Delaware Today 302 First: Thirty Seconds interview with WDEL's Rick Jensen
Rick Jensen is a conservative talk-show host on WDEL 1150 AM. Catch him from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. He’ll be the first to tell you that his show is always informative and entertaining.
Photograph by Jared Castaldi
DT: Can you hang on for a second so I can put you on speakerphone? I want to record this.
RJ: You do NOT have permission to record this phone call.
DT: I have that on tape.
RJ: Good. You should put that in the story somehow. It’s pretty funny.
DT: I don’t think I’m supposed to be the funny one here.
RJ: You can be the funny one here. I don’t care.
DT: So, how much of your on-air persona is an act or meant to entertain? Are you 100 percent you on the air, or do you have a shtick?
RJ: Unfortunately for my family, it’s me. I do this because it’s what I do. I’ve always been a little bit goofy. I’m the dorky guy who read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica when I was a kid.
DT: Really? How long did that take?
RJ: Many snowy days. You go out. You throw snowballs at each other. You come inside and drink cocoa and then read the encyclopedia.
DT: Dude, that sounds like a punishment.
RJ: (laughs) I didn’t think so. I thought it was kind of fun. I was a … dork.
DT: So, I guess you’re probably good at playing along with Jeopardy on TV?
RJ: I’m always stunned when I sit there with a friend of mine and they beat me. I’m like, ‘What? Nobody beats me at Jeopardy.’ Yeah, it’s fun.
DT: You need to find better friends.
RJ: I’m a lucky guy. I’ve got a lot of friends.
DT: Yeah, but you need to find some that will let you win at Jeopardy.
RJ: You know, it’s like Foosball. Nobody lets anybody win.
DT: I agree.
RJ: Do you play Foosball?
DT: No, but I play Jeopardy with my 10-year-old and 13-year-old and I don’t take it easy on them.
RJ: I’m on the other side of the generational spectrum. For me and many of my friends, it’s our older parents. That’s their big thing—watch Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune and play along with it. Mostly it’s moms. We guys are the lucky ones—we die early.
DT: How do you truly feel about your callers?
RJ: (Pause.) I don’t even know what that question means.
DT: The people who call your show.
RJ: Yeah, I know who they are. How do I feel about them? I enjoy the discussions. The great majority of them are pretty intelligent people and every once in a while you get a complete whacko and they’re fun, too, for their own reasons.
DT: Have you ever seriously ticked off a caller?
RJ: Of course. I put a liberal woman on the phone with a conservative guy once a couple years ago. They were arguing to a point where they both said they had won tickets to an event we had and she threatened to go to the event and kick his ass. She had one of these deep, gravelly voices that suggested she had the ability to do that.
DT: Rick Jensen: building community.
RJ: Bringing people together.
DT: Let’s talk a bit about Al Mascitti.
RJ: He’s crazy, you know.
DT: How so?
RJ: Listen to him from 9 till noon and you’ll hear why.
DT: I’m working at 9, so I don’t get to listen to him.
RJ: You can listen online at WDEL.com. And we have the app for the iPhone, the Droid … What do you use?
DT: None of that.
RJ: OK. We don’t have an app for “none of that.”
DT: Somebody stole my iTouch.
RJ: Oh, I hate that. Sorry. Yeah, Al. They say a mind is a terrible thing to waste. He has a great mind and I’m afraid he’s wasting it by studying the ideas of the wrong side of our political debates.
DT: For those who don’t listen to both of you, would you mind explaining the difference in your political views in a nutshell?
RJ: Well, I’m right and he’s wrong. (laughs) You said summarize. That’s the shortest summary I can think of. He’s a wild-eyed screaming liberal and I’m a calm, reserved, thoughtful conservative. Now, his opinion may differ. Are you going to go to him after me and say, “This is what Rick says about you,” and you’re going to pit us against each other?
RJ: Excellent. I want a copy of this recording.
DT: I would give it to you if I had one. So, who is smarter?
RJ: I have always come to work thinking I am not the smartest guy in the room. I feel like I have to start reading and researching early in the morning. I usually arrive at 8:20 in the morning and I’m working all the way until 1 o’clock in the afternoon, so that I feel like I have a really good understanding of the issues of the day, historical references. I have to work harder and study more. I am the anti-Joe Biden.
DT: OK. Then who’s better looking, you or Mascitti?
RJ: He wears glasses. I don’t have to, so obviously, I have the better eyesight. (laughs) Each one of us has our own unique features of unattractiveness, which is why we’re in radio and not television. Why do you hide behind pen and keyboard there, you weasel?
DT: You’ve seen me.
RJ: I know. What other snarky-ass questions do you have for this pitiful little excuse you call a magazine?
DT: Are we done with Al? Is there anything else you’d like to say about him?
RJ: I don’t want to think about anything else about Al. It was a dark day when I hired him.