Imitation and flattery: The college radio show intro (1987 – 1988)


This piece is a little different today as it doesn’t highlight a specific song, but will talk about a number of songs that all served the same purpose: starting my college radio shows.

There’s not much that people in radio don’t rip off.  If you’ve moved around the country, you’ve no doubt noticed the preponderance of Twofer Tuesday, Hot Ticket Thursday, Block Party Weekend, etc.  Radio consultants for years have developed gimmicks that work in market A, and then applied them in markets B through the remainder of the English alphabet and other languages as well. It’s safe to say that success breeds imitation.

So it was with me as a college radio protege in 1987.  One of the top shows in Chicago at that time belonged to Steve Dahl and Garry Meier, who would open each show with what they referred to as a “wacky tape.”  The tape was a collection of movie drops, music bits, etc. that served as a sort of a sorbet between what came before them and what would follow.  I unashamedly stole the idea for my show at Lewis University’s WLRA.  I was following a jock named Todd Greenen, a big guy with a bigger voice that played oldies.  My show didn’t really have a format, but I wanted to make it clear that it was different in some way.  On October 24, 1987, I opened the show with my first homemade wacky tape. It contained drops from Weird Science, Ghostbusters, the toilet from my parents’ house, the Firesign Theater, and sounded something like this.

You’ll be happy to know that I got better at editing. In those days, though, dear students, we had to play all of those drops onto reel-to-reel tape and do the edits with razor blades.  The “undo” function for a bad edit wouldn’t see the light of day for years.

In subsequent show opens I stole further from Dahl and Meier, co-opting their “Theme From Shaft” open in which the questions posed by Isaac Hayes are answered with a jock shout.  Since I didn’t have a jock shout, I used Bill Murray saying “Lenny” from Ghostbusters.  (Years later, at WJMK, I got my own jock shout, and years after that I recut the open the right way.) Caddyshack got used, as well as a clip from Julia Child that I loved. (“Do you see that? That’s the bone.  Remember to leave that showing so you see what you have.”)

A variety of theme songs got used as well.  In an earlier post I referenced the Hoosier Hot Shots’ “I Like Bananas Because They Have No Bones.”  This open used Spike Jones’ “Der Fuhrer’s Face“, while on other occasions I used his version of “Dance of the Hours” (which also served as the original theme song to the 30-minute version of SCTV).  On other occasions I used the Elvis concert open, or Francis Lai’s “A Man and a Woman.”  Why? Because they stood out.  If there was one thing I figured out, even at eighteen, it was that I needed to do something to stand out from the rest of the crowd.  My first-semester airchecks were as everyone’s first-semester airchecks were – awful. But if I could call a little extra attention to myself, I figured it couldn’t hurt.



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