#ItMightMeanTooMuch: The Knoxville radio host with the wild, risky ultimatum
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
That was the mindset of Knoxville radio host Tyler Ivens, who is camping out atop the Toyota of Knoxville until Tennessee wins a game.
That’s right. He’s hosting his 3-hour, weekday morning WNML radio show there, he’s eating there, he’s brushing his teeth there and staying there until the Vols get in the win column again.
Here’s proof of that:
— Tyler Ivens (@TylerIvens) October 8, 2019
What do Ivens’ car dealership rooftop digs look like? Well, it’s essentially glamping.
He has a camping tent inside of a tailgate tent … located just off Interstate 40 on the west side of town. Local businesses like Big Kahuna Wings (one of the radio station sponsors) offered to deliver him dinner every night, and other unexpected visitors brought him food throughout the day. The local golf shop even donated him a putter and a small putting green so that he could pass the time (Netflix is helping, too).
Naturally, Ivens gave local reporters a tour of his setup, complete with outlets (but some shaky WiFi):
Sticking to his word. @TylerIvens is in fact living on @ToyotaKnoxville’s roof. He’s vowed to stay up here until UT wins a football game. He says they’ll beat Mississippi State this weekend. pic.twitter.com/fGjmkfS4Ks
— Casey Wheeless (@WVLTCasey) October 8, 2019
So what prompted all of this? You might’ve already read about this, but if you haven’t, here’s a rundown.
The Athletic wrote about Ivens’ rooftop ultimatum, in which Ivens explained how he got himself into a corner. It’s nothing out of the ordinary.
Ivens and his co-hosts got into an argument about whether the Vols would go winless in October. With matchups vs. Georgia, vs. Mississippi State, at Alabama and vs. South Carolina, the Vols face 4 teams that went bowling last year, and obviously 2 that went to New Year’s 6 Bowls in 2018.
The radio station was also aware of the stunt pulled by radio host Duncan Stewart in 1988 when he stayed atop a Nashville billboard for 33 days amidst an 0-3 start for the Vols.
That led to Ivens piecing the 2 together and declaring after the Florida game that following the Georgia game (an inevitable loss), that he would scale a local building and stay there until Tennessee won, much like Stewart’s quest 31 years ago.
“Almost as soon as I said that, the phone lines lit up,” Ivens told The Athletic. “I knew this thing was brewing after I said that.”
After several local businesses reached out, the radio station settled on Toyota of Knoxville for Ivens’ new home.
Rooted in Ivens’ ultimatum was a sense of optimism. He’s hopeful that his rooftop stay will end after just 5 days because of a Tennessee win against Mississippi State. Never mind the fact that the Vols are nearly touchdown underdogs and they’re 0-4 against FBS opponents in 2019.
I actually give Ivens and WNML a ton of credit for going all in with this. As somebody who is in the content business, the average person doesn’t realize how difficult it is to constantly have to talk about a losing team. It’s a grind. There’s only so much you can say about a completely disappointing team. I’m guessing every sports radio station in the state of Tennessee is running out of ways to break down the lackluster Vols.
This, even if it is done with some attention-seeking motives, is such a fun way to generate fan interest. I mean, the local police department advised Ivens to tell the masses not to pull off to the side of I-40 to shout encouragement. People care! That’s not an easy thing to do.
I’ve found a new appreciation for the “until they win” ultimatums. Who could forget the downtown Orlando bar that offered up free game day beer in the middle of UCF’s winless 2015 season and kept the promise going until the Knights ended the streak in the 2016 opener.
They gave away 15,000 beers!
Orlando bar, which gave away 15,000 free beers on gamedays as a result of UCF going winless, will do it again pic.twitter.com/MN6jRPHTo5
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) September 2, 2016
Speaking of giving away beer, remember when the Cleveland Browns had the locked Bud Light refrigerators that they opened when the team finally won a game last year? Epic.
The Vols are having one of those kinds of years. Like, bad to the point where you need to do something like this just to make it a little less painful.
And who knows? Maybe there’s some hope from Ivens and the WNML crew that Tennessee players will see something like this and get a little extra inspiration. That’s something the Vols were criticized for lacking in losses to Georgia State and BYU. Maybe it’ll be like the adult, depressed version of the baseball player who promises the sick kid in the hospital to hit a home run for them.
Ivens knows that there’s a ton riding on Saturday. He essentially guaranteed a Tennessee victory knowing that if it doesn’t happen on Saturday, it can get rough after that. A trip to Alabama follows, and a home game against South Carolina is at the end of the month (the Gamecocks at least won an SEC game in 2019). And hey, don’t sleep on 4-1 UAB.
Here’s the good news for Ivens. If Tennessee goes winless the rest of the season, the WNML crew reportedly is apparently willing to let Ivens off the hook for the offseason.
Worst case scenario? Ivens will spend the next 2 months brushing his teeth from atop the Knoxville of Toyota.