December 11, 2001
To his legions of fans, ROCK 101's Brother Jake Edwards is known as The Champ.
In a case of life imitating art, the term also applies in reference to Edwards's immense popularity on the airwaves.
And, in the latest BBM ratings results, the pre-dawn rock radio phenom and Canadian Broadcaster Personality of the Year award winner has delivered another knockout punch.
Further expanding his decisive stranglehold on male listeners, Edwards, along with sidekicks Martin Strong and Oly the Joke Guy, gain more ground in the pivotal time-slot, propelling ROCK 101 to its third-straight best showing.
Often outrageous on the air, Edwards is virtually the mirror opposite away from it, living a comfortable life in Lynn Valley and dutifully assuming the role of both devoted husband and father. And, in true Horatio Alger-like fashion, the Brother Jake story is one replete with career highs and lows.
A relative newcomer to the local airwaves, success for the Moncton, N.B., native has been nothing short of spectacular since transplanting himself to Vancouver in 1996.
After he was fired following a stint at Toronto's Q107 radio station, Edwards, his wife Lori, their teenage children and the family dog, made the trek west in two cars and a U-Haul.
Edwards landed part-time work at ROCK 101 where his edgier brand of radio proved an immediate hit with Vancouverites.
Fifteen months later he became the station's afternoon host; soon after he took over the morning show.
In this latest ratings campaign, Brother Jake and crew have placed first again in the stations key audience target: Adults 25- 54.
For the 47-year-old star of the show, things couldn't be better.
"I can't recall anything this exciting ever," said Edwards. "The evolution was quick and the learning curve has been pretty sweet."
Not to mention profitable. For program director Ross Winters, the Jake factor has been an incredible, revenue-generating weapon in the station's arsenal.
"Among his extraordinary talent, one of the things Jake is capable of is bringing new people to the table," said Winters. "He's the kind of personality that creates a buzz in a radio market and delivers audience numbers that can put a radio station over the top."
As proof, Brother Jake leads the pack in all of ROCK 101's key audience demographics. He's No. 1 in adults 25-54, men 25-34, men 25- 54, men 35-44, men 18-34 and men 18-49.
Jake's personal audience share of 22.1 is double that of The FOX, the closest competitor in the category.
But like all public figures who court controversy, along with the scores of devoted Brother Jake fans, there is also a number of detractors who dismiss his style as being crude, offensive and juvenile in nature, often resorting to nothing more than penis and fart jokes.
Its a charge the surprisingly sensitive radio veteran is loath to hear.
"Vancouver is a pretty hip radio market, where every morning show does its thing," said Edwards.
"Whether it's Larry & Willy or Fred Latremouille or Frosty, they all have a distinct style and approach. What I do, and all I've ever tried to do throughout my career, is offer my own style of adult radio, only it's got more of an edge to it than anything else in Vancouver, or across Canada for that matter."
Opinions and individual tastes may vary but one thing is clear: Brother Jake commands attention.
So far, his particular brand of radio has proven to be a winning formula; one that Vancouver listeners have taken to from the very first time his pipes boomed out over the airwaves.
He's simply The Champ.
November 29, 2004
Jake Edwards is the man behind the Champ, a popular radio character and the undisputed champion of low blows and double entendres
He is talking about his days as a running back with the Minnesota Vikings, back when Bud Grant was the coach and the football field was seen as a holy gridiron -- a grassy battleground where players got good and dirty.
"After one particularly muddy game against Chicago I overheard one of the linemen, Knuckles Muldoon -- he was my cut man from when I fought Liston -- say to my wife: 'Hey, Mrs. Champ, would you mind polishing my purple helmet?'
"And I go: Pardon?
"Knuckles says, 'I said Champ, I just asked your wife to polish my purple helmet for me.'
"And so I lose it," says the Champ. "I snap. I head fake him with the Gatorade -- and the idiot goes for it -- I hit him so many times he thinks he's surrounded, I swing him around by the nostrils until his butt-hole whistles ..."
As the undisputed king of the double entendre, the Champ has been protecting his wife's honour from the likes of Knuckles Muldoon on radio stations across Canada for almost 20 years. Jake Edwards, a wiry 51-year old disc jockey from Moncton, N.B., is the voice behind the boxer.
Edwards' inspiration for the Champ came from two East Coast legends Blair and Gary MacLean.
"MacLean and MacLean were real salt-of-the-earth, blue-collar humour," says the Frank Zappa look-a-like from his North Vancouver home. "One of their sketches was a punch-drunk fighter, who basically beat up anybody he could. They used to skat in the control room, and what they'd do is slow down a tape of Gary going: 'Hey, hey, jeez, my wife looked at me sideways at breakfast, so I head- fake her with the toast, and I took her out right there ...'
"So let's just say the Champ's origins are a little on the shady side."
Even if the punch lines weren't exactly fit for mass consumption, Edwards loved the idea of the palooka. His fighter took shape in the early '80s, while he was working at Q104 in Halifax. But the Champ didn't become a real champ until 1985, when his creator moved to Toronto to do the morning drive show at Q107, a classic rock station.
And now, some two decades and 5,000 double entendres later, Edwards claims the Champ hasn't aged a day.
"I'm as exuberant as a six-month-old black Labrador on a bucket of peanut butter," he said. "The Champ is kinda like that -- he is in the back of my brain -- and as long as I'm telling a story and people are getting off on it, it doesn't get stale."
Radio syndication took the comedy sketch from coast-to-coast, and then in 1996 the Champ took Edwards and his family to Vancouver. The idea was to spin the spots into a cartoon -- and to cut a few albums -- all of which Edwards did until his wife, Lori, let him know the old heavyweight was bankrupting the family.
"I said to my wife, 'When are we officially broke,' and she said. 'Friday.' I went OK, let me mark down all the things I can do ... ah, ah, I don't do anything but radio."
So the radio host went back to doing classic rock. These days, when Edwards isn't on the air or skiing at Whistler, he can often be found training with the Champ. And live comedy is one of his favourite forums.
"People have this idea of what the Champ looks like so when I come on stage -- this 5-foot-11, 185-pound guy -- they are like, 'Hey, you're not the Champ.'
"But then once I get the mike," he says, slipping into the Champ's voice, "I captivate the crowd with the different solar plexus shots, and uppercuts, and the old in-and-out like a fiddler's elbow."
Edwards' Champ is never lacking for new material. The brain behind the boxer sees potential sketches everywhere -- in the person on the street, in the newspaper and on television.
"For instance," Edwards says. "You know Tony Hawk, the skateboarder? He was just in town, and he had his brother Mike Hawk with him. I'm going -- Mike Hawk? Come on, I mean I'm all over that.
"It's a lay-down."