Tuesday, March 30, 2010

with a belt

One of the things I will miss about Blogger.com is the reading list on my dashboard. My type of blog is being kicked to the curb by the Blogger software developers. Originally their deadline was last Friday. They have extended it until May 1 but I have decided to flip the switch to my new WordPress blog on April 1.

Today I am trying to figure out how to best use the sidebars and widgets on my new site. Some of the items, like the appeal for camera donations, will go away. The Twitter feed may look different, depending on what widget I use. I have been experimenting with WordPress since March 1. When you finally see the updated blog, it will have a month's worth of archived posts.

The Blogger reading list is where I saw a link to Dave & Thomas today. The Knoxville blog duo has gotten on the Wesley Willis bandwagon, which I've been on since the mid 1990s. The collection of Wesley Willis music videos on YouTube got me thinking. Who do I know that would want to, just for fun, make a music video for the song that the late, great Wesley wrote about me?

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Monday, March 01, 2010

write stuff

Writing this blog is my hobby. It ties together most of my other varied interests and provides me with a stream of consciousness memoir that I can read in the future. I often look at old posts to remind myself of things I've done and places I've been. This past weekend, I read about my trip down Route 66 in Missouri because the Viva Cuba blog had linked to mine.

When I write a blog post, each hyperlink represents a tangent thought. I remember when Scott Mason at KROQ first explained the World Wide Web to me. I latched onto the concept because a page full of hyperlinks is a lot like the way my mind works.

Four and a half years ago, I started writing a daily blog on my website. I took the easy way out and used the overly simple Blogger.com software to create it. As I mentioned last month, Blogger is dropping the methodology I use to transfer my paragraphs from their site to my site each day. I have three and a half weeks to find a new way of doing things.

I decided to switch my blog to WordPress. While everything still looks the same to you, I am beta-testing WordPress behind the scenes. Starting today, I will write my posts in WordPress and then copy and paste them into Blogger. On or before March 26, you'll see my new WordPress site with a small collection of "older posts" dating back to March 1. The archives from 2005 until now will also be available. I don't know exactly how yet.

Yesterday, I spent a significant chunk of time chatting online with tech support from MyHosting.com. I think they are located in Canada, so I made sure to congratulate them on the Olympic hockey game, which was happening at the time. The guy from MyHosting was able to solve a problem the WordPress software had with the file permissions on my site. We're not done yet. There are still aspects of my WordPress template that I can't figure out how to modify.

Next week I plan to use a couple of my vacation days to tend to blog maintenance. Staying home and working on my computer may not be as glamorous as last year's Spring break in Florida but I am very much looking forward to it.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

like you fairly well

KROQ has its annual Almost Acoustic Christmas shows this weekend. One year I was responsible for booking an unusual artist to perform at the concert. Wesley Willis had appeared on the Kevin & Bean show a few times. He was an imposing figure -- big and tall with a knot on his forehead from butting heads with everyone he met. I remember one morning when Natalie Merchant bravely accepted a head butt after her interview ended. Wesley also wrote songs about almost everyone he met, including yours truly.

A couple of recent entries on the Mental Floss blog brought Wesley to mind this week. The first one had some background on him and links to several old YouTube videos. The second had news of a new DVD documentary about the outsider musician called "Wesley Willis's Joy Rides." Here's the trailer:

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

dream a little stream

If money were no object (but it is), I would drop a hundred bucks or more on one of the fancy new WiFi clock radios I've had my eye on. In addition to receiving AM and FM, they can receive any radio station that streams online. One model can even record audio, like a DVR does with TV.

For years I had gotten along just fine with a regular clock radio. I would awaken to the audio simulcast of WATE. Before the digital TV transition, any station on channel 6 would bleed through onto the FM band at 87.7. I learned in college that the entire FM band sits between channels 6 and 7 on the old VHF dial.

At 4:00 each weekday morning, ABC World News Now gave me a good dose of news that helped prepare me for work. Plus listening to talk helps me wake up whereas music puts me back to sleep. Now that WATE has gone digital, the 87.7 simulcast is no more. Obviously I could put a TV in my bedroom, but I really don't want one in there.

Since June, I've been trying different stations searching for something I like. Because I'm not a conspiracy freak or a believer in UFOs and the paranormal, I find the the overnight programming on the local news talk station to be unlistenable. I tried listening to Fox Sports Soup on the sports talk station but didn't like the way all the hosts yell, including Matt Smith who used to work with me at KROQ. The NPR station is still playing classical lullabies at that hour. Even the uptempo music on Star 102.1 didn't wake me. I needed a talk fix.

As I started thinking about how much I could use a WiFi clock radio, an alternative idea came to mind. I realized I could save $100 or more by leaving my laptop in sleep mode on the nightstand. In the morning I could pop it open and listen to a radio station online. But which one? Perhaps I should try some stations from the places where I used to live.

When I first started working the early morning hours at WAVA, I would wake up to Larry King's overnight radio show. I especially loved it when he had showbiz old-timers on as guests. When Larry gave up the radio show, I started listening to Bill Mayhugh on WMAL, not so much for him and the cheesy Roger Whittaker album he often played, but for the rambling live news reports phoned in by Larry Krebs on the police and fire beat. When I moved to California, I tried a few options before settling on KNX.

The CBS streaming player works well. I can choose a station before bed, start streaming, close the laptop and it resumes when I open the laptop in the morning. WTOP in DC uses the Microsoft Silverlight player which failed to restart when I opened the computer. In my sleepy haze, I don't want to have to navigate around a website to find the "listen live" button.

One night I started streaming KFWB and really liked the way they have shifted their focus to include a heavy dose of entertainment news. They now use the slogan "Hollywood listens to KFWB." However during the 4 o'clock hour (Eastern time) they air a refeed of "Doug Stephan's Good Day." I switched to KNX that morning.

I also tried WINS in New York and will sample other CBS stations. Listening to WINS was a little disconcerting. They play most of their commercials individually rather than in a cluster. Each on-air commercial is replaced by a different commercial on the stream. Unfortunately the transition isn't smooth. It wouldn't be as bad with a cluster of spots.

On Friday I clicked onto WMAL in DC. From 3 to 5 a.m. they air The Midnight Trucking Radio Network. While I expected a lot of talk about carburetors and such, what I heard would have fit nicely on any conservative-leaning talk station, such as the news talk station in Knoxville. At 5:00, I heard a few minutes of The Grandy & Andy Morning Show before I had to leave for work. In case you were wondering whatever became of actor-turned-congressman Fred Grandy, know that he sounds like he's enjoying himself as one of the very few live and local hosts on a station full of syndicated programs.

When I got home from work on Friday, it was still early enough to catch some of the Kevin & Bean show. In the 11:00 a.m. (Eastern) hour, I empathized with Bean's anxiety over his wife wanting him to take a dance lesson with her. I doubt that he will cave in like I did. At least my wife doesn't expect me to attempt the super-difficult Argentine Tango.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

batdisc drop

An email from my friend Bean boasted about the guests they interviewed on KROQ last week. On consecutive days they had Rhys Darby, Weird Al Yankovic and Adam West.

During the interview, which is available on Friday's Kevin & Bean podcast, Adam says that he has a newly redesigned website and is now on Twitter. Adam was calling from Comic-Con, where he debuted his new DVD.

In "Adam West Naked," the actor talks about each of the 120 episodes of my favorite television show, "Batman." If the classic program were legally available on DVD, this could be the commentary track. The disc was exclusively for sale at Comic-Con. It will soon be available at the store on AdamWest.com, which, by the way, would be a perfect place for my relatives to do their Christmas shopping this year.

The same day that TV's Batman was on KROQ, I had a bat-encounter of my own. Check out the most recent little critter that I saved from drowning in my pool. He doesn't look that great in these pictures but he eventually dried off and flew away.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

two kings

Someone should write a book comparing the lives and deaths of Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley. The early news reports I heard failed to see the obvious similarities. Both were the absolute biggest things in all of music and all of pop culture during their heyday. Both fell into a weird, isolated decline. Both looked completely different in their later years. Both deaths were originally said to be "cardiac arrest." CNN is reporting that Michael, like Elvis, had problems with prescription medications.

Former Jackson publicist Michael Levine issued the following statement via his LBN E-lert: "As someone who served as Michael Jackson's publicist during the first child molestation incident, I must confess I am not surprised by today's tragic news. Michael has been on an impossibly difficult and often self-destructive journey for years. His talent was unquestionable but so too was his discomfort with the norms of the world. A human simply can not withstand this level of prolonged stress."

Although he had already died, Elvis was technically Michael's father-in-law for a while. I was sitting in the audience at Radio City Music Hall during the MTV Video Music Awards when Michael and Lisa Marie Presley walked on stage and kissed. I got to go to the VMAs each year when I worked at KROQ.

In the late '80s, I had an even closer encounter with Michael Jackson. He came to the D.C. area to accept an award. I don't recall exactly how I got an invitation to cover the event. I was told to rent a tuxedo and bring a tape recorder. I drove to a multi-million dollar home in McLean. I parked off-site and took a shuttle to the party. The members of the press were ushered into a smaller building that was probably a garage or carriage house. A large room had been set up as if for a press conference. I was told to plug my tape recorder into a mult box, which provided an audio feed to the camera crews. While we waited for Michael to arrive, I struck up a fun conversation with Ann L. Trebbe, who was then a reporter for The Washington Post. She later went to work for USA Today. Michael stepped to the podium and made some brief generic remark like "I love you all, thank you very much." Don & Mike would play that audio for years anytime Michael's name came up.

After the worthless press event, the media representatives were allowed to go next door to the party. We were all dressed in formal wear, after all. The room buzzed when Michael made his entrance. He walked through the crowd, saying hello in his shy way to party goers who had paid top dollar to be there. As he got close to me, I reached out my hand and told him that I was with the local top-40 station, WAVA. I saw a change in his demeanor as his gloved hand shook mine very firmly and he said in a normal voice, "Thank you for your support."

I was working the afternoon shift at Star 102.1 on Thursday when TMZ.com reported that Michael had died. When I turned on the microphone, I wasn't totally sure what I was going to say. I said the date a couple of times and then said that the news I was about to deliver was as big as the death of Elvis was to the listeners' parents or perhaps grandparents.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

if you look up sidekick in the dictionary...

When Johnny Carson retired, Ed McMahon still had to work. Some of that may have been for the money but much of it was for the love of doing it. With Johnny stepping out of the limelight, Ed had a chance to be the center of attention as host of "Star Search," a show he tirelessly promoted.

Ed's financial problems and health problems inspired me to express my best wishes for him in previous blog entries. Now that he has passed away at age 86, I am again filled with thoughts of the good times he brought to us at KROQ in the '90s.

In those days at KROQ, we had the chance to feature a few entertainers who didn't fit the format. Johnny Cash got some attention from the alternative rock audience when he came by to plug "American Recordings." The lineup for the 1993 Acoustic Christmas concert included Tony Bennett. Six months later, we invited Ed McMahon to the 1994 Weenie Roast concert. We asked Ed to dress in the grunge attire of the day and come onstage to introduce Rollins Band.

Ed had been a morning show guest enough times that we could ask him to do almost anything. I could pick up the phone and call him or his wife Pam to see if he was available. I will always remember walking into Ed's house with a digital tape recorder and having him record the intro to Kevin & Bean's Christmas cassette in his memorabilia-filled study. Another time we needed him dressed in a suit on the beach for a video shoot with Jenny McCarthy. She wore a bikini.

After doing all these favors for us, Ed still felt like doing more. He invited Kevin & Bean to appear on "Star Search" as guest announcers. The show was recorded at Walt Disney World. They flew several of us and our wives to Florida to do the morning radio show before the TV taping later that day. After the show, Ed took us all out to dinner with that week's celebrity judges. My wife and I sat at a table with Martha Quinn and "Weird Al" Yankovic.

My wife and I had the chance to sit at the same table with Ed and Pam at another event. We were all guests at Kevin Ryder's wedding. I think that was the same year that Ed invited us to his birthday party. To this day, I still regret being so sick with flu-like symptoms that I had to stay in bed and miss Ed's party. It was a milestone year for him. As I recall, he had reached the age at which his father died and was thankful to still be around. We would have all been thankful to have him around even longer.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

all natural

Tazy Phyllipz and his wife are visiting Tennessee this week. He and I worked together on the Kevin & Bean show. Like me, Tazy and his wife Maria enjoy looking for Roadside America attractions when they travel. I suggested they go to the Sunsphere and the Dolly Parton statue before heading west to Graceland. Last night they came to see Einstein Simplified perform.

In an unfortunate stroke of timing, Tazy will still be traveling when Weenie Roast tickets go on sale Thursday. He was an early supporter of many of the bands on the bill, especially Rancid. I hope he is able to find a way to get into the show. After KROQ, Tazy hosted The Ska Parade show on stations in San Diego and Orange County.

Tazy is probably going to write a book about his Forrest Gump moments. I didn't remember that he was involved in the argument between Jimmy Kimmel and Michael the Maintenance Man that led to the "Bleeda in Reseda." He also was answering the phones at KROQ when Adam Carolla first called in to offer his help as a boxing coach.

I do remember Tazy being the unintended victim of a practical joke that Jimmy tried to pull on Adam. On his April 2nd podcast, Adam said that Snapple was his beverage of choice back when he first started at KROQ. I had downloaded the show because several people emailed to tell me that guest Chris Hardwick mentioned my name as he told the story of his being hired as a deejay at the station.

One day Jimmy saw an unopened Snapple bottle in the office I shared with "Loveline" producer Ann Wilkins. He took the bottle and sat at Ann's desk, where he tampered with the product. Without going into too much detail, let's just say that Jimmy left a film of baby powder on top of the drink. I was recently reminded of that old prank when Jimmy had Guillermo do something similar but not exactly the same to the Marshmallow Peeps that Dane Cook stuffed in his mouth on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" just after Easter.

Jimmy and I waited for Adam to come out of the studio and swig his drink. Instead Tazy walked into the office and said, "Oh there's my Snapple." Jimmy and I were horrified that he had defiled Tazy's bottle, thinking it was Adam's. I emailed Jimmy yesterday and asked if he remembered Tazy Phyllipz. He replied, "not only do I remember him, LAST NIGHT I told the story about... his Snapple!" Over dinner at Patrick Sullivan's, Tazy erased some guilt I had been carrying all these years when he told me something I had completely forgotten. He said that I stopped him from drinking the tainted tea and made him put it in the trash. However I had every intention of watching Adam quench his thirst with the Jimmy-flavored juice.

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Sunday, May 03, 2009

better than hot water and ketchup

A video on Funny or Die appealed to my inner child. In it, Adam West has fallen on hard times and is having a garage sale outside the Batcave. I wish I had looked for the Bronson Caves in Griffith Park when I lived in California. What if he really was selling stuff there?

If money were no object, I would buy memorabilia from my favorite show, much like KROQ's Ralph Garman has done. The first thing on my shopping list might be the bust of Shakespeare from Stately Wayne Manor.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

march forth

After the Washington Post included him in their "Post Mortem" blog, Perez Hilton wrote that Ed McMahon is still "alive and kicking." The report that the retired Marine Colonel was ill and "fighting the good fight" has him and his family in my thoughts and prayers again. Last year the news of his money trouble prompted me to write about the great times we had with him while I worked at KROQ. I don't know that Ed will be ego-Googling any time soon but I hope that my best wishes somehow reach him and that he has a happy 86th birthday on Friday.

Shortly after reading read about Ed yesterday, I coincidentally got a notification that I had been tagged in a photo on Facebook. The picture shows a group of us with Ed, Henry Rollins and Beck. We were posing backstage at the 2nd Annual KROQ Weenie Roast. The other station employees pictured are Jed the Fish, Jay "Lightning" Tilles, Thomas Guide, Bill Smith and Tami Heide. As you can see, Ed had no problem wearing his grunge clothes to go onstage and introduce Rollins Band.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

absolut gouda-ness

Today's mail had something my wife knew I would appreciate. Mixed in among the bills and catalogs was a padded envelope from our friend Richard Cheese. He sent along a copy of his new CD, "Viva La Vodka: Richard Cheese Live." It goes on sale in April however fan club members can get it earlier.

Dick's shtick is incredibly useful to parents. He takes popular songs and sings them lounge style, often making the unintelligible intelligible. Perhaps, like me, you never knew or cared exactly how filthy the lyrics of "Me So Horny" actually were. I can't un-ring that bell, but at least I got a laugh out of it. One of the best tracks on the disc is the Pussycat Dolls' song "Don't Cha." During the performance, Richard slips into vocal impressions of Bob Dylan and George Takei. TV tunes fans will like hearing the themes from "Three's Company" and "WKRP in Cincinnati" and KROQ fans will get a kick out of hearing a cover of Weezer's "Hash Pipe," which was recorded live on the Kevin & Bean show. By the way, check out the great lineup for Kevin & Bean's April Foolishness comedy show.

Most of "Viva La Vodka" was recorded at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC. I remember going there back in the days when the club was actually at 930 F Street. Richard Cheese & Lounge Against the Machine return to the 8:15 Club 9:30 Club on April 15.

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

trashing my scene

The big story in entertainment news this week was the angry rant by Christian Bale which was recorded on the set of an upcoming "Terminator" movie. Yesterday Bale, without the help of his publicist, made more headlines by calling the Kevin & Bean show on KROQ to publicly apologize. You can hear the call on the KROQ website. I think they'll let me embed it here too:

Both Kevin and my friend Bean thought they were being punked. Earlier in the week, Ralph Garman had done an excellent imitation of Bale. On Friday, Ralph had to insist that he had the real Bale on the phone. To put the apology in context, you can listen to Ralph's comedy bits that Bale said made him laugh. It sounded like the real thing when the fake Bale called to apologize but then launched into another tirade. It's at the beginning of Tuesday's Cinco De La Tarde podcast.

At the request of a listener, Ralph did the voices of both Christian Bale and TV's Batman Adam West. That happens about 20 minutes and 40 seconds into Thursday's morning show podcast.

In a similar vein, the NPR program "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!" mixed Bale's rant with audio of Tom Daschle's apology. You can hear it about 4 minutes into the "Who's Carl this Time?" segment of today's show.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

serious name dropping

The History Channel has been running presidential-themed programming all day. Earlier I watched a segment about James Madison on a show called "The Presidents." Tonight I was completely drawn in by a show called "Secret Access: Air Force One." As nice as the plane is, the couch that converts into the president's bed made me think that the customized 747 is actually the world's fanciest R.V.

Air Force One delayed my flight in April, 2005. President Bush was supposed to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park for Earth Day. Bad weather kept him at McGhee Tyson Airport instead. While he was here, I was waiting to go to the Washington, D.C. area via the late great Independence Air, which I still miss.

In all the years I lived in the D.C. suburbs, I only had two presidential encounters. Jimmy Carter waved at the box office staff when I worked at Wolf Trap Farm Park for the Performing Arts. I later met Mr. Carter a couple of times when I booked him as a guest on KLOS. He came in at least twice to promote books he had written.

I've already written about the time my friend Bean and I broadcast from the White House lawn for a Redskins victory celebration. We saw Ronald Reagan throw a pass to Ricky Sanders. Yes kids, there was a time when the Redskins were that good.

I shook hands with George H.W. Bush, but not while he was president and not while in D.C. He made a campaign stop at Villanova University. I foolishly spent two semesters there as a math major and soon realized that I fit in better at the student newspaper and student radio station. Mr. Bush had a luncheon with student leaders in the Connelly Center as many of us looked on from an upper level. He made some remarks and acknowledged the people he was with, including Villanovan editor Marianne Lavelle. I started a chant of "Marianne, Marianne," which prompted Mr. Bush to call her to his side for a hug. Cameras flashed and a big picture of the two of them was splashed above the fold on the front page of The Philadelphia Inquirer the next day. That's when Marianne told me that her family members were leaders in the local Democratic party and that she now had a lot of explaining to do.

Bill Clinton came to Los Angeles after his term to speak at the Radio & Records convention. I was working at the convention for my friend Pam Baker. She assigned me to be the liaison for "Access Hollywood" anchors Nancy O'Dell and Pat O'Brien. I had known Pat for years from his frequent guest appearances on KROQ. He felt comfortable telling me that he really wanted to be introduced to Mr. Clinton, which wasn't on the official agenda. I was aware of the path that the former president would take through the kitchen to the ballroom so I positioned Pat and Nancy in the corridor until the time was right. As Mr. Clinton was chatting with some people in his entourage, I saw my opening and took it. "Mr. Clinton, I'd like you to meet Nancy O'Dell and Pat O'Brien," I said. He quickly turned to greet them, as I thought he would, especially since Nancy is gorgeous.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

classic roq

A former colleague from KROQ recently emailed me to say that he was digging through some old stuff for his Facebook page and found an archived copy of kroq.com on a floppy disc. Can you imagine an entire radio station website fitting on a floppy disc nowadays?

Gary Cohen was the computer whiz kid in the KROQ engineering department. He's gone on to bigger and better things, of course. You can read more about him at LinkedIn and IMDB. Gary put much of the old KROQ site on his own server. Clicking through it brought me back to the early days of the World Wide Web.

Gary wanted me to see a photo on one of the Kevin & Bean pages. It shows the late Calvert DeForest posing with Kevin & Bean and Jimmy Kimmel and me.

I remember being present when most of the other pictures were taken too. I was the one holding the camera for some of them. The photo of Air Supply reminded me of the story I told here about the concert they did for us. I submitted this same picture to the trades with the caption: "Kevin & Bean with either '80s pop icons Air Supply or Mark & Brian, we're not sure which."

I wish I could remember exactly why we needed to make a video of Kevin & Bean on the beach with Jenny McCarthy and Ed McMahon. It might have been for an awards ceremony that they couldn't attend, perhaps at a radio convention or a Starlight Foundation banquet. Because nothing says helping the kids like Jenny McCarthy in a bikini.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

in the pie hole

Which is better, cake or pie? It's an age-old dilemma that pits brother against brother. Or in my case, co-worker against co-worker. During my KROQ days, the morning show staff used to travel to New York for the MTV Video Music Awards. One year Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla posed the cake or pie question to the rest of us. The friendly argument continued during the award show as all the people sitting near us in the Radio City Music Hall balcony weighed in.

I had an opportunity to resurrect the debate in Knoxville at one of the now-defunct stations where I worked. Although I don't dislike pie, I argued convincingly for cake. I mean, who has birthday pie or wedding pie? I also opined that a cheesecake is actually a pie. I used to have an aircheck of the bit visible on my website but now it's stuck in a little-used subdirectory.

Last year I was asked to judge a cake decorating contest. I found out after I got there that there would be no tasting the cakes. Tonight it was pie's turn. When I was invited to judge a contest at the St. Joseph School Fall Festival, I made sure to ask in advance whether or not the judges would get to taste the pies.

St. Albert the Great pastor Fr. Chris Michelson, school booster Jim Humphries and I tasted small pieces of seven different pies. A very light pumpkin mousse pie barely edged out an excellent pecan pie as the winner. For third place, we had a very difficult time choosing between a chocolate chess pie and a Ritz mock apple pie that completely fooled us. After dessert, we had some of the festival's famous BBQ. I chose the chicken dinner over the ribs. Chopped pork gets added to the menu on Saturday.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

meant what I said

It's too early to think about Thanksgiving and Christmas. However a press release NBC sent yesterday got me doing just that. The release runs down the network's holiday programming for 2008. Maybe the timing is understandable. While at KROQ, I would experience a bit of a Christmas rush in September. I suspect that part of the reason my friend Bean put his blog on hiatus is because of the workload for the annual Kevin & Bean Christmas CD, which probably needs to be turned in soon.

NBC will broadcast the 82nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I remember reading over the summer that this year's parade would feature a new Horton (as in "Horton Hears a Who") balloon. I'm still waiting to hear what other characters will make their helium-filled debut in November.

In addition to the return of some traditional holiday specials, the NBC release lists several new shows. They will crank out three countdowns that sound similar to the stuff you see on Vh1 and elsewhere. I will watch at least one, maybe two of these:
"Greatest Holiday TV Specials and Movies" features clips from the most-loved holiday TV specials and films. From animated TV classics to the must see holiday films of the past and present, we'll rank the greatest holiday moments that ever graced the screen.

"Greatest Holiday Songs" will count down the best performances of both classic and contemporary Christmas songs. From timeless tunes from the great crooners to recent essentials from the more modern pop stars, we will recount the greatest songs of the season.

"Greatest Holiday Home Videos" goes home for the holidays as we count down the most hilarious and entertaining holiday moments sent in from families' home videos across the country. This special will be an hour of non-stop family fun where we choose from thousands of submissions, and rank the best America has to offer from holiday mishaps to memorable moments to classic Christmas season chaos.
Of the three, I'm most interested in "Greatest Holiday Songs" although it would be funnier to make a countdown show of the worst Christmas songs. I've mentioned several of my favorite Christmas songs in the past. Maybe I'll arrange them in a numbered list before the NBC special airs. I doubt our lists will be very similar. Except for "Last Christmas." Everybody loves that one. If you also enjoy Christmas songs, you should know that the aforementioned Bean posts some Christmas Music Everyday.

There was no mention in the NBC press release of "Christmas Eve Mass at the Vatican." However the Catholic blog Whispers in the Loggia revealed today that Cardinal John Foley will return as "the voice of Christmas." Foley had indicated that maybe it was time for him to step down but higher ups in the Church and at the network urged him to stay.

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

comedy conundrum

If the world's worst comedian makes me laugh every single time I hear him, shouldn't that make him the world's best comedian? Not in the case of Sam Meneshian, the Armenian Comedian. I laugh at him but not for the reasons he wants. His jokes are consistently off-target. I find his failed efforts, many of which are chronicled at KROQ.com, to be hysterical. Sam was a fixture on the Kevin & Bean show before I worked there and continues to be to this day. Jimmy Kimmel has put him on "The Man Show" and his late-night talk show.

Brilliant comics like Andy Kaufman, Sacha Baron Cohen and Robin Williams have created characters that attempt to be what Sam Meneshian is in real life. He tries very hard to become famous without putting any effort into improving his jokes, his singing, his ventriloquism, or his balloon animals. I'm not too sure about his hair-cutting skills either.

The Armenian Comedian's familiar face flashed on my TV screen yesterday while I was watching the previous night's episode of "Last Comic Standing." They ran a quick montage of terrible auditionees and promised to count down their ten worst. I knew that Sam deserved a place in the top three but didn't think they would show him since he had not yet turned up in any audition footage. Numbers 10 through 2 were gradually revealed during the course of the two hour program. They were all comics whose auditions had been shown in the first three episodes of this season. At the very end of the show, they revealed that the number 1 worst audition was, in fact, by Sam Meneshian.

He tried to make something under a bandanna disappear but loudly dropped the object. He took off his shirt and pretended to inflate his stomach by blowing into his finger. Finally, he dropped his ventriloquism dummy while trying to put a live microphone in front of the dummy. Yes, in front of the dummy! In typical fashion, Sam had told the KROQ crew that his audition would be shown next week. As a result, they all missed it on Thursday. My friend Bean asked if I could send him the audio clip for them to play on Monday morning.

Sam is utterly clueless. When he returned from the Miami audition, he said that his audition had gone great. He probably misconstrued the reaction of that week's talent scouts (two guys from "30 Rock"), who stood and applauded the failure of the ventriloquism part of his act. Maybe there's something wrong with the part of his brain that detects sarcasm.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008


The news about Ed McMahon's financial troubles has him and his family in my thoughts. I once went to his house with a digital tape recorder for him to voice the intro to a Kevin & Bean Christmas album. We recorded his segment in the same den that was shown on "Access Hollywood" last night. I loved seeing all his photographs and memorabilia. Ed is especially fond of the toy trains that ride on tracks suspended from the ceiling.

I moved to Burbank just before Johnny Carson's retirement. I wish I could have seen a taping of the "real" Tonight Show with Johnny and Ed but all the tickets were long gone. Because of his other projects, Ed was always accessible to the local media. Just as you would expect, he is a great sport. We had several interactions with him while I was at KROQ. He let us dress him up in the grunge attire of the day so he could introduce Henry Rollins' performance on stage at the Weenie Roast. Another time he wore his suit and tie so we could videotape him on the beach with Jenny McCarthy. My wife and I ended up sitting at the same table as Ed and his wife Pam at Kevin Ryder's wedding reception. Best of all was the time Ed flew several of us and our wives to Orlando for a remote broadcast from Walt Disney World. Kevin & Bean were there to make a guest appearance on "Star Search." I've always regretted the time I had the flu and was too sick to attend Ed's birthday party. Especially since I had already bought a gift.

"Access Hollywood" had an update tonight. I didn't get home in time to see Ed and his wife on "Larry King Live." Did you?

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

where do I send my dollar?

How is it possible that Adam West, TV's Batman, doesn't already have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? KROQ's Kevin & Bean talked to Adam on Friday. They hope to right this wrong, as you can hear in their interview. They had previously gotten behind the efforts to get a star for James Doohan, who played Scotty on "Star Trek."

How do you get a star? The nomination process is detailed online. There are certainly enough "Batman" fans out there to help raise the $25,000 fee. It would make a great birthday gift for Adam, who turns 80 on September 19. If they can make the May 31 deadline, Adam could get his recognition in 2009.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

how 'bout a monster for breakfast

The rain today made it feel right to stay in my pajamas and plop down in front of the TV with a bowl of cereal. The only difference from childhood was that my bowl now contained exactly ¾ cup of Kashi GOLEAN instead of something with marbits. And that I was watching EWTN instead of Saturday morning cartoons. I had another childhood flashback last week when I saw a box of Quisp at Dollar General.

After finishing breakfast, I clicked around the Internet for a while. Coincidentally I found more cereal reminders. First I saw a funny movie poster that wonders what it would be like if they made a live-action film about Count Chocula. Then I saw an older Count at an imaginary cereal mascot reunion.

Last Halloween Jimmy Kimmel dressed as the Count while t
he rest of his on-camera staff dressed as other cereal icons. Together they looked like Chris Burney's arm. A couple of years earlier my friend Bean wore a Count Chocula costume to the KROQ Halloween party.

Before last Tuesday's Einstein Simplified show, Dave Snow and I thought of a new twist for the "Race for Coffee" game. Instead of sending someone across the street for coffee during a guessing game, we can send them to the Knoxville Pearl for a bowl of cereal and milk. I visited the place when it first opened and saw the images of the General Mills cereal monsters painted on the wall.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

ballroom brawl

Adam Carolla got some good news last night. He wasn't the first celebrity booted from the current season of "Dancing With the Stars." Although the judges gave him a low score, enough viewers voted to keep him on for another week. I suspect that more than a few of those votes came from fans of his dancing partner Julianne Hough, but it still counts.

I have some remorse about the way Adam and I first met. He was trying to get his foot in the door at KROQ while it was my job to try and keep the door shut. KROQ is constantly bombarded with people who want to get on the air. Every day the music director is asked to consider dozens of songs by both new and established artists. The Kevin & Bean show hears from people wanting airtime for their movie, TV show, book, restaurant or any type of event you can imagine. As one of the gatekeepers, I had to help keep the show from getting overrun.

Jimmy Kimmel
and I were both up for the morning show producer job at KROQ. I got the job and Jimmy was hired a couple of months later as our comedy writer. He developed an on-air character as Jimmy the Sports Guy and eventually got into a comedic dispute with another morning show regular. Michael the Maintenance Man and a KROQ van driver would go out to a different neighborhood each morning to give away prizes to listeners. Somehow Jimmy and Michael had a disagreement that they decided to settle with a boxing match. After it was announced, I got several messages from a guy named Ace offering to coach one of the fighters. Ace is Adam Carolla's nickname. I kept having to put him off until we could have a morning show meeting and figure out how we were going to proceed. Adam had experience as a boxer and as a carpenter and as a cast member at the Acme Comedy Theatre. Thanks to his talent and persistence, Adam became Jimmy's boxing coach. It was the beginning of their beautiful friendship.

The fight between Jimmy and Michael came to be known as the "Bleeda in Reseda." I booked some celebrity judges including Pat O'Brien and John Wayne Bobbitt. At the time, O'Brien refused to pose in a group photo with Bobbitt so as not to harm his reputation. Bobbitt shocked me by knowing who I was from my days at WAVA and from his days in Manassas before he became famous as a news story.

Boxing and Adam are back together again in his new movie, "The Hammer." it was recommended by both Not Siskel and Not Ebert on a recent edition of "At the Movies." I hope it plays at the Downtown West, otherwise I'll have to wait for the DVD.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

oodles of noodles

Unlike some viewers, I am not suffering from "TiVorexia" because of the writers strike. There are still plenty of shows for me to watch on my assorted DVRs. Here's my advice for those people with nothing to watch: lower your standards. I've started recording some movies on HBO, Cinemax and Starz now that they are broadcast in HD. I haven't watched them yet because I haven't run out of regular shows.

In addition to a backlog of shows like "Smallville" and "Reaper" recorded this fall, I can once again choose to watch every new "Jimmy Kimmel Live" show. The other night Jay Thomas was the guest. I will always be thankful to Jay for casting me as an extra on one episode of his sitcom, "Love & War." He started the segment by saying that he and Jimmy had never met before. It was a little surreal for me. I mean it's not everyday that you see co-workers from two different jobs having a conversation on national television about a third person you know. I worked with Jay at KPWR and with Jimmy at KROQ. Most of the segment centered on Jay's story about going "noodling" for catfish in Oklahoma with my friend Rodney Lee Conover. Rodney now works with Jay at Sirius and also worked at KPWR when I was there.

Jimmy got Jay to name all the cities where he had worked in radio. Knoxville was on the list. I either didn't know or had forgotten that Jay passed through here. I knew that Mark Thompson, a co-worker of mine from KLOS, had Knoxville on his résumé. I think Mark was on the air at WRJZ. Anybody know what station Jay Thomas was on? Sounds like a good question for Knoxville Radio History 101.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

heard him explain

When Frank Jr. was three years old, he couldn't go to sleep at night without listening to a cassette tape of Wilford "Diabeetis" Brimley reading "Twas the Night Before Christmas." It was a read-along tape, that came with a companion pop-up book and an audible signal to turn the page. Frank Jr. unintentionally memorized the story by hearing it every night for almost a year. Two years ago I wrote about how we brought young Frank to the KROQ studios and recorded his rendition of the story. Audio production people far more skilled than me did some editing and brought in a talented keyboard player nicknamed "Iceman" to provide background music.

I have played the old tape on the air here in Knoxville for the past couple of Christmases. About ten days ago, Marc Anthony suggested that we take the tape of three-year-old Frank and mix in his current voice. My son is now in high school and has a deeper voice than me. I didn't know if it would be possible without it sounding terrible since I don't have the master tapes or separate audio tracks from the recording session. The only version I have is the final mixdown with voice, reverb and music combined onto one track. I would need to find somebody who could replicate the music track, allowing us to cross fade between the old and the new. My friend Mike Greiner was willing to do it even though his schedule was filled with his day job in the Knoxville Symphony office, his performances as a singer with the Knoxville Choral Society and his excellent piano and organ playing at All Saints Church. I put my wife's Casio keyboard in the car and met Mike at the radio station during his lunch hour. As expected, he nailed it. The next day, Frank Jr. had enough of a break in his midterm exam schedule that he could lay down the voice track.

I still needed an audio production wizard to put all the pieces together and make it sound seamless. Fortunately Gene Wooten has chosen to make his home in East Tennessee after years of working at WPLJ in New York City. He pushed an outdated version of Pro Tools to its limit as he synchronized the music and voices. He added reverb and ended up with the finished product that you can hear by clicking on the play button below. Merry Christmas Eve!

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Monday, September 10, 2007

in the most sincere pumpkin patch

Fair season is underway. There was a story on "Live at Five" today about a guy bringing his giant pumpkin to the Tennessee State Fair in Nashville. Coincidentally, I caught part of a show on PBS about giant pumpkins today. The show was called "Lords of the Gourd: The Pursuit of Excellence." It was amazing to see a group of people so deeply involved in a world I had never thought about except maybe for the year that I saw some giant pumpkins on display at Disneyland around Halloween. The growers deeply mourned when one of their prizes pumpkins "went down," sometimes due to mice or woodchucks. The pumpkins that survived were cut from the vine and brought to the Cooperstown PumpkinFest.

Kevin & Bean and Ralph were similarly fascinated by a world they previously knew nothing about when they interviewed the makers of a new documentary called "The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters." I heard the interview on their August 17th podcast. I don't know if the movie about the world's greatest Donkey Kong players will make it to a local theater. If not, I'll keep an eye out for it on DVD or HBO or IFC, etc. The KROQ crew compared this true life documentary to the great mockumentaries by Christopher Guest, like "Best in Show." The same can be said for the giant pumpkin show.

To bring it back around to state fairs, I recently saw a news story about the World's Largest Self-Propelled Whole Hog Rotisserie at the Alaska State Fair. Mmm... BBQ...

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Comedian Frank Caliendo was a guest on the Kevin & Bean show on Friday. I downloaded several of their podcasts from last week and have been listening to them in my car. Caliendo's impressions always make me laugh. In the interview he talked about his upcoming TBS show. It features a sketch in which he plays all four of the main characters from "Seinfeld." He set the scene in the future to justify the added weight of the characters. The sketch is available online.

There's more funny stuff on the KROQ podcasts. I enjoyed the analysis of R. Kelly's "Trapped in the Closet" (especially chapter 13) and the interviews with some "Superbad" cast members.

Best of all was the segment with comedian Joe Rogan. He gave a great description of a National Geographic documentary on superlions that have learned to swim and hunt powerful water buffalo. Just when everything seemed fine, Joe goes crazy defending his suspicion that NASA faked the moon landings. He seemed to doubt that astronauts could have crossed the Van Allen radiation belt. Joe said it looked like the alleged moonwalkers were supported by wires to simulate lower gravity. So basically, he thinks it must be fake because it looked fake.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

world infamous

The listings for last night's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" promised a new show but ABC aired a rerun instead. Three years ago I took advantage of my friendship with Jimmy to get VIP tickets for a taping of his show. That episode got pulled over a joke about Detroit. I was worried that something similar happened last night but it was actually worse. Jimmy had to cancel the taping so he could have an emergency appendectomy. I sent an email wishing him well to which he replied that he's feeling good.

Another of my former KROQ co-workers now performs as lounge singer Richard Cheese. He sent an email today reminding me about his July 18th show in Atlanta. I wish I could go but it's on a weeknight. I hope I can persuade him to stop off in Knoxville for a visit while he's passing through the area. The last time I saw him was three years ago on the same night as the taping of Jimmy's show that I mentioned earlier.

Today's KROQ trifecta is completed by my friend Bean. The email he sent last night reached me first thing this morning. He wanted to get my reaction to a funny parody of "Hey There Delilah" that was deemed too dirty by the corporate lawyers. I wrote back and attempted to pinpoint the lyric that the lawyers might have found most objectionable. Kevin & Bean's show is so popular that they also have a listener who writes a daily blog about it. I read that they griped about the lawyers on the air this morning, which I was then able to hear via the audio archive that one of their listeners posts online. Later, it was a little weird to be skimming through TMZ.com and seeing an entry about the brouhaha.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

paley in comparison

One of my favorite places has a new name. The Museum of Television & Radio is now known as the Paley Center for Media. The museum and I go way back. I used to go there when I was in high school and the museum was still known as the Museum of Broadcasting. At some point they decided that the word "broadcasting" wasn't broad enough for the scope of their collection. They had started to include shows that were made for cable and hadn't been broadcast over the air.

When I worked at KROQ, I arranged for the morning show to broadcast from the museum in New York while we were there to cover the MTV Video Music Awards. When I worked at KLOS, I arranged for the morning show to broadcast from the museum in Beverly Hills so that we could put on old time radio plays in their John H. Mitchell Theater.

I once sent an email to "The View" to complain about the way Barbara Walters always referred to the museum. I think she called it the Museum of Television & Broadcasting. My complaint was that she omitted radio. Now she can just call it the Pawey Centaw.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

jedi mind trick

Air Supply had their sixth and seventh consecutive top five singles on the music charts in 1982. It was only fitting for them to perform at the 25th anniversary celebration of the Children's Miracle Network last night at the Coronado Springs convention center at Walt Disney World. Seeing them in concert reminded me of my Air Supply story.

About once a quarter, Kevin & Bean host a singles party for their listeners. Tickets are given away during their morning show, making sure that there will be an equal number of men and women at the party. During the time I worked on the show in the mid '90s, we had singles parties with various themes including an Oktoberfest, a beach party and a losers singles party on Valentine's night. For the losers party, we found a VFW hall and served macaroni and cheese. David Millman, then a publicist from one of the record companies, suggested we try to get Air Supply to perform. They were on his label. All I had to do was sell Russell Hitchcock and Graham Russell on the idea.

I drove to a recording studio in Glendale for my big meeting with Air Supply. I explained that even though KROQ was known for groundbreaking alternative music, many morning show listeners would have listened to their songs when they were kids. Because it was a "losers party" I suggested that Air Supply could be in on the joke rather than the butt of it. Russell and Graham could call in to the show and offer to play at the losers party. They could even record a little blurb for a promo that would run for a couple of weeks while we gave away tickets. Either Air Supply has a good sense of humor about themselves or I did a pretty good sales job because they agreed to perform an acoustic set at the party. Their call-in to the show went well and the promo turned out fine. They must have started listening to KROQ during the next two weeks because I started getting phone messages from their people. Instead of an acoustic guitar, could Graham bring his electric guitar? Sure. A couple of days later they asked if they could bring a keyboardist. No problem. How about a drummer? Before long I had agreed to a full backline. It was worth it. Air Supply rocked the house that night.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

like Duncan Hines

Moist. Does that word affect you? For years "moist" has been part of a running bit on the Kevin & Bean show on KROQ. As I remember it, a female listener once called in to say that she couldn't stand hearing the word. Ever since then, other listeners have gone out of their way to say "moist," especially in voice mail messages played on the air. Try it yourself by calling (323) 520-2376 and leaving a moist-filled message. By the way, you can now download Kevin & Bean audio clips for your cell phone.

Last night on "How I Met Your Mother," the writers decided to have Lily hate the word "moist." I wonder where they got that idea.

For a few minutes I mistakenly thought that "The Class" was a rerun last night. Then I realized that I had watched part of the run-through for that episode on the CBS website last month. It's still available online if you are interested in behind-the-scenes stuff. They've been getting rid of excess cast members on that show lately and now a prop seems to be missing too. I didn't see Yonk's University of Tennessee football helmet in the display case.

As expected, "Heroes" was great last night.
Did you laugh at the "Lost" reference during Nathan's conversation with Simone? "24" and "Prison Break" were very good too, although I didn't watch "24" until this afternoon. I read an article that describes how "American Idol" has pushed all the good shows onto Monday and Thursday nights, which I've griped about before.

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