Hello! Joey Clark here. I was born and raised in Montgomery, AL. Attended 12 years of Catholic school. Graduated from Auburn University with a BS in Political Science.
Ask me about working in conservative talk radio for six years running. Ask me about becoming a libertarian and what that means to me today. Ask me about music, especially anything regarding His Royal Badness, The Purple One.
Ask me about tragedy and loss. Ask me about silliness and play.
Ask me whatever you wish.
You never know, you may unearth some secrets I've never shared before in public.
What's the funniest radio call-in story you have?
There are so many calls to pick. A lot of radio humor is situational so you often "have to be there" to really get the joke. But I do recall us covering a thunderstorm coming through the Montgomery River Region area, the sort of storm that brings tornado warnings and hail. We were encouraging people to call in to report what they were seeing on the ground.
After receiving several normal calls the likes of "Oh, it's coming down here in Prattville, I can hear hail falling on my roof" or "Avoid I-65, it's a parking lot. You can't see 10 feet in front of you on the road," we had a guy call-in and say in a completely deadpan manner, "Yeah it's really coming down here in Wetumpka too. Heavy rain, lightning, and banana-sized hail!"
"Wait, what kind of hail?" we asked.
In the moment, it was quite funny. The same guy calls in and pranks us once every few months under different names until we realize, "Oh, this is Gaylord! Good one again buddy."
Another hilarious call was with this gentleman who told a story about his buddy. Apparently, his buddy's father had long been divorced and was now dating a much younger woman about his son's age. The father invites the son out to dinner to meet the young woman only to reveal...they had just been married!
Here's the rub though—also, at the dinner was the young woman's mother.
Well, this guy's father and new young wife eventually get up from the table to go do whatever it is newlyweds do, leaving the son and the new wife's mother behind. The son and this woman of a certain age hook up that night.
They eventually get hitched themselves.
Technically, there's nothing wrong with it. But, the guy is now his dad's father-in-law. If his dad has a son with the younger women, that makes the kid this guy's brother but also his grandson. Only in Alabama or Game of Thrones.
Oh, and we also had this guy named Donald Trump call in too. It was hilarious in a sardonic and tragic way. Good lord, I can't believe he's now president.
What got you into talk radio?
Well, I've always been shy except when I'm performing in some way or swapping stories with friends and family. I come from a family of storytellers and talkers more than writers. I think we all do in a way.
As a young kid, I always wanted to be at the "adults table" just to hear the rhythm and pitch of their arguments over politics or economics or religion even though I didn't always understand what they were saying. In middle and high school, I would always take the opportunity to read aloud in class so I could be silly with my tone (ironically, sometimes being silly means being overly serious on a silly subject) and make my classmates and teacher laugh. I had a college classmate remind me recently that I was already essentially doing a radio show as I would argue with my professors, especially a certain progressive polka-dot-socked feminist prof of mine who loved trading barbs with me in a fun way every other day.
As for direct radio influence, I will forever have to credit Glenn Beck. For a time there, he was the best, most talented and diverse broadcaster in political talk. I think even Rachel Maddow admitted this at the time. I'm not saying this about Beck because I agreed completely with his politics and certainly not his faith. But, Beck from 2008-2012 was just on fire, and his sidekicks, Pat and Stu, reminded me of my family and classroom conversations with an added spice of drama and performance to it. Beck is a master of many styles of radio—slapstick and insult comedy, somber and thoughtful confessionals, over-the-top "theater of the mind" pieces with full production qualities—music and sound effects. I became hooked on his show for his performance art and said to myself, "Hey, I can do that!"
So, I interned one summer in college with a local host in Montgomery named Dan Morris. It wasn't quite like what Glenn Beck was doing but Dan allowed me to be creative. After college I started working for Dan every day, running the radio board, answering phone-calls, and chatting with him on air. The afternoon drive host, Greg Budell, asked if I also wanted to work with him. I said yes, and after a year of answering phones for him, I started to open my big mouth and let out my cynical wit, to the extent I have any such wit at all. That then led to guest hosting for days when Greg was off. Eventually, I started hosting my own show on the weekends and now Mon-Fri.
I now produce/sidekick/host 5 different shows a week. It's been quite a ride. I would be lying if I said it was always fun—listening to people argue about politics all day can become draining—but I always remind myself of how lucky I am to be able to sit on my nearly non-existent butt all day and talk about things I am passionate about while informing and entertaining people at the same time.
Who, in your opinion, is the greatest radio broadcaster of all time?
Hmmm...the first guy that comes to mind is Orson Welles. Many of his radio shows from the 1930's still hold up to this day. Incredible performer and storyteller. Remarkable production quality with musicians and actors performing live in-studio. His "War of the Worlds" scandal and "panic," by the way, was largely overblown. But it's still a testament to his ability to spur listener's imagination.
And now, just thinking about the 1930's, you have to marvel at the power of the microphone and radio in politics, for better or for worse. FDR's fireside chats were incredibly influential and effective. And when it comes to an evil influence, just go back and watch Hitler's first speech as Chancellor—he's not only talking to the crowd assembled but also shouting into a microphone—his evil nonsense carried across the airwaves to his country and the world. This was still a fairly new technology at the time and the power of hearing someone over the radio airwaves probably had an even more "magical" effect than it could ever have today. It's a reminder that innovation and technology can be used for great goods and pleasures but also immense evils. Though the internet allows me to talk with you folks here today, it also allows those with evil intentions to communicate more freely as well. I'm all for innovation. We can't go back. But we shouldn't fool ourselves that innovation will always set us free, though it does have the potential to do just that. It's not about the tech. It's always about who we choose to be and do as people.
In the modern era, I have to give a hat-tip to Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern. Limbaugh has been on top for years. He changed the landscape of politics by taking the forgotten AM frequency and making it something valuable for advertisers and conservative politicians alike. So many people have modeled themselves after his example. The same with Howard Stern. He took rock radio and made into a weird, wacky, rude-boy talk format. He often broke the fourth wall. He spoke to the common man in crude terms yet has one of the most educated and highest-paid audiences listening to him. Stern is almost the godfather of podcasting, I would say.
Thanks for the answer, and I agree RE: Stern and podcasting. Although I find it ironic that he hates podcasting and has made fun of it several times. Did you see the spat with him and Ari Shaffir about it? That's the point where I began to think HS is possibly getting old and out of touch.
It is ironic. I didn't see that spat. I'll have to check it out, especially because Ari is so great. I think the growth of podcasting is brilliant, especially for people who rely on their personality for income. It's quite possible HS is just getting old and doesn't see the immense opportunity or maybe he sees it as competition. Though, he is much richer than the both of us combined, so maybe he's onto something lol.
Thank you for doing this Ask Me Anything session. Could you please tell us how occupation licensing reform is doing in your state? How about housing affordability? Are the land use policies in Montgomery restricted?
A lot of millenials are looking right now to buy houses but they are facing a lot of hurdles:https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-08/baby-boomers-who-won-t-sell-are-dominating-the-housing-market
It's not really my expertise but from the free-market economists I've talked to in AL, this state is awful when it comes to occupational licensing. Something like 140 different licensing boards that cover 1/4 of Alabama's jobs—often low-skill jobs that would be great for people looking to be entrepreneurial if not for all the impose costs and restrictions. Alabama has a low cost of living, something like 4th best in the country, but the economic opportunities are so awful many people can't find the income to make owning a home affordable. It's a great place to live if you're pulling your income from out of state, but the local opportunities are lacking unless you want to work for the military or state government. As for land use, I know Montgomery in particular was essentially developed by three big developers who used the city government's "good ol' boy" network to zone land as they pleased. It really has screwed up the city, sent it sprawling Eastward away from the river and old downtown. There have been some efforts to correct this, but Montgomery and Alabama in general is a very corrupt place. It's not corrupt in the sense that anyone is killing people; it's just a politics of back scratching and horse-trading that has a long history of holding this state back.
I am a "practicing junior psychologist" working on my superduper thesis: Theme: "Male Facial Hair Fad".
My question is:
Down deep in your heart and soul, why do you wear a moustache? Why don't you wear a Van dyke? or a Full-Muslim beard?
Is if for religious reasons? Or do you just have to find a way to prove you're a man? Or is it to attract women? Or men? Is it just "the times" and you want to be "fashionable"?
I am serious.
Can you tell me the REAL reason you feel compelled to grow hair above your lip? Please think about it long and hard to see if you can come up with a cogent, believable reason for your facial hair and why that particular one.
Have you considered your head-hairstyle? Why do you have relatively short hair? Why not longer? Why not down to your shoulders? Why notbald-shaven as so many "macho" men are doing these days? Why not bald on top with a full-blown Muslim beard?
I will be much obliged with your contribution to my research.
David Michael Myers
Well, as I write this, my face is as smooth as a baby's bottom thanks to the fine folks at Harry's (I swear they're not paying me though I wish they would.) When I wear a lot of facial hair, I'm bit embarrassed to say it's out of laziness. Even at 28, I'm still a Sir Lack-Beard, as my facial hair comes in all patchy and also reminds of hair that shouldn't be growing on my face. It's gross.
But in all seriousness, as to the hair on top of my head, it is now shoulder length if not longer. I think I decided to grow it out, at first, because of depression due to my mother's death two years ago but then it became a way to remind me of—not get too Freudian—of her. One of my earliest memories as a young child was playing with her long hair. On the night she died, I asked my brother through tears what his first memory of mom was. He said, "Playing with her hair." So, since she is gone now, I can play with my own. And it's glorious.
I also must say, growing long hair has taught me how much the ladies spend on their hygiene. Good lord, hair products alone cost a lot. It takes more time in the morning to get ready. And I'm only talking about my hair. I can't imagine what it would cost if I wore makeup.
You are very widely read. Who are your top 5 favorite authors?
First, thank you for saying I'm widely read, but whenever folks say that to me I am indeed flattered but I also cringe a bit. If I'm "very widely read" then we really are all in trouble.
That said, and not in any particular order...
1. H. L. Mencken for his biting wit and erudition. Even his satire is full of incredible scholarship. How he was so prolific I will never know. I love his style of invective.
2. Oscar Wilde for his subversive satire, inspiring generations in the English speaking world to see how effective art can be as a form of a rebellion. Wilde is almost the first "rock star" of the modern age. For instance, I can't think of David Bowie without thinking of Wilde. His plays, his novel—that would have been enough to earn him his fame. But, then after his being thrown in jail, his introspective work De Profundis is just remarkable in its insights in regards to suffering and spirituality. It's a work worth revisiting over and over again.
3. Ayn Rand for her personal effect on me. It started with The Fountainhead. For some reason, I just picked it up one day without even knowing what the book was about or who Ayn Rand was. I was blown away. That book was like a smack to the face to go out into the world and make something of myself. To strive for the heroic in ways big and small. Anthem is also another favorite of mine on its own merits but also for inspiring Rush to compose 2112.
4. George Orwell for his integrity and beautifully discerning mind. Of course, Animal Farm and 1984 are well known for good reason. But I especially encourage people to read some of Orwell's essay. Start with, say, "Shooting an Elephant"
The opening line to that essay is one of his best: "In Moulmein, in Lower Burma, I was hated by large numbers of people — the only time in my life that I have been important enough for this to happen to me."
It makes me chuckle every time.
5. Charles Bukowski for being a reminder of the dark side of life. His poetry and novels are often crude and misanthropic, but he writes with such clarity and simplicity, such honesty and brutal truth, that he becomes quite an endearing character. He's a gutter poet who has much more insight into the depressed and disillusioned common man than any other person I've ever read. I would suggest his poem "The Genius of the Crowd"
What would your thoughts be about a libertarian that works for the government? I don't mean someone on the hill trying to change policies to protect liberty, but just an average government employee. A real "cog in the machine" for some bureaucratic department, like the DMV. Would you consider that they sold themself out, putting their ideals on a shelf, out of the way, to make a buck? Ron Swanson makes a funny character on TV, but I don't think it works like that in the real world.
I'm still a little new to libertarianism, thanks in a big part to you though. For some reason this scenario keeps coming up in my head and wonder what your opinion would be. Anyways, keep up the good work.
Hmmm, I would say it is a bit of a contradiction. It's one thing to express beliefs and another to live them out. I don't see much of an issue with someone in local city government. I wish all government was that small and limited. I tend to keep my focus on the national government. Yeah, if someone claims to be a libertarian yet is a lobbyist for some huge military contractor or, say, an EPA worker, that could be a bit of a problem. Not enough of a problem for me to badger someone about it, but you would have to question what they actually believe in. No matter what people claim to believe in, sometimes their most basic belief is "paying the mortgage or rent."
Hi Joey! You have a really great radio voice. Did you have to develop your signature rasp, or did it proceed your radio career? What about your cadence? How did you figure out how you wanted to sound on the radio?
Hi Isabelle, thank you for that.
I did have to develop my voice. I didn't want to sound like a crappy radio morning jock, "throwing up" as we say in the business into the microphone. I also didn't want to come across too "down-home" and southern. The rasp came from talking all day, every day. I didn't have that before radio. I listened over and over and over again to speakers I already loved—Glenn Beck, Christopher Hitchens, Prince (in his speaking voice which was quite low,) and even now some professional wrestling personalities like Chris Jericho and Paul Heyman. Of course, my voice is a product of my family and the people I work with every day, learning to porpoisely misuse and mispronounce words as well as produce "sound effects" with my voice for comedic or dramatic effect.