Thursday, January 31, 2008

Morning Radio Shows

Any radio station worth its FCC license puts its greatest effort in talent and production into its morning show, because that's when most people listen. At least that's the way it's been since the TV captured living rooms in the evening.

One of the first morning shows I got into was that of legendary Baltimore DJ Johnny Walker, regarded as one of the original "shock jocks." I'm not sure whether he was really a shock jock or not, but I loved listening to his Little News of the Morning where he'd make one-liners about the news of the day, followed by "audience reaction" through all sorts of sound effects and drops ("Wow, it sure doesn't taste like tomato juice!"). In fact, I think I enjoyed those more than the jokes themselves. That's when my taste was whetted for the Theater of the Mind.

In high school and college, I became a fan of Allan Courduff of 98 Rock. He had all sorts of characters that he played, including refuted scientist Dr. Robert Flatula, the oldest living rocker Hyman "Be-Bop-A-Lu-La" Lipschitz, the "mama" of fellow jock John Panzarella, and Bawlamer-based stoner Glen Burnout, to name but a few. I also enjoyed segments like "Where's Your ID?" where callers had to identify a song from a few seconds of it played backwards, and the "Dreaded Morning Oldie" where a sappy 60s or 70s song (Clint Holmes' "Playground In My Mind," Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Alone Again . . . Naturally," or Bobby Goldsboro's "Honey", for three) would be played until a listener identified the song and the "perpetrator." Then a record-skidding noise would stop the song. There was also a series called The Adventures of the Preppington Family," featuring a kid who, for story purposes, went to my high school. BTW, I didn't join the 98 Rock Air Force listener club, but I know lots of folks who did.

Also in college, friends of mine got me into the Greaseman (Doug Tracht). Yep, he was crude, but he could be hilarious, and he too had a whole bevy of bits: Sergeant Fury, the Lawman, stories of his ex Estelle and his DADDY!, West Virginia, etc. He also played his own newsman Rod Allen Fritz, traffic reporter Dick DeLuca the Big Palooka, and sportscaster "What The Hell" Biff Cantrell. Sadly, his schtick hasn't changed a bit in the last 20+ years, and I've long since outgrown him.

Nowadays, I listen to Steve Czaban's morning show on Fox Sports Radio and enjoy his numerous Simpsons drops ("I have NO idea who that is", "I've already forgotten his name", and Krusty the Clown's grimace), his "Daily Czabe" wrapup of all the news that matters to him, and his rotating bits such as "Upon Further Review," "I'm So Done With . . . ," "Mancrush," "This Might Be A Dumb Question," and "Lock It Up."

You see, it's what happens between the songs or the news reports that makes a worthwhile morning show.


Dymphna (4HisChurch) said...

I always wondered what The Grease Man's real name was.

Alan Courduff said...

I enjoyed finding your write up on my 98 Rock days. (Yeah, I Google myself now and then.) When my kids (now 17, 15, and 6 years old) occasionally listen to the old aircheck tapes of the shows, they seem to have difficulty with believing that that could be their now farty old dad doing that stuff. - Alan Courduff, reachable if you care to at

Cygnus said...

Thanks for dropping by, Allan, and thanks for the memories! I reckon doing an ego search on your name is a bit easier than mine would be . . . assuming those referring to you spelled your name correctly!