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Is Your Spouse a Pod Person?

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John Hodgman helps you find out the truth.

"I recommend creating a pre-nuptial questionnaire--a list of very personal questions that only your true spouse knows the answer to. You can imagine the sort:

What side of the bed do you sleep on?
Where do you keep your toothbrush?
Why do you keep it there and not put it in the safe like I suggested?
Don't you think our personal items should be protected by a fireproof safe?

That sort of thing."

That link again.

The Gear of Young America

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At least one electro-dorky listener has requested it, so here's a rundown of the gear I use to produce The Sound of Young America. I'm no gear expert, and I reccomend doing some reading at transom.org and podcastrigs.com if you're looking to make your own decisions. That said, here's the rundown.

Microphone: Shure SM7A

This is a great voice mic, one of the standards for radio broadcasting. Especially good on the lower side of the register, where you can find me hanging out and having a soda. I got the 7A instead of the 7B because the only differences are a slightly larger windscreen and like $100.

Mixer: Mackie 1402 VLZ-Pro

Mackies are sort of the industry standard, known in particular for their mic pre-amps. I bought mine from a nice roadie type who'd upgraded his home studio (he wanted more channels). Luckily, I don't really need more channels. I chose this one over an even smaller one because I wanted sliders instead of knobs. I'd like to get one of these some day, because of the built-in firewire interface, but those are expensive.


Telephone Hybrid: Telos One (rack mount version)

(It's the one in the middle, by the way.) The telephone hybrid basically takes a telephone conversation, which is inherently two-way (i.e. you can hear yourself in the earpiece) and breaks it into two parts. One channel is the other end of the phone line, one is the microphone in the studio. If one were to tap directly into the phone line, both sides would sound all phone-y. The Telos is sort of the industry standard for this kind of machine. I've used several kinds before, and the Telos is easily the best. Any phone interviews in our Santa Cruz days were conducted on a Gentner machine, and the results were passable, but less than satisfactory.

Everything Else
For in-person interviews, my second microphone is a Studio Projects B1, an inexpensive mic with pretty excellent sound. Not as good as the Shure, but pretty dang good for $75 or so. In a pinch, I use some Grady mics I bought three for $20 after a tip from Matt over at AST Radio and Never Not Funny. They're surprisingly passable.

I use a PC to produce the show. It's a Dell, and it's very powerful... my mother teaches college, and she has some kind of program where they take the cost of a Dell out of her paycheck over the course of years, so it didn't hurt the pocketbook too bad. I have a couple of external hard drives, as well -- a total of about 650 gigs right now, and I'm planning on buying another HD soon. I keep an eye peeled on deal blogs for big rebates and whatnot for those.

My computer has a Sound Blaster Audigy 2ZS sound card, and I just go direct from the output on the mixer to the input on the sound card. I'm working on a USB interface, perhaps a multi-track one, haven't figured that out yet. Anyone has any good resources, let me know.

I produce the show in Adobe Audition 2.0. For single-track recording, I usually use SoundForge, which I'm more facile with, since it was all we had at KZSC. I usually edit interviews in that, then put the show together in Audition, though I'm working on learning Audition better.

I have a couple of boom-arm mic stands I bought at Guitar Center, and a broadcast mic arm (the kind that's like the arm of an architect's lamp). Unfortunately, I managed to bust the clamp of the broadcast mic arm, and you'd be surprised how hard they are to replace -- if anyone knows somewhere that sells them, please email me.

In fact, if you for some reason have any questions about any of this, just email me. I'll help however I can.

Contest, 7/5

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Man, two Kids in the Hall sets given away... three more to give.

Today's contest: what Kids in the Hall sketch convinced Newsradio creator Paul Simms to build a show around Dave Foley?

Email your answer to contest at maximumfun.org, with the date in the subject line, and your answer and mailing address in the body of the email. If you don't want to be on our mailing list, please mention that in the email as well.

You have until 5PM pacific. I'll pick randomly from the correct answers then!

[Editors note: I originally wrote, "what Kids in the Hall sketch convinced Newsradio creator Phil Simms to build a show around Dave Foley." That should read, "What Kids in the Hall sketch convinced New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms to build a show around Dave Foley?"

**Contest Complete!**
The winner today is Matthew K. from Boston, Massachusetts, who correctly answered The Chicken Lady! Which, by the way, is a sketch that still gives me the willies.

The Ike & Tina Turner Revue

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TSOYA listener Cibby suggested this post... and it was a great idea.

Have you ever watched Ike & Tina Turner perform? Those two people are SO raw... they just stepped on stage and TORE SHIT UP. And their dynamic is insane -- it's like they want to fuck each other, love each other, and murder and eat each other at the same time.

"Baby, Get it On" in 1975

"Sexy Ida" sometime in the early 70s

"I Wanna Take You Higher" on Soul Train (note that they're one of the few groups Don Cornelius allowed to play live on the show)

"Fool in Love" on Shindig in the early-mid 60s (the subtext... or actually... the text here is powerful)

Where does my money go?

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I've had some folks wondering where donations go, and about long-term plans for the show, so I thought I'd break it down. I'm using approximate numbers here, for no reason other than that I'm at work right now, and I don't have the exact numbers.

First of all, I don't get any income from any of the stations that carry the show. This is unfortunate, but it's pretty standard in the public radio world. Only a few shows get what are called "carriage fees," and those are the big BIG names (Car Talk, for example). I was a volunteer at our former home, KZSC, as well.

Right now, listener donations are bringing in about $200 a month, maybe $250. This number has been growing very slowly but very steadily. Thanks to all who donate. We've gotten a few hundred dollars in one-time donations (about $400, total). I've generally been asking for the small-amount subscriptions because they afford both a relatively stable level of income and require much less administrative and fundraising time on my part.

That's about it on the revenue side of the equation -- basically a couple hundred bucks a month. Which is awesome.

What about costs?

Our total hosting costs are $35/month. This includes both our web hosting, and the seperate hosting of media files (the bandwidth on those is huge, but our very nice host Libsyn gives us unlimited bandwidth).

Expenses for equipment have been about $50 per month since I started taking donations. In the past month or so, I've purchased a much-needed USB audio interface, a new mic stand, and some cables. Much of the equipment I use (the main microphone, the mixer, the telephone hybrid) I bought with money I got from selling my car six months or so ago.

The rest of the revenue ($150 a month or so), I've been plowing back into marketing. In an endeavor as modest as this one, that means stickers and postcards and Maximum Fun Club cards (and soon, t-shirts). All of that stuff I've been trying to spread around as broadly as possible to both listeners and potential listeners.

I think the show has the potential to be interesting to many more listeners than already listen, and I know that getting more folks to listen is going to be vital to the long-term viability of this operation. I think it's really cool to be able to get stuff like stickers that I've always wanted to make for the show, but was never able to afford out-of-pocket.

And that's about it. In short, right now, it's all going back into non-me parts of the show.

That said, in the medium- to long-term, I hope to be able to pay myself enough to... you know... eat. As I see it now, this income would come from two sources: listener donations and underwriting sales. (Underwriting, by the way, is the sort of sponsorship you'd hear on your local NPR station). For that to be viable, the show would need a lot more listeners (tens of thousands more, probably). So for the time being, my plan is to keep paying the costs with donations, and promoting the show to the best of my ability.

I'm also pursuing more radio carriage of the show, which could also help our prospects for increased listenership. Hopefully some of that will come to fruition, if it does, you'll be the first to hear.

If you have any questions about any of this, please feel free to email me and ask. And thanks to everyone who's been listening and donating and telling friends and all of all of that.

Jesse vs. Brent Weinbach on The Apiary

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The always-entertaining Apiary has just posted an interview I conducted with Sound of Young America pal Brent Weinbach. And the picture above (by the wonderful Jakub Mosur) turns up in it. Who even knew that the SF Sketchfest 2006 photos were now available? FYI, that's the lovely and talented Theresa Hossfeld (as heard hosting The Sound of Young America in an attempt to land Tony Kushner as a guest), me, and Brent.

You can also read Ben Kharakh's great interview with Brent on Gothamist here.

Anyway, Brent performs Friday night at Mo Pitkins in the East Village.

Read the Interview

Want to be linked from this very blog?

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If you've got The Sound of Young America linked on your blog or website, I will gladly link back, just let me know via email. And if you don't have The Sound of Young America linked on your blog or website... seriously... what are you thinking? How are we ever going to get rich and famous if we're not LINKING TO EACH OTHER?

It's time to get serious about this, folks. Let's do this thing.

The Roots f. Peedi Peedi - Long Time Comin'

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I am feeling the shit out of this new Roots track. I've definately been checking for Peedi Crack (now Peedi Peedi) since he MURDERATED Beanie Sigel's "Gotta Have It" (aka 2005's monster hit that shoulda been). He delivers on this one.

I wasn't as crazy about Phrenology as some, and while I liked The Tipping Point, it certainly didn't blow me away. When I heard the new Roots single ("It Don't Feel Right"), it, uhm, didn't feel right. But this joint right here, this joint is FIRE.

Black Thought is such an amazing MC -- either the most under or overrated in the world. His effortless flow, beautiful voice and stage charisma sometimes make me think he's great. Then I listen to his hit-and-miss lyrics, and his almost total lack of personality, and get dissapointed. But he certainly marries his style to the music like no one else in hip-hop. He's got something -- heart maybe? There's something there that'll never let the Roots become real stars, but will always keep them from being the novelty act that a hip-hop band maybe deserves to be.

Contest: Tuesday July 4th

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Another Kids in the Hall Season 4 box set is our prize. Our contest?

What New Jersey city is the center of the semi-fictional universe of The Best Show on WFMU? (Hint: it's not Jersey City, where FMU is based).

Email your answer to contest at maximumfun.org. Put the date in the subject line and your answer and your mailing address in the body of the email.

Special note: if you don't want to be on the show's once-a-month email list, mention that in your email.

CONTEST CLOSED!

The winner is Melissa from Poolesville, MD, who correctly answered Newbridge! See you all manana!

"More like SNOOZERMAN"

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This according to "Big Time" Gene O'Neill:

...more like "Snoozerman"
Current mood: amazed i have nothing better to do

I'm aware of the foolhardiness of a man my age being disappointed by a comic book movie, but my expectations were unique. I knew going in that Superman, like all movies of its ilk, had a low ceiling for substance. But I also heard that the movie was supposed to be really, really gay. Like "Top Gun"-level accidentally gay, so I was eagerly anticipating some iconic innuendo not to mention Superman flying around and punching things into the ionosphere. I will now enumerate my dissatisfaction:

1. The movie is only a little gay and that might have my forceful projections to thank. I mean, Kevin Spacey is a little fruity but he's like that in all of his movies. I was expecting a lot of male-to-male close talking and delicately shrouded references to Super Cocks, but no. Nothing.

2. "Something falling and Superman catching it" encapsulates the full breadth of Superman's "heroics". Seriously, they should've called the movie "Guy who catches a lot of shit". In three hours of movie, he doesn't punch anything or anyone, somehow forswearing the obvious question "how far can I punch this?". Unforgiveable.

3. One of the more interesting subplots is the contest between the guy playing Superman and the girl playing Lois Lane to see who can be less interesting.

4. Superman is racist. He doesn't save any black people and doesn't go to the ghetto once. I guess even he's afraid to go to the ghetto. He's like the George W. of superheroes, which I guess makes Batman the Bill Clinton in that he's an honorary black guy by virtue of acknowledging their marginalization.

5. Clark Kent never seems to write any articles.

6. The best part of the movie was when half the audience would start clapping after Superman did something allegedly awesome and the other half of the crowd would aggressively shush the clappers. This progressed into a real battle throughout the movie. After some decisive losses in the early going, the clappers were really surging towards the end, making for a plot infinitely more interesting than the one on screen. It was so good I was tempted to pick a side and loudly root for them. (Here's a phenomenon I never understood: clapping at the end of movies. Whom are these people clapping for? Do they think the actors and crew are at the movie? Do they also clap at the end of TV shows or after they hear a song over the radio? I swear this only happens in LA. I think these people are only applauding their own self-perceived sophistication at having recognized what they think is a great film, which is hilarious, because the shittier the movie, the louder the applause usually is.)

7. Before the movie, there was a commercial for a cell phone (I think). And in the commercial, they show Rufio dancing around. Rufio! Who is this guy's agent? You can't find fucking Rufio a better gig than a couple seconds of mincing around on a cell phone commercial? This guy went from taking Peter Pan to the cleaners to pre-cinematic obscurity. Terrible. Just terrible.

YOUR THOUGHTS?

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