“You know, sometimes, I’d bring, like, four strippers to the radio show after work to party with us. So they were there for, like, five minutes, and I went outside to have a cigarette. When I came back in, the four girls were beelining out of there. ‘Oh my god, we’ve got to get out of there,’ they were saying, and, I’m like, ‘What, what?’ and there’s Bob, pants down, pubic hair on fire.”
I can’t stop laughing. I’m Skyping with University alum Dee Simon, author and co-host of the “Sick and Wrong” podcast, and he’s telling me a story about his brief experience working as the host of a metal radio show in San Francisco.
“Wait, his pubes were still on him?” I return. “He didn’t cut them off first?”
“No, he was, like, lighting his dick on fire. Bob was a vile creature.”
Dee Simon is every Michigan parent’s worst nightmare.
Rather than file into line with the rest of the doctors, lawyers and engineers the University churns out every year, Simon (real name David Scott) decided that he wanted to do something different with his University of Michigan degree. He wanted to have his own radio show.
And, for a while, he did. After graduating from the University in 1997 with a dual degree in English and Broadcast Communications (and a few Michigan Daily Arts articles under his belt), Dee moved out to the San Francisco Bay Area and hosted a late-night program, Rampage Radio. Inspired by the lifestyle of shock-jock radio DJs like Howard Stern, the heavy metal-focused show incorporated elements of dirty talk radio, complete with strippers and bizarre rocker guests doing drugs in the back of the studio.
However, Dee’s radio career didn’t pan out. There just wasn’t enough money in it to sustain a real career. For a while he spent time working first at a cushy tech job, then as a strip club DJ after the economy crashed in the early Bush era (he documented this journey in his autobiographical book, “Play Something Dancy”) but in more recent years he’s settled down into a more mundane, well-paying career in L.A. as a project manager for a kids’ software company.
“It’s weird. The place is owned by scientologists,” he said.
But Simon’s radio dream hasn’t died quite yet.
“I’ve always wanted to do radio. But it’s hard to get a broadcast radio gig, so podcasts are the next best thing,” he said.
For almost a decade, Simon has been the co-host of the “Sick and Wrong” podcast, the self-described “world’s source for anti-social commentary.” “Sick and Wrong” features discussion of “the most disturbing news items of the week” and interviews with a huge variety of counterculture personalities.
Recent interviewees include Jinx Dawson, the lead singer of controversial ’60s-’70s satanic-psychedelic band Coven, Mia Matsumiya, creator of the “perv_magnet” Instagram page recently featured by Buzzfeed and Hung Yung Terrarist, a former sex cultist/current female MC. It’s easy to see how Dee’s origins as a shock-jock have influenced his work on “Sick and Wrong.”
The podcast hit it big, but not huge. In the U.S., the show hovers around the bottom of the top 100 comedy charts, while in the U.K., the show regularly has been seen in the top 10. The show’s fanbase is sizable, but insular.
“It’s kinda cool to put out a product that has, you know, a niche audience,” he said. “It’s true, we’re not like Marc Maron or something. But you know, it’s fun!”
I’ve been listening to “Sick and Wrong” since I was, well, way too young to be listening to “Sick and Wrong.” I guess it was the subject matter that brought me to the show. Getting to learn about, drugs, counterculture and loose women at the age of 14 was something mundane small-town me couldn’t pass up.
Something I’ve always admired about the podcast is its ability to find humor in the darkest and strangest of places. It’s not disturbing for disturbing’s sake. Even when the stories the show covered got grisly or depressing, Dee and his former co-host (University alum Lance Wackerle, an electrical engineer) could always find ways to make me laugh about it. At its core, “Sick and Wrong” is a show about not taking life too seriously.
“Sick and Wrong” has over 500 episodes available on the iTunes store. Producing one episode a week, that’s almost 10 years of podcasting experience under Simon’s belt.
When Episode 500 was released a couple of months ago, it marked a huge change for the show: Wackerle, Dee’s co-host from day one, left the show. His new co-host, independent comic writer Andrew Harrison, has been picking up where Wackerle left off.
“It’s a weird situation when you have a long-running podcast and all of a sudden you need to switch hosts. So I was faced with a difficult decision,” he said. “What do I do? Do I start a new show? Do I finish my podcasting career? Or maybe like, try to find a different host? But then finding a different host poses its own problems, because they have to win the crowd over.”
Dee met his new co-host Harrison through a mutual friend who met him on Tinder.
“They went on one date and she was like, wow, this guy is whacked. He started talking about doing heroin in Prague, and this whole thing about a dominatrix that pegged him, this weird shit. He’s a weird guy,” he said.
To top it off, the deep-voiced Harrison had years of New York radio experience under his belt. It was a match made in heaven.
“The cadence and the timing was there with him because he’d done radio. He wasn’t nervous, so that was kinda cool. His voice is great, and he has a great sense of humor, he’s a twisted individual.”
Dee and Harrison are moving ahead with what they call “Sick and Wrong 2.0.,” a slight change in format to the show that still uses the same iTunes feed. A few drunken rants to Dee’s voicemail notwithstanding, the fanbase seems to have accepted Harrison with open arms. I can’t wait to see where the show goes from here.
It was clear from just talking to him over Skype how much hosting talent Simon has. He told story after story and had me in tears. Maybe it’s a shame that Dee Simon didn’t make it big on the radio. Or maybe it isn’t, because in that case, my favorite podcast wouldn’t exist.
If you’re looking for a comedy podcast out of the ordinary, you should listen to “Sick and Wrong” on iTunes. Dee’s autobiographical book about his experience as a strip club DJ, “Play Something Dancy,” is available on Amazon. Follow Dee on Twitter @deesimon666 and Instagram @mrdeesimon.