I grew up listening to the radio. Yes, I grew up in the MTV age – the 1980’s – but I still love radio and always have. Today I am going to talk about some radio shows that have influenced my life and also talk about a show I have been listening to lately.
I have always loved music. Music is so important to me as a person. Music expresses emotions in ways I have a hard time putting into words. Music has always been an important part of who I am and it remains so these days.
I always had a radio by my side growing up. The first radio show I listened to on a regular basis was definitely Casey Kasem’s Adult Contemporary Top 40. Pop and Rock mostly, it had all the best of what I loved. I was there when MTV first came on the air and while I was captivated by it, I still had to listen to the Top 40 show. Here is his profile on IMDB.
Much respect and deepest regards to Casey’s family, as Casey has recently passed away. I’ll never forget Casey Kasem. He made his show so personal, like talking with a best friend. He influenced my love of music and my life. When I had no one else growing up, I always had music and Casey was a big part of that.
As I got older my radio interests went from only music, to also listening to radio talk shows.
I got into my first radio talk show when I was just in my late teens. It was hosted by a guy named Rick Miller. I remember very well how he would say “Rick on the radddiiioooo”… okay so it doesn’t work so well in text. He was a local radio personality. At first I was forced to listen to The Rick Miller Show in the car on the way to work with another family member. In time, I found myself deeply enjoying listening to him. Rick Miller ranted and talked at length about important issues facing the political and local community. While I didn’t always agree with him, he made me think. He made me question important decisions being made by the city and the government. He was probably the first person who really got me interested in paying attention to politics.
I moved to California while he was still on the air. I was unable to listen to him after I moved because he was only broadcast locally in Washington State. By the time I returned to Washington State, Rick Miller had disappeared. To this day I still have no idea what happened to him. I found news articles online mentioning he had moved to Seattle and done a show there, but due to controversy he was taken off the air. As far I know, he is no longer in radio. I hope he gets back into it someday or somewhere. If you happened to know where he is now and if he is broadcasting somewhere, please drop me a line and let me know.
The amazing thing about Rick Miller is he is the type of guy that would say things even if they weren’t popular things to say. He didn’t have a problem standing up and calling things as he saw them. He was a non-conformist and always true to his points and strongly believed in what he was saying. He was logical and saw things in a unique way. I guess you could say he helped influence me because I too wanted to be able to be strong on my beliefs regardless of what the blind masses had to say about it.
I hope the voice of Rick Miller is not silenced, I hope he is out there somewhere still speaking strongly opening minds.
Bob & Tom
Another show I loved was The Bob & Tom Show. This show contained a mix of parody and original songs, comedian guests and also humorous news and discussions. Completely different from all other shows I’ve ever heard on the radio, they made the art of radio at pure comedy genius levels. They kept me laughing constantly. I loved listening to Bob & Tom while I was working in Washington and when making a long commute to and from work in California. I began listening to that show online and later listened to it on a local station. The humor on the show influenced my whole day. Nothing is a better start than a whole lot of smiles and laughter.
When the whole FCC thing happened with Janet Jackson, the radio industry was changed. I still love Bob & Tom and occasionally listen to some of their stuff on Youtube, but it simply is not the same show it used to be. Or perhaps, I have changed. I don’t know. It has been a few years now since I tuned into a regular show, perhaps I should go back to it and see if its gotten better since that whole FCC thing.
Either way, they still are absolutely awesome, the best of radio comedy, and worth checking out.
This American Life
I have recently found this wonderful radio talk show. It is broadcast over the radio, however I have only ever listened to it online.
This American Life will pick a topic and it will either tell three or four different stories related to that topic or it will dedicate the whole show to one story if it is a longer story requiring more detail.
The episodes are completely true stories of real people and the events that have happened in their lives.
I found this show because of the game I reviewed here recently, the post about Gone Home. A similar real life situation, like that in the game, happened where a group of boys stumbled upon an abandoned house. Over the course of ten years Adam Beckman felt strongly compelled to investigate the house and its history. This American Life decided to dedicate a whole episode to that story. You can listen to that show here.
I really enjoyed that story so I decided to look through the archives and listen to some of the other shows. I wanted to talk about some of the stories here that really stood out to me, ones I’d recommend to others to listen to. While there are years worth of episodes in the archive and I have not listened to them all. I will mention a handful that I really have liked so far.
An episode I really enjoyed listening to is this one called DIY. This story is about Carl King, a self taught investigator. One of his friends, Collin Warner, was framed and put in jail for a crime he did not commit (murder). No matter what logic and evidence came forth, his friend remained in prison. Carl King is a true friend, a real friend in the highest regard, as he spent 20 years of his life working to get his friend Collin out of jail. Carl had to prove Collin’s innocence, but before he could do that he had to learn all about the law and how to go about collecting evidence and presenting a case to help his friend.
How good of a friend are you? Would you fight the system for 20 years to get your dearest friend out of jail? Carl went above and beyond what most people define as friendship. His story truly touched me.
This American Life doesn’t only talk about serious issues, they also have some funny episodes. This next episode I really enjoyed is called No Coincidence, No Story! This particular show is very funny and also thought provoking. It tells several stories about people who have experienced unique and fun coincidences in their lives. Some are just really simple, but some are just totally mind blowing.
Another episode I have to mention is called The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar. This show tells the story of a family whose child is kidnapped and then later turns up in a photo taken in another town. The boy is returned to the family… but the boy may not be their boy. It investigates both sides of the case and talks with several family members on both sides of the situation. It comes forward also with the full answers of who this boy belongs to and what it all means to both families ahead. I found this story to be interesting and touching and also very sad. While some mysteries of this story would be easily solved today – it was not back in a time where that technology did not exist.
This next one is called Fear of Sleep. This show tells a few different stories about people who have had difficulties with sleep. This includes a crazy story about Mike Birbiglia who sleep walks and does something dangerous and still manages to survive. Also there is a story about Seth Lind who has nightmares for a couple of years after the movie The Shining, something I can relate to since I had a similar issue with the movie Arachnophobia. Some other sleep stories are told as well. Since sleep has been an issue in my life, I definitely could relate to the subject of sleep problems.
Lastly I would like to mention one more to you called Hit the Road. This is an entire episode is dedicated to Andrew Forsthoefel’s journey across the country. He walked from Philadelphia to the Pacific Ocean, all along the way talking to people about their lives and their regrets and their pasts. I found this story to be both inspiring and very thought provoking. TML played an edited version of his story. A more complete version of his story is here on Transom.org.
I’d like to say that while technology has changed the world with TV, phones, the internet, tablets and many other devices… there is still a true charm to enjoying a traditional media like radio. Like black and white photography, radio tells its own stories and in its own way.