Two, four, six, eight? Who do we tolerate?

Stan Freberg was a Noam Chomsky book set to big-band music. There was serious cynicism under the veneer of polished middle-American entertainment

Rumble, rumble, rumble. Freberg, Freberg, Freberg

Happy Thanksgiving! On this weekend’s show, I’m playing “Pilgrim’s Progress (Take an Indian to Lunch)” by Stan Freberg, from his brilliant 1961 satire, “Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America, Volume 1: The Early Years.

“Pilgrim’s Progress” is a parody of the first Thanksgiving, as it was traditionally taught in American schools — and still is, in a lot of places.

You know, the humble Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620, and nearly starved to death — except that they made friends of the noble Native Americans who helped them through the winter. In solemn thanks to the natives and to God, the Pilgrims celebrated by inviting the indigenous tribes to a Thanksgiving feast in 1621.

As Roy Edroso points out today, almost no one still buys that story: “The kind of paternalistic bullshit you’d hear about it a couple of decades ago sounds ridiculous to everyone now; not even readers of the Wall Street Journal are buying it.”

Myself, I’m not so sure about that. I’ve heard from friends with kids in religious schools that the noble-savages-kindly-pilgrims myth is still taught.

But the Thanksgiving myth was definitely the dominant narrative in the early 1960s, when Freberg and a cast of the best talent from old-time radio (a veritable who’s who of early TV cartoon stars, too, including June Foray, Daws Butler, Peter Leeds, Paul Frees, Billy May’s orchestra and Jud Conlon’s chorus) recorded “Pilgrim’s Progress” and the rest of “United States of America” at the famous Capitol Records studios in Hollywood.

As a result, I’m not sure that listeners in 2023 appreciate just how vicious this satire was. In fact, I’m almost worried that some folks may think that Freberg was celebrating racism.

Continue reading “Two, four, six, eight? Who do we tolerate?”

A face made for radio

Uncle Jay gives a short explanation of why vintage 78 RPM records sound terrible on most modern turntables, and how you might be able to fix that.

“Radio 9” will not be heard this weekend on our flagship/namesake station, WRCT 88.3 FM. Instead, students will be presenting “Anatomy of the Ear,” an annual event where — for three days — usual programming is suspended in order to feature solid one-hour blocks of music from a variety of styles and genres.

This year, for my contribution to “Anatomy of the Ear,” I will be presenting an hour of big-band music, all from records, and most of the records will be original 78 RPM records from the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s.

The bad news? My hour will air at 3 a.m. Saturday. Make sure to set your alarm.

Since I know most of my listeners go to bed right after they watch the lottery numbers and won’t be up at 3 a.m. (unless they have to go pee), I will re-broadcast the hour of big-band music from 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday during my regular timeslot on Tube City Online Radio in McKeesport. (The other two hours of my show on Tube City Online Radio also will be pre-recorded this weekend.)

I thought some folks might be interested in the mechanics of playing 78 RPM records almost 100 years after they were first made, so I did this short video.

Basically, if you try to play 78 RPM records on most modern turntables, they will sound terrible, even if the turntable says it can play 78 RPM. You need to make sure you have the correct needle.

The opposite is also true: You should not try to play any modern records (33 or 45 RPM records made since 1950) on a turntable designed to play 78 RPM. You may very well destroy more modern records.

The needle (technically, “stylus”) for a modern (“microgroove”) record is tiny compared to the needles for which 78 RPM records were designed.

Mat from Techmoan has a much more detailed video that will explain everything you ever wanted to know about playing vintage records on a modern turntable.

And here’s a link to V-M Audio Enthusiasts in Michigan, which has a wide selection of turntable needles and record cartridges to fit most vintage (and some new) record players. This is not a paid endorsement; I’m just a very happy repeat customer.

You can find the entire schedule for Anatomy of the Ear on the WRCT website.

Wasting away again

I’m never up before sunrise, but I was on Saturday. For whatever reason, I woke up at 4:30 a.m., couldn’t fall back to sleep, and decided to give up and get out of bed. I was making my first pot of coffee when a friend messaged me that Jimmy Buffett had died.

I’m by no means a parrothead, but I have a lot of fondness for Buffett, in part because he was the soundtrack to the first vacation my wife and I took together. I have a lot of great memories of driving along the Lake Erie shore with her, listening to Jimmy Buffett on the car stereo.

Rather than play Buffett’s hits on Saturday, I decided to do a deep-dive into his catalog and play cuts from his first three albums, including “Down to Earth,” which reportedly only sold a few hundred copies during its first release in 1970.

It’s hard to overstate how much easier pulling together such a show is today than it would have been 10 or 20 years ago. By 7 a.m., I was looking at newspaper stories about Buffett written in 1970 and 1971, from local newspapers in Florida, which mentioned what some of his most popular songs were at the time in local coffeehouses and college unions, where he was performing at the time.

Continue reading “Wasting away again”

And just how large is the paint bucket?

More cluttered thoughts from an empty mind

Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about the environmental impact of The Sherwin-Williams Company pouring red paint all over the North Pole?

Google tells me that the surface area of Earth is approximately 197,000,000 square miles, which leads me to believe something like 100,000,000 square miles is being covered by that paint spill.

Maybe it’s a solution to global warming. In which case, instead of red paint, couldn’t they do something more reflective, like silver?

MyFAFO: Mike Lindell of MyPillow has completed the “f-ck around” phase and is now experiencing the “find out” phase, as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports:

MyPillow is auctioning off hundreds of pieces of equipment and subleasing manufacturing space after several shopping networks and major retailers took the company’s products off shelves … sewing machines, industrial fabric spreaders, forklifts and even desks and chairs are up for auction.

Continue reading “And just how large is the paint bucket?”

Listen to me, instead — the shoddy radio alternative

Welcome to our weekly salute to shoddy showmanship

Ad I received on Facebook this morning:

How rude!


Big talk for a radio station that stole its call-letters from Charleroi.

Join me from 12 to 3 p.m. today for some non-quality radio (and a minimum of snooty Ivy League blowhards) on WRCT 88.3FM and Tube City Online Radio – McKeesport.

Requests: 412-385-7450 or @ me here.

Thirteen-month-old baby broke the lookin’ glass

This Saturday, it’s three hours of vintage 45s. Plus, a question about our old-time radio theater on Sundays

This Saturday, it’s three hours of the original hits on the original 45s played by the original record players. Tune in and hear the original scratches and dirt, too

I broke a mirror. After the last few years we’ve had, how will I know the difference when the bad luck starts?

That raises a couple of other questions. Does the seven years of bad luck run consecutively with other bad luck, or concurrently? Like, if I walk under a ladder, or spill a salt shaker, or get off on the 13th floor of a building, do each of those things then add more bad luck to the seven years I’ve already received for breaking the mirror, or does it just make the already existing bad luck worse?

Anyway, I blame Steve Allen. I’ve been reading a Steve Allen book and when I was getting ready for work, I bumped the book, it fell onto a mirror that was sitting on the floor, and broke it.

Some might say the mirror shouldn’t have been sitting on the floor. Well, thanks, but that would have been useful advice a couple of hours ago.

Speaking of bad luck: It’s my luck to be out of town two Saturdays in a row, which means I have a pre-recorded show again this week. But it’s a good one.

We’ve had a bunch of records donated to the Tube City Online Radio studio (most of them by me) and I’ve recently been going through them.

So this week’s show is three hours of vintage 45s, mostly from the 1960s, with a handful from the ’50s and ’70s.

Continue reading “Thirteen-month-old baby broke the lookin’ glass”

If tin-whistles are made of tin, what do they make fog horns out of?

More cluttered items from my empty mind

SCAM ALERT: I just got an electronic message that was like 10 minutes of repetitive guitar riffs and drum solos.

Yeah. It was another Phishing email.

Garth Brooks talking to Billboard Magazine. I think that’s Crow, Servo and Mike Nelson in the front row. (YouTube)

Garth Brooks is opening a bar in Nashville and says he will not join a conservative boycott of Bud Light.

In a Q&A with Melinda Newman of Billboard magazine, Brooks said his new bar, called Friends in Low Places, will be “a place you feel safe in. I want it to be a place that you feel like there are manners and people love one another … And yes, we’re going to serve every brand of beer. We just are.”

That’s a reference to an ongoing boycott by morons conservatives, who are angry that Bud Light produced a special one-off commemorative can featuring TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney, who is transgender.

Kid Rock, a vocal moron conservative, posted a video of himself shooting cases of Bud Light with an automatic rifle, and some bars that cater to bigots and rednecks Republicans have either stopped selling Bud Light, or held promotions where they’ve poured the beer down the drain.

To be clear, however, it’s still OK if you’re not buying Bud Light simply because it’s really crummy beer. As the Pythons said, “it’s like making love in a canoe.”

Continue reading “If tin-whistles are made of tin, what do they make fog horns out of?”

Today’s show

A reminder that due to a scheduled power outage on the Carnegie Mellon University campus, today’s show is only on Tube City Online Radio. If y0u have a smart device such as an Amazon Echo, say “Play Tube City Online Radio,” or point your browser to

You can also find the station on TuneIn, Radio.Garden and other sites.

Today’s show is coming to you from Dayton Hamvention in Xenia, Ohio. It’s one of the largest conventions in the world for radio hobbyists, and we’ll be talking to people from Texas, Germany, Canada … and one guy from Greensburg, Pa. (No phone calls, though. We’re transcribed for release at this more convenient time.)

It’s all of Pittsburgh’s favorite oldies, plus news, sports and weather.

CQ cartoon, May 2023

CQ Amateur Radio Magazine, May 2023 issue

This week, I’ll be headed to Dayton, Ohio — actually, Xenia, a little bit to the southeast — for the annual Dayton Hamvention, billed as the world’s largest gathering of amateur radio operators, or “hams.”

(My show this Saturday will be produced and broadcast from Hamvention, and I’ll be talking to some people at the convention. However, this week’s show will only be on Tube City Online Radio, because WRCT will be off the air due to a scheduled power outage on the Carnegie Mellon University campus. Plan your Saturday afternoon accordingly, ha ha.)

A lot of people think that “amateur radio” is what I do on Saturdays, but “ham radio” is not broadcasting — it’s transmitting messages from point-to-point, or from one person (or group of people) to another.

In fact, there are special frequencies set aside for amateur radio, and a license is required to use them. People with an amateur radio license are specifically prohibited from using those frequencies for “broadcasting” to the general public. (There’s nothing to stop you from listening to those transmissions, of course, but the person sending messages on those frequencies is not supposed to be sending them primarily for amusement or entertainment.)

Continue reading “CQ cartoon, May 2023”

Got a feelin’ the sun will be gone, the day will be long and blue

If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what is an empty desk the sign of? Here are some cluttered items from an empty mind.

Today’s trivia question: I’ve recently heard three different instrumental versions of this song on the radio—on WZUM (1550/101.1) and Eric O’Brien’s “Smooth, Relaxing & Easy,” which airs Saturdays on WRCT and Tube City Online Radio, following my show.

If you’re a child of the 1970s or ’80s, you probably know the tune. But can you recognize it from the seldom-heard lyrics? Here they are:

Got a feelin’ it’s all over now
All over now, we’re through
And tomorrow I’ll be lonesome,
Remembering you.
Got a feelin’ the sun will be gone
The day will be long and blue
And tomorrow I’ll be cryin’
Remembering you.
There’s a faraway look in your eye
When you try to pretend to me,
That everything is the same as it used to be.
I see it’s all over now—
All over now, we’re through,
And tomorrow I’ll be startin’
Remembering you.

Do you recognize the tune? Answer at the end of this column.

Continue reading “Got a feelin’ the sun will be gone, the day will be long and blue”