| CLONE-ING AROUND: Chad Doing, a local who’s gone national on Jim Rome’s popular sports-radio program. |
“Chad in Portland” figures he’s taken care of “Mike in Wichitard,” who has descended into farm animal “smack” and keeps getting run by the “Pimp.”
You must not be one of the 2 million or so listeners of Jim Rome’s radio show syndicated to more than 200 cities. In Portland, it’s on KFXX 1080 the Fan from 10 am to 1 pm weekdays.
The Jim Rome Show is America’s most listened-to sports radio show, and ranks third in Portland among all radio stations for its time slot among men ages 25 to 54. Among its local listeners: Chad Doing, who’s carved out a regular spot on the national program.
For those who haven’t listened to Rome during his decade-long rise, his show can be boiled down to his mantra: “Have a take, and don’t suck.” His callers are “clones” because they tend to imitate Rome’s rapidfire delivery of “takes” and “smack.” That’s otherwise known as guys talking trash to each other, part of the show-specific lingo for Rome’s program, a.k.a. “The Jungle” (see accompanying glossary below).
Depending on who’s writing the history of 24-hour sports radio, Rome has either piggybacked or driven the rise of round-the-clock coverage, which requires an endless supply of guys to talk sports. Rome—a.k.a. the “Pimp in the Box” and “Van Smack”—has a subculture that goes beyond language to include self-referential historical notes, running characters and a shared value system. (Anybody who mentions soccer gets bounced, or “run” from the show.)
That’s where Doing (pronounced “dew-ing”) comes in. He first made it in the “Jungle” by getting his email jokes read on-air about HIV-positive Magic Johnson’s sex life. And he’s made the rare leap from oft-read emailer to oft-heard caller by blasting everybody from Blazers owner Paul Allen to Oakland Raiders fans.
In real life, Doing is a polite, articulate 32-year-old who does morning updates at Portland’s KFXX. He’s lean, medium height and clean-cut, in no way resembling his trash-talking on-air persona.
Doing, who went to Denver Broncos games as a boy with his dad, always dreamed of getting into radio. He now confesses admiration for the broadcast skills of crop-circle fan Art Bell and even far-right attack dog Michael Savage.
Some radio programs will pay its regular correspondents. Doing says that isn’t happening in this instance, though his boss lets him use company time and resources, and Rome’s call screener always puts him right through.
For Doing and other clones, the Jungle seems to fulfill some need for community, even a chance to assume another personality.
“People who play a part in the show all have a thing they’re known for,” says Doing, “so I just play the part and stick to what I’m known for.”
What “Chad in Portland” is known for—indeed, what clone culture is all about—is never too far from the junior-high locker room.
His first email read by Rome, in 2005, was a response to “Mike in Wichita” cracking on Oklahoma, Doing’s home state. “I thought, ‘That guy’s a fool.’” Doing says. His response? An email ridiculing “Wichitard” as home of the BTK serial killer. Next, Doing created a series of email riffs on Magic Johnson’s sex partners, then last June a clone “called him out” to “grow a pair” and actually phone into the show.
In his first call the very next day, Doing blasted Allen for messing up the Blazers, called Greg Oden “Robert Parrish,” and played “Caribbean Queen” in the background because he said San Antonio Spurs guard Michael Finley looks like Billy Ocean.
Doing was then finished with emails and, 10 calls later, made the jump from “iconic” emailer straight to the annual Smack-Off, a one-day phone call contest that will be held next April.
Doing now uses KFXX equipment and a production company in New York to create parody songs that he works into his calls. For an example, try singing “Mike from Wichitard/ Baby you got no game” to Prince’s “Little Red Corvette.” He’s also worked in the Bee Gees, New Kids on the Block, Shania Twain and Glen Campbell. And a masturbation joke is never far away.
Having dispensed with Mike, whom Rome has taken to “running” because he’s hitting too low (yes, it can be done), Doing is focused on preparing for next year’s Smack-Off and creating better takes and parodies. His goal: “to establish myself as one of the notorious clones.” Out.
Glossary for the “Rome-an” Radio Empire
Jungle karma: Apparently positive effect of athletes appearing on the show.
Flame out: When a caller loses his train of thought (it’s considered polite to just hang up)
Get run: When Rome cuts your call off, usually with a buzzer sound
Out: Finished, done.