Radio & TV Talk

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My 2011 interview with comic Jay Thomas (1948-2017)

This was posted on Thursday, August 24, 2017 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Comic, actor and radio host Jay Thomas passed away today at age 69 of cancer. . He emceed the 2011 Georgia Radio Hall of Fame when Steve Holman, Moby and Randy & Spiff were inducted. It was a fun night. I got to talk to him in October, 2011 before the event: 

Jay Thomas is recognized for his roles on "Cheers," "Mr. Holland's Opus," "Murphy Brown" and even "Mork & Mindy." He just shot a guest spot on HBO's "Hung." But he's actually spent more time in his life on the radio throughout the Southeast. He's been a talk-show host on Sirius (now Sirius/XM) for the past seven years.

Thomas, 62, has no direct Georgia radio connection but he has worked in Panama City, Fla., Nashville, Knoxville, Jacksonville and Charlotte before going to New York. And he's from New Orleans.

Georgia Radio Hall of Fame organizer John Long worked with Thomas in 1975 when Thomas was the program director at a Jacksonville, Fla. top 40 radio station. He invited Thomas to be the emcee for the 5th annual Georgia Radio Hall of Fame ceremony at the Hilton Marietta Hotel & Conference Center Saturday, Oct. 15.

"I like hosting a big room and giving out awards," said Thomas in a phone interview last week from his home in Santa Barbara, Calif.

"He was funny and outrageous and crazy back in the day," Long said. "I hope he'll tell some good radio stories which should thrill the radio folks in the room."

Thomas said even during his heyday on TV in the 1980s and 1990s, he did a radio morning show in Los Angeles. "Motivated by greed," he joked.

He enjoys talking pop culture, sports and politics. He even did a pilot with Atlanta-based CNN and tried to get a gig with Fox News, too. "I'm never going to be accepted by the news channels," he said.

Thomas wouldn't mind going to back to morning terrestrial radio. "The top 3 announcers in L.A. are Bill Handel, Ryan Seacrest and Carson Daly. If that doesn't make you want to run to a vomitorium, I don't know what does!"

At the same time, he loves Sirius/XM. Management leaves him be and lets him talk about what he wants. "I look at radio as entertainment," he said. He likes Michael Savage, who he considers "insanely funny." Same with Mark Levine, who he dubs "outrageously nuts." He's amused that AM/FM radio companies still treat satellite like a pariah.

Thomas' favorite TV shows? "The Big Bang Theory." "Breaking Bad." "Game of Thrones." He's working on his own pilot of a reality program in which he interviews quirky people like a surgeon who is a national tomahawk champion or the kid who puts 60 snails on his face. He is now shopping it around.

Jay Thomas on the radio

Sirius/XM, Channel 104 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays

Channel 101 (Howard Stern's channel), 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Fridays when Stern is off


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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.