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Jordan Morris on Jonathan Goldstein's Wiretap

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Our own Jordan Morris guested on Jonathan Goldstein's wonderful CBC/PRI radio program Wiretap this week. You can hear him giving JG some tips on how to "comedy up" his downer of a show starting around 15 or 20 minutes in.

If you're not already on board the Wiretap bandwagon, now's a great time to get on board. The CBC doesn't offer an official podcast of the show, but I bet you could find one if you looked.

Phil Hartman Audition Tape


Phil Hartman's SNL audition is fucking AMAZING.

Thanks, the groinery.

Adam Carolla hits it out of the fucking park.


Podthinker Colin Marshall just posted this from Adam Carolla's first podcast. He was recently let go from his commercial radio gig, and he describes the radio industry *perfectly* in this rant from the first episode of his new podcast. Perfectly. Rare that I'd repost a block of text this long, but Carolla gets it. (And by the way - rent his movie The Hammer, because it's great).

I got into radio many years ago to speak my mind, to do what I wanted to do and to connect with people, and I'd rather have ten smart people than a billion retards listening to me and I've always felt that way and that's what I've always loved about my fans. [KLSX program director] Jack Silver did not feel the same way as I did when it came to that, and I guess that's a good place to start. Jack's basically a good guy, but he knows not what he does. He's a radio guy, and radio guys do radio, and it doesn't really matter whether they have me or the Greaseman or Tom Leykis or Howard Stern; they pretty much have just one mode, and that's radio mode. And I've always said this about radio guys: they're like beavers, and if you took a whole flock, brood, murder -- I don't know what a bunch of beavers are called -- if you took a whole family of beavers and you put them on the roof of the Sears Tower, they would start looking for wood to build a fuckin' dam. Why? Because that's what beavers do; they just build dams. And it doesn't matter whether they're in a stream or 75 stories above Chicago; they're just gonna build a fuckin' dam.

And that's what Jack Silver does. That's his approach to radio. My approach is different. It's long form, and maybe it's not good for morning. I don't know. I did it at night for eleven years. I was told once a month to move it along and take more phone calls and stop telling personal stories and quit complaining about flying first class and I did it anyway and it seemed to work out. So I brought that same mindset into doing morning radio, except for now, I wasn't in an empty building in my mukluks with my sweatpants talking to Dr. Drew, I was in an open office building and I could see Jack through the window and all the other suits. They wanted to build some dams. My feeling is, if you left me alone eventually we could get to where we wanted to get, but that wasn't going to do it. They were very impatient beavers. Again, Jack's not a bad guy, he's just a beaver who wants to build a dam and he's not used to dealing with guys like me. So he had a lot of ideas. A lot of ideas like the "Wing Bowl": we get a bunch of fat guys in there and we see how many hot wings they can eat in twenty minutes. And I would always say, "I don't have anything to say about that," and he would say, "But it's huge in Philly." I realize that was part of the problem.

Another thing is, his comedic sensibility — and I'm going way out on a limb and saying he has a sensibility — was much different than mine. He hated Dana Gould, he hated the Deaf Frat Guy... basically, here's how you knew Jack hated something: if I loved a guy on the show, he hated the guy on the show and vice versa. More "cooch talk", more "Cocktober", more "Manuary", more of that stuff. His suggestions, other than the Wing Bowl, were like, "How about you give out the time?" And I was always like, "Jack, don't you listen to the fucking show? All I do is make fun of the other idiots who give out the time." It's, ironically, a waste of time. See, radio's about spinning wheels and wasting time. It's about guys with subpar intellects killing four goddamn hours a morning. How do you kill four hours? I don't want to kill four hours! I'd like to connect for four hours. And yeah, you're gonna do your bits and some stuff's going to work and some stuff will be better than others and yeah, I can't do four hours of making fun of the mayor, making fun of the department of building or transportation. I understand that. There has to be some laughs. There has to be some smiles. There has to be some jokes in there somewhere, and I understand there's a balance to strike, and maybe I never found that balance.

But what I'd like to do now is a little experiment, because I think this is a really good time for us. And when I say us, I mean guys like me who don't want to sit around and bullshit and make up stories. And by the way, that's the other thing about radio: half the shit you hear is a fuckin' lie. Truth be told, the reason I had to get away from [former co-host] Danny [Bonaduce] is because he stretched the truth so thin I could see through it and I felt like I was an accomplice in a crime when we were talking to our listeners. Danny is another guy who's a good guy, just a bad fit; he does a pro wrestling version of radio. He does the kind of radio that Jack Silver would like, which is... theater of the mind. Pick up a persona and run with it. Whatever you see in pro wrestling, that's about it: take on a persona, drive it into the ground, all attitude, not much content, wash, rinse, repeat. That's essentially what radio does, and I wanted to talk to people.

I always just thought, you're talking to hundreds of thousands of people and what the fuck are you saying? It's a fat guy eating wings? That's what it is? If I had a microphone and it was hooked up to ten Rose Bowls that were filled to capacity and I had it for four hours a day, I would spend half the time watching morbidly obese guys eat hot wings? It seems ridiculous to me, yet that's the direction. That's where we're heading. And then it becomes one of these negative spirals, because it's like, are we just keeping up with the dumbasses, or we causing the demise of the intelligent people? Are we causing them to be dumb? Think about it. That's the logic in radio: "Look, you're smart, fine, but everyone who's listening to you is dumb, so dumb it up for them," as opposed to try to raise their awareness a little and have them come up and meet you.

[ ... ]

Maybe we can assemble a team of interesting, smart people, not only here in California, not only here in the United States, but around the world, anywhere they speak English, anywhere someone has an idea, anywhere they think they're not being serviced by the current 'tards that are being put on the radio, maybe we can make a community. And maybe we can fight back, and maybe we can unite and maybe we can create a place for interesting voices and then this show can become a place for interesting voices. And we can talk without the limits, and without the constraints that you have when you do terrestrial radio.

Conan plays old-tyme baseball

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Every since I talked about watching old-tyme baseball on Jordan, Jesse Go!, I've been inundated with emails saying "Conan did that! Conan did that once!"

Luckily for us, Conan featured the clip on his last show, so we can all enjoy it.


Podcast: TSOYA Classic: The Best Show

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We continue our journey into The Sound of Young America's vast audio archive with this program from The Sound of Young America Clasics.

In this episode Tom Scharpling, star of The Best Show on WFMU, takes over! Also included are two tracks from Tom's new cd "Scharpling and Wurster.".

Please share your thoughts on the show in the comments section!

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Jello Biafra Interview Live at SF Sketchfest: The Sound of Young America Podcast

Jello Biafra (L) with Jesse Thorn, photo by Tommy Lau

This week, we're joined by punk rock and free speach legend Jello Biafra. As the former frontman of the seminal punk group Dead Kennedys, Biafra fused political agitprop with humor, changing the face of punk rock. He also ran for mayor of San Francisco, gaining thousands of votes with a platform that included a requirement that businessmen downtown wear clown suits and that policemen be elected. Since his time with the DKs, he's become a free speach leader, travelling the country giving spoken word performances. He's also the founder of Alternative Tentacles Records.

We spoke with Biafra during our live show at SF Sketchfest in San Francisco.

If you enjoyed this show, try these:
The Dirtbombs
Dan Savage
Janeane Garofalo

The Best Show Gems - Tom Scharpling's New Podcast


Long-time Sound of Young America followers are probably already familiar with Tom Scharpling's The Best Show on WFMU. It's a call-in talkshow on the nation's premier free-form radio station, which Scharpling calls "three hours of mirth, music and mayhem."

Calling it a call-in talk show, though, undersells it dramatically. On the show, Tom and his partner in crime Jon Wurster have created an entire fictional universe, with recurring characters, feuds, drama... like Arrested Development on the radio. Wurster calls in in-character regularly, and part of the fun of the show revolves around the line between truth and fiction. Even when regular folks call in (and it's mostly regular folks), half the time Tom pulls them in one direction or the other, leaving us to wonder what he really thinks. It's half talkshow, half deconstruction of the talkshow -- both celebrating and making a mockery of talkshow convention.

Comedy stars like Paul F. Tompkins and Patton Oswalt and rock & rollers like Ted Leo are fans and supporters of the show, and for good reason -- it really is something special. I'm a fan myself (in case you can't tell) and Tom & Jon have been guests on The Sound. I once dedicated an entire Sound of Young America to highlighting material from The Best Show.

The show has been available by podcast for sometime, but the whole three-hours-a-week thing can be tough for a new listener. To help ease people into the world of The Best Show, Tom's created a new podcast, called Best Show Gems. It's a sort of greatest-hits compilation, every other week. Easy to digest and follow, easy to laugh at, tons of fun.

You can check out Best Show Gems online here. This is the iTunes link. This is the podcast feed. As the proud winner of a Best Show Award (Worst Caller, 2007), I urge you to take a listen.

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: "The Thomas Jefferson Hour"


Your Podthinker was once involved in an elementary school project requiring each and every student to spend a few weeks learning about a famous person of their choice. The sum of these efforts was a morning during which refreshments were served and the kids milled around, in costume and ostensibly in character, attempting to answer questions posed them by the parents who showed up. The kids' grasp on the facts of their subjects' lives proved shaky; representatively, the boy dressed as Einstein had a lot to say about the "theory of reality". (Your Podthinker dressed as Neil Armstrong but found the former astronaut's retirement hang gliding hobby more interesting than his time in space and thus had to bluff when asked who, exactly, it was who hit that golf ball around the moon.)

The Thomas Jefferson Hour [iTunes link] is more or less the same deal, sans the refreshments and certainly sans the incompetence. It helps that Clay Jenkinson, "award-winning humanities scholar" and portrayer of Jefferson, is not a fourth-grader. Indeed, his competence in the role far surpasses even that of the sharpest fifth- or sixth-graders. But why beat around the bush? It's no exaggeration to say that Jenkinson delivers quite possibly the finest podcast-based portrayal of Thomas Jefferson in recent memory.

The format typically runs as follows: for the first half of the program, interviewer David Swenson is joined by Thomas Jefferson, late-18th and early-19th century intellectual, enthusiastic Enlightenment polymath, University of Virginia founder, third president of the United States of America and face on the two-dollar bill, in the temporal guise of Clay Jenkinson. For the second half, Swenson is once again joined by the body and voice of Jenkinson, though not channeling Jefferson, to reflect upon the themes of the week's discussion and Jefferson's previously expressed thoughts on those themes. Though Jenkinson is apparently not briefed on any discussion's subject matter beforehand, he never fails to respond in Jeffersonian depth; no surprise, perhaps, since he's recorded over seven hundred of these shows.

Yes. Over seven hundred, 147 of which are available right there for the downloading on iTunes. The subjects range far and wide, from the events of Jefferson's life to Jefferson's broad outlook on human matters to Jefferson's views on current events as interpreted through his own life, experience and historical perspective. All subjects are fair game for conversation: American issues such as taxes [MP3], Jefferson's personal passions for gardening [MP3], books and music [MP3] and Barack Obama's inauguration speech [MP3]. That's a tiny, near-random selection of topics; if Jefferson was likely to have thought about it or would be likely to think about it today, Jenkinson, as Jefferson, has probably expounded on it.

It takes a certain (large) amount of admiration to dedicate so much of one's life to impersonate a man on the airwaves and the internet so comprehensively and for so long. The danger such a project faces is turning into hagiography: the interlocutor assert's Jefferson's greatness, Jefferson's admirer as Jefferson modestly consents, and around and around it goes. Fortunately, The Thomas Jefferson Hour avoids this; Jenkinson openly acknowledges the man's many imperfections — spending recklessly, owning slaves — while at the same time refusing to downplay his irrefutably impressive displays of intellect and diligence. How terribly difficult it would be to listen to a few hours of conversation with the fellow and not want to get to know him better. It's perhaps dorky to come away from an experience claiming to have been galvanized to learn more about the founding fathers, but there it is.

Vital stats:
Format: conversations with Thomas Jefferson and a Thomas Jefferson scholar
Running since: quite some time ago, it seems
Duration: ~50m-1hm
Frequency: weekly
Archive available on iTunes: last 147

[Podthinker Colin Marshall still has what Thomas Jefferson never could: an e-mail address, colinjmarshall at gmail. Discuss Podthoughts on the forum here or submit your own podcast for the next by-Max-Funsters column here.]

The Sound of Young America in Torrents


If you're interested in downloading some of the archives of The Sound of Young America via torrent, you can now do so, thanks to the dastardly information thieves of The Pirate Bay.

I've uploaded torrents for the show by year, starting with 2005's podcasts (and our pre-podcasting archive), and including each year since. It's a great way to listen to the show and share it with friends (which I encourage you to do). They are all absolutely free, distributed under a Creative Commons license. (By the way: if you'd like to make a derivative work, ask permission, and I will almost certainly grant it.)

Of course, if you do download them, I hope you will leave them to seed, as my internet connection is neither particularly fast nor always on. I also hope you'll support the production of the show with a donation.

The Sound of Young America in Torrents:
The Sound of Young America - 2005 and Pre-Podcasting
The Sound of Young America - 2006
The Sound of Young America - 2007
The Sound of Young America - 2008

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