"I knew it would be bad; I had no idea it would be THAT bad!"
~Jim Rome, at the conclusion of the call.
"Please make a footnote of this date and never let those clowns back in...those two just set this show back twenty years..."
~Kyle in Michigan, in response to the call.
"That was the trifecta of worst calls in the history of radio. It lacked judgment, it lacked skill, and it lacked humor; and just to make it even worse, it lacked timing! At least get timing right! I'm disgusted; worst call in the history of radio!"
~Brian in Orange County, in response to the call.
"That was god awful. Combined IQ less then (sic) 80."
~NHL player Mike Commodore on Twitter (@commie22) in response to the call.
"That may have been the worst communication between two human beings since apes crawled out of the mud three million years ago in Africa and started beating on drums with their hands to communicate!"
~Clayton in Las Vegas, old school listener responding to the call."Callpocalypse" (also known as "Callmageddon") was an incident on the Jim Rome Show involving a tandem call to the program that took place on September 2, 2015. Two of the show's worst callers, Rob in Cleveland and Lance in Topeka, conference-called the program and spent the call stumbling through firing barbs at each other, the Cleveland Browns, and Larry in San Francisco (aka "Parody Larry"). The call included a perceived sexual innuendo, an incest joke and a gay blast, the latter of which got the two callers run. Rome and the Clones nearly unanimously declared the call the worst moment in the history of the Jungle and in the history of radio. Some listeners even went so far as to call it the worst moment in the history of human communications. Because of this call, Rome said that it was highly unlikely that the two would ever get on the air again, although at the time he stopped short of banning them. He has since relented and allowed them back in on a few occasions.
Previous Tandem Calls Edit
Rob and Lance were not the first callers to attempt a tandem call, nor would they be the last. It had happened on a handful of other occasions as well:
Trapper in Dana Point and John in C-Town Edit
In December 2000, two of the show's legendary callers called the show together from Trapper's house in Dana Point, California. They spent the call talking smack on each other for their preferred sports teams and for their political orientations. Rome didn't run them, but he broke them off for a commercial break. In the following segment, Rome's e-mail server was overrun with negative reaction to the call, with most of the Clones denouncing it as one of the worst calls ever. They became the target of gay jokes because of the call. The call is still reset to this day.
Mike in Indy and Chael Sonnen Edit
Mike in Indy and Chael Sonnen stunned the Jungle in the 2014 Smackoff with a surprise tandem call where the two of them went special ops on a Hollywood bar called Big Wang's, where defending champion Mark in Hollywood would be holding a Smackoff party prior to making his call to the event. The call was so well-done and so stunning that Rome awarded them the Smackoff title, the first-ever co-championship in Smackoff history. In the months following, however, the two, like Trapper and John, became the target of gay jokes from the other callers, especially Vic in No-Cal. Mike drew the brunt of the Clones' criticism for not being good enough to win the Smackoff by himself and using Chael to get a title he hadn't been able to earn on his own.
Mike and Chael performed another tandem call in the 2015 Smackoff, and this time finished second behind Brad in Corona.
Mark in Hollywood and Leff in Laguna Beach Edit
On August 7, 2015, on a day when producer Kyle Brandt was hosting the show, Mark in Hollywood and Leff in Laguna Beach performed a tandem call, calling as Kal-El in Krypton, aimed at mocking Mike in Indy and Chael Sonnen. The two of them were run with the Shame Bell.
Mike in Little Rock (The Nooch) and Dave in Chicago (Dr. Dave) Edit
On June 27, 2017, Mike in Little Rock and Dave in Chicago also attempted a tandem call, in which Mike began his take, began choking, and Dave took over after telling him to self-perform the Heimlich Manuever on a chair. Both callers were run and strongly ridiculed.
The perpetrators Edit
Lance in Topeka Edit
Lance in Topeka had made a name for himself in the Jungle doing song parodies. Formerly known as Lance in Louisville, he first made his mark in the Jungle with a Neil Sedaka parody of "Bad Blood", which got him a spot in the 2013 Hackoff. Lance's call to the Hackoff, another Sedaka parody, ran too long in Rome's estimation and has been cited as a primary reason for the cancellation of the Hackoff. Lance's Sedaka parodies were known as "Sedak-Attacks", but he would expand his brand to include other artists from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s - most notably Connie Francis, Petula Clark, Frank Mills, and Creedance Clearwater Revival; he also expanded his brand to include recent artists from the adult contemporary/ easy listening fold- namely the Plain White T's in 2013, and Shania Twain in 2016. Arguably Lance's best parody call was a rest of "The Macarena" aimed at taking down Brad in Corona. Starting in 2014, Lance started glossing himself "Lance the Scorpion" in his e-mails, much to the annoyance of Rome, who frowns on self-glossing.
Because of his body of work, Rome would leave Lance on hold for days at a time, saying that he didn't think Lance was good for the show. Lance had a number of Clones who supported him, but an even larger number of Clones who hated him. On a number of occasions, Lance's calls would become the topic of the show, and sometimes Rome would build an entire show around taking one of Lance's calls.
Lance made a number of appearances on the program in 2013 and 2014, but in 2015 Rome sharply reduced Lance's airtime. Prior to the tandem call he made with Rob, he appeared on the show only twice - both times in a Parody Friday contest where he and two other parody callers, Larry in San Francisco (Parody Larry) and John in Little Rock would sing parodies.
Rob in Cleveland Edit
Rob in Cleveland first called the show on July 6, 2015. When Rome took his call, he answered, "Who's Rob? This is the Grump!" This response earned him a Manual Buzzer and a place in the show's montage of callers who got run for self-glossing.
Most callers who get run for self-glossing never call again, but Rob called every day the rest of the week, and got run each time for calling himself "The Grump". After his call on July 10, 2015, Rome started ignoring his calls the same way he ignored Lance in Topeka and Parody Larry.
September 2, 2015 - a day that will live in Jungle infamy Edit
Build-up to the call Edit
The September 2, 2015 edition of the Jim Rome Show began like any other episode of the program. Rome opened by announcing that he had interviews lined up with Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford, UCLA football coach Jim Mora, and Montana football coach Bob Stitt. The interviews with Swofford and Mora would take up the rest of Hour 1, while the interview with Stitt would take up the first segment of Hour 3, meaning Hour 2 was "wide open". Rome conducted his interviews with Swofford and Mora as scheduled, and following the interview with Mora, went to his end-of-the-hour commercial break.
As Hour 2 began, Rome said he would share a take on the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants in a moment, but first brought up a "somewhat interesting development within the program". He mentioned Lance in Topeka, replayed one of his calls, and explained why Lance hadn't been allowed on the air lately. Then he mentioned Rob in Cleveland, replayed one of his calls, and explained why Rob hadn't been allowed on the air lately. Then Rome revealed the development: Individually, Lance and Rob could not get on the air, so they had conference-called the show and were attempting to get on the air together as a tandem call. Rome said that while he personally had no interest in taking the call, he said that he would allow the Clones to vote on the matter and let them decide whether or not to take the call.
Rome proceeded with his takes, pausing occasionally to read votes from the Clones on the subject. During a break, producer Kyle Brandt, who screens e-mails and Tweets, came in to share the Clones' votes, including a no vote from Parody Larry, who himself had not been allowed on the air in several months. Brandt, who had spoken to Lance and Rob off the air and who had an idea of what they intended to do, said that he was in favor of the call, saying that he felt like doing something fun that day, and indicated that the call would be fun, albeit not good.
The first two segments of Hour 2 were split between Rome's takes and tallying votes regarding the tandem call. As the third segment began, Rome read a few more votes and then declared that the Clones had, by a razor-thin margin, voted in favor of hearing the tandem call. So Rome, against his better judgment, took the call.
The call Edit
Jim: We go now to Lance in Topeka and Rob in Cleveland on the same call at the same time. (Presses button) Gentlemen, you did it! You're both on the air! What have you got?
Rob: Jim, it's Rob! I'm - I'm so honored to be here! I don't speak for the Singing Caterpillar, but I am so honored; thank you!
Jim: You got it.
Lance: Uh, yeah, whatever, you know, I gotta tell you, uh, I last a lot longer than you do. You last maybe what, three seconds? I can do it in about a minute or two.
Rob: Well, he never gave me the chance! This is my charity for the day bringing you on with me, LANCE!
Lance: Hey, I'm the one who's being charitable here! I'm, uh, extending your airtime by - exponentially, at least nine or ten times!
Rob: Oh, we all know that Jim likes me more than you!
Rob: And, oh, and Larry, how does it feel down there, Larry? Is it cold?
(Jim can be heard snickering or struggling to stifle laughter)
Lance: Yeah, uh, that's one thing we do agree on. Another thing we agree on is, uh, is sports. You know, we don't think that, uh, horse-racing or, uh, UFC constitutes legitimate sports, but I will say this: They're - they're still sports compared to Browns football!
Rob: Hey, at least we - hey, at least I'm not marrying my cousin soon, ya derelict!
Lance: And I'm not marrying my boyfriend either!
Rob: Hey -
(Call terminated and RUN by LT Manual Buzzer)
The rest of the segment, and indeed most of the rest of the show, were spent dealing with the call. After the call was run, Rome, audibly appalled and disgusted by the call, expressed disbelief at how bad the call was. He tried to give Rob and Lance the benefit of the doubt, that the two were not trolling or on some sort of kamikaze mission but were trying to earn the respect of Rome and the Clones. He found fault with every aspect of it, dissecting the call line by line and mocking them for their choice of words. He interpreted Lance's "I last a lot longer than you" comment as a being a terrible sexual innuendo (although Lance was more likely referring to how long he could make it on the air compared to Rob before getting run). Rome was unimpressed with Rob's shot at Larry and indicated that the two of them made Larry like the coolest guy ever and made him look awesome by comparison. He mocked Lance for his weak shot at the Cleveland Browns. Rome was most disgusted the incest joke and gay blast at the end that ultimately got them run. Rome indicated that it was highly unlikely that the two of them could ever make it back from such a horrible moment. He also expressed disdain for the Clones for voting in favor of putting the call on the air and declared that it was not only the worst call in the history of the Jungle, but the worst in the history of radio, the worst in the history of telephones, and the worst in the history of human communications. The call was so bad, Rome said, he was genuinely afraid that "the suits" (i.e., network executives) at CBS would fire him and cancel his show for taking that call. He expressed disgust with himself for taking the worst call ever after building a reputation over the past twenty-five year for not taking a lot of telephone calls.
The reaction from the Clones was overwhelmingly and almost unanimously negative. Many concurred with Rome's declaration that it was the worst call ever. Many took exception to the awkwardness between their lines and compared them to the notoroius Smothers Brothers. Old-school listeners such as Kyle in Michigan and Brian in Orange County called the show to say that it was the worst thing that they had ever heard in all the years they had been listening to the show.
Rome took a break from dealing with the aftermath of the call to interview Montana football coach Bob Stitt at the top of Hour 3. Afterward he replayed the call once again for those who had missed it and read more e-mails and Tweets in reaction to the call, including a Tweet from hockey star Mike Commodore. He then took a call from Clayton in Las Vegas, one of the oldest of the old-school Clones who went all the way back to Rome's days at XTRA Sports 690 in San Diego when he began with "the Scrub Saturday Show" in 1990; Clayton said that it was the worst moment in the history of human communication and compared the call to infamous events like the attack on Pearl Harbor, the JFK assassination, the 9/11 attacks, and Appalachian State's 2007 football victory over Michigan. Parody singer John in Little Rock called to mock Lance and Rob in parody, but was run for making reference to hippopotamus testicles.
In the final segment of the show, Rome read yet more e-mails and Tweets reacting to the call, including a Tweet from Vic in No-Cal, before deciding to close the show with sports takes, saying that he'd had enough of the Clones for one day.
At the end of the day, Rome grudgingly awarded Rob and Lance the "Huge Call of the Day" and closed by telling them, "Nice knowing you dudes."
"Despite the Brady ruling dominating the news this morning, I'm still not over #CALLpocalypse from yesterday." ~Tweet by Kyle in Iowa (@LeBronKrames16) on 9/3/2015, first mention of the term "Callpocalypse"Rome had to deal with additional fallout from the call the next day. A Twitter Clone quoted above coined the term "Callpocalypse" to describe the call. The term caught on with Rome and the Clones. Despite most of the day being taken up with reaction to Tom Brady's "Deflategate"-related four-game suspension being overturned by a federal judge, Rome still had to take time out of his show in the final segment to reset "Callpocalypse". He replayed the call again, this time backed with the theme music from the sitcom "Seinfeld" and laugh tracks, as he compared Rob and Lance to a lame replication of a Seinfeld-Costanza comedy routine. He then said he was more likely to allow Parody Larry to guest-host a week of the Jungle by himself than to allow either Rob or Lance on the air with him again. Vinnie Mac in Des Moines, himself a notorious bad caller, called in to pile on, preferring to refer to the event as "Callmageddon", comparing Rob and Lance to the Smothers Brothers, and denouncing them both as "creepers". Rome expressed relief that CBS had not fired him for allowing the call on the air, but indicated they probably would if he ever allowed Rob or Lance on the air again.
Rob and Lance Since Callpocalypse Edit
For a couple months after Callpocalypse, Rob and Lance were personae non gratae in the Jungle. They were allowed back on the air individually on November 5, 2015 a day after Parody Larry glossed them "The Dump" and "Flatu-Lance". In those calls, Rob flamed out trying to rap his response to Larry, and Lance nearly got banned from the show for saying he wanted to fart in Larry's face.
Rob made one more appearance on the show on December 3, 2015 and flamed out trying to crack back on new nemesis Mark in Chicago, while Lance has been reinstated to the show and returned to his brand as a parody caller. In hindsight, it can be said that Rob has never fully recovered from his role in the tandem call, while Lance, thanks in part to his sophomoric response to Larry's "Flatu-Lance" call, has successfully managed to put it behind him.