Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Will the real Ken Levine please stand up?

I’m the other Ken Levine.

There’s the Ken Levine who is a big video game designer. He’s a giant in the industry. I probably get twenty people a day logging on here thinking I’m him. Sorry. I’m not. I don’t even own a video game.

Then, according to imdb, I was the location manager on JURASSIC PARK and FLIPPER. I don’t know who that Ken Levine was but I still get Christmas cards from dolphins.

I mention all of this to set the record straight because there is a Ken Levine impostor. I know what you’re thinking – why would anyone in their right mind want to impersonate me?

Because there was a jingle.

In the early 80’s I was pulling a weekend shift as a disc jockey on KFI Los Angeles. (CHEERS had just started and who knew if it was going to last?) The station commissioned a new jingle package and one sang “Ken Levine KFI 6-40”. Next to an Emmy there is no greater honor than having your own jock jingle.

A few years after I left they hired a new guy and since they already had this nifty paid-for jingle they insisted he use the name Ken Levine.

So now I’m getting people saying they heard me on the radio. I listened to him and well, he was me with a lobotomy. I called the station manager to protest. He said, “Tough shit. Call the union” and hung up on me. Nice.

I then did call the union. That station would be sorry they ever messed with me! The AFTRA official told me there was nothing they could do. What?? As a radio performer the only thing you have to identify yourself is your name. He shrugged. I said you can’t register with SAG as Paul Newman. You can’t join the WGA as Neil Simon. Still, they were powerless. Talk about a toothless union.

For the next year I had to endure friends saying, “I heard you on KFI. What happened? You used to be funny.”

And then a few years later the station went to a talk format and I did a couple of fill-in shifts. They wondered if maybe I shouldn’t use another name because they recently had a guy named Ken Levine.

WTF!!?

I managed to keep the name and if anyone else tries to use it I will cause a shock wave. Wait a minute, that’s one of the games created by the other me. Jesus, now even I’m confused.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cool, you have a lucky name.

--SD

Anonymous said...

Next thing you know, DJ's will be naming themselves after '60's TV comedy characters...like Beaver Cleaver, for example!

estiv said...

Actually, on Flipper, Ken Levine is listed as the "environmental production advisor." That sounds kind of interesting--I think you should just pretend you actually did it. You're already a DJ/ sportscaster/ writer/ director/ producer/ blogger--what's one more hat?

l.a. guy said...

That's hysterical.. I picture Ed Asner in the role of station manager hiring your replacment:

Manager: Okay, you're hired.
What's your name?


New DJ: Don Steele.

Manager: What? That name sucks.
You're Ken Levine! Get over it.

Jason Tammem├Ągi said...

I count myself lucky that there seems to be only one of me on the planet. While the downside is few can pronounce my name, the upside is they rarely forget it.

Though I sometimes wish I was called Titus.

JD said...

I don't know - Levine sounds too jewish to have much success in Hollywood. You'd probably have done better with a nice WASP name like Ken Williams.

wert said...

Frankly Levine sounds too jewish to have much success in Hollywood. He reminds me of one of my friend at web design company who too have a similar passion.
Still great work.

Sebastian said...

I read an interview in a gaming magazine here in germany about three weeks ago with Ken Levine (the other one) where this programmer said that every time he read the new storylines for the game they program by Ken he would think how crazy they are.

Which got me thinking - how high is the possibility that this Ken Levine who writes Sci-Fi games (both story and code) is the same as the guy who's blog I'm reading every day.

Wikipedia helped me - the disambiguation clearly states there are two Kens. So every time somebody confuses you just point them there. It helped me and anyone who doesn't look it up is just a lazy fool (now I reminded myself of Mr. T ;-) )

howie said...

I was recently reading comments on a radio website where a guy was going over all his air names, including one time where he was let's say "Joe Smith" at station A, went to station B under another name and returned to Station A only to find someone else using "Joe Smith". Our hero was given the name of another former DJ at Station A, but a few months later the PD turned him back into "Joe Smith" and had the second guy start using his real name. Hilarious.

benson said...

I think John Landecker on WLS said it best..."Why did I get into radio? To have people sing my name" straight into a shotgun jingle "John Records Landecker, WLS!

By the way, your story is reminiscent of all the Johnny Rabbit night jocks on KXOK in St. Louis in the 60's.

The Curmudgeon said...

You were a victim of identity theft before it became trendy.

Actually, I've been hoping someone would steal mine.

It might improve my reputation.

And credit rating.

shecanfilmit said...

That's pretty funny, them using your name so they didn't have to re-record the jingle.

When people google "Christina Ferguson" - they get my alter ego first, a Playboy playmate from 1983. Exact same spelling. I get a lot of "did you know... ?" emails. Yes, I know. Ha Ha.

(I suppose it could be worse, I could have the same name as the butch CEO of a pipe and valve company.)

a. buck short said...

Anyone who ever owned a radio probably has this one memorized, but:

ONCE AGAIN, for your dining and dancing pleasure: the classic WKRP IN CINCINNATI “Jennifer Falls in Love” scene (with “Steel,” aka the Episcopalian Fabio). Not only what’s in a name, but what’s outside a name. Features Less Nessman and the two Lonnie Anderson's. Now if I can only stop confusing Hugh Wilson with the other Raoul Plager.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=rvgTiTr_9Kg&mode=related&search=

Tom Quigley said...

Hey, Ken, I just thought of a name for your next writing seminar: "The Ken Levine Experience"....Not the real Ken Levine, but an incredible simulation... And the instructor using your name would be one of the staff writers for JOEY...

susan said...

Was that Jesus crack the begining of your campaign to get your own reality show ala Kathy Griffin??? My Life as the Real Ken Levine...

Emily Blake said...

A successful children's book author has my name. Since we're both writer everybody assumes I'm her. I get emails from people all the time, excited they finally found me so they can ask me about my awesome books even though I have added to my bio that I am not THAT Emily Blake.

We should just go to serial numbers like Anthem.

tb said...

"Hey you used to be funny". You stole Beaver Cleaver's name anyway. So there.

Tim W. said...

I'm confused. Which one of you is the REAL Ken Levine, then?

It does remind me of Alex Epstein's blog. On his personal info page he states "Alex Epstein the screenwriter is not the Alex Epstein who lives in Tel Aviv. He does not work at the right wing Ayn Rand Institute. Those are other Alex Epsteins."

Apparently you're not the only screenwriter with this problem.

Dimension Skipper said...

All I want to know is this...

If a guy has a burning desire to break into the DJ biz can he then be said to have the jock itch?

:-)

benson said...

Speaking as a radio vet of 30+ years,
after the lobotomy, radio is easy.

And these immortal words of wisdom:

I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

BTW, to SheCanFilmIt...recycling jock jingles wasn't all that uncommon outside of the major markets back in the day.

jbryant said...

Among those sharing my name, Jay Bryant, are a Republican media consultant and a commercial photographer. My imdb page used to include another Jay Bryant's stunt credit for "Cop and a Half," but I was able to get it removed (maybe I should have kept it -- made me seem well-rounded). For quite a while, my page also featured a photo gallery for actress Joy Bryant. Friends would call, surprised that I'd apparently changed both my sex and my race.

Doug Walsh said...

As one of the many gamers who found their way here by dumbluck, let me just say both of you are doing that name proud.

As for my name, there's me, a race car driver in New Zealand, and, on last count, about 400 realtors. Google tells me I'm the most popular though. *wink*

a. buck... ah fagettaboudit. said...

"Dimension Skipper said...
All I want to know is this...
If a guy has a burning desire to break into the DJ biz can he then be said to have the jock itch?:-)"

_____
Prolly not, but when they sent me off to camp, to avoid having to label so many of my clothes, my parents had my name legally changed to Fruit of the Loom. And yes I am ashamed, both of that and of this.

Todd Mueller said...

Always the opportunist, I have just registered www.kenlevines.com (www.kenlevine.com is already taken...by whom, I wonder???)

I plan to erect a simple multi-directional sign post ala MASH. Follow this arrow to the screenwriter...that arrow to the video game designer...and the other arrow for the Mess Hall.

And then I'm going to sit back and watch the 'click through' revenue roll in. It's brilliance I tell ya!

Paul Atkinson said...

My name is the same as a band member of "The Zombies". And paulatkinson.com is taken by some crazy artist.

Then again, Paul is my MIDDLE name, so I'm DIFFERENT.

D. McEwan said...

I had the reverse problem with the IMDb for a while. It was convinced I was two people. It had a page for "Douglas McEwan," with some of my credits, and a page for "Douglas Keith McEwan," with some of my other credits. (And it's not like there were a lot of credits to divide up.) It took me three years to convince them that I was only one person.

MEANWHILE, in Edinburgh, Scotland, there is another Douglas McEwan who is professional Sean Connery impersonator. And he doesn't look vaguely like classic "Goldfinger" Sean Connery. No, no. He looks vaguely like Connery NOW.

There's also a flower called a "Rhododendron Douglas McEwan," but we're seldom confused. The flower never gets my mail, and I never receive unexpected fertilizer.

D. McEwan said...

Oh, I forgot the most sinister part of the Douglas "Sean Connery" McEwan non-connection. He's from Edinburgh, where my great-great-grandfather was born. We may well be cousins. (For you beer and ale fans, we are the McEwans of "McEwan's Ales".)

Wow, to be the same-named distant cousin of a man who looks vaguely like Old Sir Sean Connery; it's almost as exciting as being Harrison Ford's wife's cousin's uncle-in-law, which I was until Harrison divorced Melissa, and my neice divorced her swine of a husband.

Dr. Leo Marvin said...

It's no wonder lawyers get such a bad rap. When a radio station steals your name and your union responds like most talent unions do, that's when you call your lawyer. It's one of those too rare moments when a lawyer can actually do you some good. But does it even cross your mind to call one? And during the High Holy Days of all times you have to tell me this story?

Anonymous said...

Hi Ken, I play my old jock jingles (and shouts) for people all the time. Unfortunately it seems I’m the only one impressed by it.Maybe I need new friends?.

I once worked at the K-Frog station. I had to pick my on air name from a list. Tadpole, Pollywog…you get the idea. Any way of the fifty or so names I wound up with “frogster”…sort of like being an amusement park character who speaks. Jesus I hated that gig.

Bill

Tom Quigley said...

In Rochester, we had a top 40 station that kept all the same names for the jocks, regardless of who actually was on the air, so there were three perpetual regulars: Mike Melody, Tommy Thomas, and Jerry Jack. That format came to an abrupt end when one day whoever was covering a particular time slot announced "This is Tommy Thomas sitting in while Jerry Jack's off."....

CordableTuna said...

I'm one of the guys who thought you're the other Ken Levine. That's because Ron Gilbert, another game design genius, links to you on his blog.

I always wondered why you're talking so much about tv-shows when Bioshock was about to be released. I thought you'd just had enough of all the game hyping and decided to keep the blog as a sort of personal unwinding place. :)

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