Tag Archives: radio

Ghosts Of Legends Past ©

Last Thursday, I found myself sitting in my office putting the finishing touches on this month’s column. Every “I” had been dotted, every “t” had been crossed. A problem made this column difficult to write. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to write about, it’s that, with Halloween around the corner, I couldn’t stop thinking about the peculiar conversation I had with Barkley Michaels, WZBZ’s Mega-Radio’s disc jockey.
I had been away from my desk for almost two weeks. I had been in La Mancha at the Cineplex for a week helping finalize the plans for the upcoming Fall Film Festival. Immediately after that I grabbed Emmaline and we headed off to Tahiti to attend the Marlon Brando Film Festival. I went every year, especially after Letongaloosa County Community Junior College, where I teach, acquired a research grant to study the topography of the island where Brando once lived.
I also began writing the weekly movie review for the Letongaloosa Register-Journal-Challenger-Sun Chronicle after Dexter Dolby, winner of the Fall Film Festival, went out to Hollywood. The Marlon Brando Film Festival in Tahiti was always a reader favorite.
I know what you’re thinking–how many reviews can a person read (or write) about an iconic movie legend, especially since the body of work hasn’t changed in decades?
But you would be surprised. Marlon Brando films are just an element of the festivities. There is food, there is fun, and there is just an overall celebration of life in Tahiti. And that brings me back to a vexing problem and to a conversation I had with Barkley.
“I don’t understand how my listeners can be so fascinated about the fact that the station is haunted. It’s the same year after year. The former station owner Reginald Wicker watches over the station. I get tired of hearing the same old stories, along with the corny “running refrigerator” jokes that listeners like to tell, Barkley said.
The legend is that since Reginald dropped dead in the control booth, there have been strange manifestations. Control room lights grow brighter then dimmer, then go out altogether. Announcers’ throats suddenly tighten up and they sounded like Minnie Mouse for a few seconds. Then their voices would go back to normal. It was pretty non-scary haunting. It was not threatening or scary, but something new had occurred, and while still not frightening, was definitely peculiar.
While reading promotions for the Fall Film Festival, trick-or-treating schedules, and other Halloween activities occurring around town, Barkley said, everything seemed normal. Then he read the announcement about my upcoming piece showcasing my time at the Marlon Brando Film Festival. Then the haunting activity picks up.
“It’s weird–every time I play the sound bite that Isabella sent over from the newspaper office, the lights in the studio flash on the back wall like you’d see at a movie premiere”, Barkley looked perplexed.
Isabella Frost, the Letongaloosa Register-Journal-Challenger-Sun Chronicle’s managing editor had the college interns put together sound bites that used lines from well-known Brando films to showcase my review. She thought it would be a good way to get people in Letongaloosa excited about the upcoming fall film festival.
“Hmm, well, Reginald was a huge Brando film buff. I guess he still is…,” I said.
If you think about it, Halloween is more than snack-sized candy bars, haunted radio stations and toilet paper tossed into the trees in front yards. It’s about the legacy and memories that those before us have left behind—whether it is an iconic movie legend or a ghostly station manager watching over things.
“It’s not so bad, you know. And neither are the corny appliance jokes,” I said.
You may roll your eyes, but you could also embrace what’s happening and realize that the people of Letongaloosa remember the past.”
With those thoughts in mind and Barkley’s problem solved, I went home to finish my column. Barkley headed home, too. He put on his favorite Tahitian shirt, popped a large bowl of popcorn, and turned on a Marlon Brando movie. Then he sat back on his couch, and smiled.
Maybe Barkley couldn’t tell the stories of his old pal, Reginald Wicker, but I can wish everybody a Happy Halloween!
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The Haunted Disc Jockey ©

As Halloween approaches, Barkley Michaels muses about episodes in his long career as a disc jockey at Letongaloosa’s own radio station: WZBZ Mega-Radio.  One episode stands out. Barkley calls it “The Control Room Ghost Story.”
Halloween night was a tough shift for a disc jockey. There were always lots of crank calls.
Ring.
“K-R-U-D Radio. What’s your request?
“Does Letongaloosa Boulevard run past your station?”
“Yes it does.”
“Then you’d better run out and catch it.  Ha,ha,ha,ha.” Click.
Barkley wasn’t even supposed to be on duty.  His friend Garrison Storm, the station meteorologist had asked Barkley to fill in for a sick employee.
On top of all that it was Halloween and there was the ghost legend.
According to lore handed down over the decades, Mega-Radio was haunted by the ghost of the former station owner Reginald Wicker.  Mr. Wicker had died of apoplexy in the control booth as he bawled out a new announcer. The announcer had mispronounced the name of the person who bought more commercial time on the radio than any other sponsor. His name was Kuless Klemelborg. The young announcer had pronounced the first name “Kluless”  instead of “Kuless.”
Wicker went ballistic, and in the middle of his tirade, Wicker dropped dead right there in the control booth.
After Wicker’s death there were strange manifestations.  Control room lights would grow brighter then dimmer, then go out.  Announcers’ throats suddenly tightened up and they sounded like Minnie Mouse for a few seconds. Then their voices would go back to normal. It was pretty easy-going haunting.  It was not threatening or scary.
But  then there was the curse. Wicker’s ghost was condemned to haunt the station until some future announcer pronounced the name Kuless Klemelborg correctly.  The incident happened years ago.  Kuless Klemelborg has long since joined Reginald Wicker in the great broadcast network in the sky.
The odds of removing the curse became slim to none.
So there was Barkley on the air at KRUD-radio on Halloween night.
“Ring.”
“K-R-U-D Radio, what’s your request?”
“Can you play a Golden Oldie for me?
“Sure thing, if we have it.  What do you want me to play and who is the song going out to?”
“Please play “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” for my Great Grandpa, Chellsie Clinghampton,” said the caller.
But just as the caller began to give the name of the person to whom his request was going, a loud crackling noise came into Barkley’s headphones.
“Sorry, I didn’t get that name.  Stay on the line while we go to  a commercial.” Barkley told the caller.
At that very instant a ghostly voice came into Barkley’s earphones.
It whispered: “The song is for Kuless Kemelborg.”
`        “Did you say Caroline Clemantis?” asked Barkley
`        “Kuless Kemelborg,” said the ghostly voice emphatically.
“Okay, I’ve got it now.  This song’s for Chelsey Clarington, right?” said Barkley.
“No. No! The name is Kuless Kemelborg.”
“That’s Chester Clemmelthorne?”
At this point  the station was coming back from the commercial. Barkley  pressed a button to cut the caller off, but the call light didn’t go out. The caller was still on the line.
“Play ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand,’ for Kuless Kemelborg,” said the caller. Play it NOW.”
Barkley improvised. “Okay listeners. We have a special request for “It’s Now or Never,” for Claireese Caltenborn.”
There was a loud crackling noise, then static.  The dials on the  control board in front of Barkley started to jump around.
Barkley panicked.
“Here we go folks “this number’s for Cleatus Carrlingberg, Carlene Clampton, Krystal Klomberg, Charlie Chinghammer,” Barkley’s  voice lost its suave announcer quality. He sounded tinny and desperate. “Kleatis Klogsider, Karlos Kimmell, Klarice Kleenbopter, Kelly Kemmelwitz,  Klaghorn Kipplemeyer, Konstance Kimberly.
Barkley paused, terrified. A quiet, ghostly voice came into Barkley’s  headphones:
It said, “The name is “Kuless Kemelborg.”
“This one’s for Kuless Kemelborg,” screamed Barkley.
A loud pop sounded in the booth, a puff of smoke rose from the control board, and,  with a shriek of joy, the ghost of  Reginald Wicker, K-R-U-D Radio’s resident ghost, disappeared forever. Happy Halloween.

-30-

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Fortune Cookie Sayings From A Loopy Ol’ Geezer ©

We ate Chinese take-out the other night.  The fortune cookie said: “The path is getting easier from here on out.”

Well, thank heaven that the path is getting easier.   I was so relieved and  encouraged when I read that.

Then I imagined some individual in New Jersey, or Arkansas or Las Vegas or some place.  He or she, I thought, was sitting at a rickety wooden writing table making up Chinese fortune cookie sayings. The person gets paid 20 cents a dozen for them.

So here are some Chinese fortune cookie sayings from a loopy geezer who lives in the Upper Midwest of the United States of America (a place where a century or so ago experts told people they should  inhabit).

+  If  you’re watching the 10 O’clock news on a Kansas City TV station and in the middle of the show, the weatherman looks at radar screen and says,  “Well folks, my shift just ended. Good Night,” and the screen goes blank…

You should probably take cover.

+ If, here in the Upper Midwest, there’s a cobalt blue sky and not a cloud anywhere, it’s probably safe to drive to the grocery store (within half a mile of your place) and buy bread without taking your umbrella and rubber boots.  You’ve  probably got at least 15 minutes.

+ If the big brown UPS truck drives by your house, you’ve got a least a half hour before any unannounced tornado hits. The UPS drivers are in touch with their dispatcher by radio.

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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“Jump Shot Jim” Says Goodbye

Jim Higgins reminisces as he looks down from the press box high above the court.  He is preparing to broadcast the last play-by-play of his long career as the voice of the Letongaloosa Community Junior College basketball team.  Fittingly, the Leopards are playing the La Mancha Mongrels.
In a game decades ago against the Mongrels, Jim earned the title “Jump Shot Jim.”  In that contest, Jim had launched a desperation shot from midcourt just as the buzzer sounded. The ball swished into the net, breaking a 41-41 tie and giving the Letongaloosa Leopards the game and the conference title.
Higgins has been known as “Jump Shot Jim,” ever since.  His transition from player to broadcaster was seamless.  He received a degree in Duplicative Communicology from LCJC, and landed a job at radio station LCNU- FM.  One night the station manager said:
“Zip down to the gym.  You’re going to do the play-by-play of the Leopard’s game.  Richard Handley’s voice cracked as he was doing the pregame show.  He sounds like Donald Duck.”
Jim zipped down to the gym, clattered up to the press box, and slid behind the microphone just as the announcer began introducing the players.  Jim scanned the names of the players on the other team.  The broadcast went well and Jim became the new voice of the Leopards.
Jim did play-by-play as the team competed for conference titles and in postseason championship games.
One of Jim’s favorite trips was to the Florida Keys. He did play-by-play as the Leopards competed in the Banyan Basketball Invitational.  He loved southern Florida. Now, standing in the Leopards’ press box preparing to broadcast his final game, Jim watches the team warm up and studies the Mongrel’s roster.
It turned out to be a great game.  The lead went back and forth and was tied at the end of regulation play.  In overtime the Leopards came out looking tired and the Mongrels dumped in six unanswered points.  The Leopard’s coach called time out.
As the game resumed disaster struck the Leopards.  Finney Fraser, the high scoring point guard, got hurt driving for a loose ball and had to come out.  Two Leopard players had fouled out. The young sub who came on the floor was playing in his first post-conference game.  Jim ran his finger down the Leopards’ roster looking for the sub’s name, and found it:  Kurt Curtis, walk-on from Letongaloosa High School.
After the huddle and before the referees called the teams back onto the court, young Curt looked up at the press box.  Jim couldn’t figure out why, but he waved and gave the boy a big thumbs up.
As the overtime minutes drained away the Leopards fell behind by four points. They picked up three on a jumper from the right side, and another on a free throw. The game was tied with seconds remaining. The coaches called time out.
The Leopard’s coach told his team to run down the clock and then feed the ball to their high scoring forward who would drive in for a buzzer-beating a lay-up.  The play went perfectly until a high jumping Mongrel defender batted the ball away.  The ball flew to mid court and landed in the hands of the Leopard’s substitute Kurt Curtis.   Jim described the scene to the radio audience as Kurt let fly a jumper  from mid court.
It was a swisher.  All net.  The Leopards won by three at the buzzer.
Jim lingered after everyone had left the triumphant Leopards  arena. As he emerged from the door of the gym, young  Kurt Curtis jumped down from the team bus and ran toward him.
“Sir, I’m  Kurt Curtis.  I’m a Duplicative Communicology major.   When I was a kid my grandpa told me about your shot from mid-court that won the conference title.  I want to be a play-by-play broadcaster.”
“You’ll be great one,” said Jim.  “Everyone is already calling you “Key Shot Kurt.”
-30-
This particular column is near and dear to this ol’ humor writer’s heart. The Kansas House declared April 28th, “Bob Davis Day” in honor of KU’s beloved broadcaster’s , Bob Davis’ recent retirement. Rock Chalk!!

 

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Sent From My…©

 

When you receive a message with a pretentious post-script  telling you that the sender was e-mailing you from a super-duper cell phone, you can reply with your own super-duper post script:

1.Sent from my 1943 Jack Armstrong Radio Show secret decoder ring.

2.Sent from my electrified chain link fence.

3.Sent from my Dog’s supper dish.

4.Sent from the drain spout on my Aunt Clara’s kitchen sink.

5.Sent from a cell phone I found in a dumpster behind Kelly’s Pizza Parlor.

6.Sent from my wife’s hair dryer. (from my girlfriend’s, from my boyfriend’s, from my grandpa’s hair dryer.)

 

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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The Naked Truth©

“We must have hit something, Sancho, the dogs are barking.”

Miguel Cervantes, The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha.

Theodore “Ted” Boneworthy was a bachelor farmer who had eked out a living on the rocky soil of his hard scrabble acreage by working hard and learning all he could from agricultural extension agents. Then one day Ted ploughed up a very large gem quality garnet and became a wealthy man. Folks in his district had always thought of Ted as an odd duck, but they figured that if he was lucky, he might also be smart, so they elected him to the State House of Representatives.

During his time as a state legislator, Ted Boneworthy worked unsuccessfully to pass laws that he thought society needed to be right and proper. He sponsored a bill that made it illegal to recite nursery rhymes backwards. He tried to make it a misdemeanor to swat flies with ones bare hand. And he sought legislation that would punish people for sticking chewing gum under counters and tabletops in restaurants. Understandably, none of these bills were ever voted on by the House.

Ted chocked up to his colleagues’ not supporting his legislation to their being a bunch of small town bozos.

So he ran for the U.S. House of Representatives. His opponents ridiculed the national chewing gum initiative. Men’s groups called his stand on bare handed fly swatting “sissified,” and teachers’ organizations claimed that putting in practice his ideas on nursery rhyme recitation would stifle creativity.

The mass media were another problem. Radio, television and newspaper reporters mispronounced and misspelled Ted’s name. More often than not they called him Sid Stoneweary or Rich Blatherly instead of Ted Boneworthy.

He lost the election by a historic margin.

Ted had been an only child. His mother and father were arch fundamentalists. The farm couple in Grant Woods’ painting, “American Gothic” look positively jolly by comparison. For Ma Boneworthy everything in society was wicked and sinful or nasty and vile.

After being ridiculed in the state legislature and losing his campaign for the U. S. House, Ted abandoned politics and entered what he called “the real world” to launch his biggest, weirdest project ever.

Ted urged Americans to stop letting animals run around naked.

Ted hired a New York law firm at twice its normal fee to form an organization called “The League to Clothe Naked Animals,” with him as the league’s sole officer. Then he hired a top flight national advertising agency to buy full page ads in leading newspapers throughout the country. The ads called on the nation’s fair-minded citizens to “stand up and fight the scourge of animal nakedness.”

The public reaction was volcanic. From the posh penthouses of America’s great cities to the humble lunch counters of its smallest villages, people took up the cause. They inundated radio and television talk shows. Everyone wanted to be heard on the topic of naked animals.

Less than 24 hours after Ted’s ads were published, nearly all the enormous public reaction could be put into six categories:

A. “Stand up for dignity. We MUST clothe naked animals.”

B. “Animals are born naked. Leave them alone.”

C. “It’s a government power grab.”

D. “It’s a Wall Street power grab.”

E. “It’s a communist conspiracy.”

F. “Clothe Naked Animals, are you kidding me? Where’s the hidden camera?”

Within 48 hours of the launch of what Ted thought would be an anonymous campaign, reporters from all over the world converged at his farm. They scared his livestock. They trampled his crops. They harassed folks for miles around asking questions about him.

Then just 72 hours after the first “Clothe Naked Animals,” ads appeared in U.S. newspapers, the issue was dead. The mass media had identified another “big story.” Coverage switched from the controversy about naked animals to news of a married couple in Salt Lake City who had won $588 million in the national lottery and had announced that they intended to give all the money to the United Nations.

 

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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