Monday, May 19, 2008

Big Daddy Graham is a raging jackass and I won't be appearing on that show again

Last week I received an email, then a phone call from Big Daddy Graham (on WIP 610 AM during the graveyard shift), asking if I would do a trivia segment on his show. You've no doubt seen me promoting that here, and/or have heard me push it live at the bars.

Allow me to emphasize: he called me after seeing this website to ask if I could provide some material for his show, which is horribly disorganized and pretty thin on callers and substance. Currently one regular segment features him telling the Greater Philadelphia area what snack he's going to eat, and then we all get to hear him chew it. I swear I'm not making that up. Orson Welles is clearly not running things over there. It's not as if I begged this guy to be on the air; this wasn't even my idea. When offered, I figured I could plug the quizzes for free in exchange for providing someone some programming who clearly has a great deal of airtime in a large media market and has no idea whatsoever how to fill it.

The plan - again completely his idea, not mine - was that I email him three potential questions for use each night, and then call in around 2:30am, at which point I'd ask the question which he liked best, he having emailed me a response picking one. Callers would call in and a winner would receive a prize. Easy enough, yes?

Little did I know the first night of this, BDG would make the on-air claim that he had no idea what the question or answer was. He carried this charade as far as putting me on hold to tell the producer the answer to the question, having told him and the audience that he was hearing this for the first time. Why lie to your audience? Beyond that, why lie to your own producers? Beyond that, why not let me in on this before I learn that's the way it'd work on air? This didn't seem necessary, unless BDG wanted to make himself seem more on the ball to his producers by pretending that he knew the correct answers.

The first couple of nights the plan worked. At this point I'd already made general announcements on the site, the email list, to most of my friends and at the bars I do the quizzes at that I'd be on the radio, so I wasn't in much of a position to complain about the unnecessary duplicity, and of course not in a position to do anything about it. Then Friday morning rolled around, and BDG's incompetence finally caught up with me.

I had emailed him three questions around 10:30am Thursday, giving him 16 hours to check his email and get back to me with the one he was going to pretend never to have heard before. I don't have a quiz Thursday night, and I was fairly tired. I didn't particularly want to stay up to do this, but I did. I called the internal WIP line at about 2:20am and was put on hold as usual.

Then the producer comes back on to tell me that BDG "didn't receive any questions from me." This I found surprising, both because I knew darn well I sent the questions via email, with a "Reply To" the same address that worked several times before, and because BDG is apparently slow-witted enough that to cover for not checking his email he had to inadvertently spill the beans to his producer that he was receiving the questions ahead of time.

I insisted that I did send the questions, and suggested that BDG hadn't checked his email in a day or so. This was no fault of mine. I told people I'd be on the radio now, and I should be on the radio now. I have some credibility at stake here.

The producer was apparently instructed to ask me what the three questions were. I told him, and after a delay I got back the message that BDG "didn't like" any of them. Then BDG himself got on the phone with me during commercials and said "You didn't send me any questions." I replied, of course, that I did. His response? An irritated "No you didn't!" So now we're not only lying, we're telling me that I'm a liar, or so incompetent that I can't send an email. This is how we treat our guests on WIP..?

He continued that he didn't like any of the questions because "a 23 year old has to be able to answer them." I saw no barrier in a 23 year old answering any of them, and explained that. So he switched to "Well, you didn't do a quiz tonight so you have nothing to plug anyway." I responded that I had a Sunday night quiz to plug. BDG told me I could plug that 2:30 Monday morning, after it happened. At this point I wanted to tell him that he was a moron who misunderstands the laws of cause and effect, but seeing as this wingnut decides whether I'd be on the air or not, I bit my lip.

He told me to send him three more questions and call in Monday morning at 2:30. I sent him three more on Saturday. On Sunday I received the following email, reproduced below in its entirety:

"not nuts about any of these"

That's it. No further instruction, no explanation. (Also no capitalization or punctuation; it's like getting email from Archy and Mehitabel, minus the wisdom.) About 11 hours before he was on the air, I emailed him TEN more questions for consideration. Surely one of those would be "acceptable", no? And why am I even being brought in as a trivia provider if everything I propose gets shot down? Again I called in - as instructed - before 2:30am on Monday. The producer put me on hold.

The producer gets back after a minute and says "Big Daddy just told me that you didn't send him any questions again."
Another lie, and worse another accusation that I am a liar. This bumbling lard-ass didn't check his email again, and shifted the blame to me. Again.

I told the producer at this point Big Daddy lied twice about me not sending questions, which is outrageously unprofessional behavior, and that the gap between me telling people I was going to appear on radio at a specific time and the reality of me
not appearing on the radio was beginning to harm my credibility. The producer seemed apologetic and said that "Big Daddy thinks it's a good segment, he wants you to try again." Also that we should "clear up the miscommunication." No, there's no "miscommunication" here; I'm dealing with a putz.

Anyone reading this think I'm stupid enough to jerked around a third time? Two strikes and he's out. I imagine that a lot of people are very impressed by media personalities and kiss ass accordingly. I'm not impressed, particularly by G-list celebrities on an overnight shift, and my ass-kissing days are long over. I have better uses for my time than being jerked around like this.

Of course BDG "thinks it's a good segment"; it keeps his lazy, disorganized ass from coming up with original ideas to fill airtime. In the period 1996-98, I was a host of a show on WPPR out of West Philly. Every week I took the time to plan out my programming so that there wouldn't be a second of dead air, and that the station and I wouldn't embarrass ourselves. At the very least
we didn't lie to people. How sad that a non-profit microbroadcaster would run circles around a powerful, highly rated AM station in terms of basic competence and decency.

I've already contacted the station's program manager about my treatment. I'll let you all know whether or not WIP management cares the least little bit as to how their guests are treated, in future, should there be developments.

I should have approached this all with some caution from the start. In August 2006 I answered a trivia question (the answer was the rock band Queen) on Big Daddy's show. I "won" a WIP Prize Pak, whatever that is. His producer took my info off-air, and it never arrived. On September 23, 2006, I wrote Big Daddy an email asking if he could look into that. Not only did he not do that, he never even responded to my email.

It's probably best that I'm getting out of this before the people who play my quizzes "win" things on the show and never actually receive them. I don't want my name attached to that.

It's actually flat out illegal for a broadcaster to make fraudulent claims about contests run on-air. Recently the FCC fined WIP thousands of dollars for just that. Maybe I need to be contacting them as well. In particular it seems that Big Daddy's claim that he didn't know what the questions were seems a direct violation of federal communications law.

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steve odabashian said...

His show is amazingly bad. I can't understand how he has a regular show. I've heard that snack segment and I want to smack my head with a sneaker when it is airing.

I called in to answer a question last week, and was on hold for about 15 minutes (not all that long for a radio call-in show).

But, he took one call during that time. He used the rest of the time to ramble on about nothing at all. He whined that no one was calling to talk about Brett Myers and no one knew the answer to the question.

Well, I was calling to talk about Brett Myers and I knew the answer.

After 10 minutes of waiting, he announced the question again, and said the prize was a case of soda. A few more minutes of waiting, and I decided I didn't really want a case of soda anyway, and hung up.

His show is sleep-inducing. I can't imagine what his stand-up act is like.

myfanwy said...

I actually have seen his stand-up act--he opened for (what's left of) the Commitments at the Keswick a few years ago. Painful.

QuizMasterChris said...

Thanks for the comments, folks.

The WIP program director seems to be taking this fairly seriously and siad he'd look into it.

Steve, who knows if you ever would've gotten that case of soda? Best just to hang up and go to sleep as you did.

Anonymous said...

rides joe conklin's coat tails.

Anonymous said...

i like big daddy's show. its relaxing late at night when i dont really feel like hearing how bad mcnabb is, how come the phillies dont spend as much as the yankees, and how young and exciting the sixers are.

ive won two prizes from big daddy. a wip prize pack and concert tickets down in AC.

ive also met big daddy down at keenan's in wildwood and he was a pretty nice guy.

uwatchme2008 said...

I am not playing down your issue with BDG, but I have met BDG and he was really cool to me. he doesn't seem like a raging jackass, but oh well. Just my 2 cents.
By the way, Michael St. James "The man with the games" is the quizzmo/quizzo master. Check him out at the bayview in Wildwood crest if you have never seen him. An Enjoyable evening for sure!

Anonymous said...

Hey are you a professional journalist? This article is very well written, as compared to most other blogs i saw today….
anyhow thanks for the good read!

Anonymous said...

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