Uncle Jay Explains the News

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Uncle Jay Explains the News
Format Weblog
Created by Jay Gilbert
Starring Uncle Jay
Country of origin File:Flag of the United States.svg United States
Location(s) Cincinnati, OH
Running time 3-4 minutes
Original airing January 2007 - Current
External links
Official website

Uncle Jay Explains the News is a weekly, online video weblog produced by Cincinnati-based radio personality Jay Gilbert, starring his alter-ego "Uncle Jay". New video episodes are posted every Monday on www.unclejayexplains.com, and they are also syndicated on a number of other web pages. The blog presents a satirical look at the week's news and events through the medium of a seeming ‘children’s’ newscast. The site's slogan is "Helping Small Minds Understand Big News."



The show first appeared in the mid-1990s as a "soft" feature on a local Cincinnati TV station, WCPO-TV. It was broadcast at 5.55am every Friday, with Gilbert faxing the script to the producers the day before[1]. However, the show was dropped after two years, despite winning a regional Emmy for editorial commentary[2]. "Uncle Jay" was revived in January 2007 as a online weblog after Gilbert realised that, as he put it; "technology had reached the point where I could pretty much do it all myself and post it on the web"[3]. The show is videotaped by Gilbert in his basement and then edited and put together on his laptop[4]. It is then posted on Uncle Jay's website, as well as on Youtube, a page on Facebook[5] and on the websites of the Tribune Interactive media group.[6]. The show initially attracted around 10,000 viewers a week, but the 2008 Christmas 'singing' episode attracted over eight million hits on Youtube, and increased the popularity markedly (the episode had to be revised and re-posted for legal reasons, and now does not show as many hits). Uncle Jay has more than 130 videos posted on Youtube and about 7200 subscribers[7] and has now seen traffic on his website increase to around 20,000 hits per week[8]. The Uncle Jay website currently has about 15,000 subscribers. His Facebook page[9] has about 4,000 Fans.


Each video is approximately three minutes long, starting with a brief title sequence around 10 seconds in length. It is intended to mimic a children’s program, with a young woman excitedly exclaiming; “Hey boys and girls, it’s time for Uncle Jay explains the news! Now here’s the guy who helps little minds understand big news stories; Uncle Jay!”. The introduction's video content is updated occasionally in order to remain up to date with current events.

The videos are presented as a parody of younger children’s educational broadcasting, with Uncle Jay speaking in a friendly and welcoming, yet patronising tone of a children’s TV presenter. However, this is a deliberate ploy to play up the “immature and ignorant” nature of the news stories, political bodies and public officials he is lampooning. (citation needed) The show always begins with a witty introduction and then the “News Word” of the week, intended to introduce a new word to the vocabulary of the viewer as well as link the weeks news stories he is covering. Previous news words have included; “Agenda”[10] , “Package”[11], “Imperfect”[12], and “Aaaaaaaaag”[13]. In some instances, there is also an "Other News Word", often linked to the "News Word".

Uncle Jay then attempts to explain two to three key news stories in a pseudo-simplistic, child-friendly manner, with the aid of pictures, video and repetition of the week's “News Word”. The production style is fairly unique, not always utilising all of the screen space, moving the video of Uncle Jay around in order to make space for graphics and videos. Many of the images are crudely edited, or “Photoshopped” in a deliberately childlike manner.

Uncle Jay has a sarcastic and satirical manner, delivering jokes in a fairly deadpan manner, often appearing as if the humour is unintentional. He also occasionally attempts to explain a complex issue or event in a ridiculously oversimplified way. For example, the episode on the 22nd September; “The Economic meltdown”, his explanation of how banks make and loan money is described by himself as “ a little simplified, and a little wrong and a little misleading; so just think of it as a political ad.”[14]

Episodes normally end with “one of your news questions”, which is an letter received from a viewer about a subject based around current events. These letters are often written as if by a child, with regular references to “my parents” and requests that Uncle Jay explain a difficult concept. These are normally answered in the same deadpan and sarcastic manner.


Uncle Jay occasionally does a one-off special, dedicated to explaining a specific term or issue. These episodes only cover the one topic rather than several and go into more specific detail. These have included explaining "Conservatives vs Liberals"[15] and why Congress has such a long recess[16].

Singing Specials

Uncle Jay has also produced four 'singing' specials. For the final episodes of 2007 [17] and 2008 [18], Uncle Jay sang a review of the year's news to a medley of festive tunes. These tunes have included; "O Come all Ye Faithful", "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" and "Little Drummer Boy" in 2008, and "Joy to the World", "The Christmas Song" and "Frosty the Snowman" in 2007, and in the episode posted just ahead of the July 4th weekend of 2009 [19], he used melodies from patriotic songs to sing a review of the first half of the year's news. He also posted his 2009 Year in Review on the 20th on December[20].

Jerry Springer

Jerry Springer, a former mayor of Cincinnati and later a local TV news anchor, now famous as host of "The Jerry Springer Show", has crossed paths with Gilbert professionally over the years, and has appeared in Uncle Jay episodes four times, in very brief video clips. The episodes including Springer are January 5 2009[21], October 6 2008[22], June 16 2008[23], and September 14 2009[24].


There are over 150 online episodes. The "most requested" videos on unclejayexplains.com are (in order);

  • The three year-in-review singing specials
  • Uncle Jay explains the "Stimulus"[25]
  • Uncle Jay explains the "The Economic Meltdown"[26]
  • Uncle Jay explains Congress's "Recess"[27]
  • Uncle Jay explains "Conservative vs Liberal"[28]
  • Uncle Jay explains "Blogs"[29]
  • Uncle Jay explains "Socialism"[30]


Uncle Jay Explains the News is available on Uncle Jay's website, and on several websites of the Tribune Company's newspaper and TV stations, including:

  • The Chicago Tribune[31]
  • The South Florida Sun-Sentinel[32]
  • WPIX-TV, New York[33]
  • WGN America, on Cable[34]

It also appears on a number of other websites, including;

  • Youtube[35]
  • Facebook[36]
  • Twitter[37]
  • The WEBN Website[38] (The Radio Station on which Jay Gilbert is a DJ)
  • Funny Or Die[39], although new episodes have not been added there since early 2009

Jay Gilbert

Jay Gilbert, the real world name of Uncle Jay, is a long running DJ on Cincinnati's WEBN-FM Rock radio station, which is currently owned by the Clear Channel group[40]. Gilbert has been at the station for over 20 years, and currently hosts the 2-7pm weekday drive time slot[41]. He is quoted as saying that "long-term, I hope that Uncle Jay will allow me to move to a career out of radio before radio kicks me out the door, something that's happening to people my age everywhere"[42].


  1. http://billkonigsberg.blogspot.com/2008/12/chat-with-uncle-jay-and-his-year-in.html
  2. http://unclejayexplains.com/about-uncle-jay/
  3. http://billkonigsberg.blogspot.com/2008/12/chat-with-uncle-jay-and-his-year-in.html
  4. http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20090118/ENT/901180331/-1/today
  5. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Uncle-Jay-Explains-the-News/64113800321
  6. http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/central-uncle-jay,0,3979437.htmlstory
  7. http://www.youtube.com/user/unclejayexplains?blend=1&ob=4
  8. http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20090118/ENT/901180331/-1/today
  9. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Uncle-Jay-Explains-the-News/64113800321
  10. http://unclejayexplains.com/2009/03/08/uncle-jay-explains-march-9-2009/
  11. http://unclejayexplains.com/2009/02/15/uncle-jay-explains-feb-16-2009/
  12. http://unclejayexplains.com/2009/03/15/uncle-jay-explains-march-16-2009/
  13. http://unclejayexplains.com/2008/09/21/uncle-jay-explains-the-news-sept-22-2008/
  14. http://unclejayexplains.com/2008/09/21/uncle-jay-explains-the-news-sept-22-2008/
  15. http://unclejayexplains.com/2008/06/02/uncle-jay-explains-the-news-june-2-2008/
  16. http://unclejayexplains.com/2007/09/03/uncle-jay-explains-the-news-september-3-2007/
  17. http://unclejayexplains.com/2007/12/31/uncle-jay-explains-the-news-2007-year-in-review/
  18. http://unclejayexplains.com/2008/12/21/uncle-jay-explains-dec-22-2008/
  19. http://unclejayexplains.com/2009/06/28/uncle-jay-explains-july-4th-special/
  20. http://unclejayexplains.com/2009/12/20/uncle-jay-explains-year-in-review/
  21. http://unclejayexplains.com/2009/01/04/uncle-jay-explains-jan-5-2009/
  22. http://unclejayexplains.com/2008/10/05/uncle-jay-explains-the-news-oct-6-2008/
  23. http://unclejayexplains.com/2008/06/15/uncle-jay-explains-the-news-june-16-2008/
  24. http://unclejayexplains.com/2009/09/13/uncle-jay-explains-sept-14-2009/
  25. http://unclejayexplains.com/2009/02/15/uncle-jay-explains-feb-16-2009/
  26. http://unclejayexplains.com/2008/09/21/uncle-jay-explains-the-news-sept-22-2008/
  27. http://unclejayexplains.com/2007/09/03/uncle-jay-explains-the-news-september-3-2007/
  28. http://unclejayexplains.com/2008/06/02/uncle-jay-explains-the-news-june-2-2008/
  29. http://unclejayexplains.com/2007/09/24/uncle-jay-explains-the-news-september-24-2007/
  30. http://unclejayexplains.com/2009/04/12/uncle-jay-explains-april-13-2009/
  31. http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/central-uncle-jay,0,3979437.htmlstory
  32. http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/nationworld/politics/wire/central-uncle-jay,0,7444084.htmlstory
  33. http://www.wpix.com/landing_national/?Uncle-Jay-Explains-the-News=1&blockID=192957&feedID=16
  34. http://www.wgnamerica.com/pages/video/
  35. http://www.youtube.com/user/UncleJayExplains
  36. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Uncle-Jay-Explains-the-News/64113800321
  37. http://twitter.com/UncleJayExplain
  38. http://www.webn.com/pages/onair_jay.html
  39. http://www.funnyordie.co.uk/unclejay
  40. http://www.mediaweek.com/mw/content_display/news/digital-downloads/broadband/e3i3b5ee64b200b60e17e851bbd37fadd77
  41. http://www.webn.com/pages/onair_jay.html
  42. http://billkonigsberg.blogspot.com/2008/12/chat-with-uncle-jay-and-his-year-in.html

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