Radio Raves

Wherein Our Boy Finds A New Hobby With Which To Annoy His Long-Suffering Wife.
By Tom Danehy

FOR THE PAST few months, I've been whiling away my Thursdays on the radio, acting as sort of a permanent, unpaid regular guest on the Franzi: 10 to 1 show. My new hobby is particularly galling to my lovely wife, Ana. She spent the first 18 years of our marriage apologizing for the fact that her husband was only a writer, taking slight solace in the fact that things couldn't possibly get worse.

Well, I showed her.

Danehy In the minds of most Americans, radio deejays have always been at the bottom of society's list, below used-car salesmen, below people who work at credit-reporting agencies, below even whoever has the unenviable task of refilling Pamela Anderson Lee's breast implants every month.

This and more Ana told me after my first couple stints on Emil Franzi's show. She was so embarrassed she said she was thinking of changing her last name. I said that was okay, since she didn't pronounce it right, anyway.

Besides, I argued, being on the radio isn't completely horrible. As long as Robert Hirsh is alive, deejays will never be at the absolute bottom of the barrel. Plus, I wasn't being a deejay; I was being a talk-show host...guest, sort of.

Oh, she asked, what do you discuss? The biting issues of the day? Health care reform? Safe water? The explosive growth on the northwest side?

"Well, actually," I answered, "we mostly talk about movies and stuff. Although we occasionally touch on television. Plus, we argue about music and movie soundtracks. It's real stimulating."

She looked at me like I had snot on my shirt. Or maybe like I was snot on her shirt.

I invited her to come along one day, but she declined, muttering something about how she'd rather watch Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh dance the tango naked. With dipping.

Well, who wouldn't?

I've always loved radio since my early days in L.A. listening to the Boss Jocks. Don't ask. Actually, there was Casey Kasem on one station and The Real Don Steele (the model for WKRP's Dr. Johnny Fever) on another. My favorite was Humble Harve, who one day found his wife and her lover en flagrante, shot and killed them both, hid from the cops for three weeks, then served about 18 months before he was back on the air as Humble Harve again.

I used to think about being a deejay, but my radio voice is the vocal equivalent of Tammy Faye Bakker's TV face--just real hard to take.

Still, it's a fun couple of hours. Emil scrounges together a few things to give away, we talk about which movies we've seen, then ask a couple trivia questions, and before you know it, the time has flown right by.

Here's how it goes on an average Thursday:

11 a.m. Emil signs off for the hour and warns people that I'll be on with him right after the national news, which lasts about five minutes.

11:03 a.m. I'm still stuck in line at the Circle K, paying for my Thirstbuster of Diet Pepsi.

11:04:45 a.m. I pull into the parking lot.

11:05 a.m. I run up the stairs, jump into a chair and grab for my headset.

(This is something I must share with you. As someone who, as a child, used to lie on the grass and suck water out of sprinkler heads on hot summer days, I'm generally not one to worry about germs all that much. But there is something about those headphones which makes me most uncomfortable. It's hard to be pleasantly chatty when visions of somebody else's head lice dance menacingly in your mind. I finally got Emil to buy some of those baby wipe things.)

11:06 a.m. The strains of the theme music from Quigley, Down Under play in the background. Emil loves this stuff. He's got to be the whitest dude I know, and I know some industrial-strength white people.

11:11 a.m. For the sixth week in a row, I have failed to prepare for the show. I keep doing stuff off the top of my head. One of these days, I'm going to make a mistake. I mean, besides going on the radio in the first place.

11:27 a.m. Emil is getting better at this all the time. He got the gig after he subbed a few times for John Ulm, who moved on to a station with a stronger signal, the better from whence to string together 87 consecutive first-person testimonials on everything from his favorite chiropractor to the best place in Tucson to get a high colonic.

Emil started off somewhat tentatively, but he's hitting his stride. He was sick for a while and had to suck on lozenges. When he would smack his lips, it sounded like he was speaking one of those African dialects where they throw in exclamation points in the middle of words.

11:44 a.m. Emil plays some obscure movie soundtrack music from a Western made in 1944. I guess it's I'm Gonna Git You Sucka.

12:05 p.m. I convince Scott, the producer, to come out of the news with some James Brown music. Some poor guy out in Oro Valley who's having trouble picking up the signal turns up his radio and goes into hyperventilation after being hit by the opening scream of "I Feel Good (I Got You)."

12:12 p.m. I ask a great movie trivia question about which three movies were rated "X" at the time they were nominated for Best Picture.

12:13 p.m. The phone lines light up. Some guy gets two right, but doesn't know the third.

12:14 p.m. Somebody else calls in and gets the third one, but can't remember the first two.

12:16 p.m. Finally, somebody gets all three and we give stuff away. Then we repeat the process. Scott just loves answering the phone all day.

12:47 p.m. Station owner Tom Hassey walks by, dressed like Herb Tarlek.

12:58 p.m. Show's over.

1:15 p.m. I pick up my son at school, unless he's got Student Council or chorus. I push the button on the car radio to 97.5, La Nueva Onda. The deejay is introducing "No Diggity" by Blackstreet. Wow, that sounds like fun. TW

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