you cannot strip me to reach for that next bar.
|"If you tweet about a sponsor and it's funny, it will always get read."|
I've actually been doing a lot of corporate gigs lately. What's weird in that respect about the Fox Sports Radio show is that clients get to hear me clean for three hours every day. So suddenly, I've gone from being the edgy guy who could ruin the event to a safe bet, and I'm welcome there.
How has the new radio show affected your pursuit of TV and film acting gigs?
I did [The Incredible] Burt Wonderstone right before I started the Fox show, and I've been very lucky that people have made the schedule work for me. I just did the season finale of Suburgatory, and they were very accommodating. So, I thought I might have trouble continuing to do the acting, but so far people are making it work.
And, actually, my bosses here at Fox have also been great about continuing to let me do other radio shows. They know I'm friends with all these other radio shows around the country, and they know that me being on there helps everybody. When the tide comes in, all the boats rise. So I'm very grateful to them for letting me continue to do those other shows. In today's corporate world, that's an exceptional thing to have presented to you.
Richard Horgan is co-editor of FishbowlLA.
© WebMediaBrands Inc. 2013. All Rights Reserved.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. The foregoing is the sole property of WebMediaBrands Inc. The opinions and views expressed in the interviews and/or commentaries are solely those of the participants and are not necessarily the views of WebMediaBrands Inc., its affiliates or subsidiary companies.
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