Vegas raises a Farewell Toast to Radio’s King of mayhem and music…
2/2/21 – It’s with a heavy heart that I share the news that our friend Jay Bird passed away yesterday. While the cause of his death is unknown to me at this point, that’s not really important. What matters is that this city, the entertainment community, and many individuals lost a friend this week.
Jay was his own kind of man…funny, sarcastic, generous, and educated. He loved horror films, giving his time to charitable events, and presenting opportunities for performers both established and fledgling. I had the honor of cutting my teeth in radio broadcasting when Jay invited me to be his guest…and later to co-host Rocking Comedy Show a few times.
Image courtesy of Aaron Elekes
In an alternate reality, I’d be prepping right now to head over to the Radio Vegas Rocks studio, as I was slated to join Jay this evening for his latest broadcast. Sadly, that will never happen. Instead, I’ll be joining his colleagues and friends for a memorial in the days or weeks ahead. Here is an official statement from Radio Vegas Rocks social media:
With a heavy heart I reluctantly confirm that Jay has passed. There will be multiple events in his honor because there are multiple scenes and communities that he supported, plus the unfortunate restrictions on gathering and people quarantining. RVR will continue to be a thing, the team will update you here.
In the past year and a half, even during COVID-19, Jay was working hard to hold things together. Not just for himself and the station, but for performers who had new material to share or just wanting to provide listeners with a laugh. Entertainers as varied as burlesque performer Lucie May, actress Cheryl Prater, singers Brett Pruneau and Andrew Diessner, Bronx Wanderers front man Vin A., Sex Tips star Louis D’Aprile, Atomic Saloon Show‘s Colin Cahill, and many more joined Jay from his home broadcasting studio.
If you’d like to contribute to burial and final expenses, a GoFundMe account has been set up here.
The following is an article that I published this past summer. I think Jay enjoyed reading it. I know that he’d appreciate the outpouring of love, loss, sadness and memories we’ll share over this unique man.
Video didn’t kill the radio stars, no matter what you’ve heard. They just evolved, changed the rules and came at you from a different direction. Unencumbered by those pesky FCC regulations, internet broadcasting has freed deejays and programmers to do things the way they’ve always wanted to. That’s why everyone loves RadioVegas.rocks and its featured program The Rocking Comedy Show.
Taking over the world one laugh at at time, The Rocking Comedy Show is three hours of nonstop “cray cray”, if you can still use that expression without sounding lame. Just how nutty do things get? Imagine yours truly is co-hosting an episode where an indie musician (Scott Willians) and a healthcare worker are barfing up their contributions to the “Death Nuts Challenge” right outside the studio door.
It may sound like madness, but it’s just another day at the office for Jason Bird, aka “Crazy Jay”. The dedicated host and creator of The Rocking Comedy Show seemingly lives and breathes the party-hearty chatfest, which has deposited more than 1,100 episodes into the vault. That’s no small feat for a show that’s been running in one form or another since 2000…which is like a century in “radio years”.
Jay began broadcasting RadioVegas.rocks from a brand-new custom-built Kicker Studio earlier this year. He shares the space with two pups, a big desert tortoise and an ancient cat named “Hank Williams”. His dad is usually on hand to great visitors and keep Jay on his toes.
Guests play trivia games and get to compete for cool gifts….or the opportunity to strip the top off their competitor (relax….it was comedian Myles Weber, a dude with abs and a toned man-rack worth flaunting). Manly-man sponsors like Spunk Lube, Nut Rub, Dr. Squatch and local food favs Pinches Tacos and Jessie Rae’s BBQ supply the prizes…and in-studio muchies (yes!).
Since arriving in Las Vegas twenty years ago, Jay has had plenty of up-and-coming talent behind the microphone, and an impressive list of household names, too. He’s worked with Tommy Chong, Bill Cosby, Sinbad, Lily Tomlin, Weird Al Yankovic, and Bill Engval, among others. And there was that time when iconic actor Wesley Eure kicked off an appearance at The Golden Tiki for a Land of the Lost reunion.
Vegas celebs like Mike Hammer, Murray SawChuck, Elvis impersonator Steve Connolly, George Wallace, Colin Cahill (Atomic Saloon Show), Makenzie Fly and Louis D’Aprile (Sex TIps) have been know to drop by for their own brand of on-air mayhem.
Jay has demonstrated his love for the city with charitable events and epic halloween parties, where he gets to show off his passion for horror films. Then there was that time in 2014 when he broke a world record for the longest marathon broadcast (80 hours and one minute).
Lots of creative people have helped to evolve the show through the years. Some have gone on to create their own programs, and Jay’s invited newbies like myself to pop their broadcast cherries and share happenings, views…and maybe a sip of Tito’s.
This week I asked Jay to step onto the other side of the spotlight for a change…and answer a few questions. Here’s what he had to say:
What sets The Rocking Comedy Show apart from similar programs?
The content nowadays everyone has an online radio show or a podcast, but its the content that has to grab you and keep bringing you back. We are currently at 1,121 episodes and you don’t get there by doing the same stuff over and over. You have to be dedicated to do it, and that’s not just the show. It’s the prep, the social media, the website updates and more. If you don’t have the time to tell anyone about it or how to find it, why are you doing it?
Is anything ever too outrageous?
Yes, we have hit that a few times. At first it may be funny, but you listen back, or listeners hit you up. I don’t regret any show I have done, and I don’t apologize for a bad one, I just move on and don’t discuss it.
Tell me about a guest stint that derailed, and one that you wished didn’t have to end.
Over 1k shows and I don’t think any of our stints have derailed. Most of the guests who come on are aware of the show and what it’s all about. We have done some killer interviews that maybe started slow, or off to a weird start, but then it took off. Sometimes it’s the guest, or their PR person telling us what we can’t ask them.
This happened with Vince Neil and also Lita Ford but then they brought up what we were told not to, and boom! magic. Also had comedian Sinbad on the show…he was scheduled for 30 we had him for over 2 hours and we never stopped laughing.
Your favorite part of being a host?
Some would say the control. To me it’s the uncertainty of what can happen. If you’re on your toes and have a good ear, you can grab a sound effect or a song that goes with what your talking about, driving the train keeping it rolling, and keeping the timing of the show perfect. I don’t like to stay on one topic for too long. Get a big laugh, move on, don’t beat that joke to death, maybe revisit it later if you can.
What’s more fun…..discovering fresh talent or slamming tired celebs?
I love finding new talent and maybe pair them up with someone who does the show a lot and get them to do a song. Vegas has so much un-noticed local talent it’s amazing what I have found.
Mariah, Britney and Criss Angel are sinking in quicksand and you only have one lifeline. What’s your move?
I am assuming if I see them sinking I have also put myself in jeopardy with this quicksand. So, I would use the lifeline on myself because I have more shows to do.