Dr. Demento 40th is his Last

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Dr. Demento 40th is his Last

Postby jon » Sun Jun 06, 2010 8:15 pm

Dr. Demento Ends His 40 Year Old Radio Show
Written by Larz
Chicagoland Radio and Media
Saturday, 05 June 2010 13:39

The novelty tunes, wacky sounds, comedy bits and parody songs, all hosted by one crazy "doctor," has come to an end. This weekend is the final airing for the syndicated "Dr. Demento Show." The show's syndicator, Talonian Productions -- which is owned by Dr. Demento -- has told the affiliates that this is the end.

In a simple email to its few remaining stations, the email stated "Dr. Demento and his management have decided to no longer offer The Dr. Demento Show on terrestrial radio stations and to concentrate on offering the show via internet streaming only."

The Dr. Demento Show was one of the most unique syndicated radio shows in history, specializing in finding, playing and promoting novelty songs, comedic songs, and the strangest songs ever recorded, from new recordings to classic recordings from decades ago. Dr. Demento, who real name is Barret ("Barry") Eugene Hansen, got his start playing oldies on a radio station in Pasadena, California. As he and his listeners had fun focusing on the old novelty songs like "Alley Oop" and "Purple People Eater," the show then focused only on that. By 1970, the "Dr. Demento" personality was born. The weekly, goofy, all-novelty song Pasadena show from 1970 grew in popularity and became syndicated nationally by 1974.

The popular weekly show is credited with bringing "Weird Al" Yankovic to world wide fame. The show is also credited (or blamed, depending upon your perspective) for bringing the song "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" by Elmo and Patsy to national attention in the late 70's and early 80's. Because of Dr. Demento, that song is now heard seemingly non-stop through the month of December.

Dr. Demento was inducted into the Comedy Music Hall of Fame in June 2005. This past November, Dr. Demento was honored with an induction into the Radio Hall of Fame -- introduced at the induction ceremony by Chicago's Jonathon Brandmeier.

In the last few years, his syndicated radio show had fallen on tough times. Some of the reasons had to do with comedy songs not being very popular any more and very few new novelty songs are being released. That seemed to peak in the mid-80's. Some of the reasons had to do with the fact finding advertisers for this show became close to impossible in the last few years. While some of the reasons had to do with Dr. Demento himself. He and his management team had become very demanding of their affiliates. Asking for high fees for the show, demanding certain time slots, and most recently, demanding that all affiliate radio stations shut down their Internet streaming while his show was on the air. Listeners were only allowed to listen via airwaves or via a subscription to his own website. These demands, coming from a low-rated weekend show, did not sit well with many station managers. In the last three years, the show went from many, many dozens of stations down to under a dozen. As of this weekend -- Dr. Demento's final weekend on the air -- the show is down to only six radio affiliates.

The very last station to drop the Dr. Demento Show? Chicago's own WLUP-FM, who had been one of the show's longest supporters, through numerous ownership changes. For around 25 years, Dr. Demento was heard in Chicago on 97.9. WLUP dropped the show three weeks ago. A few days later, Dr. Demento took that lost Chicago affiliate as a sign to end the show. It was only a matter of weeks before the true 40th Anniversary of the show was to happen.

The show will continue on, but now it will only be streaming and in podcast form on his own website. Even then, only for those who choose to join the "Demento Online Club."

It's the end of era for novelty songs. It's the end of an era for radio.

ref. - http://chicagoradioandmedia.com/news/64 ... radio-show
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Re: Dr. Demento 40th is his Last

Postby jon » Sun Jun 06, 2010 8:26 pm

Dr. Demento had been a big supporter of Robert O. Smith's "Walter Wart" over the years, even releasing both sides on CD nearly 10 years ago. Good thing, too, as the man who held the master tapes died soon after, and no one seems to know where they went.

Sad that Dr. Demento's show should come to a close the same week that Robert O. Smith passed away, especially when you realize that Dr. Demento would very likely not even know of his passing.

Was Dr. Demento aware of Robert O.'s many other recordings? I don't know.

My only personal contact with Dr. Demento was in the late 1980s when I asked a Midwest DX'er who ran a used record mail-order business about the technical requirements for syndicating radio programs. He, in turn, asked the good doctor, who was one of his best customers. I still have the detailed response that Dr. Demento personally wrote. Nice guy!
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Re: Dr. Demento 40th is his Last

Postby jon » Wed Jun 30, 2010 7:26 am

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

LOS ANGELES _ Listen closely, that's the sound of demented music dying that you're hearing on your radio.

After nearly 40 years of broadcasting catchy little tunes celebrating everything from dogs getting run over by lawnmowers to cockroaches devouring entire cities, Dr. Demento is discontinuing his syndicated radio show.

By summer's end, the good doctor's hyper-enthusiastic voice will be heard only on the Internet as it introduces oddball classics such as ``There's a Fungus Among Us,'' ''Fish Heads`` and ''Dead Puppies.``

For decades Demento has been a Sunday-night fixture on radio stations across the country, keeping alive the music of political satirists like Tom Lehrer (``The Vatican Rag''), while making a star of ``Weird Al'' Yankovic, whose first hit, ``My Bologna,'' debuted on the doctor's show.

``He kept my whole career alive by playing Freberg records constantly,'' says Stan Freberg, the Grammy-winning song satirist who, at 83, continues to write and perform comedy music and make public appearances.

Recently, however, the radio stations carrying Demento's show declined to fewer than a dozen. He had planned to stop syndicating it this month until he learned a college station in Amarillo, Texas, had committed to airing it through the summer.

Over the decades, Demento, who was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame last year, has kept his playlists contemporary. But it was changing radio formats that did in his syndicated show, said Demento, 69, who in a parallel life is Barret Hansen, music writer and ethnomusicologist. His college master's thesis was on the evolution of rhythm and blues.

``With the increasingly narrow casting, as they call it, of radio where stations will pick one relatively restricted format and stick with it 24 hours a day, especially in the music area, my show just got perhaps a little too odd of a duck to fit in,'' he said.

The program has always been built on Demento's personal music collection, which numbers in the hundreds of thousands and includes every recording format from antique wax cylinders to modern-day digital downloads. He says he's long since lost count of how many recordings he keeps in the Southern California home he shares with his wife, Sue, but puts the number somewhere north of 300,000.

When he started putting them on the radio in 1970, it wasn't all that unusual for a pop station to play a record by blues-rocker Eric Clapton, followed immediately by one from crooner Frank Sinatra. With that dichotomy, broadcasting a variety show that would include songs like Sheb Wooley's ``Purple People Eater'' and ``Weird Al's'' Grammy-winning Michael Jackson takeoff ``Eat It'' didn't sound so out of place.

But those days of radio appear over, says broadcast veteran and University of Southern California's writer-in-residence Norman Corwin.

``Radio has been relegated to programs like Rush Limbaugh and other talk shows and (on the music side) niche formats,'' said Corwin, who has worked in and followed the broadcast industry for more than 70 years. ``They do have a huge following, and a huge influence,'' he says of such shows. ``But the variety programs are gone. That's a shame.''

They've gone to the Internet, says Demento, who has been doing a separate Web show there for several years. On the Web, he says, he can play even a wider selection of music, including tunes too raunchy or outrageous for FCC-regulated terrestrial radio.

``I prefer to think of it as just transitioning to a new medium rather than it coming to an end,'' he says of the show, which will mark its 40th anniversary in October.

``It's kind of like when we changed from cassettes to CDs,'' he adds in that distinctive Dr. Demento voice.

___

Online:

http://www.drdemento.com
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