By Dave DeLuca
Sports talk radio has become a booming business over the last decade. There seems to be no shortage of stations airing national programming like Dan Patrick and Jim Rome. There are plenty of options if you want to hear about the latest NFL suspensions or call in to talk about the outrageous salaries in the NBA. But who are you going to call if you want to talk about the really important stuff? Like who’s had the uglier uniforms at the Civil War football game or even how the OSU gymnastic team is fairing. No, not the Ghostbusters. You call Mike and Jon at The Joe Beaver Show.
The show is broadcast live on 1240 KEJO from noon to 2 p.m. on weekdays from August to May. It covers all things Beavers from football camp to the end of baseball season and everything in between. Mike Parker—aka the Voice of the Beavers—and Jon Warren have hosted the show together since 2003.
Both men moved to Corvallis in 1999. At that time, Parker began his stint as the Voice of the Beavers. He has provided the radio play-by-play for OSU football, basketball, and baseball ever since. He also does television work hosting Talkin’ Beavers from Flat Tail Brewery. Warren became the radio voice of OSU women’s basketball and the host of The KLOO Morning Update on 1340 AM. He gave up the play-by-play work in 2006, but still hosts the KLOO morning show. Warren has also become program director of both KEJO and KLOO AM and does play-by-play for the local high school game of the week on KEJO. During football season, he co-hosts The Beaver Tail Gate Show with Doug Blair. Parker and Warren both lend their voices to countless commercials heard on several local radio stations. Somehow, the two old friends find time to sit down together and share their love of the Beavers with their fans five days a week on The Joe Beaver Show. But it can be a challenge.
Parker pointed out that “We do prepare. We take the show seriously. We don’t just show up and start talking. Every day we’ll call each other in that window between 9 a.m. when Jon gets off the air at noon.”
“It works,” Warren added. “I don’t know how it works, but it works.”
These two have contrasting personalities that make the show work. Parker brings a frenetic energy and seemingly photographic memory to the table. He can as easily recall the final scores of past Beaver games as he can quote movie lines from Cool Hand Luke or My Cousin Vinny. His vocabulary is vast, as befits a versatile sports broadcaster. Warren is a down-to-earth everyman. His conversational broadcasting style helps connect listener to content. Warren also lends technical prowess to the daily effort. His know-how and experience are a necessity for a show that lacks a producer.
Warren explained why the two don’t have more help. “The market size bears that there is enough for two of us, and not a whole staff. So it’s what we have to do.”
Parker added, “We would love to have a producer. We would like the show to be better, tighter, more organized, more cohesive than it is. But under the constraints of time and budget, that’s just not realistic.”
Parker and Warren broadcast from a studio in Albany. But as often as not, they produce the show on the road from various locations across Albany and Corvallis. They welcome listeners to join them at Joe Beaver Road Shows hosted by local businesses. You might see the Joe-Mobile (a brightly decorated PT Cruiser) and orange tent outside any of a number of sponsoring restaurants, bars, and stores in the area. The road shows provide a chance for fans to meet each other as well as Parker and Warren. The special appearances also feature door prizes provided by sponsoring businesses and from OSU.
It’s obvious to anyone who has the pleasure of meeting Parker and Warren that they love their work. It’s not always easy, though. Sports talk is all about having an opinion, and not every listener or caller brings a happy perspective to the table. Parker and Warren won’t pretend everything is rosy if one of OSU’s squads underperforms on the field. But, the show is called Joe Beaver, so they do their best to keep a positive attitude.
Parker explained the challenge. “Our approach is always pretty positive. We support the coaches and the student athletes. We’re trying to balance the inevitable criticism that’s out there. We’re not going to come in and pile on in a mean-spirited way.”
Warren described the difficulty of hosting the show during a tough football season. “Mondays after a loss are hard. They’re hard after consecutive losses. But we don’t have a choice—the show goes on. We can’t take a day off because we want to avoid criticism or dealing with upset fans. We do the best we can to temper it. Temper it, balance things, not lie or point out positives where there are none, just deal with it without us piling on.”
Whether the Beavers win, lose, or draw, the fans call into the show with opinions. Unlike nationally syndicated shows, The Joe Beaver Show puts every caller on the air. From regulars who check in weekly to long-time listener, first-time callers, everyone is treated with respect and given plenty of time to make their points.
Warren said, “We are a forum for people to come on and say what they want. We’re just not necessarily going to agree with them.”
The show is about more than OSU’s high-profile sports. It’s common to hear interviews of student-athletes and coaches representing track, volleyball, wrestling, softball, and plenty of others. The guys clearly enjoy learning about the nuances of all sports, and meeting the kids who play them.
The Joe Show is also about more than just sports. Like any friends, Parker and Warren talk about their lives and their interests. Like most of us, they love movies. Parker loves older classic movies, so much so that you might hear clips from the Marx Brothers or W.C. Fields in the show’s intro. Not every quote is antiquated, though. Bull Durham, Glen Gary Glen Ross, The Natural, Blazing Saddles, and plenty of other silly and serious films are referred to with regularity.
“Every guy, if he’s a guy’s guy, has movie references. It’s how we communicate. If you can’t quote Stripes or Tommy Boy, get outta here,” Warren explained, laughing.
The show has its own lingo and vocabulary. Some of the more eloquent language used might require listeners to crack open a dictionary. Parker is a fan of multisyllabic terms like interlocutor, dissemination, and tangential. Show-specific slang terms like “chikaudio” (pre-recorded interviews) and “jamocha” (coffee) also find their way across the airwaves. Most of that unusual verbiage is explained through context, but one strange word choice requires additional explanation. Parker and Warren have the strange habit of referring to each other as “Doc.”
Parker explained, “Babe Ruth was my initial inspiration. He called everybody Doc and Kid when he was playing with the Yankees; ‘Hey, Doc. Hey, Kid.’ If everybody’s Doc and Kid, you don’t have to remember anybody’s name. That was why Babe Ruth did it. I figured if it’s good enough for Babe Ruth, it’s good enough for me. I started calling everyone I would see Doc. Pretty soon, we started calling each other Doc. Now, everybody’s Doc.”
What’s next for Doc Parker and Doc Warren?
“We enjoy doing the show. We enjoy the interaction with callers, with the community, with businesses in the community. As long as health permits, we’d love to do it as long as we can,” Parker said.
How much longer does Warren want to keep the show going?
“Indefinitely. As long as we’re here and as long as people want it. That’s what I love about high school and college sports. Every year, it’s a brand new class. Brand new stories. Brand new shows. Brand new everything.”
The Joe Beaver Show airs from noon (or sometimes 1 p.m.) until 2 p.m. weekdays during the OSU school year. 1240 AM KEJO also broadcasts high school football, Corvallis Knights baseball, NFL football, and syndicated sports talk. For more information or to hear streaming audio, go to http://kejo-am.tritondigitalmedia.com/index.php.