Keeper of the Plans

'American Ninja Warrior' features local radio DJ. Will Tight Pants advance?

Jacob Bowling, aka DJ Tight Pants, competed in the Minneapolis qualifiers for "American Ninja Warrior" earlier this year. The episode airs Monday.
Jacob Bowling, aka DJ Tight Pants, competed in the Minneapolis qualifiers for "American Ninja Warrior" earlier this year. The episode airs Monday.

Tight Pants is going to be on TV.

Well, maybe.

The local radio DJ (nee Jacob Bowling) with a penchant for sporting tight trousers competed at the Minneapolis qualifiers for "American Ninja Warrior" in May.

The show will be highlighting about 25 out of 100 athletes who competed that day on its season premiere at 8 p.m. Monday on NBC — and Bowling himself doesn't know whether he made the final cut.

"I've been saying it's going be a really cool surprise," Bowling said Thursday. "It's going to be a great surprise or it'll be like watching another episode like I do every Monday night, but one where I happen to know a lot of behind-the-scenes information."

Who is Tight Pants?

Bowling is the son of longtime Wichita radio personality Lyman James, so perhaps it's only natural he would also get into the radio business.

"I grew up running around radio stations," he said.

He started working part-time for promotions at local radio stations in college, he said.

At the time, he played in a metal band — so, naturally, he donned tight pants. It was 2009, after all.

What started out as "a really bad nickname" at the station took off and became his official on-air name once he started doing DJ work, he said.

He's fully embraced the persona, though: Now DJ Tight Pants is on air in Wichita from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on Alt 107.3 and from 7 p.m. to midnight weeknights for the "Tight Pants Party" on Channel 96.3. The "Tight Pants Party" also airs on radio stations in St. Louis and Des Moines.

Ninja warrior training

Bowling said he started training for "American Ninja Warrior" a few years ago, when he was living in St. Louis.

The 27-year-old said he grew up watching the show, and had found a gym in St. Louis that specialized in the obstacle-course training the show demands.

"It was something I was always interested in but had never had the chance to do," he said. "I loved it. I started going three to four times a week to the gym."

To be considered for the TV show, he had to submit a nine-page application, as well as a video audition.

Eventually, he was invited to the Minneapolis qualifiers on May 25.

The show is filmed in the overnight hours, he said — so his run at the obstacle course didn't happen until about 3:30 a.m.

"Mentally I was awake but right about 1 a.m., my body started to get tight," he said. "A lot of it is a blur, going through and trying not to fall. There was one point, though, where I was swinging on the second obstacle and ... I looked around and I'm like, 'Whoa, I'm on 'American Ninja Warrior' right now.'"

Competitors on the show must navigate six unique obstacles without falling into a pool of water below.

In Wichita, he trains at Bliss Climbing and Fitness, as well as at home, he said.

While Bowling couldn't say how well he did on the Minneapolis course — at least until the episode airs — he said he's looking forward to auditioning again next year.

The episode will air at 7 p.m. Monday on NBC (KSN locally).

Cassie Craig, a 26-year-old Wichitan, competed on an extreme sports entertainment show called American Ninja Warrior. She made it to the show's national competition in Las Vegas. (April 9, 2016)

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