It’s probably safe to say that most of you don’t know who Jason Ellis is. Unless you grew up in the world of skateboarding in the 90’s when Tony Hawk was attempting his first 900 or you have an affinity for uncensored talk radio that would make the present-day Howard Stern blush, then you wouldn’t know his name. Growing up on a skateboard and working a job in my teens where I listened to Howard Stern for hours every day, I have a strong to connection to both worlds. So I was stunned to hear almost 10 years ago while driving in my car as a mutual fund wholesaler, a funny advertisement for The Jason Ellis Show on Sirius XM! I wondered if that was the same Jason Ellis that used to be one of the best vert skateboarders in the world?
I changed the channel and surely it was. Within minutes of listening, I was instantly transported back to my teenage years when we would sit on the couch at the Outback Skate Shop in Lancaster, PA. We would have the most random, funny and dumb, conversations without a care in the world except where we were going to skate next. There was a freedom I used to feel back then that I was instantly nostalgic to have back. When I was first introduced to The Jason Ellis Show, I was living on the proverbial island of hotel rooms amidst levels of professional stress that I imagine have taken a few years off of my life. Finding The Jason Ellis Show became a positive coping mechanism that gave me a connection to what felt like teenage-me and a present tense awareness that made everything else fade. I looked forward to tuning-in every afternoon as I made my way from city to city.
The show went through some changes over the years given Jason’s disposition to say what was on his mind. It was clear that he wasn’t the easiest person to get along with in the early years. His commitment to honesty and getting better was relentless though and the personal struggle he endured on the radio with divorce, substance use, and his childhood was palpable. He was introduced to the world of radio by Tony Hawk post-skateboarding and over the course of a decade, the show moved into a new era that wasn’t just entertainment, it was inspiration. I listened to him work through his mental health issues with therapy, reconcile his past trauma, propose to his wife on the air, and find an outlet in boxing and mixed martial arts. Don’t get me wrong, the show still had the childish crass humor that it started with but it became more. I learned from him that if I have the slightest amount of “gut-feeling” towards a situation, then I need to address it. It was this very idea that led me to reach out to them. One day while I was listening in December to Jason and his co-hosts talk about taking their first yoga class, my stomach started to knot-up. Their conversation naturally drifted-off into, “What do we wear?” and my stomach tightened almost to the point of nausea.
As a child, I would call into radio shows all the time, however as an adult I have become more recluse and my sweaty palms weren’t ready to dial the show yet. The feeling in my stomach wasn’t just going away and I knew if I didn’t make an effort to speak up, I would regret it. I pulled off into the nearest coffee shop, found a way to contact their producer, and drafted an email titled, “Free Yoga Shorts from a Longtime Fan.” Before I hit send on the email, I sat with my fears and took a detached realistic approach to the situation. Seriously, what would most likely happen? I thought the “best-case scenario,” would be that they receive the shorts, mention them on the air, and wear the product. The next best case would be that they receive the shorts, make fun of them on air, and not wear them. Any publicity on a radio platform that has 32 million subscribers is still good, right? The worst case would be that they receive the shorts, nothing happens, and I’m out $200 worth of product. The scenarios seemed to be overwhelmingly stacked in my favor and I couldn’t let this opportunity pass me by.
If I was truly seeking unbiased feedback, then here was my chance. In addition to Jason not knowing me, he was the type of person that became audibly upset when his producer told him that he would have to start doing “reads” for advertisements on the radio show. He felt the ads jeopardized his integrity by using his voice to promote a product that he didn’t truly support. Jason doesn’t have much of an allegiance to anyone but his closest friends (which is unwavering) and I have only ever heard him talk about products in conversation that he actually uses; which is refreshing given our “influencer” culture. He is brutally honest and once got in a fight with Andrew Dice Clay because he wouldn’t play along and tell him that his son’s band was good. Instead, he told Dice’s kid to start looking for other jobs [paraphrased]. Given these examples, I was nervous but committed to lean-in. I packed a box of shorts for the guys, attached a note, and decided to let fate take its course.
Well, the first box got lost, so much for fate. I think it arrived at the Sirius XM studio in Los Angeles but it never made it to the producer’s desk. On top of that, the show’s first time yoga class got pushed back. There was a small part of me that was relieved that, underneath the overwhelming frustration, I did my part. However, when I heard the show revisit their yoga adventure again, I was so overcome by motivation that I messaged Jason direct. I told him about the box we sent and within minutes, he replied and gave me a better address to send it to. Once again, I nervously packed another box of what I deemed “perfect” shorts and sent them to LA. The box made it to the studio on a Monday and they opened it on the air! A few of the staff members put the shorts-on while they were live. The reception was really warm and they were super nice throughout the whole segment which lasted almost 45 minutes. They laughed at each other in compression, joked about body parts, and mentioned us at least 5 times. A couple of the guys in the studio were sold on the product but I could still hear the apprehension in Jason’s voice about what he would wear. It turns out, he did wear our shorts and looked great in them! I shared the live streaming yoga class of him and his crew, watched some listeners make funny comments (along with a few compliments), and enjoyed the nerve-wracking experience. It felt like closure to a story that had a positive outcome; but it got better.
Two weeks ago, I opened our Instagram and saw a video of Jason boxing in our shorts. He was clearly enjoying them and appeared to be really comfortable moving his legs while he hit pads during the workout. I messaged him to say thanks and he wrote back they’re his favorite shorts and would love more. He wanted to wear them every day to his training. I should mention that the yoga thing didn’t stick and boxing continues to be his work-out of choice. I was ecstatic and happily obliged the request. Last week, I turned on the radio and heard the show talking about the evolution of men’s clothing trends from baggy to loose fitting active-wear. Jason chimed in and added to the conversation that when it comes to performance, looks aside, there is nothing better and more efficient than compression. He continued to say that “To move around and do sports, [Yoga Warrior] has the best shorts I have ever worn.”
It was a sentence that I never thought I would hear from someone that I couldn’t ever have imagined hearing it from. If there’s something I’ve learned, it’s that sometimes anxiety isn’t the fear of what could be, it’s the excitement of what’s to come.