The Host Is Dead, Long Live the Show

This past weekend, just like always, my radio station ran its usual schedule of vintage American Top 40 shows, less than one week after the passing of Casey Kasem. Earlier in the week, we asked our listeners on Facebook if they wanted the shows to continue, and the answer was definitively yes. There will probably be a few stations that will drop them, though—using Casey’s death as an excuse to make a change, or because they’re weirded out by the idea of having a dead guy on their air, or for reasons somewhere in between.

In the late 80s, at the elevator music station, we aired a syndicated show featuring MOR vocals from the 50s and 60s, the name of which I forget. It was hosted by Jim Lange, a veteran radio personality best known for having hosted The Dating Game. When Lange’s contract ran out, the syndicator began sending older versions of the show that had been hosted by another radio veteran, William B. Williams—whose hosting gig had ended when he died in 1986. This news sent a couple of us to the production room to record a joke promo for the show, which began with “KRVR, the station that plays more dead artists than any other station in the Quad Cities, is proud to present a program with a dead host.” The promo was never meant to air, but we probably should have contrived to sneak it on at least once.

On to Other Stuff: I have been tweeting a lot of stuff the last week or so, and unless you’re on Twitter (or you compulsively visit this site every few hours to see the Twitter feed in the right-hand column), you might have missed it. So here’s a rundown.

—Some of it had to do with Casey. Here he is on The Dating Game (with Jim Lange) as Bachelor #3. Here’s a tribute to Casey as “Pilot of the Airwaves.” Here he is on Late Show With David Letterman with a Top-Ten list. Casey pursued an acting career even as AT40 continued to grow—here he is in one of his two appearances on Hawaii Five-O.

—Flavorwire assembled a list of the 25 Best Rock Movies Ever Made. It’s a fine list, but we really needed it in the first week of winter, to while away the days when it’s too damn cold to do anything, not so much in the first week of summer.

—Through some sort of magic I haven’t tried to unlock, the Internet has become an excellent source for isolated tracks, which permit us to hear famous recordings in entirely new ways. Open Culture uncovered some isolated bass lines by Paul McCartney, John Paul Jones, John Deacon, and others, that reveal hitherto under-appreciated contributions to famous songs.

—We have talked repeatedly here over the years about the tendency of oldies radio stations to play the same tiny pool of songs over and over and over again. One show swimming in its own ocean is Barry Scott’s The Lost 45s, which is celebrating its 28th anniversary on the air this month. This article at RadioInfo describes how Scott came to do the show, and how he deliberately avoids playing the same tiny pool of songs over and over and over again. (Related: this article from Billboard about how stations decide which oldies to consider for airplay and where they go wrong doing it.)

—In 1974, during the making of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the film was required to pass muster with the British censors. Letters of Note found a report sent by one producer to another about proposed cuts, which reveals how the funniest line in the film was in jeopardy, but ultimately retained. Along the same line, you can read extensive excerpts from Michael Palin’s diaries about the making of the film, with a bunch of fabulous stills from the production, at Dangerous Minds.

5 responses

  1. That Casey bit on Letterman – damn these onions.

  2. When I get this station on the air next year (hopefully by spring) I’m doing oldies – but no #1s. Call me a renegade. :)

    (It helps that we’ll be non-comm).

    Just as a listening test I’ve got an internet version running (no clock, just randomized music and no prod elements yet)
    http://wkev.listen2myradio.com

  3. Thanks for the link to that great story on The Lost 45’s. I’ll co-sign Scott’s observation on It’s Over or Breakdown Dead Ahead rather than the millionth airing of Lowdown or Lido Shuffle.

  4. ditto on the great Barry Scott interview. First heard it in our market in the early 90’s and it blew me away. An interview with Meri Wilson that leads into her “Telephone Man” single, not heard by me since it was on the charts? Sign me up!!

  5. In April, radio station WROR ended its association with Barry Scott, effectively ending the Lost 45s in the Boston market after 25+ years. The online presence is still there, but I wonder if the show still exists on terrestrial radio.

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