Just Above Sunset
July 17, 2005 - A Face in the Crowd

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World's Laziest Journalist

July 17, 2005

By Bob Patterson


In an attempt to be "hep" and be informed about what music has been released since the Sixties ended, the local college station KXLU is often the radio station of choice when the latest installment of this weekly feature of Just Above Sunset online magazine is being written.  We were thinking of doing a column about the new relief disk jockey, Peter Choyce and were trying to get a handle on what to say, so we got on the list for his e-mail newsletter (by contacting him at peterchoyce@yahoo.com).  When one arrived on Sunday July 10, telling his posse that he would be on the air the next day, we also noticed that he was rather harsh in a humorous assessment of Hunter S. Thompson. 


We hadn't planned on returning to Thompson as a topic this soon because we knew we'd probably be writing about him again when the memorial service is held in August. 


We marshaled our facts and got ready to overwhelm the DJ with anecdotal evidence about how fun loving and adventurous Thompson was, and how lyrical his prose was.  When we spoke with Choyce, he unleashed the one irrefutable argument: he had tried several times to read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and couldn't get past Chapter One.  There is some old wisdom that says: de gustibus non est disputandum, which means taste is not debatable.  Curses!  Foiled again!


Choyce has worked recently as background in various films and so we thought of the title of the 1957 film A Face in the Crowd, directed by Elia Kazan.  [A WLJ column about being an extra should appear when the film Dirty is released sometime later this year.]  Our recollection was that the Kazan film was a roman à clef based on the radio career of Arthur Godfrey.  Doing some fact checking online about that movie, we found several instances where Godfrey's career was a common interpretation of the 1957 movie.  That triggered some memories of Godfrey and the highlights of his career. 


Godfrey was famous for finding many talented unknowns who went on to fame, such as Patsy Cline and the McGuire Sisters.  Godfrey fired one of his protégées, Julius La Rosa, on the air long before Donald Trump filmed the first episode of The Apprentice.


One of Choyce's top influences was a DJ named Steve Clean/Steve Segal and another known as Saxophone Joe.  We had to do some Googling.


In fact finding radio personalities, we found out that one web site mentioned the fact that Wolfman Jack's tapes might be rebroadcast by a San Diego stationwhich makes sense because many of today's radio stations feature taped material, so why does the person providing the voice have to be alive to make for fun listening?  Maybe the Wolfman will live up to his name?


How did folks back in the Sixties learn about the Wolfman?  In the AM era, folks living at Lake Tahoe could only get two local signals during the daytime and at nigh they might pick up some powerful signals from out of the basin.  KFI from Los Angeles usually came in loud and clear on Sunday nights.  Fishing around for any signal was just natural, and so Tahoe residents were going to find the Wolfman broadcasting from Mexico eventually.


That, in turn, made us recall the recent news reports that New York's Cousin Brucie will be switching over to satellite radio this summer.


This columnist grew up in Scranton Pennsylvania, which was also called WARMland, because the local rock'n'roll station in the late fifties and early sixties had the WARM call letters.  Now it is a talk radio station.  Apparently that isn't the only station in the US that has moved away from a rock music format.


With the right weather conditions, youngsters in Scranton could pick up WABC and/or another one, WMCA, with a weaker signal coming out of New York City (do you still have your Good Guys T-shirt?), WIBG in Philly, and WKBW in Buffalo (where the disk jockeys Joey Reynolds and Danny Neaverth had a regional hit song titled Rats in my Room.)


With all the news coming out of London, why doesn't CBS TV news cash in on their benchmark for quality journalism and use some newsreel footage and sound bytes of Edward R. Murrow doing his coverage of the blitz to introduce their nightly updates on the investigation into the recent events there?


One broadcaster who was working for NBC radio in 1935, George Putnam, is still working behind the microphone and can be heard online doing his show Talk Back each weekday.  


Now with the Internet, hearing a distant radio station isn't as difficult as it used to be and you can quickly switch from Triple J in Australia

to Skyrock in Paris and then proceed on to WFMU in New York.


Are the Sixties really over?  Hippies can still listen to Radio Caroline via the Internet.


While fact finding for this week's column we tried to find the top Internet stations and radio personalities, we found one that ranks the stations by genre.


We fished around and found ones that offered: a collection of airchecks - more information about Arthur Godfrey - more links - the top ten Internet radio stations in Great Britain - the BBC (Isn't the BBC the granddaddy of them all?) - Radio and Records magazine, which has news and "shop talk" for the radio community - a "round up the usual suspects" collection of links - a smorgasbord of links for radio from around the world on the Internet - radio news and a massive amount of links - headlines for and about Disk Jockeys - and one site that has links and daily news about online radio.


The legend was that Arthur Godfrey used to say "Quit sufferin' take Bufferin" so often that they became one of his sponsors.


Now, if our WLJ disk jockey can find it in the vault, he'll play Arthur Godfrey's politically incorrect hit song Slap 'er Down Again, Pa, and we'll fade out like the signal from a distant radio station.  Tune in again next week.  Have a clear channel week.



Copyright © 2005 – Robert Patterson

Email the author at worldslaziestjournalist@yahoo.com





Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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