Fellow Babies, If You Ever Wondered
February 1, 2024 11:29 AM   Subscribe

What if you took EVERY DJ break Howard Hesseman ever made, as Dr. Johnny Fever on WKRP in Cincinnati, and just ...followed his lead? Would it be possible to construct a three hour radio show, with Fever as host?

It was, in fact! And it sounded great, because most of the musical choices were made by The Doctor, himself, and he'll be announcing everything himself as well, as he slogs his way through a triple shift, on a Cincinnati snow day.
posted by Alvy Ampersand (38 comments total) 75 users marked this as a favorite
Just sent to my 69-year-old dad so he can relive his twenties for three hours.

My mom spent YEARS in the 80s trying to find some place to buy my dad that Black Death t-shirt, but it was sadly before the days of TVs good enough to get a close look at it, and before there were internets where everything you want is on the other end of a keyboard.
posted by AzraelBrown at 11:39 AM on February 1 [4 favorites]

Listening to this, it's striking to me how yearning that theme song is, as many bittersweet songs or stories were in the '70s and early '80s, and how things are just not like that any longer.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 11:47 AM on February 1 [20 favorites]

The laugh track a little distracting.

It would be perfection without the laugh track, and I would invite anyone who has the access to masters or technology to provide a clean version to step forward and make it happen.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 11:49 AM on February 1 [7 favorites]

Listening now. I was a kid when this first aired but Johnny was one of my idols.

Love the post, and +1 for the "Booger" tag. :)
posted by martin q blank at 11:51 AM on February 1 [3 favorites]

This is wonderful. Thank you Alvy Ampersand.
posted by JanetLand at 11:56 AM on February 1 [2 favorites]

I read the words "fellow babies" and immediately knew what the subject of this post would be.

"-- but the senator, while insisting he was not intoxicated, could not explain his nudity --"
posted by orange swan at 12:01 PM on February 1 [18 favorites]

I loved this show as a little kid. I strongly suspect that I ended up in Minneapolis (as opposed to, eg, New York or even Chicago, near where I grew up) because of imprinting so deeply on that whole provincial-city-cultural-scene thing. I mean, I got a lot of the basic comedy, but it also seemed like a good way to live? Venus Flytrap was my favorite, I think because even as a little kid I was torn between the desire to be "good" and the desire to be an artsy weirdo.

Also, the melancholy yet settled lyrics of the theme song were very reassuring to me - like, the travails of life are behind, maybe you're not a superstar but you're in secure place, you've done some stuff and have some memories.
posted by Frowner at 12:03 PM on February 1 [11 favorites]

The laugh track a little distracting.

Agreed. I'd love to see the audience track get magically erased, it would be amazing. It's a pity because the concept here is so much fun.
posted by mcstayinskool at 12:08 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]

I'm a little farther into it now, and as distracting as the laugh track is, it's kind of offset by how magical some of the transitions are.

He's talked over a couple of the songs and they've just felt right. Especially the Springsteen into. Ether they're creating overlaps that didn't exist in the show (I don't know offhand) or they're doing an excellent job of syncing the audio from the track to what's playing in the background when Johnny's talking.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 12:17 PM on February 1 [2 favorites]

Oh man. That mishap when he tried to play some Elvis had me smiling. They're definitely syncing the backgrounds up with the tracks. This is amazing.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 12:25 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]

Oh hey looks like they played this on WFMU's Sheena's Jungle Room stream
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 12:27 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]

There's at least one laugh track remover, but it's fairly old. I wonder if you trained it specifically on Pratt's 1970s-era laugh track tapes you could get even better accuracy.
posted by credulous at 12:27 PM on February 1

posted by RonButNotStupid at 12:33 PM on February 1 [6 favorites]

Loving this. I’ll give them a pass on the laugh track because it’s an important part of the sense memory for me, bringing me right back to being 11 years old and watching this every week and then every day after school when it was first syndicated.
No pass for the first rock song after the format-change though, it wasn’t Immigrant Song (don’t think he ever played that*), it was Ted Nugent.
*google spreadsheet of all the songs played on the show
posted by chococat at 12:43 PM on February 1 [4 favorites]

This is awesome. I was (and am) such a huge fan of WKRP and everybody there - Johnny, Bailey, Venus, Travis, The Big Guy, Jennifer, Les, even Herb, once we got to see a bit more of his heart.

I love that somebody did this, and I love that we get to listen to it.

Thank you so much for posting this, Alvy Ampersand!
posted by kristi at 12:59 PM on February 1 [7 favorites]

+1 for the "booger" tag!

(or, on non-preview, another +1)
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:04 PM on February 1 [2 favorites]


"Chai Chai Rodri-gweez" lives rent-free in my head
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:07 PM on February 1 [20 favorites]

This is simultaneously brilliant, delightful, and a perfect illustration of what I mean when I say that WFMU has become an oldies station
posted by phooky at 1:35 PM on February 1

I just played the part with Les's "news flash" again, and, umm, trying to avoid spoilers ... I'm pretty sure that the problem is not a problem for any other portion of the news item. Well done, writers.
posted by martin q blank at 1:35 PM on February 1

"Chai Chai Rodri-gweez" lives rent-free in my head

Me, too, Greg_Ace, me, too. It's hardwired into the "this is very, very funny" sensor in my brain.
posted by Well I never at 1:40 PM on February 1 [4 favorites]

I wasn't around for the lizzard of '78, but everyone here in the northeast has stories about where they were and what they were doing when that monster lizzard attacked.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 2:05 PM on February 1 [3 favorites]

all together now: "as God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

This is a great idea and I'm so glad somebody did it!
posted by humbug at 3:03 PM on February 1

One day at work I walked by a manager I didn't know trying to explain Ness Nessman's taped off office to a bunch of young interns. They looked lost, he was floundering, so gray-haired old me just shouted out, "I got you, bro!" and kept walking by. Everyone cracked up and generational harmony was restored.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 3:22 PM on February 1 [7 favorites]

This is great! If this were a real station I'd tune in. It made me want to revisit Mr. Carlson wandering around the booth while Johnny's playing Pink Floyd (it was apparently in the turkey episode!):

Carlson: "Do I hear dogs barking on that thing?"
Johnny: "... I do."

It's one of the tracks that didn't make it onto the DVDs, but YouTube's got me covered.
posted by obloquy at 3:30 PM on February 1 [7 favorites]

I love this. Thank you very much for posting.
posted by jordantwodelta at 3:39 PM on February 1 [2 favorites]

"What's the name of those little Mexican dogs, Les?"

"You mean chee-hua-hua?"
posted by wenestvedt at 3:49 PM on February 1 [3 favorites]

This is my night sorted. Thank you!
posted by mollweide at 3:59 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]

There are multiple pirates of the series on YouTube, bootleg DVD and elsewhere - one thing to watch for is censored bits; rips from VCRs in the Bible Belt will sometimes lack the little scenes like when Johnny & Venus are in the stacks (rare use of that set) and Carlson pops out and surprises them... "So, what are you doing back here, Mr. Carlson?"

"Oh, smoking dope and lookin' for Guy Lombardo records."

What a troupe. Les catching the out always brings me to tears.


yes, Mother....
posted by Rat Spatula at 5:31 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]

Fun to listen to what FM radio "used" to be. Back when white people could actually listen to black performers, and white guys would listen to women artists. When corporate radio took over in the 80's, programmers decided that "oldies" rock radio should be a white sausage fest, and it has been ever since. You can go days and days without hearing Joni Mitchell or Bonnie Raitt. If you hear them at all.
Loved this inclusion of Bonnie Raitt's "Runaway" cover from the 1979 NoNukes concert simply leaped out of my speakers today. At about the 1:30 mark of the playback, just after Heard It From The Grapevine.

posted by pthomas745 at 5:53 PM on February 1 [7 favorites]

I'm not sure what you mean...hip-hop, the dominant form of music today, has always had white people as one of its biggest demographics. It's all over the radio, FM and otherwise.
posted by jordantwodelta at 6:23 PM on February 1 [3 favorites]

I'm 70, comparing the radio stations of the time of WKRP with what passes as "oldies" rock radio you can find today. Did not mean to disparage any other generations other than my own!
posted by pthomas745 at 6:36 PM on February 1 [3 favorites]

"... pour yourself a nice steaming hot cup of... (starts commercial tape) CHEMICALS!"

I needed this today. Thanks to the good soul who put this together.
posted by prepmonkey at 7:59 PM on February 1

"Wanna look at some Carly Simon album covers?"
posted by kirkaracha at 11:50 AM on February 2

Playlist for the show.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:10 PM on February 2 [3 favorites]

Mod note: [btw, this post has been added to the sidebar and the Best Of blog]
posted by taz (staff) at 2:47 AM on February 6

Future data historians will do the same thing with our livestreams, reconstructing them through the use of quantum computing from whatever clips remain.
posted by Eideteker at 3:04 AM on February 6

Since I narrowly avoided being born in the 70s, this is a nice opportunity to get a feel for what radio sounded like back then. Thanks Sheena, and thanks Alvy!
posted by Eideteker at 8:42 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]

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