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Monday, May 10, 2004
RIP Jim Spagg
Portland mayorial candidate and public access icon Jim Spagg sadly passed away over the weekend. I remember catching his notorious program for the first time in the mid-'90s. At the time I was probably searching the public access spectrum for The Chess Show, a call-in game show hosted by married couple that dressed in Halloween outfits and gave out cheesy prizes for checkmates.
Instead, my eyes fell on a cherubic man speaking gibberish and dancing around naked with a microphone in his hand. Behind him, a blue screen was lit up with choppy camcorder footage of a nude beach. Much like The Chess Show, Jim Spagg's 30-minute program had a call-in format. I distinctly remember him arguing with one outraged viewer. Spagg remained calm and tried to explain his beliefs regarding nudity. The man refused to listen and launched into a barage of obscenities. Instead of moving on to the next caller, Spagg decided to bounce around the stage while singing "you've got to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative." Eventually, the guy hung up.
I can't say I was ever a fan of Spagg's "work" but it was nice to know he was out there. His show was MCTV staple for nearly decade and it was impossible to miss it while channel surfing after 10 PM. Given this, Spagg was despised by just about every cable subscriber in Multnomah County. Despite thousands of complaints, Spagg's show ran until he was suspended for defecating on the air in 2003. He returned shortly thereafter and was quickly given the boot for "copyright infringement."
During the mid-90s, the show as so notorious that my company devised an official Jim Spagg policy. I just looked it up and, in honor of his passing, here it is:
Public Access Channel 11 Complaints
"The Portland College public access people who have been getting calls from customers, referred to them by our staff, about complaints on the Jim Spaggs show. As you may be aware, this is the character that runs around the stage naked. This show typically airs on Thursday night at 10pm.
We have been sending customer complaints to the wrong place. This show is aired by the Portland Public Access which is operated by Multnomah Cable Regulatory Commission (503-823-5385). They send the signal to all the franchises like Washington county and Clark county. There is nothing we as a company can do to prevent this program, the government says it is a constitutional right for this program to air as a freedom of speech.
However, if you get customers complaining, have the customer call their local cable commission to voice their complaint. I am sure they will pass this on to the Multnomah Cable Commission who has given Spaggs permission to air this program at 10 pm every week. "
If Heaven has a public access station, I'm sure he's already pissing off a good number of angels. Mr. Spagg, you will be missed. Your show, however, will not.