What's the easiest way for a new deejay in town to make a name for himself? Easy: attack the competition.
Just ask Guy Kemp, the new enfant terrible of KMPC-FM (better known as the New FM 102). Even his boss calls him "my child"--and it's easy to see why. On the air from 7 to midnight every night but Sunday, Kemp's obnoxious antics have stirred up a firestorm of ire and indignation on the local rock radio scene. A few quick highlights:
Kemp recently had a sympathetic listener reach rival KIIS-FM's request line and hand the phone over to Kemp when KIIS deejay Hollywood Hamilton put them on the air. Hamilton quickly took the call off the air, but instead of hanging up, engaged Kemp in a lengthy, off-color debate--which Kemp aired live on KMPC, though he bleeped out most of the obscenities.
Pop Eye obtained a tape of the exchange, in which Kemp baited Hamilton by calling him "honey" and saying he had the "IQ of an eggplant." Hamilton responded by repeatedly insulting Kemp by using a derogatory gay epithet and threatening him with physical harm, using language that can not be printed in The Times.
Eager to air proof that rival stations are keeping an eye on KMPC, Kemp has offered listeners $5 for any memos from a rival station, $10 for any memos about him. He got one too--a memo from KLOS-FM program director Charlie West, telling staffers not to respond on the air to any of Kemp's digs. (A check with KLOS staffers confirmed that the memo was authentic.)
Claiming he's doing "shock radio for L.A.," Kemp, 32, spends most of his air-time seemingly cultivating the image not of a bad deejay, but a parody of a bad deejay. Kemp repeatedly boasts that he doesn't insult minorities, women or gays--but that leaves plenty of other targets.
He tells cobwebby jokes (lots of Yoko Ono gags), makes fun of Def Leppard's one-armed drummer, has a vocabulary rivaled only by Anthony Michael Hall (his favorite insult is dweeb ), and laughs uproariously at his own jokes, giving his program the limp, self-congratulatory air of "The Tonight Show" with Ed MacMahon as host.
"Hey, I hate fake radio," said Kemp, who came to KMPC after a successful stint at Tucson's KLPX-FM. "I'll never win deejay of the year, but we're not trying to be slick--we want stuff live and spontaneous. I even answer my own request lines. I thrive on feedback--even when I get a negative call, I don't hang up on 'em . . . I put 'em on the air.
"I think the public appreciates some honesty. Basically, I do five hours of stand-up comedy every night. It's all about reality. I go to the phones and I've got a great new show every night, cause you can hear real feelings, love and animosity."
You might say Kemp specializes in animosity. Here's how he assessed his cross-town rivals during our interview:
KLOS-FM's Mark Thompson and Brian Phelps: "Two hicks who should go back where they came from."
KROQ-FM's the Poorman: "He's a few bricks short of a load."
KSLX-FM's Frazer Smith: "Years ago he was fantastic. Now the guy's doing Mexican bingo ("Jackpot Bingo," a bilingual cable show, which featured Smith last year) TV shows. I'll destroy him."
Power 106's Jay Thomas: "If you want to imitate him, just put five ounces of water in your mouth and open the mike."
Perhaps because he seems so eager to pick a fight, few of Kemp's rivals seem to view him as much of a threat. However, KIIS' Hamilton was still ruffled about the request-line incident with Kemp. "I regret using the (gay epithet). It wasn't meant as an insult. I'm not against gays--I was just upset.
"But I don't regret the other foul language. . . . He used my real name over the air and gave out my home phone number--I got so many calls I had to change it the next day.
"As far as I'm concerned, this guy can run, but he can't hide. I'd like to get him in a boxing ring at a YMCA and let's hash it out that way. We'll put on the gloves, go to the gym and handle this all in one hour. I'm a second-degree black belt and I've got a short temper, so I can't imagine why this guy would want to risk running into me someday."
KPWR's Jay Thomas was also up to the challenge: "I've never heard this guy's show, but if he doesn't think I won't kick him from one end of Sunset Boulevard to the other, let him keep it up. I settle these things personally."
KLOS would not comment.
KROQ-FM's the Poorman took the on-air insults in stride: "It doesn't bother me at all. I've heard a lot worse. I figure it's an honor that another jock would think enough of me to mention me on his station."
Frazer Smith's response was more spirited: "Hey, 'Jackpot Bingo' has made my career. They even call me 'Der Bingo.' As for Guy, how could I not love a guy who's doing my act--five years later--and not as well. If he needs any more old tapes, have him give me a call."