Category Archives: howard stern

The End of an Era

Yesterday WYSP-FM changed their format and call letters to all sports and WIP-FM. I’m not a big sports fan other than Wings lacrosse and sometimes the Philadelphia Eagles or Dallas Cowboys (you know where to send the hate mail), I think it’s unfair for me to ask why we need another sports station in Philly, but there it is, ya know? It’s not the first time WYSP has changed formats, but never so drastic a change before.

I grew up with WYSP, from when I first became aware of FM radio in the mid-seventies to when I fell away from terrestrial radio a few years back and discovered the more eclectic satellite radio. In the radio wasteland of Philadelphia, WYSP was always the cooler, hipper choice when compared to direct rival WMMR and distant competitor WIOQ. I envisioned stoned ex-hippies at the former and future NPR listeners at the latter, whereas WYSP listeners seemed like either myself, or folks I wanted to hang out with. WYSP always had the new, newer and newest music and trends.

WYSP was originally the FM version of AM pop/rock station WIBG, and its call letters stood for “Your Station in Philadelphia.” It started rocking in the early 1970s and quickly became WMMR’s biggest competition. As I mentioned, WYSP always seemed to have newer music and harder rock than WMMR. Those that listened could usually tell the difference with hearing a DJ or a station ID. WYSP was the first place I heard DEVO, Adam and the Ants, the Sex Pistols, Joan Armatrading, and even Rick Springfield.

When WYSP had news, it was cool news, same with the talk. I remember the Source days with Cyndy Drue, the Dr. Demento show and the Comedy Hour on Sunday nights. I remember the engineer who did the dead-on Mr. Rogers imitation and recorded versions of “Cat Scratch Fever” and “Iron Man.” I remember Ask Anita. I remember listening to “Innerview” with Jim Ladd, as he talked with Roger Waters about what “The Wall” was really about, and when he interviewed Ray Manzarek telling apocryphal tales of the late Jim Morrison. I remember learning of John Lennon’s death from WYSP.

I remember the Howard Stern years, along with the Opie and Anthony years. I remember the two weeks after 9/11 when WYSP was all talk, taking calls from listeners twenty-four hours a day and letting them vent, grieve or just talk. This is not as sad as that, but it like losing a lifetime friend. Even if I haven’t seen you in a while, you were a friend. I will miss you, WYSP, and so will all of Philadelphia and the surrounding area. Goodbye, old friend…

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Soupy Sales Dies at 83

Veteran of the golden age of television Soupy Sales passed away earlier tonight after a lengthy battle with cancer.

I grew up much too late to have enjoyed his classic TV show “Lunch with Soupy Sales,” and I only knew from legend his stunt of asking kids to raid their parents’ purses and wallets and send the funny green pieces of paper to him. The story is different every time I hear it to this day. I wonder how seriously or how jokingly Soupy asked.

My memories of Soupy were of his appearances as a panelist on “What’s My Line?” as well as other game shows and sitcoms. I remembered an aborted attempt at trying a variety show again in the 1970s that was abysmal, and the not so bad “Junior Almost Anything Goes” that he hosted. Later I remember a radio rivalry with the then rising star Howard Stern. By that time the man was sadly considered a has-been by much of the public – and Stern’s methods of vanquishing foes certainly didn’t help.

Toward the end of his career he appeared as Professor Prophet in the low budget softcore Roger Corman superhero series “Black Scorpion.” Sales was no stranger to film, having his own starring vehicle in “Birds Do It” in 1966. He even did voice work for cartoons and was on Broadway as well.

Soupy Sales, despite the last few years out of the spotlight, was still one of the icons of the early days of television. He’ll be missed.

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The Price of Satellite Radio

I love my satellite radio. I love it so much that I rarely listen to terrestrial radio any more. Maybe some WXPN and maybe some NJ 101.5 FM, but let’s face it, my favorite terrestrial programs like Coast to Coast AM and some of the NPR stuff are all on satellite now. Not much reason to turn on the old fashioned radio any more.

Just got a notice from XM (yeah, they merged with Sirius, but they’ll always be XM to me) that my subscription rates are going up. The reasons cited are as follows:

”Music royalty rights were established by the U.S. Congress as part of the Copyright Act. This Act requires payment of copyright music royalties to recording artists, musicians and recording companies who hold copyrights in sound recordings.

“These royalties have recently increased dramatically, principally as a result of a decision made by the Copyright Royalty Board, which is designated by the Library of Congress to set royalty rates for sound recordings. Beginning on July 29, 2009, a “U.S. Music Royalty Fee” of $1.98/month* for primary subscriptions and $.97/month* for multi-receiver subscriptions will be effective upon your next renewal. This fee will be used directly to offset increased payments from XM to the recording industry.”

Now really, that’s fine. As a writer, I’m not someone who’s ever going to begrudge anyone royalties, that’s just how things work, and furthermore should work. I don’t have a real problem with the price hike, as long as my favorite stuff remains on the XM. What irked me was what I found when I went to the XM website and took a survey.

The survey was about my listening preferences, but seemed to mention little of what I actually listen to on XM. I stopped finding Howard Stern funny some time before he left terrestrial radio, so that’s not for me. I can count on one hand the number of times in three years I’ve listened to any of the nearly hundred sports channels, and Oprah barely amuses me even when she’s on TV. The big guns don’t interest me.

Most of what I listen to is talk radio. I’m addicted to Coast to Coast AM, which while occupying nearly eleven hours of programming per day, was not mentioned by the survey. Opie and Anthony get a brief mention, probably because they bitch on air about Sirius’ prejudice mercilessly. But nowhere did I see other things I listen to faithfully like the old time radio shows on Radio Classics and the wonderful audiobook variety at Book Radio. All there was in the survey was the rather vague description of ‘talk entertainment.’ That covers a lot of ground, and a lot of stuff I really don’t like. How can this survey really tell them anything?

The XM world has been getting smaller and smaller since the Sirius merge – mostly because it was more of a takeover than a merge. The mega-powered Sirius, with the ratings powerhouse (apparently) Stern behind it appeared to change everything on the XM dial as if they and they alone were calling the shots. We lost truly entertaining music stations in favor of the inferior Sirius versions of them.

My point is that for the price increase, how about some verification we’ll keep the programming we enjoy? How about it, XM? Sorry, I mean, how about it, Sirius?

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The Death of Freedom of Speech


Apparently freedom of speech is politically incorrect. I knew that having a sense of humor, especially a sick one, was, but freedom of speech?

Apparently the KKK or the Neo-Nazis can gather and speak their mind with police protection on most occasions, but if you put a witty if sick phrase on a t-shirt, you’re public enemy number one.

T-Shirt Hell is closing. It’s not because of the economy, like everything else closing of late, it’s because of wrong-minded idiots who refuse to let folks have freedom of speech in America. They are being forced out of business because some people not only don’t understand the Bill of Rights, but they also don’t get that everyone doesn’t have the same sense of humor. Apparently it’s wrong to be stupid or silly or politically incorrect – unless you’re a Klansman or a Nazi. And you folks out there know damn well if Dane Cook or Jim Carrey said some of the things on these shirts you’d laugh, but somehow it being on a shirt and for sale is wrong.

And it’s not like T-Shirt Hell is a fly-by night operation either. They’ve been around forever and have been featured in publications such as Penthouse, FHM, Maxim, Stuff, Playboy, Esquire (yes, Esquire), and on the Howard Stern Show. Granted, it’s niche, but it’s big. And they ship thousands of products every week (still) and to locations all over the world. Seems like only a pocket of vocal people here in the States are the only ones without a sick sense of humor.

Here’s what the owner and creator of T-Shirt Hell, Sunshine Megatron, had to say about this: http://www.tshirthell.com/goodbye.php and also from a soon-to-be-laid-off employee of T-Shirt Hell: http://www.tshirthell.com/goodbye2.php.

So freedom of speech with a sense of humor only has a week to live on the intrawebs, but not on your shirt. The sale is on. Get out there and buy and wear your right to free speech.

Shallow Hal

THESE GUYS COULD BE GOOD…

A Video Review of “Shallow Hal”

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

The Farrelly brothers, Bobby and Peter, are responsible for such films as Dumb and Dumber, Me, Myself and Irene, Say It Isn’t So, There’s Something About Mary and this classic Shallow Hal. Believe it or not I think they are fabulously talented filmmakers – I just think they might be a little embarrassed about it. Maybe they come up with great ideas and are unsure so slip in some toilet humor so it works. Or maybe they’re just lazy.

Howard Stern suffers from the same malady. He is one of America’s most talented and professional broadcasters. Yes, that’s what I said. The paradox is why should he bother working at it when it’s easier to fart and make dick jokes? Exactly. That’s the problem with the Farrelly brothers as well. Toilet humor is easy.

There’s a touching story at the heart of Shallow Hal just like most of their films. It’s just so entrenched in disgusting vile putrid content it’s hard to find. A subconscious suggestion makes Hal (played by the ever amazing Jack Black) see women as they are inside rather than superficially outside. He eventually falls for Gwyneth Paltrow, an overweight girl he would have never previously even considered talking to. Like I said, it’s a touching story, but it seems like after they got the plot the brothers sat down and made a list of every fat joke they could think of and injected them into the script.

Maybe eventually they’ll get the confidence to come out of the water closet and make a real film and surprise us – but not this time.