Thursday, January 12, 2017

Nothing's changed

I’ve always felt that in many ways I am still thirteen. Back then I used to sit at a desk and write and draw comic books, dreaming up crazy stories. Today I sit at a desk dreaming up stories for scripts and plays.

When I was thirteen I watched THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW. Today I still watch THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW.

When I was thirteen I loved Bob’s Big Boy hamburgers. Nothing’s changed there either… except that they now go to my hips.

And of course my crush on Natalie Wood still seems to linger.

Back when I was thirteen I was a radio freak. Still am. In those days I would do bedroom shows. On Saturday nights my parents would go out for the evening. My younger brother would go to sleep and I would set up my record player and Wollensak tape recorder, grab the latest copy of LOOK magazine for commercial copy, and go “on the air.” I would introduce records but mostly I tried to do funny voices and zany comedy bits. None of those tapes exist today, which I’m sure is just as well. Jonathan Winters I was not. Shelley Winters I was not.

But I had my bedroom station. And I would bet that by noon there will be a bunch of comments from other radio freaks who also had bedroom stations in their formative years.

Mine went nowhere. But some had stations way more elaborate. A few even had low power transmitters and were actually broadcasting. I was content to stick the tapes in a drawer (where they shared space with my homemade comic books).

That was then. And now I’m doing a weekly podcast. Not much has changed. I’m not doing it out of my bedroom – I do it out of my office – but I’m still talking into a tape recorder hoping to make people laugh. The big difference of course is that people can hear this. And LOOK magazine is history.

This is amazing to me. Anybody today can “broadcast” all over the world. 24/7 internet radio stations are just computers sitting in bedrooms. Thank GOD these options didn’t exist when I was thirteen. I’d still be living it down.

But the pressure is on, with so many audio options available, I’ve got to really up my game. No interviews with my mailman or discussions about shopping for tires. I’ve got to go out of my way to impress. It’s like when I first tried to attract girls. God, I am thirteen again.

Episode 2 should now be available for downloading.  Stories about MASH, why I got fired so often from radio jobs, and FQ's.    Check it out and please subscribe.    Thanks. 


Barry Rivadue said...

Maybe not quite the same thing, but some might relate. I'd have my little reel-to-reel tape recorder, circa 1966, and record audio off the TV. Then I might comment. What would be interesting is hearing again stuff involving local programming/commercials that may not exist anywhere else now, barring YouTube surprises.

Best wishes for your podcast!

blinky said...

You are quite fortunate, I don't think anybody would want to share in what I did in my bedroom as a kid.

benson said...

Yup. Same Wollensak, too.

Considering the equipment I work with now, that Wollensak was beyond primitive.

But the funny thing is, my dad did a time-brokered Polish language half hour show on a station in Chicago (that is partly WVAZ now). And he wrote little dramas, comedies, etc and produced all of that on that 3M-Wollensak. So i guess it was broadcast quality.

VP81955 said...

Congrats on the podcast, Ken...and now that the Chargers are headed back up the coast to rejoin the Clippers (don't worry, San Diego -- the Padres and Aztecs are safe), perhaps you can work on setting up their post-game call-in show. (Unless Nick Bakay beats you to the punch.)

YEKIMI said...

Holy crap! That picture of the Wollensak sure brought back memories. I dealt with those things from elementary school all the way to high school when I was an A/V nerd and had to fix the damn things when they broke. Don't know why the school system never switched to cassette players, I guess someone in the purchasing department must have been carrying on a long term affair with the Wollensak representative. Loved the 2nd podcast. Don't know why, but in my radio career I never really thought to tape very many of my shows. I taped two, one tape was lost years ago and probably about 10-15 years ago the tape player mangled and ate my last remaining air check tape. It now resides in a box where every once in a while I stare at it and wonder if I should attempt to fix it or just toss it. Currently going through a crapload of tapes dating back to the late 60s onward that I taped off the radio and may end up digitizing them and sending them off to

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

Oh, yes! The Wollensak, the G.E. transistor radio, reading magazine ads as 'commercials,' making mom drive me to KBLA to pester those folks, getting the 3rd at 16, working for free at KVFM...and today, sitting in the forest of Western Oregon...voicing audio in the last two weeks for Google, Microsoft, car dealers in Dallas, Chicago and some others. (and, last night, I watched again the colorized two episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show...and enjoyed them more than my first two marriages...) :)

The Moderate said...

Ken - when I was a teen my father bought a kit from Radio Shack and created his own low-power station. He would play records and I'd drum along to them. I've often wondered, in such a rural area, if anyone ever heard us.

Joe said...

Ken, I know you met Moe Howard and Zsa Zsa Gabor, among many others. Did you ever meet Natalie Wood?

John Hammes said...

During the '70s, multi-band radios were popular and relatively affordable, much as today. The difference being, multi-bands of the 70's included sound bands of over the air analog TV Channels 2-13, and - what else - CB RADIO !

During the '70s, the low power "walkie-talkie" was also popular and relatively affordable, much as today. Turns out our "walkie-talkie" signal also registered at Channel 14 on the CB portion of our multi-band radio. It was easy to place one "walkie-talkie" receiver on top of the audio cassette tape recorder, play whatever silly sketches/music/whatever we had put on that cassette tape, walk a block or so up the hill out of sight of the house (as far as the signal would go) with the multi-band, and then switch bands, comparing and contrasting our "radio station" CB 14 with the other "real" radio stations. It was quite a heady experience for a 12-14 year old.

Those tapes also no longer exist... don't even remember half the stuff we put on there. Lost to the ages, I guess.

thomas tucker said...

Just the other day I told someone that in my mind I often feel like I'm still 16 years old. Until I'm around a bunch of 16-year-olds.

Pete said...

Downloaded the 2nd episode. Wow! Great stuff. I knew you loved radio from your blog but the podcast really brings it home. I'll happily subscribe and look forward to more episodes.

MikeK.Pa. said...

I too feel like I'm still 13-14 and every morning I'm disappointed at what I see looking back at me in the mirror. I always wonder how that old fart looking back at me got into my house. Thanks for the photo of Natalie.

Chris said...

Friday question: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia did a nice variation on a bottle episode where they had the whole gang split at three diffrent tables spread across a restaurant acting passive aggressive to each other and refusing to come say hello, thereby splitting the episode in 3 regular stories. Do you know of any other split bottle episodes?

DrBOP said...

Two words, daddy-o, to attract the listeners you crave....Two Words!



Put'em in the mood.....get'em ALL excited.....leave'em wantin' MORE!

Either that, or the first EXCLUSIVE Manny Ramirez live interview from Toyko ;^)

Pat Reeder said...

I also made those cassettes of my own shows as a kid, practicing character voices, imitations and improv. Only one survived, but I buried it deep enough that you'd have to be Auric Goldfinger to penetrate the fortress of junk boxes in my garage and liberate it.

I really enjoy the airchecks, which take me back to my DJ days, even though I never did Top 40. I was more in country and soft rock/AC. I also had the problem of not having the deep, resonant "radio voice" that was in vogue at the time (I can't imagine what the PDs then would have thought of allowing Mark Levin to have three hours a day on the radio.) It's funny, many people I meet tell me I have a perfect radio voice, but to the people who were hiring back then, I didn't have a "radio voice." One morning DJ I worked with told me I could be great if I just had the right voice, and he seriously suggested that I take up smoking cigarettes. I decided that as much as I wanted a successful radio career, I wanted it a bit less than I didn't want throat cancer.

Finally, your Dolly Parton wisecrack over the intro of "Here You Come Again" really jogged my memory banks. I remember on my first radio gig at KHBR in Hillsboro, Texas, I came out of a PSA for the Campaign for Human Development into that song and said (without even thinking about it, it just popped out), "And speaking of human development, here's Dolly Parton." About 15 minutes later, our news guy came in and glared at me. I asked what was up with him. He snarled, "I was out driving when you said that thing about Dolly Parton, and I laughed so hard, I nearly hit a telephone pole!"

If that had happened, I could have bragged that I told a joke that literally killed.

Diane D said...

Listened to Podcast number 2! It was terrific! I love listening to your 1977 broadcasts. Do you know how many of your blog readers are listening to the podcast?

Matt said...

Love the airchecks!

About ten years ago I was driving from Indianapolis to Fort Wayne to do a weekend shift on the then oldies station (it's changed since then).

We were encouraged to be as fun as possible. Here's a sample:

Andy Rose said...

I love the aircheck! Even the sped-up sound from the scoping brings back some pleasant memories. I don't know what happened to the fine art of talking up the ramp properly. Even the veteran DJs they have on satellite radio don't do it tightly anymore.