Clear Channel radio morning host Johnjay Van Es—heard in five markets, including Tucson (on KRQQ 93.7 FM)—has found himself embroiled in allegations perpetrated by TheDirty.com and later by KLPX FM 96.1 morning-show rival Frank Brinsley.
TheDirty.com claims to have information that Johnjay has participated in numerous affairs—and alleges that he gave these women station perks such as concert tickets.
While the newsworthiness of the affair claims is debatable, Clear Channel has taken a hard-line stance on prizes and other swag as the Federal Communications Commission has paid greater attention to modern-day payola and benefit fears.
TheDirty.com has posted information from a number of unnamed sources and one named woman who claims to share details of an affair. However, the website has released no smoking-gun proof.
"I have no personal vendetta against Johnjay," said TheDirty.com's Nik Richie. "I've been getting this stuff on him for years and put it to the side, because in the grand scheme of things, in my world, he's really nobody. I don't care. I don't listen to his show. But it got to the point that so many girls were coming forward and asking for help, (I decided), 'Let's put it out there and see what happens.' More girls kept coming forward. When it comes from different women, maybe this isn't some crazy person pretending they're four people asking for help.
"Eventually, it got to the point where one of these girls was so detailed in the sexual experiences and everything that was happening, and (about) Johnjay getting her concert tickets and sitting next to Rich (Berra), the co-host, that it made me want to talk to this person. So I got on the phone with one of the mistresses, got details from her, got on the phone with another mistress, got on the phone with another mistress, and got details from her. It got to the point where this is a real story. ... Girls kept coming forward. People want this guy to apologize or at least say something, and they want Clear Channel to say something."
Clear Channel representatives, including Van Es, have declined to comment, perhaps hoping the issue will eventually run its course.
In the short term, at least, that hasn't happened. Brinsley made TheDirty.com allegations a focal point of his morning program for the better part of a week. He even had one of the alleged mistresses on the airwaves.
"He has a long history of this," Brinsley said. "Do I have any doubts the story is true? Zero doubt. Everybody hates these guys. They're just big fucking assholes."
That's an opinion Brinsley had held since Johnjay and Rich entered the Tucson market nearly 10 years ago, prior to syndication, when the show was actually broadcast from KRQ studios.
"It was my first KFMA Day," Brinsley explained. (Brinsley transitioned from KFMA to fellow Lotus station KLPX last summer.) And these guys had just come into the market and had their promo team try to flier every single car in our parking lot, saying, 'Listen to the show.' We discovered what was going on, and a scuffle ensued. Pima County sheriff's deputies were there. I got rugby tackled. It was farcical. Our staff managed to go around and pick up every flier. They basically tried to come into town and sucker-punch us, but we blocked the punch and kneed them in the balls. We dumped all the fliers in front of the Clear Channel building. From the very beginning, these guys thought they were hot shit."
It's that attitude that played a role in motivating Richie to pursue the issue on TheDirty.com, which is generally reserved for ridiculing starlets and drunk coeds.
"It's the way he portrays himself: 'My kids; I'm a Christian; I hang out with Kurt Warner,'" said Richie, who also takes issue with the popular but staged "War of the Roses" segment, during which Johnjay and Rich allegedly catch "cheaters" in the act, while the scorned "significant other" listens on the other end of the phone line.
"Personally, I think he's a complete liar," Richie said. "He's portraying ... a person who is not the real person. The real Johnjay, whoever he is, is a guy who likes to party and bang chicks. That's my problem. When I do my site, I call out people for who they are if they're garbage. It's like a politician: You're telling people about your character, and people are believing this is who you are. ... This guy is totally brainwashing people over the airwaves and making himself out to be this great citizen in Arizona, when the reality of the situation is he's an adulterer, a terrible person who treats his employees terribly."
"We became highly successful in Arizona because of the Matt Leinart beer-bong party with an 18-year-old. That's how we got on the map," said Richie, who has been interviewed regularly on Phoenix Top 40 station 101.5 Jamz, a direct competitor to KZZP FM 104.7, the home base for the Johnjay and Rich Show. "After that, we exposed Kobe (Bryant) and his affair, and that got national attention. We caught Terrell Owens in a porno, and that got national attention. The biggest thing we've ever done was the Carrie Prejean (case), Miss California, who took photos of herself naked, and that got play on Oprah and the Today show and everything you can imagine. We do break huge, huge stories from time to time. We even got one of the Tiger Woods mistresses and got credit for that.
"It's not like we're going after celebrities. My thing is making fun of real people, of the Internet celebrity who we see for 15 seconds. It's not going after the celebrity. It's going after the mistress or something somebody is doing wrong. This is an awkward situation with the Johnjay thing, because usually I don't go after the celebrity. I wouldn't go after Tiger Woods. I'd go after the mistress and call her out, saying, 'Hey, this girl slept with this person.'
"It's weird how the tables are turning, and these mistresses are coming to me. We're not really exposing them. They're asking to help expose this guy."