Local students bring a 1960’s vibe to “American Idol” auditions


“I got him in the elevator right now, his name is Matthias…” Matthias Jeske heard this, suddenly fearing for his safety. He thought he was going to be thrown out. Breathing deeply, he turned and left the elevator to be greeted by an assistant. A green sticker was put on him and Jeske was instructed to, “Wait right here, you’re about to meet Ryan Seacrest.”
A senior studying history, theater and creative writing at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Jeske collects all things 1960’s from comic books to movies to his vintage Chevy Impala. This characteristic makes him stand out as DJ of the Waxx Museum Show on UNO’s MavRadio and made him stand out in front of “American Idol’s” celebrity judges.
Jeske went to the Omaha “American Idol” auditions in January after a dare from a friend. He had never seen “American Idol” before and decided to go simply because he had nothing else to do.
While waiting in line on a Saturday morning to register with approximately 4,000 other hopefuls, Jeske was noticed at the front of the line by an Omaha World-Herald photographer and pictured on the front page of that day’s paper. After eight hours of waiting, he was given a wristband by the show’s officials and told to come back Sunday. On the next day, Jeske was singled out again.
“When we went inside for the auditions, they immediately pulled me aside with some other people,” Jeske said of what happened that day. “Producers said they wanted me to be on the show because I’m so weird, and that makes for good television right?”
Now apart from everyone else, Jeske was shuttled from producer to producer, quickly singing for each. He made them laugh with his impersonation of President John F. Kennedy.
After performing for the final producer, the show officials said “We’ll call you” and left Jeske hanging. Of the 4,000 people in the first days, producers narrowed down to about 250. Later, Jeske got a call. The “American Idol” producers wanted to a do a “home segment” with him.
A co-producer and four man crew asked to come and see Jeske at MavRadio. The next morning, the team got footage in the studio. Jeske also took them to the restaurant, Gorat’s, and to his home. By this point, Jeske was late for work at Fantasy’s Car Wash. However, his boss was a big fan of “American Idol” and was so ecstatic that the crew came to film at his business also.
Another month came and went, and then Jeske got an email. “American Idol” needed him all weekend for the celebrity judge’s audition and he had to wear the same clothes as the first day.
“It became apparent through the magic of television, they were going to make it look like it happened all in one day,” Jeske said. “When in fact, this happened in about six days over the course of three months.”
The contestants had now been narrowed from 250 to 60 contenders. Jeske was the second to last person to audition, as number 30 out of 31 hopefuls. Before meeting the celebrity panel, Jeske said he got a pep talk from a producer who expected great things of him.
“I got the green light to walk into the dark tunnel, and I stood on the lit American Idol oval and there were the three famous people– Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr.”
When the judges saw Jeske in his skinny tie and wool suit, they immediately poked fun at him. Connick Jr. asked if Jeske was there to file their taxes. The teasing threw Jeske off and made him struggle to regain his collected composure. He sang about half of a song but stopped when it became apparent that Lopez was not waving her hands with the music, but for him to stop singing.
The feedback from the celebrities wasn’t encouraging, but they weren’t as cruel to Jeske as to other contestants. Connick Jr. said “Thank you for giving us license to laugh but dude, you can’t sing.” After realizing he wasn’t joking,  Jeske thanked them for their time and the experience and left the audition. During his exit interview with Seacrest, Jeske was determined to be the best sport “American Idol” had seen.
“I said ‘I welcome the judges to our fair city of Omaha and hope they enjoy the rest of the time they spend here. It’s been quite an experience,’” Jeske said. “They got a shot of me walking out of the CenturyLink Center and thus ended the story.”
Although, Jeske didn’t advance any further than his hometown of Omaha, the experience was postive for him and one of his passions, MavRadio. He attributes some of his success in “American Idol” to being involved with the radio station, and appreciates the help it has given him and the students who also contribute to the station.
“MavRadio is diverse as the students who run it. I’m glad that [the station] gets some exposure from this,” Jeske. “MavRadio is the greatest discovery of my life. I fell in love immediately.”
The Omaha round of auditions aired Jan. 28 on Fox.