TMZ on-air talents became rather excited when they found out that Peter Thiele would be videoconferencing comments for the TV show.
As soon as a face popped up on-screen, I realized it wasn’t the billionaire co-founder of PayPal (Peter Thiel) but the guy who worked at KSTP (1500 AM) for nearly nine years and left Minnesota in 1996.
“You can say that Peter Thiele, the Minnesota Peter, is sadly and disappointingly not a billionaire,” said Thiele, who has also worked radio jobs in New York City, San Francisco and San Antonio, where he now lives with his wife, Lilan.
I asked Thiele how he landed one of those coveted viewer skyping spots on TMZ? “Don’t ask me why,” he said via e-mail. “Maybe they like my tweet takes on entertainment or they found me as friends with a couple of celebrities. But they contacted me and I said sure!”
A fifth-generation Minnesotan, Thiele has a hankering to move back where his roots are deep. “My Dad [Scott Thiele] graduated from Deephaven High School. So, I am a native Tonka boy. Everybody knew my Dad and I frequently got in trouble because my Dad’s friends saw me doing something stupid.”
Now, a few stupid questions from me to Peter.
Q: What do you miss most about Minnesota?
A: I miss the 30-below days. The first breath outdoors with wet hair is amazing! I miss being near my Vikings, Twins and Timberwolves. I just am a ‘Minnesota Sports Homer’ and will always be that way.
Q: Are you still doing radio?
A: Yes, I am still in radio. I left Salem Communications after a decade late last year and am now doing freelance voice-over while waiting for my next gig.
Q: Van Lathan and Harvey Levin from TMZ were excited to talk to you because they thought you were the Republican billionaire?
A: I get confused for Peter Thiel all the time. Thiel and I have a similar political viewpoint. Harvey and Van freaked out when I said my name.
Q: Do you ever get e-mails for the rich Peter Thiel?
A: Often I get people mad at me for his political leanings. I get asked for money; often am asked for business advice and for networking tips. I tried to push the people off, but people want to build a relationship with Peter Thiel and are often very pushy to know me.
Q: Who’s had that name longer, you or the billionaire?
A: I am a few years older than the rich Peter Thiel.
Q: Have you done any national voice-over work I might have heard?
A: I have done some VO that has aired on ESPN for a sports information 20 years ago. Most of my voice-over is for online videos, local commercials for businesses around the country.
Q: How long have you been married now?
A: Lilan and I will be celebrating our 13th anniversary this summer. We are hoping to be blessed by a child. We ask for prayers in that regard.
Q: Refresh my memory : Who makes the mole, you or your wife?
A: My wife makes the mole. She is from Mexico City and she is an amazing cook. My mother-in-law makes mole from scratch and it is awesome!
Q: I might fly in for mole because we have talked about it so much I can taste it. Can they make mole and skip the salt?
A: My mother-in-law, Martha, adds zero salt to the mole. Now the prep of the turkey or chicken, she may. That can be cut.
Q: Are those Texas college sports fans obnoxious because they win or are they just naturally like that?
A: The only obnoxious fans are supporters of the Cowboys. Watching the Dallas Cowboys lose is one of my joys.
C.J. can be reached at email@example.com. E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.