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Close shaves: ESPN’s Stugotz reflects on enduring a “Finebaum,” live lie detector test

Stugotz undergoes a lie detector test.

Jon “Stugotz” Weiner is the co-host and uproarious sidekick on ESPN Radio’s The Dan Le Batard with Stugotz (ESPN Radio 10 a.m.-1 p.m. ET; ESPNU 10-noon; ESPN2 noon-1).

From losing an NBA Finals bet and having to pay up by getting his head shaved like ESPN Radio and SEC Network host Paul Finebaum on national TV, to being strapped to a lie detector for the duration of the show, Stugotz is game for seemingly anything. Front Row caught up with Stugotz after Wednesday’s “Stu Lies 2” episode to learn more about him and the show.

How did you get your start in radio?
The second I heard [New York radio station WFAN’s] “Mike and the Mad Dog” growing up on Long Island, I knew I wanted to be a sports radio host, and I pursued it relentlessly. I moved to Miami, got an internship at the local sports radio station, eventually became the executive producer of [WQAM’s] “The Hank Goldberg Show,” and the rest is history. It was a long and bumpy road, but finally one of the many voices in my head gave me some good advice — it told me to attach myself to Le Batard, ride his coattails to stardom and here we are!

I don’t care if they are laughing at me or with me, as long as they are laughing.
– Stugotz on audience reaction to his stunts

Your show is unlike any other sports talk radio program on the air, from regular visits by animal expert Ron Magill to having musician Kenny G guest for a week. Was the goal always to be different?
When we started, Dan and I had totally different visions for the show. I wanted to do traditional sports radio; he wanted to do anything other than traditional sports radio. He wanted us to be different, to think differently, to stand out, which wasn’t difficult because much of what you hear in sports radio sounds the same. At its core, I think what makes the show special is our dynamic — we couldn’t be more opposite, from our views on sports to our actual lives away from the show. Additionally, we use everyone involved on our show. The roles are well-defined, and there is very little ego.

You’ve had your head shaved, taken lie detector tests, scarfed down donut holes; which experience was your favorite, and which is one you hope never to repeat?
I enjoy all of them because I enjoy being the center of attention. I’m pretty much incapable of shame. If I had to choose, what we did this week with me shaving my head and looking like Paul Finebaum was probably the most enjoyable. I haven’t had a donut since the Golic challenge, so that was probably the worst. I know our audience loved all of them, and that’s what matters most. I don’t care if they are laughing at me or with me, as long as they are laughing.

What are your recommendations for listeners/viewers on how they can “get the show”?
My advice to new listeners is to simply give us a month, listen as often as you can for one month. We’ve been doing the show nearly 15 years, and it’s layered with inside jokes, so it takes a second to catch up and understand exactly what we’re going for. The listeners who stay with it end up loving it and are rewarded with a totally unique sports radio experience.

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