The Champ: Canada’s favourite punch-drunk storyteller gets his own iPhone app.
If you’ve been living anywhere in Canada for the last two decades, it’s almost impossible not to have heard, at some point, the hubristic baritone of “The Champ” bellowing from a radio or being imitated by someone in a bar. Apart from hockey, there are few subjects that will unite Canadians more than this endearing radio character.
This popular two-minute radio comedy series has been around for over 25 years, but to hear it fans always had to get themselves near a radio at just the right time, or purchase his CD’s in stores. Well, not anymore. Now there is an “app” for the iPhone that will allow fans to access thousands of previously unavailable Champ episodes, all digitally re-mastered.
Says Jeff Bossert of Ottawa, a long-time Champ listener, “This is a Champ fan’s dream come true.”
The new Champ app allows any iPhone or iPod touch owner to select episodes from over twenty different “subjects”, while controlling the “spiciness” of the playback. Any episode can be saved to a “favourites” screen, where it can be replayed later. (Episodes can also be played continuously and at random, great for those long road trips.) The app is filled with graphics and animation, sound clips, video and even includes a Champ cartoon short.
The app was developed by The Natterjack Animation in partnership with the creator and voice of The Champ, Jake Edwards. Edwards is more commonly known as Bro Jake to his listeners at Vancouver’s Rock 101, and to the many other Canadian cities he’s been broadcasting in during his long career.
Voicing The Champ, for Edwards, has always been entirely a labour of love. He still regularly visits the sound studio to record thirty or forty Champ episodes at a sitting. The storytelling formula for The Champ is usually the same: the Champ, a retired boxer who received a few too many hits to the head, will misinterpret something said to him, and will end up “snapping”, inflicting a stern physical lesson to the unfortunate speaker.
While many apps for the iPhone seem to have been designed and programmed in a week or two, it definitely isn’t the case with The Champ app. According to Edwards: “This app represents thousands of hours of my work, writing and recording all these episodes. For all those Champ fans, this app isn’t just a lot of fun. For the price of a cheap beer, it’s the bargain of the century!”
This is the first iPhone app from Natterjack, which has been producing interactive products for clients such as Disney since 1995. Natterjack president Steve Evangelatos , himself a long-time Champ fan, says: “Sure, it took months of graphics, animation and programming work, trying to figure out how Champ fans best want to see and hear their favourite character. But it was fun. For me, it was better than working on Pooh.” After a pause, he adds: “Actually, I believe there’s a Champ episode about that!”
“Apart from the stuff on the CD’s”, says Edwards, “all these thousands of episodes were just played once or twice on the radio, and then they disappeared into the archives. Now they can live on forever on The Champ app.”
The Champ app is available from the iTunes store for both the iPhone and iPod touch. A version for the iPad and Google’s Android phones will appear later this year.