Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Friday, December 30, 2011

Jamberry - Ethan Rossiter & the Hartwells
Willy Won't - Debbie and Friends
Nemeses - Jonathan Coulton
For Those About To Walk (We Salute You) - Daddy A Go Go
Nogturne in C Minor - The Jimmies
We Just Won't Be Defeated - The Go! Team
I Think I'm A Bunny - Todd McHatton
Open My Eyes - Bangles
Keep On Dancing, Pt. 1 - Alvin Cash
Someone Like You - Adele

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, December 29, 2011

Burn It To The Ground - Nickelback
The Kid With the Butterfly Net - Graham Parker
Set Fire To The Rain - Adele
We R Who We R - Ke$ha
Ooh La La (Play Me That Song) - Baron Von Rumblebuss
Don't Worry About the Government - Talking Heads
Shoo Fly - Don't Bother Me - Sweet Honey In the Rock
We Are Young (ft. Janelle Monae) - fun.
Action Hero - Fountains Of Wayne
Big Blue Whale - Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Daybreak - Redbird
Virus Alert - Weird Al Yankovic
All The Young Dudes - Mott The Hoople
Rocket Ship - Laura Doherty
In My Blue Jeans - Rabbit!
Octopus - Artichoke
The Fox - Waco Brothers
Jump - Scott Fischer
You Might Think - Weezer
Grandma's Hands - Bill Withers

Monday, December 26, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Angry White Boy Polka - Weird Al Yankovic
The Wrath of Marcie - The Go! Team
New Shoes - Paolo Nutini
Don't Drink Sea Water - Captain Bogg & Salty
White And Nerdy - Weird Al Yankovic
The Golem - The Deedle Deedle Dees
Conservation - Rocknoceros
A Little Green - Baze And His Silly Friends
Spoon - Cibo Matto

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Monday, December 26, 2011

Baby In My Pocket - Dean Jones
The Happy Whistler - Don Robertson
Phony Calls - Weird Al Yankovic
Jen - Stacey Peasley
They Lady And The Tiger - They Might Be Giants
In Wonder With the World - The Boogers
Super Sonic Rocket Bike - The Bazillions
We Found Love (Feat. Calvin Harris) - Rihanna
Bravest Kid In The World - Recess Monkey
Tomorrow - Me First & The Gimme Gimmes
Honest Face - Liam Finn + Eliza Jane
River of Blood - The Deedle Deedle Dees

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Friday, December 23, 2011

El Jefe - Mexican Institute of Sound
Something's Coming - Glee
Knock on Wood - Amii Stewart
Someone Like You - Adele
You Might Think - Weezer
A Good Good Time - Nikolai Moderbacher
One Less Lonely Girl - Justin Bieber
Uncharted - Sara Bareilles
Under a Cloud - Bangles

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, December 22, 2011

When We First Met - Hellogoodbye
When the Bells Start Ringing (feat. The Head & the Heart) - My Morning Jacket
Mama Dont 'Low - Ben Rudnick
Great To Be A Kid - The Not-Its!
Horse and Buggy - Kindercastle
How Come You Never Go There - Feist
Wimoweh - Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights
Mr. Bassman - Sondre Lerche
Slumber Party - In The Nick Of Time
Baby Brother - Detective Kalita

My Radio Days, A Perspective

You've got a face for radio.

That popular snarky line is usually attributed to critics of Howard Stern.

But it's also a reason that I considered a career in radio when I was in college.

I was reminded of that philosophical internal debate this week, while listening to an episode of the Adam Carolla podcast. Adam was interviewing the talentless and unfunny "Real Housewife of New York" Jill Zarin. Carolla and Zarin had met at a party, he had a few drinks, and she realized, "This guy is hilarious - he could be a gold mine.... FOR ME!"

Zarin "pitched" her vision of their TV show: A funny guy and a strong woman answer viewer questions, give advice, and discuss the issues of the day. Sounds a lot like Regis & Kelly or any other local, regional morning program, doesn't it? What would it really mean for Carolla? Heavy lifting. Carry the unfunny "strong" woman who comes in every day, shoots her mouth off, and never has a clever, original thought of her own.

Which brings me back to my days at WQMC Radio at CUNY Queens College. Back in my day, WQMC broadcast its signal on "carrier current," which meant that you had a hard time listening on an AM transistor radio standing outside the student union building, which housed the studios deep within its bowels. You could hear WQMC on speakers throughout the student union, in the lobby and student government offices, as well as across the campus in the cafeteria (until some jackass cut the cable, but that's another story).

WQMC no longer exists in its original space and mostly live streams its programming, according to the Web site description. And when I remember the signal strength or lack thereof from "carrier current," that live streaming might be a blessing in disguise. Successful alumni include Dennis Elsas, the late Mark "the Shark" Drucker, and SiriusXM Vice President of Promotions Ross Zapin (who was a year behind me in school).

WQMC had antiquated equipment, such as Ampex mono reel-to-reel tape decks. Once some of the engineering staff made a pilgrimage to legendary Long Island station WLIR-FM. They came back shell-shocked, and announced, "Their crap is older than our crap!"

I was made for college radio. I mastered reel-to-reel editing and wrote bits myself and with my erstwhile partner, Jon Aubrey, that received massive airplay from the station jocks. Why? Because these guys were mostly talentless drones who were there to hear their own voices and create demo reels to send to stations across the country. Generate their own original material? That task was beyond them. But they would play MY bits and pretend they had a hand in them.

Here is one jock's idea of a "collaboration" with me. "THE COSBY SHOW is number one. You need to do stuff about that show." I explained that I didn't watch the show. "Well, you should watch the show and do a funny bit about it." Aaaah, thanks for the lecture, Professor Einstein!

Every few months, one of the jocks would approach me with a hard sell about how "WE HAVE TO DO A SHOW TOGETHER." They would explain how they were selfless and willing to sacrifice their own sense of humor to let me do "my thing" that they would just comment on. What were they bringing to the party? "I tape the show and pass it around to my friends, so you'd build a whole new audience!" Just what I always wanted to be - the funny guy on somebody else's demo reel.

Their agenda was blindingly clear and transparent - you are gonna be the performing donkey that gets ridden into show business (radio) and thrown aside once they got the leverage to sign a solo contact. I always passed.

I learned not to put my best bits on carts (rewindable tape cartridges left in a rack in the on-air studio), where they could be fodder for other people's shows and demos. Instead, I kept my new bits on reel-to-reel tapes. When I hosted my own shows, I'd play the bits off the original tapes. A friend of mine told me that stood in the radio station hallway once, listening to a bit with one of the station's jocks. Upon hearing the bit, the jock slammed down a soda and yelled, "Why wasn't I told there were new bits? I would have played them this morning on MY SHOW!"

Eventually I did host a once-a-week morning show with James Schimmenti, who had no illusions that we were going to become breakout radio stars. I did some live bits and read some wacky news. Unfortunately, James got mono and we only did a handful of shows together. And I just couldn't be bothered to get up at 7 am and trudge to school in the winter if it wasn't for an early morning class.

After two peers - Jon Lewis and Zapin - landed radio gigs, I started to ponder whether this was a vocation I wanted to pursue. Lewis quit midyear and moved to Sante Fe for a radio job. Zapin was doing a late-night shift and DJing at concerts at Jones Beach.

Ultimately, I passed. Yes, I could have put the demo tapes together. There didn't seem to be any market for a comedy program. You had Imus in the Morning on WNBC, and Stern had just started doing afternoons. When I looked at industry publications (and I read VARIETY from the age of 15), radio got short shrift. As in almost no coverage. Looking at BILLBOARD, there was no comedy chart. "Weird" Al Yankovic got airplay and the rare novelty hit. There was no niche and I certainly did not envision myself as a pioneer, forging the path for others to follow.

Stern loves to talk about radio as a bastard medium, where talent is loathed and mistreated by management types who think they are programming geniuses. This exchange about Philadelphia morning jock Kidd Chris tells the whole story.

Stern: Kidd Chris bought a house in Philly.

Robin Quivers: Oh no! [laughs] When did he get fired.

Stern: The next day.

So I passed. Now I get my radio fix doing Stern's Super Fan Roundtable on SiriusXM. Fourteen appearances so far, next one scheduled for January 26, 2012. I've stumbled onto my old radio tapes and begun converting and cataloging the material. Could there be a podcast in the future? Who knows. But I'm certain about one thing - I won't be sharing the mike with a "strong woman" with opinions.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wheelin' and Dealin' - Dean Jones
Ode To A Superhero - Weird Al Yankovic
Party Rock Anthem - LMFAO ft. Lauren Bennett & GoonRock
My Valentine - Paul McCartney
Free Your Mind - En Vogue
Bein' Green - Glee
Bozmo's Breakfast - The Thinkers
Beddie Bye - Kindercastle
Onyonghasayo - Skankin' Pickle

Perfect for the shortest day of the year.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Alternative Polka - Weird Al Yankovic
Pretty Girls (Feat. Travie McCoy) - Iyaz
Hurts Like Heaven - Coldplay
Every Day Is Yours To Win - R.E.M.
Sleigh Ride - The Jimmies
Cissy Strut - The Meters
New Shoes - Paolo Nutini
High Maintenance - Miranda Cosgrove
Say Hello to My Hippo - Todd McHatton
One Hand One Heart - Glee

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Monday, December 19, 2011

Under a Cloud - Bangles
Someone's Gonna Break Your Heart - Fountains Of Wayne
Your Room's A Mess - Rock Daddy Rock
Craigslist - Weird Al Yankovic
Darwin - Artichoke
Pumped Up Kicks - Foster The People
You've Got A Friend - Me First & The Gimme Gimmes
Vacation - The Not-Its!
Hi 5 Dance - Flannery Brothers

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Friday, December 16, 2011

Saturday Night - Bay City Rollers
Get Together - Youngbloods
A Complicated Song - Weird Al Yankovic
Papa's Got a Brand New Bag - James Brown
Animal - Neon Trees
Rolling In the Deep - Adele
Kinder Words - Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town - Glee
Atomic Dog - George Clinton

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fossil Contender - The Gourds
Making Promises - Indigo Girls
Gump - Weird Al Yankovic
Shining Like a Star - Laura Doherty
What Are We Gonna Do? - Dramarama
I'll Be Waiting - Adele
Trick or Treat - Justin Roberts
Cocoanut Candy - Didi Pop
Michael Jackson Medley - Primate Fiasco
A Song for Abigail Adams - The Deedle Deedle Dees

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, December 14, 2011

These Words - Megafaun
I Love Food - The Not-Its!
Wandering Free - The Plants
Don't Download This Song - Weird Al Yankovic
Reminds Me Of You - LMFAO
What a Little Bit of Love Can Do - Jeff Bridges
Super Sonic Rocket Bike - The Bazillions
The Golem - The Deedle Deedle Dees
A Little Green - Baze And His Silly Friends
Wild Thing - Troggs

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Good Morning Tucson - Jonathan Coulton
Everybody Loves to Jump - Mike Park
Your Favorite Book - Recess Monkey
Turning Tables - Adele
Born On the Bayou - Etta James
Knock on Wood - Amii Stewart
Loser Like Me - Glee
Gee Angel - Sugar
Skating In Old Bryant Park - The Deedle Deedle Dees
Celebration - They Might Be Giants

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Monday, December 12, 2011

Dream - Blue Sky Riders
Sliver - Nirvana
Hey, Josie! - The Hipwaders
Invisible Friend - Recess Monkey
Eggs - Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players
Music Is the Medicine - Derek Miller
Born to Shake - Anna Oxygen
Under a Cloud - Bangles
Are You Gonna Eat That? - Keith Munslow

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Friday, December 9, 2011

Be Yourself - Grenadilla
Macaroni and Cheese - Bill Harley
D.A.N.C.E. - Justice
Sojourner Truth - The Deedle Deedle Dees
Marry You - Bruno Mars
Set Fire To The Rain - Adele
Wimoweh - Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights
When I Get Little - Dog On Fleas
I've Got a Brother - Nick Cope
Wondered What'd It Be Like - Stan Ridgway & Pietra Wexstun

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, December 8, 2011

It's Raining Again - Supertramp
Those Mysteries - Sparks
I Don't Wanna Wait - Bill Harley
We Are Young - Glee
(Drawing) Rings Around the World - Super Furry Animals
Ah Ahsima - The Deedle Deedle Dees
All The Best - R.E.M.
Another Tattoo - Weird Al Yankovic
I'm A Vampire - Roy Handy & The Moonshot

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hometown Glory - Adele
Wake Up Clarinet - Oran Etkin
Reminds Me Of You - LMFAO
Mr. Bassman - Sondre Lerche
You and I - Glee
I Meant To Do That - Jeremy Plays Guitar
Check It Out - Casper Babypants
Fix You - Glee
Mayor LaGuardia's Stomach - The Deedle Deedle Dees
So You Want To Be A Rock 'N' Roll Star - The Byrds
El Pussycat Ska - Roland Alphonso

Monday, December 05, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, December 7, 2011

Dreamer - Supertramp
Party Rock Anthem - LMFAO
Section 12 (Hold Me Now) - The Polyphonic Spree
Rumour Has It / Someone Like You - Glee
Virus Alert - Weird Al Yankovic
We Found Love (Feat. Calvin Harris) - Rihanna
Raining Sunshine - Miranda Cosgrove
In the Land of Dreams - Kesang Marstrand
What Colour Is Your T Shirt? - Nick Cope

Jose Reyes to Marlins: Press Statement

(Press waits anxiously at Marlins Stadium in Fantasyland, Florida.

Marlins GM Larry Beinfest and field manager Ozzie Guillen enter, with shit-eating grins.

Both make self-congratulatory comments to the assemblage before introducing new shortstop Jose Reyes and giving him a team jersey, which he slips over his head. Reyes then approaches the mike and makes his statement.)

First of all, I want to thank God and my agent, Peter Greenberg, for their efforts in securing this contract for me. I also want to thank my wife, Katherine, for her patience during this tense process.

The men behind me have made my family financially secure forever. And I hope to repay them with my on-field performance this season, as well as in advertisements for Florida National Bank, my new sponsor.

(Reyes shows the FNB logo on the back of his jersey, below his name.)

I played many, many years for the... [Greenberg steps forward and whispers in Reyes' ear]..New York Mets. I have several, no, dozens of fond memories of my tenure with the Mets. They are truly one of the top 28 teams in major league baseball.

But a player sometimes outgrows a team, and that was the case here. The Mets were not willing to go past $80M and I had clearly outgrown that figure.

I want to also thank Terry Collins. On the last day of the 2011 season, Terry could have left me in the final, meaningless game of the season. I could have gone 0-3 in my final at-bats and not won the 2011 batting title. And then he would have been grilled by the media. Instead, after I got a base hit, Terry pulled me from the game. I won the batting title. And he faced the media and they made him cry. Thank you, Terry, from the bottom of my Florida Marlins jersey-wearing, $106M, six-year contract heart.

Baseball is a funny game. A pitcher can win the MVP for his performance in 35 games. And a player can get a guaranteed six-year contract for playing 127 games a season for five years. You can't make up stuff that funny!

In conclusion, thank you Marlins. Thank you, Marlins fans. I promise to play my heart out as long as I remain healthy.

(General outbreak of laughter in the room.)

{Reyes starts to walk over to Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria. On the way, his left ankle catches the corner of the podium and Reyes crumbles to the floor.)

(Loria, Beinfest, and Guillen jump to check on Reyes, their faces ashen with concern. Reyes jumps to his feet, smiling.)

Kidding! Just kidding, folks!

Beinfest and Loria mop sweat from their brows as they all leave the room.)

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Monday, December 5, 2011

It Will Rain - Bruno Mars
The Wrath of Marcie - The Go! Team
When I Ripped My Pants - Spongebob Squarepants
Not Too Young for a Song - Dan Bern
I'm Just Thinkin' About What I'm Thinkin' About - Chip Taylor & the Grandkids
Summertime - Ella Fitzgerald
Twistification - Dog on Fleas
Cardboard Box - Justin Roberts
Victor Jara's Hands - Calexico
Constant Craving - Glee

Friday, December 02, 2011

Down Home With the Chickadees

Country For Kids Minus the Corn

Steve Martin on a children's CD? I had to do a Web search, but yes, the Chickadees perform a full Steve Martin homage on their second CD, THE FROGGY HOP. In the prelude to their tune, "Reduce, Recycle & Reuse," the mother character drives off to buy a thermos, leading to a rendition of "I'm Picking Up A Thermos For You," in a riff from the classic comedy, "The Jerk."

Amusing? Yes. Appropriate? Yes, in a larger sense, since the Chickadees perform a down-home brand of countrified children's music and Steve Martin has delved into the world of banjo music.

The Chickadees are the brainchild of Milwaukee area singer/songwriter Mary Karlzen. After her two young daughters attended the nature-based Schlitz Audubon preschool, Karlzen became an active participant, expanding the program's musical education. “This preschool is set in a vast nature center whose curriculum inspires and nurtures a love of nature and has fun doing it," she said. "So writing songs about these school experiences just came naturally.”

Karlzen enrolled the talents of multi-instrumentalist Anjl Rodee, vocalist Carmen Nickerson, and Rosie Dempre to bring the songs to a wider audience. Their first CD, SONGS FROM THE GREAT OUTDOORS, won a Parent’s Choice award in 2009, is available at their website and on iTunes.

THE FROGGY HOP returns to the themes of respecting nature and the environment. Clearly aimed at younger children, the Chickadees are not trying to save the world. They are trying to make children aware. Two separate goals indeed. Once a child becomes aware that their actions have repercussions, they want to make a difference and a positive impact.

"Animal Babies" highlights the similarities and differences between species. It also gives Karlzen a chance to sing, "And that's all I know about marsupials." "The Hiking Song" promotes a healthy lifestyle and walking outdoors. And the title track, "Tadpole Wiggle and the Froggy Hop" explains the life cycle of a frog with a danceable beat. Take that, science teachers!

The Chickadees tour in the greater Milwaukee area. Their melodic country harmonies will keep children entertained and (hopefully) open-minded for some simple learning. So hop to it.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Friday, December 2, 2011

Last Friday Night - Glee
Doing It Right - The Go! Team
Making Promises - Indigo Girls
eBay - Weird Al Yankovic
Grandmom's House - Recess Monkey
We Got The Beat - Glee
Buffalo Gals - Dog On Fleas
So So Good - The Good Miss Padgett
Eggs - Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players
Enough Is Enough - Lori Henriques