[Complaints that this piece is too long will be taken down. Read it or don’t. – Plainsman.]
Since I’ve been away for awhile, and pathetically light on content when I do stick my head up, I thought I’d stage a comeback with a Scorching Ticket Disquisition. This one’s going to get me in trouble with a certain cohort of Confessors, and probably a whole flock of JV, and who knows who else. As an old girlfriend used to tell me, you can’t please everyone.
I had occasion to be out in the Conestoga in the early afternoon hours a couple of times a week or two back, and I thought I’d try to catch up on my woefully deficient BaD Radio listening. Bob was absent and Jake Kemp was filling in with Dan McDowell. I mean no slight to Bob, who is one of my favorites on the station, but I thought every segment I heard was top-notch. We’ve remarked from time to time how sometimes a fill-in guy will elevate the normal host’s game, or, in the case of Corby Davidson, elevate Corby’s own when assigned non-Hardline duty. Whatever it was, it was good BaD.
So that’s the first thing I want to say. That is not the STD.
* * *
As I struggled to keep the Crosley tuned in as the team and I lurched across the metro, something suddenly struck me with great force:
Jake Kemp is a terrific broadcaster and should be an everyday host.
Every day when he’s got producer or related background duties is a day of talent in the pail.
I do not mean to slight Sean Bass, Mike Sirois, Ty Walker, or Eli Jordan, who I view as the main guys who either have shows or are called to fill-in duty from time to time. Nor is this a snub of any of the other voices who have a weekend gig or who are called upon to pop on from time to time. Lot of talent there; each deserves his on-air hours and more.
But to my ear Jake is in a class by himself. He belongs by himself in Tier 2 in Craig “Junior” Miller’s original, unamended ranking which Craig had left vacant, separating the daylight hosts from the batch of senior JV. I have no idea of Jake’s reputation at The Ticket, but on the evidence of his exposure across the broadcast week and over time, it sure sounds like he’s the king of the go-tos, the guy most clearly positioned to move up, the guy who gets the plums when there are plums to distribute. I’ll get to the circumstance of having nowhere to move in a moment.
First, let me anger everyone further by heaping some additional praise on the man.
No, wait. First, let me say that I do have some issues with the guy.
I don’t like his social-issues talk, but that doesn’t distinguish him from every other host on The Ticket. Subset: He may think he’s progressive about sexual matters, and he may be, but his remarks about women sometimes skate towards Hammer-like misogyny.
He can sometimes dominate co-hosts. He has some Sturmian logorrhea issues.
There was a time when he was sometimes dismissive of opposing viewpoints, and that came across as arrogant, but am I just imagining that he’s worked on that and that I’m hearing a whole lot less of it? I find his back-and-forth with Sean and with whomever else he’s batting something around to be lively while still – mostly – respectful.
For a highly-educated man – is he the only Ticket regular with an advanced degree? – he sometimes seems almost gleefully unaware, and unappreciative, of matters taking place before, well, before he came into consciousness that important stuff happened before he was born. But even there – hang on, I’ll come back to that.
So yeah, I sometimes shake my head at the guy. Probably some of the same reasons he takes it in the shorts from some Confessors.
Back to the praise:
If you tuned into those BaD broadcasts last week and had no prior knowledge of The Ticket, you would not have known you were listening to a seasoned and popular host and a very occasional weekday fill-in guy. Jake ran the show, and that is no knock on Dan, whose role, after all, is to be a Sports Humorist and not a deep sportsy guy. In fact, they sounded great together, Dan sharp and involved.
Jake is dazzlingly smooth, glib in a good way. No dead air, and he’s got an interesting way of speaking that attracts the ear. He has a great broadcast voice (with occasional forays into Dylan the Argumentative Teen territory, but fewer and fewer as time goes by). Don’t underestimate the value of this, even on a station that has a lot of reg’lar-guy-sounding speakers and that is justly celebrated for it. There’s a real distinct music to his sound that isn’t too obviously Radio Pipes Guy but also isn’t blue-collar Bro Guy – nice modulation, nice variation in pitch and velocity, nice timbre, nice grown-man sound but still gives off that youthfulness vibe that the Catman of the New World probably sits up nights wondering how to infuse into some of his creaky programming.
He is well-informed about sports, able to talk dweeb-wonk stats and empirical observation with equal authority (maybe I should say “apparent authority,” since I don’t know much about either). Maybe he doesn’t have Bob’s large Talosian-throbbing sports brain,
but Jake always, always holds his own. In fact, in terms of overall sophistication of his sports analysis, I would say he is second only to Bob on The Ticket. Now maybe at The Ticket that is not his reputation – I have no idea how his sports talk is regarded. But remember, we’re talking about what is coming through the earbuds. Is Jake a con artist? If so, he’s a real, real good one and his sports talk is entertaining and thought-provoking.
He can be funny.
He rid us of Mike from Palookaville.
He seems to be very decent to the P1. His occasional cups of coffee here on MTC have always been gracious even when he’s been slagged about something by some of our more dyspeptic observers. I’ve heard that he’s responsive to P1 outreach. His instinct seems to be to defuse anger with reason and, dare I say, niceness. The digisphere needs more of that strategy.
|"I like a man who's never heard of stuff and who disdains the super gay."|
And I do not mean by saying what I’m about to say next to elevate him over one other soul on The Ticket. I’m having trouble finding the right words for this, so I’ll just plunge ahead: When I listen to Jake broadcast, I feel like he absolutely believes every word he is saying and does not care one bit if you like it or not. What is that? Honesty? Sincerity? Everyone on The Ticket is honest and sincere. I think that what I hear in Jake is a thinker who tries hard to be free of preconceptions and fads – I think he shares that independence of thought with Gordon – and doesn’t take a position in order to be deliberately provocative or get a reaction. This independence leads him into creative analyses and unexpected opinions, and he doesn’t filter them – he lays them out there. In this respect, perhaps he’s a little like Dan himself; there’s that fearlessness that keeps you listening, love his opinions or not.
Even that “gleefully unaware” crack I made above I said I’d come back to: God, what was it the other day? Some musician, huge, famous musician, maybe even artistically important, but perhaps before Jake’s time. Can’t remember why he or she or the group was in the news. Anyway, Jake said he couldn’t name a single song by that artist. I shook my head, but what struck me was he clearly did not care if you thought he was unexpectedly ignorant. He wasn’t grandstanding – he may even have been just the tiniest bit chagrined. But his blithe cruising through opinions or gaps in his education without constantly qualifying his point of view – which a couple of hosts do to utter distraction – is why he can be counted on to tell us exactly what’s on his mind. Which is what we want from our hosts.
Hosts, hosts . . . oh, yeah, I was saying that I thought Jake should be a host, have his own show, every day.
But there’s no room for another everyday host on The Ticket. With every show leading its time slot among listeners who matter, there’s not going to be a vacancy unless someone decides not to re-up.
No room -- on The Ticket.
But there are two other stations in town with some pretty damned lame programming, one of which is programmed by our very own Cumulo-Ticket Overlords. Is it beyond imagining that Jake might be invited to helm a showgram on one of those joints? How would you feel about that? I wouldn’t forsake the sainted Musers, but I’d give a Jake-based show a real spin.
And what about TV? Jake’s a nice-looking chap, and my Jah, he’d come across as positively incandescent next to some of the jamokes they’ve got doing sportsy commentary in this great land of ours.
And, of course . . . sometimes Ticket talent gets offers from elsewhere.
(No, my road-to-Damascus insight, if insight it is, that Jake needs to move up and/or on is not a secret strategy to get him off The Ticket.)
As I said, there are several JV at The Ticket who could hold down an everyday host job. There are those of you out there right now who would like to see some of those JV take the place of one or more of the less-favorite current hosts. Cirque du Sirois is big fun, and for my money Country Force should have a permanent weekend or even an evening slot (would cause problems for the award-winning Diamond Talk, though, wouldn’t it? By the way, what award did Diamond Talk win?). But for sustained interest to the listener, for sophisticated conversation, for brainy (or brainy-seeming) analysis, for overall broadcasting polish, it’s Jake – yes, it’s Jake.
And that’s where I come out. Jake always gives me what I tune in The Ticket to hear: Entertainment with intelligence and integrity, whether I agree with him or not. I’d like to hear more of him.
|"I'm before your time so you've never heard of me, Mr. Jake Kemp, but let's just say I like thin men."|