A Conversation with Rene Knott: 31 years in the news and still loving it

After cigars with Jordan and White House lawn interviews, Knott found his home in St. Louis.

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Rene Knott is the epitome of enthusiasm, existing at the intersection of hard work and vigor in the world of news. If being around him for an hour doesn’t make you happy, I don’t know what to tell you.The St. Louis morning anchor on KSDK Channel 5 has been delivering the news for 30+ years, from the West Coast to the East Coast. He’s interviewed Cal Ripken on the White House lawn and shared a private room and cigar with Michael Jordan, but he calls the community of St. Louis the best he’s come across in his life and a reason to plant roots here in the Midwest. Through it all, Knott has maintained a passion for the practice, which broadcast was meant to and always will be: a practice that requires diligent work and a will to inform, which Knott has in spades.Whether it’s working as the sports director at KSDK for 12 years or where he sits now, sharing a desk with the lovely Allie Corey on the KSDK morning show, Knott always has a smile on his face and a sense of humor at his disposal. Continue reading “A Conversation with Rene Knott: 31 years in the news and still loving it”

St. Louis radio point man Eric Messersmith saves his heart for home life

The selfless 590 The Fan host spreads the love around

Eric Messersmith is living the dream. Well, sort of.

When Messersmith first thought about speaking into a microphone more than 20 years ago, he didn’t think it would be sports talk radio. The Penn State University alum wanted to be a play-by-play baseball announcer, calling the game he loved since a kid. He certainly has the voice for it. Instead, Messersmith got into a different kind of radio, landing gigs in Pennsylvania, Texas, and now Missouri.

He spends the days talking St. Louis sports with former University of Columbia, Missouri tight end, T.J. Moe, and former St. Louis Blues enforcer, Cam Janssen, during the afternoon drive on 590 The Fan KFNS. Playing the point for a couple hot takes dispensing former athletes doesn’t sound like an easy job. There are times where one could believe a referee jersey would fit Messersmith quite well. He makes it look easy, serving up points for his co-hosts to slam home before delivering the statistical analysis grounds the theories of his teammates. Continue reading “St. Louis radio point man Eric Messersmith saves his heart for home life”

Interview: ‘Wheelman’ writer/director Jeremy Rush

With Netflix’s Wheelman, writer/director Jeremy Rush set out to make something different.

Working with a simple setup (getaway driver gets sabotaged, spends entire night figuring out who wronged him), a first rate leading man in Frank Grillo and dynamite producer (Joe Carnahan, launching War Party with Grillo), Rush tricked out the action thriller genre entry like a fast car lover would with an old muscle car, replacing an old engine with sophistication instead of the ordinary expectation.

The result was an 82 minute thrill ride, punctuated by pulpy excitement and an exhilarating energy; an experience that triggered old school cinema which relied on its own idea of cool instead of recycling someone else’s model. Continue reading “Interview: ‘Wheelman’ writer/director Jeremy Rush”

STL Up Late interview: Bobby Jaycox and Eric Christensen

Bobby Jaycox and Eric Christensen are just like you. They get up every morning to grind away at a day job to pay their bills and keep wood on the fire of a regular life. It’s not until after the sun goes down that these two men get together with other notable and talented STL comics(RAFE WILLIAMS!) and produce gold record caliber television with the KMOV talk show, STL Up Late. 

After speaking with We Are Live co-hosts Chris Denman and Travis Terrell last month,  Jaycox and Christensen sat down with me to discuss the show’s intentions, how real life hot topics play on their series, and the value of storing enough energy to chase their comic dreams. What followed was inspirational dialogue that should light a damn fire under every aspiring funny bone specialist with a dream of entertaining. 

Buffa: Tell me about STL Up Late. 

Christensen: I was doing improv at the Improv shop. I had been doing comedy for a long time in Chicago and thought St. Louis needed some of that. People told me STL needed the cool stuff I was doing in Chicago. STL Up Late was a way to show people there is cool stuff here and also follow my passion at the same time. 

Buffa: Why watch STL Up Late over the other mainstream late night talk shows like Fallon and Kimmel?

Jaycox: All those people are career people. When you see us, you see people that are working for no money and putting in long hours in during the week to make something for people to enjoy. I feel like we set a bar pretty high for the stuff we put together. 

Buffa: Comedy is at a high point right now. Do you see it as a means to heal a soul or merely produce a distraction?

Christensen: They’ve always said laughter is the breaking of tension. I definitely think doing comedy is therapeutic in a lot of ways. 

Jaycox: I can imagine a lot of things missing in a society but I can’t imagine comedy not being there. So it’s everybody’s job to keep it on the trajectory of doing new and good things. Some people hit a plateau and think they can’t do anything new. Look at Louis CK, who does a new hour every year. Anything is possible. There’s people who start on YouTube and then are on Netflix. The people who continue to do new things and drive it. 

Christensen: Since the beginning, it’s important to keep the serious things in check. That’s comedy’s job.  

Buffa: Rafe mentioned something on Tuesday’s WAL broadcast about using heavy hitter topics like the election, gay marriage and gun control in his sketches and comedy in a different way. What is your take on using those real life topics?

Jaycox: I definitely think that part of hitting on political stuff is kind of like growing up. It’s not what your age is. It’s how long you’ve been doing stand up. In order to make those points, you have to be like the Beatles and make those first few albums. 

Christensen: You have to earn it. 

Jaycox: Yeah. Bill Burr was at the Fox and he was hitting all those hard topics and even his fans were getting uncomfortable. That’s his job. He’s going to give you laughter and make you think about coming onto my side by the end. 

Christensen: On STL Up Late, we’re never going to attack those points. We don’t look at gay marriage and think we have to make a joke. If there’s something there that is funny, we will do it. 

Jaycox: It’s like putting your finger on the pulse and trying to see if there is anything we could do. Like Rafe did with the finger gun. 

Buffa: If you can get one of them on your show, who would it be? Hilary or Trump?

Christensen: It’s gotta be Trump. 

Jaycox: Trump. There’s too much material. We’ve done stuff with Trump.


Buffa: The We Are Live crew is on STL Up Late this weekend. How did you meet Chris and Travis?

Christensen: They’d asked me a while back to be on and then Rafe was on. Josh McNew(STL Up Late director) shot a lot of their stuff. 

Jaycox: I’d met Chris at Helium when he judged a contest there recently. 

Buffa: What’s the harshest part of producing comedy and chasing this dream? The sacrifices. 

Christensen: Time. 

Jaycox: You have to have a day job. I don’t know anyone just doing comedy. You have to do a day job, have a social life, and do comedy. Trying to fit more time into comedy. 

Buffa: You have to commit energy to it. 

Jaycox: That’s exactly right. I knew I had a show so I had to reserve my energy. You can’t go out late. You have to save energy. 

Buffa: You run into an aspiring young comic. What’s the first thing you tell him?

Jaycox: Don’t listen to anyone. Listen to yourself. Don’t worry about trying to be someone else. It’s hard enough being yourself. Whatever you’re inspired by, do it. 

Christensen: Start creating. Don’t worry about the next step. Put your stuff on paper and start recording. Start making something and it will take off. 

Jaycox: A great quote I heard is “you don’t have to be great to start. You have to start to be great.” Just get out there and start. It’s an immediate fail or pass on stage in front of an audience. If you are more determined than anyone else, you’ll make it. 

Buffa: What’s the pre-show routine?

Christensen: We will run scripts. Dry rehearsal. Block them out. Dress rehearsals are next. I’m writing the moment I wake up until I get to the theater. Focus on the scripts. 

Jaycox: I try to be as present as I can. If I’m thinking about the next thing, that takes a toll. If I’m in the moment, things go well. You can tell when any of us aren’t present. 

In order to make it in comedy, you have to give a shit. Every day. Every time on stage. A message that is re-affirmed when you talk to Jaycox and Christensen about their work. They do it for the love of the game and the hope that the road leads to bigger and better things. 

Watching STL Up Late, you see all the hard work and sacrifice come together on stage. It’s a living breathing thing. See how hard these guys work to create original unfiltered comedy now that you know their story. 


Bobby Jaycox, Eric Christensen, and company are trying to make comedy great again in STL and it’s a goal they don’t take lightly. Be a part of the experience.

Frank Grillo joins We Are Live! radio

Frank Grillo joined We Are Live radio in St. Louis to talk about his upcoming film projects.

Before he takes over Hollywood this summer, action star Frank Grillo was kind enough to talk to the CBS Sports Radio show, We Are Live. For an epic 34 minutes, Grillo dished on his big 2016 cinematic and television season. After punishing a few Avengers in Captain America: Civil War, Grillo will return to his true authentic playground with AT&T’s Kingdom and then return to movie screens in July with The Purge: Election Year. For the 50 year old actor, it’s a homecoming of sorts after a lot of hard work put into the blood, sweat, and tears business of show business that started over 25 years ago.

 

Guest host Rafe Williams and Trill Ass Trailers creator Kenny Kinds joined me for the interview and we discussed:

*The impact of Crossbones on the Marvel Universe and the Russo Brothers.

*Why Chris Evans shouldn’t challenge Grillo in a real boxing ring.

*The world of Kingdom and MMA and how the show came together for Grillo and creator Byron Balasco. 

*Why Purge 3 will be the best in the series. 

*The importance of stunt work in these action adventures.

Conor McGregor was brought up and so was Grillo’s early start in Hollywood on The Guiding Light. All of that and more. 

People ask me what separates Grillo from your other gracious make believe masters and it’s this. He gives a shit and forges friendships. He keeps his word. If he says he can do something, he is going to fucking do it. A lot of people, actor or not, don’t do that so cheers to Frank.

The audio links are below. Two options.

For the ITunes crowd, here is the link to the We Are Live subscription page.

For the internet crowd, here is a link to the We Are Live InsideSTL page.

Each page the segment is listed as “Interview with Frank Grillo”. If it were up to me, I’d light this page on fire right now because that is the exact temperature of the man’s career.

Thanks for listening to it and I hope my first night hosting a radio show sounds as professional as possible.

A huge thank you to Chris Denman and Travis Terrell of We Are Live to allow me to operate the controls of their cathedral for a night and host Mr. Grillo on this fine show.

Frank Grillo Interview: Avenging Purge Artist of Kingdom

Meet Frank Grillo. In our third chat on the Dose, we discuss the TV series Kingdom, Captain America: Civil War, and The Purge sequels among other things.

Frank Grillo doesn’t waste a second of your time on screen. What you see is what you get. Every time. Pure rapid authenticity and dedication to a role. He may be avenging a few heroes, purging some bad guys or trying to get inside the head of a fighter he is training. Every film and every set, Grillo is simply hustling. Trying to get it all right and give the fans a show. Something they will remember.

People will gloss over the Oscar nominations this month, but I’ll tell you there is a fine list of actors who left a dent in my mind and did something unforgettable who don’t own Oscars. They hold your attention and that is good enough for them. For the third time, Grillo and I got on the phone and talked about a number of things ranging from Crossbones to Leo Barnes to Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor. It wasn’t a standard interview. It was a conversation. Enjoy.

Continue reading “Frank Grillo Interview: Avenging Purge Artist of Kingdom”

We Are Live and Carolla: Good Radio Meets Hard Work

When hard work and good radio met, We Are Live was formed.

Hard work leads to good things, right?

The old adage is that if you stick your feet in the ground and take a true shot at something, goals can be attained. Or so people said as I was growing up, reading and writing whatever sports and film commentary I could get my hands on. When I started this thing five years ago, I wanted to get my voice out to the masses or the 10-15 people who actually read this blog. A way to calm the noise in the head or the need to impose my will. So when I see a couple hard driving scrappers like Chris Denman and Travis Terrell take an evening radio show and turn it into a date on a stage with Adam Carolla, I salute them.

Denman and Terrell are the epitome of hard work and passion. A little while ago, they wanted to start a podcast and much to their luck and timing, Tim McKernan at Inside STL threw them the evening slot on CBS 920 AM. They didn’t waste their chance and turned it into a show that touches on a number of topics. They can go from Donald Trump blasting to Gas Pump Confessions to MMA to Movies and then take a U-Turn to sports. It’s a truly unique show where nothing is out of bounds. Listeners get a variety and it’s not called 106.5. Continue reading “We Are Live and Carolla: Good Radio Meets Hard Work”