Whenever I listen to the radio or in today's world, podcasts, I think of Nicki French's song "Voice of America," which celebrates the power of radio. I have been part of both mediums throughout my career. In college I hosted my own '50s/'60s & '80s/'90s radio show. Then I interned at WPLJ in NYC. More recently, I've been interviewed for Rep Radio's podcast and hosted my own radio show It's Showtime with Call Me Adam on YTP Radio. I love it all!
Needless to say when I found out about Ralph Sutton & Big Jay Oakerson's podcast Sex, Drugs, & Rock N Roll, I was eager to find out more about it. I called and Ralph answered! I had a great time learning about Ralph's rise in radio, his partnering with Big Jay Oakerson, the birth of Sex, Drugs & Rock N Roll, plus memorable guests and unanswered questions.
On August 21, Ralph and Big Jay will welcome comedian and "Mooch" impersonator Mario Cantone!
1. Who or what inspired you to become a radio/TV host? When my testicles dropped, and my voice went deep – I was told daily that I had a voice for radio, and even did a little stint on my college radio station but kind of walked away from it – then about 20 years ago – while I was a strip-club DJ – Howard Stern was talking about how to pick up strippers, and I called in to talk about it. Miraculously, I got through on my first try (and it was my first time every calling into a talk show), we had about a 2-minute call – it was a great call. They didn’t make fun of me after, it was quick and funny then then all that week people were calling me, asking if that was me on Howard Stern. It was that call that made me want to finally give radio a real try.
2. How did you and Big Jay Oakerson come to create your digital comedy show, Sex, Drugs, & Rock N Roll? I had been hosting this rock music cruise called Shiprocked – and they asked me if I knew any comedians that would work on the cruise…I suggested Jay – even though he and I were casual acquaintances at the time, I was aware of how funny he was, and how great he’d be for the cruise. They ended up having us host a bunch of events together, and all we did was make each other laugh the entire time. He then suggested we do a podcast together. My uneducated answer at the time was "Podcasts are for people who can’t do radio, and I already have a nationally syndicated rock radio show!" but over the next few months I kept reading about podcasting and how big it was getting. I told him about 5-6 months later that I was down to do it. He said - we need a name/concept/etc. I had the logo, website, and theme already picked out – for a morning show I was going to do – that never transpired…so I just sent him the logo, and he said "done!"
3. Sex, Drugs & Rock N Roll is a no-apologies, not politically correct, not for the faint of heart show that blends the classic energy of a morning radio show into the new era of digital entertainment. If you were to apply this description to your life, what do you feel has been the most shocking thing you have done that made you go, "I can't believe I just said or did that, and while I should feel bad about it, I'm living my life like my show, so fuck it."? Well the funny thing is of the S, D & R of the show, I am very light on the D. But I feel I make up for it with the S and the R. I also think shocking is such a relative term, what one person finds shocking, someone else finds common-place. In the last few years since the show began, I have done things I probably wouldn’t have done, had it not been for the show. I also stay on bad dates longer because they might lead to good stories for the show!
For me – because my experience with drugs was so minor – doing mushrooms live on the show was a real bizarre experience for me. I remember drooling – and that’s about it. I also had a minor blackout on the show once too, which was not a fun thing at all. The best part of that story though was that my mom – who is a big supporter of anything I do, and always shares everything I post – shared the clip of me having a blackout on the air…and then was inundated with friends asking her "why the hell would you share a clip of your son having a blackout!"
4. What has been the best part about creating this show and what is the most challenging? The best part has been the difference a podcast listener and a radio listener. Podcast listeners are active listeners. Far more engaged than an average radio listener. I would rather have 1,000 podcast listeners than 10,000 radio listeners. Podcast listeners have launched an app, searched you out, and pressed play. They WANT to listen to you. Radio – usually is just on in the background, in the car, etc. I have been floored by the interaction we get from the show.
The most challenging is booking it! We do it live Monday nights in the East Village…so it’s been difficult finding people to come to my home studio 9pm at night.
5. You recently celebrated the three-year anniversary of Sex Drugs & Rock & Roll. What was the best part of this milestone? In looking back, what is something you can't believe happened that you had initially only hoped for? It really is amazing to me at this point. I spend days trying to come up with ridiculous ideas, and then see if we can make it happen. An idea that I had for three years, that we finally got done, and it ended up being the most listened to episode ever, was the "Oralympics." Where we got a $1000 escort and a $200 escort to donate their services for science. We were both blindfolded and then had to decide was it worth spending the extra $800 – if you want to know the answer, you’ll have to listen to the episode.
6. I love the fact that you tape these podcasts live right here in NYC. Why did you want to have a live audience for your tapings as opposed to doing these interviews in a closed-studio? What has been the craziest thing to happen during a taping? We do the show live in my home studio – and about once a month we do a live event somewhere – in front of an audience. Perhaps the most fun in recent memory was our Family Feud 3-year anniversary party. Sal Vulcano from Impractial Jokers, Corey Glover, the singer of Living Colour, Michael Alig, the subject of the movie Party Monster, and a few porn stars and burlesque performers like Payton Sin Claire showed up. It was just so much fun. After the live broadcast of the show – everyone just hung out. Sal DJ’d until 3am, I saw various guests go into the bathroom with various guests, I saw one of the interns make out with a porn star in the middle of the room, it was just decadence and debauchery at its finest.
7. Can you recall any questions that stumped a guest? If so, what was the question and who was the guest? In general, we try to have a relaxed vibe in the studio – the guest usually shows up about 30 minutes before – we offer drinks, we are very casual – I am not looking to bring a guest to tears. The one time it got dicey was when Mina Caputo from the band "Life of Agony" was in studio. She’s transitioning from Keith to Mina – and it was a sensitive subject for her (understandably), and while we’ve had a few transgendered guests on the show – they were usually porn stars who already fully made the transition, and were more comfortable with the general questions that might come up on our show. And I didn’t’ think Mina was ready for how open Jay can be about it – neither of us are remotely phobic about anyone’s identity, but we do talk relatively openly. So I think she was a bit shocked…it did lead to a great discussion and openness about what she was going through and I think it was a great interview. But it was a bit touch-and-go in the beginning.
8. For this month's show, August 21, your special guest is the hilarious Mario Cantone. What are you looking forward to most about having Mario as your guest? Is there one thing specific you are hoping will happen with him on the show or a topic of discussion that will come up? This is a long time coming. I've known Mario since I was about 10 or so…he’s like a brother to me, and I had a similar experience recently when Jennifer Esposito came on the show. It’s strange to interview someone you’ve known your entire life. I knew Jen since I was about 19, and Mario since before I had pubes. So it will probably end up being more of a trip down memory lane. Although I was so happy to see how everyone loved his "Mooch" impression. It was so good!
9. Who are some of your dream guests you'd still like to have on the show? Charlie Sheen, Axl Rose, Marilyn Manson. Charlie – because c’mon…he’s gotta have the most bonkers stories out there. Axl – because he is rock royalty. And Manson because not only is he Jay’s favorite, but he and I both dated the same girl...we’re wiener cousins! That’s gotta be something right?
10. As an interviewer yourself, what is one question I didn't ask that you wish I had? (please provide the answer to said question as well). The only question that doesn’t get asked enough is how does this crazy show affect your life directly?
It’s destroyed my dating life. I have to beg girls not to google me or look up my show. As I know if they base my persona on the show – I have no prayer of a 2nd date. My mom puts it best "It’s what he does, it’s not who he is." I will pretty much do anything – if I think it will be better for the show. When we first started, I wanted to do something that I knew would get listeners. Calling a show Sex Drugs & Rock n Roll was the answer to that…and I think I have only said no once on the show to some idea that came up. I want this show to be the inner voice that pushes back against all the crazy SJW stuff, and political correctness that is going on in the world right now. It’s ok to be ridiculous – if you are not doing it from an evil place. It’s OK to laugh at others, as long as you are also willing to laugh at yourself. It’s OK to do things for nothing other than pure enjoyment. Even if you end up blacking out in the process :)
Ralph Sutton is a long-time veteran of television & radio with his own built-in international fan base. for nearly two decades – Ralph hosted – The Tour Bus, a nationally broadcast rock radio show that was syndicated in 50 markets across the nation and re-broadcast worldwide on the Internet. The show boasted over one million listeners nationwide. In 2016 Ralph launched the GaS Digital Network - with 11 shows and 750,000 listeners a week network wide.