DJ Names: Tom Chalmers and Scott Bunn
Show: Steve Sax Syndrome
When?: Wednesdays, from 7–8 p.m.
Contact info: Steve Sax Syndrome on Facebook.
Every few months we highlight a different show on Asheville FM. Check out our last post, which spotlighted Yay DJ!
If you’re a sports fan with a sense of humor, tune into 103.3 on Wednesday evenings. Back in the 1980s, Steve Sax, a second baseman for the LA Dodgers, had a stretch where he struggled to make throws to first base. It became one of the oddest stories in sports history. In 2013, Sax also became the inspiration for the title of Tom Chalmers’ and Scott Bunns’ radio show on Asheville FM. “Steve Sax Syndrome” is an indie sports talk show with a mix of comedy and music.
Scott grew up in Buffalo, New York, and has lived in the Asheville area since 2001 with his wife Jenny and two kids, Stella and Levi. He works for the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP). Tom grew up in Holyoke, Massachusetts, and has lived in Asheville since 2005 with his wife Tabatha. Tom is a performer with the improv comedy troupe Reasonably Priced Babies and heads up The Asheville School of Improv. He also teaches theater at Warren Wilson College and produces a monthly storytelling series called Listen to This.
Tom and Scott actually met through sports. Tom was visiting Asheville and working on a production at Asheville Community Theatre, where Scott’s wife Jenny works. Jenny “rescued” Tom from an awkward brunch that had nothing to do with sports. She said, “My husband Scott is watching football down the street. Do you want to go there?” Tom replied, “Yes! A thousand times yes!” The rest is history.
We chatted with the hilarious duo and got the scoop on the show’s history, content, and how underrated power walking is as a major sport.
Q. How does the show’s title reflect what you hope to do with the show?
A. We love alliterations! Well that, and we had to call the show something and didn’t want to call it something sports obvious like “The Bullpen” or “The Man Cave.” We liked how Steve Sax Syndrome sounded and liked how Steve Sax’s story is one of a million fascinating sports stories, which is what we wanted our show to be about. We didn’t want the show to be guys yelling at each other about the designated hitter rule. Instead we wanted to focus on interesting sports stories from people, whether they are players, coaches, spectators, or fans.
Q. When did you get in involved with Asheville FM? What are your favorite aspects of running a show together?
A. We got involved just a few months before getting the show. Our favorite aspects of running the show are the people that we’ve gotten to know, from the guests and correspondents that we have on the show every week to the people volunteering to help make Asheville FM a success. Through the show, we have developed many new friends through our interactions with sports—or despite our interactions with sports. Plus, we’ve gotten to engage with local sports stories and people including the Blue Ridge Rollergirls, the Asheville City Soccer Club, and the No More Toxic Turf group that was working to get a different kind of turf installed at the City of Asheville’s soccer fields.
The best part of doing the show together is that we get to play off each other, which we have done for many years. Every now and then, we both have had to interview guests by ourselves, and it’s hard having to work the board and engage with a guest. Together, we can engage in a fun conversation—we’ve even created our own hand signals much like Tom Brady and his receivers. (Editor’s note: Scott is a Buffalo native and Bills fan, so we consider this heresy.)
Q. What gave you the idea for the show?
A. The inspiration for the show came from Jenny, Scott’s wife. Hearing the hundreds of hours we spent discussing sports, she finally said, “You guys really need your own podcast.” Around that time, Scott was interviewed by the Asheville FM News Hour for his job and mentioned the idea to then-station manager Kim Roney. She said, “Why do a podcast when we have all the equipment here and a built-in audience?” Kim was the gateway drug to Asheville FM for many of us.
We both are comedy guys, so anything we do will feature our sense of humor. We wanted our show to belong on the Asheville FM menu with all the great music that is played on this station, so our music breaks are not just recycled jock jams. Tom is the music curator for Steve Sax Syndrome. Each song is carefully selected to reflect the theme of the conversation. Or we pay tribute to an artist who has passed away.
Q. Who are some correspondents who have come to talk on the show?
A. It really is a cast of thousands at this point. Stealing a joke from The Daily Show, we’ve named many senior correspondents, including Phillip Chester, Senior Carolina Correspondent; Tim Jackson, Senior College Football Correspondent; and so forth. Our favorite one so far is Sarah Spooner, Senior Schadenfreude Correspondent.
One story to share is that we “covered” the men’s basketball tournament for The Southern Conference here in Asheville this past spring. We were able to take Phillip, Tim, Sarah, as well as Josh Batenhorst, our Senior Fantasy Football Team Nickname Correspondent. While enjoying the game, we noticed that the woman in front of us in the stands was eating shrimp out of a baggie in her purse. She even had a baggie of cocktail sauce that she was dipping the shrimp into! Right there in the stands! This is a perfect “Steve Sax Syndrome” story and was thoroughly covered during our next show. We started the #shrimppurse campaign on social media. You probably heard about it.
We’ve also had a number of “legitimate” guests, Mike Price, a writer for The Simpsons; comedian Lizz Winstead; Gift of Gab from Blackalicious; Steve Wynn from The Baseball Project; and many more.
Q. What sports do you discuss?
A. The usual sports talk radio fodder including football, soccer, basketball, baseball, and hockey. But we do cover sports not usually found on ESPN, including Formula One, ultimate frisbee, roller derby, and curling!
Q. What are your favorite sports?
A. It goes without saying: power walking at the Mall of America.