Friday, July 3, 2015

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY! I LIKE TO LIVE IN AMERICA!

HHHHEEEEEYYYYYY YYYOOOOOOOUUUUUU GGGGUUUUUYYYYSSSS!!!!! HAVE A HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!!! The Fourth of July pinup above is Rita Moreno of The Electric Company and West Side Story. One of the songs she sang in West Side Story was "America." It was covered by the British prog rock band The Nice in the late 60s, as an instrumental. The keyboardist with that group was Keith Emerson. Here is video of him preforming it with Paul Schaffer on The Late Show with David Letterman in 1986.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

R. I. P FIRESIGN THEATER's PHIL AUSTIN


Among the many characters Phil Austin performed on the Firesign Theater LPs, most people will always think of him as old time radio gumshoe Nick Danger. Here is the complete "The Further Adventures of Nick Danger, Third Eye" from their second LP.


 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

R. I. P ALAN ALMOND - MYSTERIOUS HOST OF RADIO'S PILLOW TALK

For a brief time, Pillow Talk with Alan Almond aired in Springfield, Missouri, on a radio station where I worked. At the time, I was lead to believe, by some, that worked with me, at the radio station, that I was the only person in the world that liked this show. However, if you was to do a search on the Internet on Alan Almond, you would find he was a legend in Detroit radio. Of course, I would always get the old saw about how "Ozarkers don't like it," so, of course, it has to be banned from the air waves.

Alan Almond died this week at age 67. You notice that there is no photo of Alan Almond at the top of this post. That is because there isn't a known photo of Alan Almond. The radio station he worked for, WNIC in Detroit, and the syndication company that produced Pillow Talk, never sent a photo of Alan. Just a silhouette, similar to those used on Facebook, when someone doesn't upload a profile photo.

Almond originated the "love song" show in the late 70s on WNIC in Detroit. He talked about it in an article on the Jacobs Media blog earlier this year. Many major and small markets heard about the show's success and created their own version. However, in the late 90s, a major radio syndication company began distributing a "love songs" show from Seattle, hosted by an annoying, sappy, preachy woman with the same name as a hair-cutting, Biblical siren. This woman took calls from people with elaborate sob stories and she played sappy, sentimental songs for them, while telling listeners not to drink soda or not to let your kids play with video games.

I bring this show up (without giving the name) because, when I first went to work for that radio station in Springfield, Missouri, they were the affiliate for the radio show hosted by the woman with the same name as the hair-cutting, Biblical siren. The syndication company was bought out by a large radio corporation (their initials were C-C), they immediately decided that since they owned a radio station in Springfield, their radio station should air that show. They fired a woman, who hosted a local "love songs" show and took the show, hosted by the woman with the same name as a hair-cutting, Biblical siren, away from the radio station where I worked. Personally, I didn't cry over not having to hear the woman with the same name as the hair-cutting, Biblical siren. We replaced her with Pillow Talk with Alan Almond.

Supposedly, everyone in Springfield hated Alan Almond. I don't believe that, because I spoke to some people, who preferred Alan Almond to that woman who has the same name as the hair-cutting, Biblical siren. One thing I should point out is that men said they liked Alan Almond better than the woman with the same name as the hair-cutting, Biblical siren. I noticed the co-workers that hated the show were older people. Go figure. Of course, Ozarkers like preachy stuff.

This is why I was surprised that several of my co-workers alerted me to the death of Alan Almond earlier this week. Then again, these were real on-air radio people. They understood what made Alan Almond great. He created a magic world that he transported you to where wishes came true and love was the most important thing one could possess. He always talked about embracing your inner child, which maybe why Ozarkers hated him (Ozarkers hate kids). Also, Alan Almond didn't played what was know in radio at the time as "quiet storm music" or light R & B, another no-no in the Ozarks.

How better to pay tribute one of radio's greatest voices than with two of his most famous "bits." The "Make a Wish" segment and his closing with "Summer Madness" by Kool & the Gang playing in the background. On the syndicated show, he would use a line borrowed from Red Skelton, "If you remember something I said and it makes you smile, then our time together was well spent. Sweet dreams angel."


Sunday, June 14, 2015

WHEN LOCAL TV STATIONS PREEMPTED NETWORK SHOWS FOR SYNDICATED SHOWS

CLICK TO ENLARGE

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The great thing about the retro blogs are that another blogger's post can be a springboard for another post. Pam at Go Retro! mentioned that the early interactive, (and cheesy) 50s TV show, The Continental, was in first run syndication after its failed run on CBS. Also Gilligan, over at Retrospace, has posted some scanned TV Guides from the 70s. These post got me to thinking about a problem that seems to be nonexistent in today's TV world.

Younger people believe that in the good old days, everyone watched the same TV shows, because there were not as many choices. They have heard that there were only four major networks (CBS, NBC, ABC & PBS) and only a smattering of cable channels. Their parents and grandparents all had to see the same TV shows. Right? Nope!

First off, not every area had access to television.  Until the 80s, there were some areas that were served by dual affiliates or multi affilates. If there was one TV station in small market that was not served by another community with a TV station, that TV station might run The Today Show (NBC), followed by Sesame Street (PBS), followed by The Price Is Right (CBS), followed by General Hospital (ABC), etc. etc. Here in Springfield, Missouri, until the late 60s, there were only two TV stations. One was NBC and the other was CBS. They shared ABC's programming, until an ABC affiliate came along in the late 60s.

The other problem was local TV stations, especially in the early days of TV, would preempt the network shows for a first run syndicated program. Up until the mid 70s, a network show might still get plastered over by another program. Why? There were two reasons. According to a August 29, 1959 issue of TV Guide (posted above), it was the old standby excuse in broadcasting of money. Networks didn't offer very network avails for local ads, but at that time syndicated shows were all local avail slots just waiting for local sponsors to fill. I've seen large ads in old editions of the Springfield Daily News and Springfield Leader & Press advertising the syndicated series, State Trooper, on a local TV station with a local sponsor mentioned.

The second, can be explained in a modern analogy. These were the "hip cable shows" of their day. There was no network censors to dictate what could be shown. They also gathered buzz among the media and viewers alike to become more popular than the network fare they were replacing. This was in the early days of TV when the networks were scrambling for anything to fill the schedule (ABC was showing military training films weekly during the early 50s). You could say that Highway Patrol, Sea Hunt, COronado 9, Shotgun Slade, Science Fiction Theater, Case of the Curious Robin and The Liberace Show, were the Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead and Keeping Up With the Kardashians of their day.

There were some companies that specialized in syndication such a ZIV, the company behind Highway Patrol, Sea Hunt, and several others. ITC was a British company that sold British shows to American TV. Many of the early ITC programs were based on popular literary characters, such as Robin Hood, William Tell, Sir Lancelot, and The Invisible Man. One ITC program, The Saint starring Roger Moore, was so successful in syndication that NBC picked it up later in its run. One of ITC's biggest hits would be The Muppet Show in the 70s. The Adventures of Superman (produced by a company called Motion Pictures for Television) was picked up for Saturday mornings by ABC. In the 80s, NBC picked up SCTV for late night (locally it was preempted for Saturday Night Live reruns).

Desilu also syndicated some shows such as Sheriff of Cochise and The Whirlybirds. Universal TV was behind Shotgun Slade, the only Western to feature a jazz score.

The networks themselves got involved and almost cut their own throats in doing so. In 1954, NBC began syndicating reruns of Dragnet under the name Badge 714, while Dragnet was still on the air. In Springfield, it aired on BOTH TV stations. Later, CBS did the same with Gunsmoke and The Andy Griffith Show. They were changed into Marshal Dillon and Andy of Mayberry. The FCC put a stop to the networks syndicating their own shows in the early 70s.

By the 70s, only ITC was producing first run shows exclusively for syndication. What ultimately lead to the end of TV stations preempting network programs was the rise of independent TV stations and cable stations, which could show these syndicated programs. Also  TV stations broadcast 24 hours, so they had room to stick programs anywhere they wanted.

These days if you want to see a TV program, you can get it. You are not at the mercy of your local TV station.


Saturday, June 6, 2015

Sunday, May 31, 2015

YACHT ROCK IPOD PLAYLIST


I'm hooked on yacht rock. I think many people my age have been bit by this bug, because this is the music we heard during our formative years. We heard it on the radio, had an older sibling who liked it or maybe our parents were hip enough to like it. The name came about thanks to a online, behind-the-scenes soap opera parody that created a fanciful back story for the music of the late 70s and early 80s.

After that, articles on other blogs and websites have been delving into what music fits the sub-genre. There has even been some compilations released of really obscure artist that fit this category. Some have suggested that it is only artist from southern California, other say there has to be a jazz feel or a country-folk influence. Some maintain that it can only be produced from 1977 to 1982. Purist say it has to be about sailing or water. There is also the people who insist it has to be "cheesy." The debate could go on forever.

Naturally, I'll give you what is on my Ipod playlist.

"Sailing" - Christopher Cross
"Sail On" - The Commodores
"Dark Star" - Crosby, Stills & Nash
"Fins" - Jimmy Buffett
"This Is It" - Kenny Loggins
"Key Largo" - Bernie Higgins
"Lady" - Little River Band
"Love Is the Answer" England Dan & John Ford Coley
"Don't Leave Me Alone Tonight" - Network
"If You Leave Me Now" - Chicago
"A Little More Love" - Oliva Newton-John
"Winning" - Santana
"Arroyo" - The Ozark Mountain Daredevils
"Lights" - Journey
"It Doesn't Matter" - Firefall
"Sexy Eyes" - Dr. Hook
"One of These Nights" - The Eagles
"Miss Sun" - Boz Scaggs
"Over and Done With"- White Horse
"Turning to You" - Charlie
"Living a Fantasy" - Leo Sayer
"Dreadlock Holiday" - 10CC
"You Can Do Magic" - America
"Shut the Door" - Don Brown
"Hey Nineteen" - Steely Dan
"I Can Dream About You" - Dan Hartman
"Get It Up For Love" - Ned Doheny
"Walking In Rythm" - The Blackbyrds
"Don't Do Me Like That" - Tom Petty
"Goodbye Stranger" - Supertramp
"Paralyzed" - Dave Mason
"I Don't Know Why" - Pousette-Dart Band
"You're No Good" - Linda Rondstat
"I Saw the Light" - Todd Rundgren
"Don't You Know" - Jan Hammer Group
"Island Girl" - Elton John
"Do You Want To Make Love" - Peter McCann
"Fantasy" - Earth, Wind & Fire
"Burning For You" - Blue Oyster Cult
"Georgy Porgy" - Toto
"Rhiannon" - Fleetwood Mac
"Heart Like a Wheel" - Steve Miller Band
"Carry on Thy Wayward Son" - Kansas
"Summertime Madness" - Kool & the Gang
"Hot Rod Hearts" - Robbie Dupree
"Love Is the Drug" - Roxy Music
"Love Takes Time" - Orleans
"Do You Feel It?" - Alessi Brothers
"So In To You" - Atlanta Rythm Section
"Harden My Heart" - Quarterflash
"Shake It" - Ian Mathews
"Baker Street" - Gerry Raferty
"Sometimes a Fantasy" - Billy Joel
"Wham Bam Shang-a-Lang" - Silver
"Rio" - Mike Nesmith
"Lonely Boy" - Andrew Gold
"Romeo's Tune" - Steve Forbet
"Do You Feel Like I Do" - Peter Frampton
"She's Gone" - Hall & Oates
"Holding On To Yesterday" - Ambrosia
"Year of the Cat" - Al Stewart
"Run Home Girl" - Sad Cafe
"Into the Night" - Benny Mardones
"Breezin" - George Benson
"Fool In Love With You" -Photoglo
"Runaway" - Jefferson Starship
"Cool Night" - Paul Davis
"Sultans of Swing" - Dire Staits
"Smoke From a Distant Fire" - Sanford/Townsend Band
"Driver's Seat" - Sniff N the Tears
"Whatch Gonna Do" - Pablo Cruise
"Thunder Island" - Jay Fergosen
"Part of the Plan" - Dan Fogleberg
"Come Sail Away" - Styx
"If I Saw You Again" - Pages
"Couldn't Get It Right" - Climax Blues Band
"What a Fool Believes" - The Doobie Brothers

Thursday, May 21, 2015

PHONE YOUR NEIGHBORS AND WAKE THE KIDS: HOW DAVID LETTERMAN INFLUENCED ME


It has been a curse through out my life that the things I like are the things that are frowned upon by Ozarkers. I prefer heavy metal, punk,  urban and psychedelic rock over country music. I'm more interested in horror movies and comic books than hunting or sports (except golf). I also like comedy, whereas Ozarkers have absolutely no sense of humor. One of my favorite comedians has always been David Letterman and, according to several opinion polls taken by our local media outlets, Ozarkers hate David Letterman. My thought has always been, "Tough luck, you dumb rednecks!"

My first recollection of seeing David Letterman on TV was when he substituted for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. I remember he came out and said, "I was watching the monitor backstage and there was a commercial on for Preparation H. At the end of the commercial, the announcer said "Use only as directed." Like you would spread it on crackers."

One of the reasons why I liked David Letterman was he didn't take things too seriously. On his NBC shows, he wore a jacket, dress shirt and tie like other TV show host, except he wore blue jeans and sneakers with it. If a bit went wrong or a prop didn't work he would say, "Screw it!" and move on to something else. Even funnier was when a prop didn't get a laugh, he would throw it in a corner and break it. Dave was always quick to let you in on the fact that, especially in the early days, the segments were probably not going to be great television. In introducing those segments he would say, "Phone the neighbors and wake the kids! It is time for Stupid Pet Tricks!" and then midway through, he would look into the camera and say, "We are having more fun now than humans should be allowed."

Dave did strange things like drop light bulbs and bags of jello off of a building or let the audience give nicknames to former presidents like "Old Beanie Weenies" and "Old Scratch N Sniff." The first show gave aging monster kids a thrill with Larry Bud Mellman/Calvert DeForrest giving a introductory warning like Edward Van Sloan at the beginning of Frankenstein on the first show and ending the first show with a guy reciting dialog from a Bela Lugosi movie called Bowery After Midnight. He interrupted a live Today Show broadcast by yelling out a widow with a bullhorn that he was a major NBC executive and he wasn't wearing pants.
  
Like Ernie Kovacs before him, David Letterman knew that the medium of television itself could be part of the joke. In the early days of his show, NBC ran reruns of the show on Monday night (just like they did with The Tonight Show). At the time, I was a media major at Missouri State University (then it was Southwest Missouri State University) and most of my media classmates would watch these reruns because you never knew what was going to happen. One week they would be dubbed into French or Spanish or re-dubbed in a phony voice over like a Giallo film or Japanese monster movie. Once the voices were sped up. During one show Dave kept popping in and making comments like, "Don't worry folks, Bob Hope (the guest) will eventually talk about someone who is still living."

He used transitional wipes as windshield wipers to "wipe away the snow." Flashback sequences were introduced, as on many shows, with a wavy screen effect and Dave saying, "It is coming back to me like a flashback sequence we filmed yesterday." Of course, we can never forget The Late Night Monkey Cam, which was a camera mounted on the back of a roller skating chimpanzee. One of the trademarks of his show was the breaking glass sound effect as he threw a pencil or an index card through the window.

I was hoping to get to do some of the same kind of things David Letterman did, but unfortunately, as I stated above, I live in the most humorless state in the union. However, Letterman's influence is in this blog with every post. Something that, as a nation, we should be thankful for.


That is why I'm closing this post with a cover of an LP by a Scottish guy, who looks like David Letterman. Dave would want it that way.

 




 
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