Archive for category radio
This week’s holiday atmosphere includes Sirius/XM rebroadcasting classic Bing Crosby Christmas specials, with introductions by recently retired Regis Philbin. Listening to these radio shows is the closest one can easily get to opening a time capsule.
In the 1970s, a local AM radio station (WGST if I recall correctly) used to devote part of its evening programming to airing old radio shows–and I vaguely remember hearing Fred Allen periodically. I know the name.
But this week I was absolutely flummoxed to hear a 1954 Christmas special, where Crosby went on at length (I came in on the broadcast mid-show, this could have been an ad) at how great Fred Allen’s then new book, Treadmill to Oblivion, was. The book is out of print (you can see parts of it at Google Books), so unfortunately it’s not something you can pick up at the local bookstore. Allen, a popular radio show host, was clearly unhappy with the seeming demise of radio, thanks to television. Allen likely would have made his way in TV (much like his peer, Jack Benny, did)
In trying to research the book, I ran across a 1989 Garrison Keillor New York Times review of a then new Robert Talyor-penned biography of Allen. The last paragraph of the review touched upon the naming of Allen’s 1954 book and Allen’s impact on the larger landscape of comedy history.
“Treadmill to Oblivion is a pretty bleak title for a memoir by an old comic. Allen chose it over genial ones like ”Looking Back” or ”Microphones and Memories,” and meant what he said, and ”Fred Allen: His Life and Wit,” trying to rescue him from oblivion, only proves him right. Comedy is temporary art unless you’re Mark Twain. Thirty years after you knocked them dead, your best stuff is just damp hyphens, a wet glow on the plate.”
I was recently fortunate enough to email interview Baltimore-based singer/songwriter Karyn Oliver about her 2010 CD, Red Dress (Amazon and iTunes). As detailed at her Facebook page, the CD was produced “by Thomm Jutz (Nanci Griffith) and featuring an all-star cast of experienced Nashville musicians, Red Dress shows Oliver at her sultriest (Right Now), bittersweetly melancholy (Candy Dish), and playfully flirtatious (Baby Don’t Speak). October Day transforms one woman’s story into a universal message about dreams that are lost and then recovered in an unexpected guise, while June is Leaving shows off Oliver’s gift for looking at the common through an uncommon and captivating eye.” In addition to discussing her music, we delve into the Baltimore-DC Americana scene, as well as her role as the host of WLOY radio’s The Mobtown Couch. Thanks to Oliver for her time and to Pigeon O’Brien for her assistance in making this interview feasible.
Tim O’Shea: I was amazed to learn most of this album was recorded in two days. How logistically challenging was that to pull off? Who were some of the musicians that you worked with and how did Thomm Jutz get involved as producer?
Karyn Oliver: Actually, I got really lucky with the musicians who were available when I was. I sort of squeezed the recording process into my tour schedule. It all worked out so well thanks mainly to Thomm Jutz.
Another songwriter friend of mine, Jeff Talmadge who really encouraged me to record in Nashville, introduced me to Thomm. I sent Thomm some rough recordings of the songs I was working on (most of which had been recorded directly onto my iPhone), and Thomm really liked what he heard. I listened to the work he had done with Nanci (Griffith) and a few other artists, and was very impressed with his range and ability to serve multiple styles of music, which was something I felt my album was going to require. Thomm and I spoke several times on the phone about what kind of recording I wanted to make, and he hired an extremely versatile, accomplished group of musicians based on those conversations. Within a month we were ready to roll.
Audio drama is a craft that I’m glad to see alive and well, and aiming to adapt to new technologies. One current example is Starstruck, soon to be released by The AudioComics Company. As described at the site: “Buck Rogers meets Barbarella meets The Hitchhiker’s Guide the Galaxy… The Off-Broadway Sci-Fi Comedy Masterpiece that spawned a comic book revolution comes to audio October 31! Written by Elaine Lee with Susan Norfleet and Dale Place, featuring characters from the comic by Lee and Michael Kaluta. First on compact disc, and pay-per-MP3s downloads, Starstruck rides the airwaves later this fall!” To mark the impending release, I interviewed AudioComics Company’s Lance Roger Axt and Bill Dufris.
Also as noted at the website: “Starstruck compact discs will be $22.95, not including tax and postage and handling. These are 4-panel 2-disc eco wallets … The cut-off date for CD orders is October 20, 2010. Your CD will be mailed directly to you on November 3, 2010, so when you place your order, make sure you write down your correct mailing address. Compact discs will be mailed first class USPS … Please note that these CD’s are not available in direct maket comic book stores or big box book stores like Borders, this is an item you can only purchase from the AudioComics Company webstore. And unfortunately these are only available in the States, but for our overseas Starstruck fans, the MP3 downloads are forthcoming, and worldwide. Info on MP3 downloads to come next month.” As Lance told me prior to finalizing this interview: “AudioComics has been a five year journey which is now finally taking shape, and I’m pleased to say that Bill and I have, beyond this inaugural production, at least ten other comic-to-audio projects to keep us busy between now and the end of 2012!” My thanks to Axt and Dufris for the interview. Also, please be sure to check out the AudioComics page on Facebook.
Tim O’Shea: First off, Lance, I saw your post about attending San Diego–can you talk about how much you enjoyed meeting Stan Freberg?
LANCE ROGER AXT: Some people came to San Diego to see Tron or Green Lantern footage, others wanted to see the cast of True Blood; me, I wanted to meet Stan Freberg. And I’ll tell you something, I can honestly say that I was humbled to be in his presence. It’s been brought up on many forums and comments pages, especially in the wake of the passings of Frazetta and Williamson, to appreciate the artists who are still with us. In my case, those artists are people like Stan Freberg, the Firesign Theatre, Yuri Rasovsky, Tom Lopez of ZBS. These people took radio drama out of the golden age, the “old timey” way of writing and acting, and showed audiences that with audio there are no limitations…so, yeah, meeting Stan was a real highlight of my first trip to SDCC. Not to mention he was the nicest, most approachable person, both he and Hunter. It’s hard to find the words now…the sound man’s gone silent.
And back in April they aired a week’s worth of Cayamo performances, including Emmylou Harris and Buddy Miller; Ben Taylor and Stephen Kellogg; and started out the week with my favorite Cayamo musician–John Hiatt–and Robert Earl Keen (plus in the same episode a non-Cayamo spotlight on the oh so great Sam Phillips).
Back in late December 2009, I wrote in praise of DaveFM’s Inside Eddie’s Attic show. Back then, I could not find an audio archive of the show at DaveFM. Clearly I was looking in the wrong spot, as Eddie’s Attic hosts an audio archive of the show (plus a lot more musical gems) here. Enjoy.
I’m grateful to Robert Feder for pointing out the Washington Post’s January 23 article on the 20-year friendship between Paul Harvey and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. Understandably, after gaining access to more than 1,400 pages of documents through a Freedom of Information request, many details are brought to light about the friendship. As noted in the article:
Previously confidential files show that Harvey, whodied last February at 90, enjoyed a 20-year friendship with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, often submitting advance copies of his radio script for comment and approval. Harvey wrote Hoover and his deputies regularly. Hoover, in turn, helped Harvey with research, suggested changes in scripts and showered the broadcaster with effusive praise.
The article is a fascinating read. But what most amazed me was the revelation that Paul Harvey, at one point back in the early 1950s, attempted to become the original Geraldo Rivera.
…He routinely hammered officials for being lax on security, in particular those in charge of the Argonne National Laboratory, which conducted nuclear testing 20 miles west of Chicago.
After wrapping up his television broadcast on the evening of Feb. 5, 1951, Harvey set out to prove his case — and make some career-enhancing headlines for himself.
Harvey guided his black Cadillac Fleetwood toward Argonne, arriving sometime past midnight. He parked in a secluded spot, tossed his overcoat onto the barbed wire topping a fence, then scampered over.
I would love to know if, in the 1980s/1990s when the biographies of Hoover started coming out, did Harvey ever report on them–or did he just steer clear of them. I’ll do a little digging and should I find something, I’ll be sure to post. In the meantime, be sure to read the Washington Post article. And by all means, bookmark Feder’s blog, as it’s a great resource for interesting items like this.
Since joining Robot 6 almost a year ago (we celebrate our one-year anniversary at the end of this week) I rarely blog about comics here at Talking with Tim. But sometimes an item comes along that transcends the boundaries of comics (plus to be perfectly blunt Robot 6 is on holiday hiatus for the next few days). Anybody that’s read Evan Dorkin’s Milk & Cheese, or his blog, Big Mouth Types Again, knows just how funny he is.
Important side tangent here, Dorkin would understandably be unhappy if I neglected to mention his great Dark Horse miniseries with artist Jill Thompson, Beasts of Burden, wrapped up this week with the release of issue 4.
Back in October, SLG Publishing head honcho Dan Vado launched SLG Radio, a weekly podcast where the focus is to discuss comics, SLG comics in particular. At least I think that’s Vado’s goal, but honestly the show has evolved into an incredibly hilarious back and forth between Vado and frequent guest/borderline co-host Dorkin. The most recent episode had the added bonus of Dorkin’s frequent collaborator (and spouse) Sarah Dyer. Dorkin’s bombastic personality (in a good way) just enlivens every episode, in this most recent one he was stuck in traffic while calling in to the show–and he dictated what he was passing (slowly) while stuck, and was able to make it both funny as well as indictment of the banking crisis at the same time.
This podcast is far more about comics, at its core it’s two old friends talking. There a great many podcasts these days where two friends just chat–and it rarely works. Why? Because a typical friendship has a series of inside jokes and personal connections that translate into incredibly bad podcasts. There has been many a podcast I have listened to where the hosts were laughing throughout the show because of inside jokes or behind-the-scenes aspects of their personal life that was darn funny to them, but annoying and alienating to listeners like myself. There’s none of that with Dorkin and Vado, while they typically talk comics for a spell the show goes off into tangents that may touch upon their respective personal lives, but in a manner that makes for engagingly fine storytelling.
Give the show a try, even if you don’t read comics, as it’s a fun listen.
Atlanta has a rich media history, and Don McClellan has been part of it for 50 years with WSB-TV. While McClellan’s blog is clearly focused on WSB history, McClellan is also an avid runner (I remember when WSB would allow him to document a test run of the Peachtree every year, the day before the race) who loves to photograph other runners and document their stories at his blog. In fact, a co-worker who was photographed by McClellan at a race is how I found out he had started a blog.
Doug Richards’ Live Apartment Fire (Richards is another veteran Atlanta [granted not 50 years] long with WAGA, but currently at WXIA) is another great Atlanta media blog–and Richards recently directed folks to McClellan’s wealth of knowledge. So this time when I revisited McClellan’s blog (after my initial visit several months ago) I was pleasantly surprised to see he’d written a number of posts on Don Kennedy. For some of my older siblings, Kennedy was an important part of their childhood (through his alter ego, Officer Don) because of his live kids TV show on WSB-TV, The Popeye Club. (Really, one of these days I should do a post about my older sister, who had her appearance [the show was done with a live studio audience] on the Popeye Club preempted by coverage of the Six-Day War).
His son said it best, as noted in this LA Times obit.
“‘He lived a long, eventful, satisfying, though sometimes tempestuous life,’ Dan Terkell said. ‘I think that pretty well sums it up.’”
Indeed it does. But there’s also the Chicago Sun-Times obit. Read all his obits that you can find. The man was fascinating and a damn fine storyteller and left every person he met with a story. I’m impressed at how the comments section of the obits even generate stories about Terkel.
Never heard of Turkel? Fortunately he has many books and recordings for you to inform yourself. Here is a bevy of online videos courtesy of Google/You Tube. Here is the Chicago radio station, WFMT, where he spent more than 40 years. Finally here is Chicago History Museum‘s site devoted to Terkel.
Paul Sizer can always rely on me to be a major supporter of his work. One of his trade collections for Little White Mouse features a foreword by me. I was a beta tester on his latest book, BPM. The only thing I like more than reading Sizer’s work is when I get to interview him. Before jumping into the interview, though, let’s get the basic info on BPM.
“BPM is a full color 96-page graphic novel written and drawn by Paul Sizer (LITTLE WHITE MOUSE, MOPED ARMY graphic novels). The graphic novel will contain the main story, plus a comprehensive sketchbook section and detailed playlists and notes. Plus, the book will also be linked with iMixes from the Apple iTunes website that provide a ‘soundtrack’ to accompany the book, as well as playlists for each of the main DJ characters, showing each person’s musical tastes.
“‘B.P.M.’ is Paul Sizer’s love letter to the music he loves. In combining the story of a young DJ with the power of computer enhanced artwork, Paul’s goal is to merge his love of comics and his love of music into a moving, dynamic story of passion, motivation and hard choices over following one’s creative dreams. Paul has challenged himself as a writer and artist, using new techniques to tell this story. Combining his art with hundreds of photos he’s taken in New York, Paul has worked to make “B.P.M.” a unique visual experience as well as a thoughtful and engaging story that transmits the raw power and inspiration that music can generate.
“‘Roxy spins records in dark clubs and small bars, hoping to make a name for herself as a DJ in the complex and demanding club culture of New York City. She stumbles across Robie, a burned-out former superstar DJ, who shows her how to rise to the next level of her art. As Robie’s mentoring begins to elevate Roxy’s career, she must choose whether to follow her heart or the beat of the music she loves. Looking for the ‘perfect beat’ is a long and demanding journey. Which path will Roxy choose, and what will she have to leave behind?’”
Once you read the interview, be sure to visit Sizer’s site which takes the concept of multimedia to its fullest extent. He taps into every form of media except reel to reel and HD, I think. The book is listed in October’s Previews (OCT084169) and will be available in stores by November. You can also buy the book via myriad links at Sizer’s site.