This week, writer and Hollywood historian Mark Evanier drew attention to a video posted by the “Late Show With Stephen Colbert” that practically begs for an Emmy Award.
“I don’t take awards that seriously but when they’re meaningful, it’s when the voting public actually decides you deserve some honoring, not when you mount a successful ad campaign,” Evanier said. “It used to just be the shows taking ads out in the trade papers. Then it was fancy advertising mailers to all the voters. Then they started buying billboards all over Los Angeles asking for Emmy and Oscar votes.”
Evanier says “this seems like another step too far.”
It does seem a little desperate. But it also reminded me that voting has now begun for Pittsburgh City Paper‘s annual “Best of Pittsburgh” awards.
Those of you who have been around for a while know that I’ve been on the radio for 22 years in Pittsburgh, and during that time, I’ve had a perfect record: I have never once been nominated for anything.
Sure, it has occurred to me that I might not be on the biggest stations in Pittsburgh. The DJs that tend to win are on the big commercial 50,000-watt flamethrower stations. You know, “Big Bob and the Bubble-Butt Morning Show on 106.4 FM The Buzzkill.”
I’m less on a “flamethrower” than on a couple of hair dryers.
But the stations that I’m on have been nominated for awards, so I know people are listening. And other DJs on the same stations have been nominated. I’m looking at you, Zombo.
(Some of the other DJs on the stations have even been featured in stories in Pittsburgh City Paper and elsewhere. But me? Not a sausage.)
It’s also occurred to me that maybe the ratings for my show, in particular, just aren’t that great. Do you remember learning in high school about “negative numbers” and “imaginary numbers”? Those were originally developed by Arbitron to measure my audience.
And I even suspect there is the slimmest possibility that I might not be the best DJ in Pittsburgh. Hard to believe, I know. I take comfort in the fact that I’m the best DJ on Lysle Boulevard in McKeesport. (Well, the north side of the street, at least.)
In other words, maybe it’s me. In fact, I think fondly back to something someone wrote about me on Reddit several years ago:
I cannot stand Jay Thurber as a person, but god damn, he has good taste in music
Someone asked the original Redditor what that meant, and they responded:
I get the feeling he’s doing a bit, but it’s just too much. Key example of Poe’s Law here. His parody of a douchey dj is indistinguishable from an actual douchey dj.
“We asked ordinary listeners to compare improved, mountain-grown Jay Thurber to one of the leading douchey disc jockeys. Four out of five listeners chose Jay Thurber over the competing brand. They said Jay Thurber left them feeling fresher all day long, and eliminated any embarrassing odors.”
I also a remember a thread on one of those message forums — Radio-Dregs.org or maybe it was pittsburgh.radio.WhoGivesACrap — about 15 years ago, when I was working at a couple of AM stations in Westmoreland County. Someone actually started a thread called something like, “Who are the worst DJs in Pittsburgh?” and then they answered their own question by posting the first comment: “I’ll start: Jay Thurber on 620.”
I’ll admit that I was shocked. Who knew we had any listeners at all? I kind of assumed that the station’s 50-watt nighttime signal didn’t get much further than the pasture where the tower was located. Maybe the comment was from one of the cows in the barn next door. (“I’ve smelled a lot of bullshit, but this guy is the worst!”)
Besides, as long as KDKA-AM keeps running paid programming on the weekends, I’m the second-worst DJ, at best. (Or is that the “second-best DJ at worst”? Try diagramming the sentence. Answers on a postcard in 25 words or less.)
I think what I’m trying to say is, it’s been an honor all of these years just not to be nominated. Sure, other disc jockeys may have “awards,” and “ratings,” and “an audience,” and be paid “a salary,” and “not scare small children,” and … I swear I was going somewhere with this.
Anyway, I will not do something as unseemly as Stephen Colbert and shamelessly campaign for an award.
I don’t need that kind of recognition. The continued indifference shown by Pittsburgh’s critics, the management of the stations where I’m heard (6 a.m. Sunday mornings on one of them!), and you, the public, is what motivates me every week to chew through the restraints and escape from the facility.
You tolerate me! You really, really tolerate me!
And regardless of how obscure I may become in the future, I pledge to maintain the same lack of humility and overall douchiness that Reddit has come to love.
Unless someone ever wants to give me money again for doing radio, in which case, all bets are off. As the old joke goes, we know what I am, we’re just negotiating my price.