For four months in 2017, Jeff Messer took his political views and brought them to life on stage at The Magnetic Theatre. This was a change from his life as a popular radio talk show host with iHeart Radio’s 880 The Revolution in that he was no longer restricted by the FCC rules about what he could do and say. Though successful, Messer put the show on hiatus until The Magnetic could guarantee him a prime time slot after the show successfully debuted at 7:30 last April, then moved to a 10:30 late night slot that was problematic for audience members.
Maintaining An Election returns on Sunday March 18 at 7:30 PM.
The show is a blend of Messer’s radio show and his long career in live theatre. It is very similar to a late night talk show format with an opening monologue, an interview guest and musical and comedy guests. It has a decidedly adult flavor, as he and guests take on politics and other issues of the day.
Last year’s shows were all filmed for eventual release online (there is a Facebook page and a Youtube channel already for Maintaining An Election) and the new shows will be recorded for podcast as well as live streaming online. Messer is also planning on using the best bits of his opening monologues for a comedy album type release later this year.
After five years with 880 The Revolution, Messer had achieved successful ratings, popularity and local support, but nonetheless got caught up in iHeart’s corporate “belt tightening” and found his show’s funding cut in May of 2017.
“It was actually a bit of a relief at the time,” says Messer. “It was getting harder to keep track of all the chaos of politics under Trump as president. Sure, there was a lot of stuff to make fun of, but it was just exhausting to keep up. Still, I want to keep all those relationships I had with listeners and people who had come to rely on me as a source for talking about it and helping them process it. I miss the people that I got to know. This is my way of creating a new avenue for them to find me and – for those locally – to actually be in the live audience of these shows.”
Messer and Magnetic plan to produce a monthly Maintaining An Election show, but Messer also has plans to do interviews with local political figures as well as people in the local arts and culture scene, and release them in podcast form as part of the new Maintaining An Election platform that is taking shape.
“With Youtube, Facebook live and so many other ways to get my message out, it is easier than ever before to do it. And it is encouraging that so many people are finding their voice by using all the technology available,” Messer says, “I was pleasantly spoiled, having a nice radio studio with all the bells and whistles, so I’m having to adjust my own way of thinking and doing things. It’s harder because you have to be very self-motivated, which I sometimes struggle with. So, it will be nice to have expectations from those who come out and support this to push me to expand and do more.”
The March 18 show guests are former City Council member Cecil Bothwell, comedian Jason Scholder, and Goat Yoga owner/poet/Buncombe County Commission candidate Taylon Breeden (who may even bring a baby goat with her.)
Show time is 7:30. Tickets are only available at the door, day of the show. Tickets are $7
The Magnetic Theatre is located at 375 Depot Street in the River Arts District.