Consumer Superhero Jesse Jones Completes Move to KIRO


by Ron Judd, Seattle Times 

SO LET’S SAY you’ve just ripped someone off. Added a digit to the amount of their check. Stolen their identity. Absconded with all their earthly possessions in a moving company van. Placed a mystery charge for $1,219 on their cable bill. Sold them a lemon vehicle. Choose your poison.

When the big man, Jesse Jones, and his big microphone appear on your doorstep, cameras rolling, people sometimes panic — and do something stupid. What’s the absolute dumbest move?

“Rule Number One: Never call the cops!” exclaims Jones, hanging out inside his new consumer-crime-fighter lair at KIRO 7. He throws back his head, cuts loose with a staccato cackle and slaps his knee as he recounts a “Get Jesse” segment from his previous employer, KING 5. 

“This was a story we did about 20 bucks,” he says. “TWENTY BUCKS. And I would do another story about 20 bucks. Because it wasn’t right, what happened to this kid.”

Jones now lapses, as he often does to charming effect, into an alternate voice (these range from syrupy-sweet tones of his mother to a stereotypical, deep-baritoned, white-guy news anchor, to — on special occasions — Oprah Winfrey). The voice of the moment sounds like a Bible Belt preacher, ripping down the runway toward oratory liftoff.

“Kid puts money into a machine at ARCO. Had witnesses there. Went and tried to pump (gas). Didn’t work. Wanted his 20 bucks back. Walks in there, the guy tells him, ‘Pound sand!’ We check it out. I show up. Guy calls the cops on me!

“NEVER call the cops!” Jones repeats, busting up again. “Because then it’s GONNA be a story!”

Of course there is no arguing this point: Flashing lights and forced removal? Great TV. “ARCO rips off kid. We make it right. Film at 11.”

Got screwed? Get Jesse. It’s an entire news franchise in four words. And few American TV newsies do it with more exuberant panache than Jesse Jones, who makes a triumphant return this week to local airwaves after sitting out a six-month noncompete clause.

Reliving the ARCO imbroglio has him wound up.

“Sometimes, it’s more than just what went down,” Jones says, as if leaning over a pulpit to stare down those who would wrong his flock.

“Sometimes it’s about what’s right and what’s wrong. The PRINCIPLE of it. I’m serious. It’s humiliating that a company will keep you on the phone for two hours over 40 bucks. It’s just DEMORALIZING. That 40 bucks might mean lunch for the kids for two weeks. So you’re gonna FIGHT! You WORKED for that! You WORKED for it! It’s not like you won the lottery, man! ‘I got up at 5 o’clock in the morning, I took care of my kids, I dropped them off at school, I went to work, I came back, I get a check on Friday, every Friday. And you shorted me 40 bucks. And now you’re making me get down on the floor and wrestle you over it? Or BEG? Or admit to something I did not do?’ ”

He finally breathes and leans back.

“So it’s fun, you know, to be on my end. Somebody goes through all that, I’m the guy who gets to say, ‘I got it back.’ ”



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