Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Balloons (part deux)!!

A video I shot a few years ago recording the balloon release at a NASCAR race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway continues to have life. At last check, it has over 184,000 views.

I posted a blog about it back in 2013. Here's the link.

Now it's being used again in a feature story about the effects Balloons have on nature and the environment.

It's an MP4 file and you can download it here.  

Now if I could only figure out how to make money off of this thing. :-)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A final (?) Guinness update.

Well it was a valiant effort, but my Guinness world record attempt for staying on the air continuously for 187 hours, was beaten.

Not long ago I posted audio clips from the press coverage we received, and I put up a few pictures here.

Shortly afterwards I got a call from a Belgian DJ who wanted to let me know that he was going to attempt to break my record, by staying on the air for 188 hours.

He emailed me last week to let me know he succeeded. I emailed him back to congratulate him. It is quite the feat.

I then gave it some thought. Do I want to try and re-take the record? It takes quite the emotional and physical toll on a person.

My first attempt was quite the organizational juggernaut. Volunteers had to be scheduled, meals had to be planned. If I were to attempt it again, I would need to secure a sponsor to pay for an official from Guinness to come here and spend the week. That way, I could be certified on the spot.

I'll keep you posted. email me tom@wkvi.com and let me know what you think I should do.

Monday, January 13, 2014

KFO - Fort Ord California

I recently came across a couple of pictures, that have sparked some memories that I would like to share with you.

The above picture was taken around 1985 at Fort Ord, California in the studios of  "Music Radio KFO".

I have an earlier post about how I got into the Army here: "My Army Days."

Go ahead and read it. I'll wait.

All caught up are we? Good!

After Panama and Honduras, my first 'permanent party' station was Fort Ord, California. For a broadcaster that means being assigned to the Public Affairs Office on post. We couldn't actually broadcast on radio because we weren't allowed to. So we had a 'cable' radio station which could be heard in all of the dining facilities on post, as well as a post cable tv channel.

I was given the morning show to host.  I looked much more official during the week than when I did when this picture was taken on a Saturday.

My show was entered in a nationwide competition and placed in the top 3. For that achievement I was awarded the Army Achievement Medal, presented to me by the Commanding General of Fort Ord at the time.

Quite an honor!

OK that's enough for now, I'll close with a bonus pic recently discovered of me using a typewriter to put together a radio broadcast log in my barracks room at Fort Benjamin Harrison where I took the Broadcast Journalist course:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Guinness World Record Update

The one question I get asked at least once a week is: "Have you ever heard back from those Guinness people about your record?"

In case you didn't hear, back in July of 2012, I attempted to stay on the air for 187 hours straight in the hopes of setting a Guinness world record for longest continuous broadcast by a single DJ.

I started Monday morning July 9th at 5:00am and stayed on the air through the following Monday, July 16th at midnight. I DID IT!

Because we didn't fly a judge from London to keep an eye on me, we had to document everything. The audio was recorded on MP3, and burned to CD. All 187 hours were recorded on video, and also burned to CD. The music and commercial logs were printed out for the week. Everything was compiled and sent overseas to Guinness.

We got some great press out of it too. WNDU and WSBT came down and did stories about the attempt:

I was even interviewed by Rick Dees:

Knox, Indiana Mayor Rick Chambers declared my last day on air as "Tom Berg Day":

It was an amazing and a once in a lifetime experience.

It's been over a year and I have yet to hear back from the Guinness people. I am disappointed, but even if I NEVER hear from them, I know in my heart, I DID IT. 



Tuesday, March 19, 2013

One Of My Guilty Pleasures

I was asked by a friend recently if I remembered the show "Mystery Science Theater 3000". I most certainly do!

I was late to the party when I first heard about this show, but once I started watching, I rarely missed an episode.

In a nutshell: The series features a man and his robot sidekicks who are trapped on a space station by an evil scientist and forced to watch a selection of bad movies, often (but not limited to) science fiction "B-movies". To stay sane, the man and his robots provide a running commentary on each film, making fun of its flaws and wisecracking (or "riffing") their way through the movie.

There are no shortage of websites about this show. Just google "mst3k" and see for yourself. 

The worse a movie was, the funnier the show was. Fans of the show agree that the absolute worst movie they ever featured was a turkey called "Manos: The Hands Of Fate".

See for yourself:

Once the show ended, the staff went their separate ways and formed 2 separate websites that continue riffing on more current films.

One is called "RiffTrax" and it features Kevin Murphy, who was the robot Tom Servo on the show. Mike Nelson is also featured. He was the human who was 'imprisoned' with the robots for the last few seasons of the show.

Another website called "Cinematic Titanic" was created by Joel Hodgson, who created the show, and features the same team that first brought the series to life: Trace Beaulieu (Crow, Dr. Forrester), Frank Conniff (TV's Frank), and Mary Jo Pehl (Pearl Forrester).

There are samples of the recent riffing all over You Tube, here's a look at what RiffTrax is doing:

These shows are like a certain kind of potato chips: "You can't eat just one".

Friday, March 15, 2013

Carl Reiner

I had the chance recently to talk to TV legend Carl Reiner.

Let me back up a second.

As a DJ on a radio morning show, I get ALL kinds of requests for interviews. Most often the requests are from people who no one would know, or they are pushing a book that's just not interesting.

There are interview bookers, who set up celebrities in a radio studio for a couple hours and then send email out saying that they will be available to talk to you for 10 minutes between 8 and 10 am on a certain date. I will email back and request any time available, to be as accommodating as I can.

Think about that. They sit in a studio for 2 hours, and every 10 minutes they are talking to a different morning show in a different city somewhere in the country.

I've talked to Penelope Ann Miller from "The Artist", Valerie Harper, Barry Manilow, and Mickey Mouse and Goofy (!) using this method. It usually works out. Sometimes I tape the interviews after my show, or if I'm feeling especially daring, I try and go live with it.

There's a small problem with going live sometimes. Let's say that during one of these "radio tours" I have an interview scheduled for 8:30 for someone who has been doing interviews since 7:00. That means they've had 9 interviews before calling me. All the interviews prior to my time need to run exactly on time, or else I won't get my call on time. If each interview before me runs just one minute over, that means I won't get MY call until 8:39! That's a lot of time to fill!

My interview with Carl Reiner came through an entirely different route.

We receive a monthly magazine with interview topics and suggestions. 99% of the time the magazine usually goes right in the trash. Once in a great while we find a diamond in the rough.

Carl Reiner was one of those diamonds, and boy did he shine.

He was promoting his book, "I Remember Me".

I don't know how other DJ's are, but when I get the opportunity to interview someone, especially someone that I'm a HUGE fan of, I get star struck. I'm THIS close to sounding like Chris Farley interviewing Paul McCartney: "Remember when you were in the Beatles? That was awesome!"

We booked a time, they sent me the book to read, and I started to think up what I wanted to talk about.

The time we settled on was after my show, so I could record it and not worry about time constraints.

I was extremely nervous. Here was this TV legend waiting for ME to call HIM to plug his book.

So the time comes, and he couldn't have been nicer. We talked for THIRTY EIGHT minutes!!! There was no way I could run the entire interview at one time during my show, so I found 3 to 4 minute stories and played them back. Thank God for the internet, because I can share the entire interview online. I will post it in due course, but for now I want to share with you the snippets that I used:

  Carl Reiner Talking About The Dick Van Dyke Show by Tom's Radio Basics

  Carl Reiner Talks About Steve Martin by Tom's Radio Basics

  Carl Reiner Talks About His Dog Rinnie! by Tom's Radio Basics

  Carl Reiner Talks About Mark Harmon And John Denver by Tom's Radio Basics

  Carl Reiner Telling A Story About Jack Benny by Tom's Radio Basics

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Stan Freberg

The Super Bowl ads this year were a mixed bag for me. There were some that were funny, some that were moving, and some that left you wondering what the ad agency was smoking when the scripts were approved. (As an aside please read Ken Levine's blog on this very topic.)

I bring up the complaints about the lack of creativity in some of those Super Bowl spots as an excuse to write about a man whose commercial creativity in both radio and television was legendary.

Stan Freberg.

I first came across some of his work on a record called "Stan Freberg Modestly Presents: The United States of America. Part One:The Early Years". I was a kid, and didn't get a lot of the jokes, but it was a fun record to listen to, and I slowly started to 'get' more of the jokes as I got older.

Here's a sample from that album:

Look him up. Google him. Youtube him. You will find an amazing amount of creativity. Stuff that he produced 40, 50, even 60 years ago that still holds up today.

I could write an encyclopedic blog post about him. Instead, I'll just post some examples of his genius here, and let you be the judge.

First up, a radio spot about......radio:

He was a master at commercials that not only entertained, but were very effective at selling the product. Here are a couple of examples.

First, a lawn mower commercial:

This commercial for Butter Nut Coffee poked fun at the idea of subliminal advertising:

Freberg was also a satirist. He had a recording career during which he poked fun at popular songs. He didn't do what Weird Al Yankovic does, which was to keep the melody and change the lyrics. He got his point across in other ways, as in this example of his version of the Banana Boat Song:

Even though he had a very successful career in advertising, he was not above biting the hand that feeds him. His recording of "Green Chri$tma$" got him in a little hot water with people who never even HEARD the record, give it a listen and see what you think. I think his message is as relevant today as it was when the record was first released:

This is but a tip of the ice "berg" There is so much more to listen to and enjoy. I hope I've piqued your interest in him.


Friday, February 1, 2013

"Blow In Her Face And She'll Follow You Anywhere" part 2

Time for a few more print ad's that have to be seen to be believed. I received these in an email and thought I'd share. 
Guns make perfect gifts for the holidays. At least these ads seem to think so:

A lot of companies have tried to tie their product into Christmas, but really, how many wives would want THIS under their tree?

Some ads just defy description:

Wow...just wow!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"Blow In Her Face, And She'll Follow You Anywhere." Part One

I received an email today containing magazine ads from the 60's and 70's. As I looked through them I was amazed at what you could get away with.

AMC has a TV show called "Mad Men" centered around an advertising agency in the 60's. I can totally see them designing ads like these:

I was not what you would call a big coffee drinker, but I have a major addiction to soda. Could these ads be the reason why?

I have others to share, including some gun ads, and more ads that could set back women's rights for 100 years! 

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Peek Behind The Curtains...

I enjoy talking radio. I've been working in the business off and on for about 30 years or so.

Whenever I'm invited to speak at schools to talk about what it's like to be in radio, I jump at the chance. I really enjoy giving people a "behind the scenes" look at what goes on.

 With that in mind, I thought I'd take a minute to give you an idea as to what happens here every morning.

4:45am - Arrive at station. I try to get here earlier, but some mornings that bed is just too darn comfy.

4:47am - Get my show organized. We use a computer system called NexGen that runs all of the commercials, jingles and music. I put them in the order that I want everything to run.

4:50am - Download the birthday messages from my voice mail. When people call in and leave messages for the voice mail, I download them and mix them for playback at 6:40, 7:40, and 9:20. 

4:55am - Anita Goodan comes into the studio to prepare for her first newscast of the morning.

5:00am - Here we go!

5:05am - My official show open, it features a montage of short clips that lead into the theme I use every morning, the Robert Goulet version of "You've Got A Friend In Me". I then jump in to kick things off and talk about whats going to happen on the show!

5:15am - My first time to chat before the commercials. I usually just re cap the weather, or if there's a relevant local event going on, I'll mention it here. It's normally just a "Good Morning" kind of break to get the day started.

5:30am - Anita's news break, after which we talk to Heather Zehr from AccuWeather about our forecast. AccuWeather is a national service, and I'm glad we get a chance to talk to her. 

5:45am - The first of our recurring morning feature called "The Forgotten 45".  These are songs that you don't hear on the radio anymore, but they are still good songs to hear. We run the feature at :45 past the hour to tie in with what singles used to be called...45's! The first one is "Living In America" by James Brown!!

5:50am - Nathan Welter stops by with the first of 2 morning sports reports. 

6:00am - News with Anita. I check my email for any new birthday voice mail messages.

6:10am - Getting ready to run a contest. We run a variety of different contests in the morning. TV theme trivia, Movie quote trivia, etc.. This morning it's the "Time Capsule" It's a pre produced feature where the caller has to listen to clues and guess the month and year that is being described. 

6:20am - Downloading more birthday voice mail messages.

6:30am - Anita's headlines. During these breaks at the bottom of the hour, after the news and weather, I attempt to come up with something interesting to talk about. The topics can run the gamut, from local events to interesting surveys or unusual stories. This particular morning I play "Fact or Fiction" with Anita and a caller!

6:40am - Birthdays. The voice mail is all edited up and ready to go!

6:45am - The second "Forgotten 45" of the morning. "Make a Move On Me" - Olivia Newton John.

6:50am - The second sports update with Nathan Welter.

7:00am - News with Anita. I do my best to make sure these newscasts run as close as possible to the top and bottom of each hour.

7:20am - The Beatle Break . Back to back Beatles tunes for a change of pace to the normal music we play. When I first started this feature, people were wondering why I picked the Beatles instead of say Elvis or John Mellencamp. I picked them because even to this day, they are influencing the way bands sound. To me, the Beatles are timeless. Meanwhile, I edit more birthday voice mail.

7:30am - Anita's headlines. After the weather we talk about a program at the Starke County Public Library.

7:40am - Birthdays. New messages that were called in during the last hour are included.

7:45am - Another Forgotten 45. "Song On The Radio" - Al Stewart

7:50am - Weather and local events. As a small radio station, one of our goals is to be a local as possible by talking about events that happen in Starke, Marshall, and Pulaski counties.

8:00am - Anita's News.

8:10am - Another go 'round with the Time Capsule.

8:30am - Anita's headlines. After the weather we talk about some light entertainment news that lead into the "E.T. Radio Minute".

8:45am - The final Forgotten 45 of the morning. "Gimme Some Lovin'" The Blues Brothers.

8:50am - Weather and more local stuff.

9:00am - Anita's News

9:10am - The final Birthday segment of the morning. 

9:20am - The final Time Capsule contest.

9:25am - A long music sweep to lead into Jerry Curtis at 10:00am.

9:45am - I sign off the show. I make sure to thank everyone who was on the show, including special guests if there are any.

After the show I take a few minutes and wind down. If there are any commercials to record and produce, I knock those out as well.

If you have any questions about what I do here in the mornings, you can email me: tom@wkvi.com I also can speak at your school or your non-profit group as well, free of charge.

As Charles Osgood says: "I'll see you on the radio."