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Smack-off Power Rankings

Jim Rome Smack-off Background

The Smack-off is an annual competition on The Jim Rome Show, held in mid-to-late spring and which takes up the entire program on a Friday. The contest is a way to recognize the best callers to the show, as well as a means of determining the best caller of the year. Show host Jim Rome has referred to the Smack-off as the most important show of the entire year.

The Smack-off began in 1995 while The Jim Rome Show was still on local radio, but has continued into syndication. To date, twelve Smack-offs have been held, the last on May 5, 2006, won by (now) four-time champion Sean “the Cablinasian” (a.k.a. Sean from Houston).

According to Rome, the idea for the Smack-off came after an extended period of mediocre to outright horrible calls to the show. Rome and show producer Travis Rodgers got together to talk about the lack of good callers, and Rome voiced the opinion that he would like to be able to pick and choose who could call the show. Rodgers felt that this would not be feasible on a daily basis but could work for one day, which Rome agreed would work.

How the Smack-off works
Invitations to the Smack-off are attained in two fashions. The first is for recognition for a caller’s body of work on the show: multiple “awards” of the Huge Call of the Day (a show-ending playback of what Rome has selected as the best call of the show), a history of consistently good calls, or as a reward for an especially exceptional call. The second is in the form of a “lifetime exemption.” Previous winners are automatically invited every year, regardless of how often (or even if) they call the show. J.T. the Brick, for instance, has not called for many years but still is invited to participate. Sean “the Cablinasian,” once a regular caller, flaunts the fact that he now only calls the show to participate in the Smack-off.

Rome admits that the invitation process for non-winners is totally subjective, and that he can offer invitations for any reason, or no reason at all. Rome also will threaten to deny invitations to previous invitees who have not called the show for an extended period of time, and some callers are considered to be “on the bubble” in the weeks before the Smack-off. These callers must prove that they deserve invitations or they will not be invited. During the time between the official announcement of the date of the Smack-off and the event itself, Rome will begin announcing callers who have secured invitations and those callers who are “on the bubble.” The show’s website often has polls asking for listener opinions on who should or should not have been invited; however, polling results do not directly affect the field.

For the Smack-off, Rome almost completely breaks show format. No interviews are scheduled, and Rome offers no takes of his own. On the day of the event, Rome explains the history of the Smack-off, repeats the list of invitees, and warns those invited that invitation does not guarantee participation, then begins taking calls. It is not known whether or not Rome picks and chooses which calls to take or if he takes calls in the order they come in, but callers on hold when Rome announces the top 10 callers do not get to participate. Usually, the first hour’s callers begin at about 15 to 20 minutes into the show. The second hour is dedicated to calls, and the third hour’s calls stop at about the bottom of the hour, allowing Rome to name the top 10, replay the winning call, and hold a short interview with the winner. During the contest, Rome will read e-mails from listeners commenting on the calls, and offer brief comments of his own.

Callers are expected to follow the general guidelines for calls to the show, and are as susceptible to being run (cut off) as if a normal show was airing (see The Jim Rome Show for details). Rome also stipulates that while there is no set time limit for calls, he expects callers to finish their takes within roughly 5 minutes. Rome noted this during Smack-off 2006, when caller Orrin in Denver was run in the middle of his call, which Rome predicted would’ve taken 9 to 10 minutes to finish.

Jim Rome Smack-off history and information, including all winners and audio since 1995. ]]>