Nostalgic Rumblings
The Ramblings of an Old Man

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October 2005
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Not sure how to explain this…

Filed under: General, Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 11:21 am

As those of you who were at the FOTR Con know, I’ve been having some self-inflicted trouble with my left knee, which made me look a little like Walter Brennen by the end of each day.

Well, I managed to make it consideraby worse by…er…malling.

I met Annie (who, as you may remember came late to the party and so had her own car) outside Philadelphia at Plymouth Meeting Mall and had a pretty pitiful lunch at a pretentious bistro there (I might rumble about it some other time), then we stopped on the way home at Park City Mall in Lancaster. With all the walking around, by the time we left Park City I didn’t think I’d make it to the car…by the time we drove the 35-40 minutes home, it stiffened so that I could barely get out of the car.

So I’m spending the day with my leg up (no, not like THAT) trying to rest it so I can get everything unpacked. In the meantime, I’m working from the portable instead of my desk machines, so while I will get everything done, it’s taking me longer than it should to get there. Please be patient…I promise to get photos like the universe-bending one of Arthur Dent and Jughead working side-by-side posted as quickly as I can…

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The 30th Annual Friends of Old-Time Radio Convention is History…

Filed under: Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 10:07 am

…and I have the next few days blocked out to get some of the many photos posted, some sound files up, and my personal comments on the entire shebang. More once I get home and get a nap. ;)

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So I Shot Stiller and Meara…

Filed under: Old-Time Radio, Television — Charlie Summers @ 3:09 pm

Here I am, minding my own business running the main convention video camera for the Joe Franklin show, when who should show up as guests, but Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara. After making a puddle on the floor, I regained my composure, and treated them like any other world-famous comedy duo with a bazillion appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.

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One more photo…

Filed under: Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 5:27 pm

Even though I’m missing the first drink of cocktail hour, I had to post this photo; it is the best photo of Derek Tague I’ve ever taken…

Derek Tague

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Some Pics from FOTR…

Filed under: Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 11:57 am

I’m posting some pics quickly, but please don’t be angry that I’m temporarily skipping the captions…I realize that means many of you won’t know who the people are, but I promise to add some captions as son as I get some time. I need to get moving right now; I need to take some more pics of the rehersal, and then I have a panel taping shift. Too many things to do, so little time…

But as soon as I can, I’ll add captions and “bump” the post.

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Here at FOTR…

Filed under: Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 4:03 pm

Made it, and although I forgot a boatload of stuff (old age is here…), I’m having a great time, have met lots of subscribers of the OTR Digest, and generally having a ball. I’ll try to get some photos posted tonight (the story of why it’s thanks to George Downes that I can even post this will have to wait), along with some other thoughts on the convention.

‘Till then, I’m off for more fun!

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I Hear It’s Pledge Week Again…

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 11:48 am

Understand, since I listen to XMPR, I no longer have to put up with pledge breaks (talk about value for “pledge” money, I not only support public radio, but get hundreds of different radio channels for only $12.95 a month, and only $6.99 for up to four additional radios), but I understand local stations are at it again.

There are two simple things you can do if you’re tired of the NPR tail wagging the public radio dog - first, subscribe to XM Satellite Radio and get boatloads of radio for less than you’d pledge to your local pubrad station. And if you want to do more, and make a statement that you’re tired of National Public Radio not paying attention to what you want, and instead doing what a few pinstripes think will get then better ratings, you can still support public radio - give your money directly to PRI then let your local public radio station know why you can’t support, through them, the NPR autocracy.

(Still not enough? There are non-affiliated pubrad stations out there…find and support one of ‘em. Just avoid supporting NPR member stations. If enough of us do this, it will send a powerful message to both local stations, possibly giving them the courage to take control of the organization they originated, and to NPR, to let them know more than 50,000 letters could that we’re tired of putting up with their nonsense.)

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Morning Edition Sounds…

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 7:41 pm

Our friend Judy Galloway mentioned at the Bob Edwards Show Discussion Forum that she misses hearing Bob say, “This is Morning Edition, I’m Bob Edwards.”

Ever the wisenheimer, I couldn’t help but to go back to the sounds archive and snip out a byte (even performed an internal edit to remove the company for whom he used to work)…and I included some timechecks for folks crazy enough to have their computer announce the time the way Edwards used to. Read the thread and find the links at:

Can’t wait to get the cease-and-desist from that large unfriendly corporation who pretends to be our bestest buddy while stabbing us in the back…

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Why Can’t Public Radio Do This?

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 2:55 pm

For almost two months now, the CBC has been involved in, “a labor dispute.” I’m not going to get into the whole mess, nor am I choosing sides. I’m only annoyed that one of the shows I routinely listen to, As It Happens, is affected.

But that got me to thinking…I’ve complained in this space before about the lack of alternatives to NPR when it comes to news programming, and how I believe pubrad stations have abdicated their responsibilities to the organization they created to the point where this organization, by virtue only of its monopoly, can dictate to its member stations way too much. I’ve urged the other organizations to get off their rear ends and start working in this area (The World is a cute start, but why didn’t PRI have the sense to start a morning version last year, The World This Morning, with Bob Edwards, to act as competition to the more shrill NPR morning show?), but all I hear is how expensive it is to mount such a program. (Yeah, yeah, and NPR itself started with as close to nothing as you can possibly get.)

Here, though, is an example of how to start. Why couldn’t PRI, or APM (the distribution arm of Minnesota Public Radio, you know, what PRI used to be back when it was APR?), or even XM Satellite Radio start a similar weekdaily news program? Better idea; why couldn’t XM and one of the major distributors get together, co-produce the show, and share in the profits selling it to terrestrial pubrad stations while airing it on XM?

Hold on a sec, before you think I’m crazy, this isn’t as nutty as it seems. Think about what As It Happens is…it’s a show where the hosts telephone newsmakers. They don’t fly to Outer Mongolia, they call a satellite phone. They don’t travel to California, they call Arnold on his office phone. They don’t use anything but a telephone, a studio, and enough chutzpa to try to talk to newsmakers, both major and minor.

Ok, I admit it…”cheap” is a relative term. Outside of The Bob Edwards Show, for example, XMPR clearly doesn’t have a whole lot of budget; Scott Walterman needs to borrow Steve Karish from Sonic Theater (Channel 163) to executive-produce XM Nation, and the other exclusive, From the Nation’s Capitol was a co-production which seems to have stopped production anyway and is now burried somewhere on the weekend schedule.

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Gosh, it’s almost FOTR time again…

Filed under: Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 7:21 pm

One of the biggest problems with sleeping through the entire summer is that it seems I blinked, and it’s almost time again for another Friends of Old-Time Radio convention. Knock-on-wood, I’ll be on-site for the con, flash-bulbing everyone in sight to bring you sounds and pics from the con. More as we get closer…

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Hello, and Welcome to The Bob Edwards Show for Tuesday, October 4th…Part 3

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 9:00 am

Talk about the show on

We were asked to begin to move toward the XM Live Performance Studio, as the anniversary program taping was to begin at 7:00 pm. Winding around all the studios there, I have to admit I found a new appreciation for the little XM2Go radio I had connected to my hip (well, yeah, I had my XM radio with me…I have it pretty much everywhere I go) and the people who work so hard to bring me the music and talk programming I listen to so much. I have to admit, it took us a little while to get into the studio…we kept running into show fans who, like us, couldn’t really believe we were really there, and about to see what we routinely only hear.

Once we got there, imagine our delight when we saw, on every chair in the studio, a CD of The Bob Edwards Show Sampler, and under each seat was a mysterious gold box, found to contain 750ml of the finest Kentucky Whisky in a beautiful bottle modeled from one found in the Kentucky Bourbon Museum, with a lable proclaming, “In Celebration of Bob Edwards 1 Year at XM.” (As I look at the bottle sitting on the mantle, I can’t help but wonder how many of us will leave the bottle sealed as a physical prompt to the wonderful memories of this evening…)

The performance studio reminds me a little bit of an intimate club (that fifth of bourbon didn’t hurt the ambiance)…it’s not as big as I saw it in my head when XM Live Channel 200 broadcasts a concert from there, yet it’s quite comfortable, and the 30-40 people had plenty of room to relax while enjoying the show. I have to note the chairs were surprisingly comfortable, while still being simple folding chairs…the chairbacks seemed to mould to one’s back. It amused me to imagine what Aerosmith would look like up there, while in reality the stage was set with an intimate seating area on the right, and two tall stools on the left. (I was told that most of Bob’s office furniture was on that stage, including his plant…)

First Executive Producer Tish Valva came out and admonished us to turn off our cell phones. Not on mute, mind you, but all the way off. What she probably didn’t realize is that most of us would have pitched them into the Potomac had she asked us to, so thrilled were we to be there. Then Bob came out and gave us the depressing news, with a touch of tongue-in-cheek humor…

“You were told that Daniel Schorr would be here…and we all dearly wanted Daniel Schorr to be here…National Public Radio didn’t want Daniel Schorr to be here…we learned at the last second that he would not be coming, and putting him in a dilemma…but Dan’s only 89…he’s got to look out for his own future.” So NPR is still determined to yank at Bob’s chain. But I’m thinking they might consider a simple contrast-and-compare: last year’s 25th Anniversary “Celebration” for Morning Edition, and the first anniversary party for The Bob Edwards Show. NPR, Bob is doing just fine even considering your embarassing pettiness.

Ok, back to the fun. Bob hopped onto the stage, sank his lanky frame into a chair, placed on his headphones, and the familiar theme music pumped out of the studio speakers as Bob intoned the show’s opening, “Hello, and Welcome to The Bob Edwards Show for Tuesday, October 4th…” The applause was deafening, and this was the first indication that Bob wasn’t used to working with a live audience; instead of stopping, since that applause was about as predictable as it gets, he continued with the opening into the microphone. (Yes, I’m curious to know how the producers end up working that…)

Bob’s first guest was Hugh Panero, President and CEO of XM Satellite Radio, and the guy who created The Bob Edwards Show. The interview was interesting, and I have to tell you, I didn’t much envy Bob interviewing his boss. But even when Mr. Panero skirted a question, Bob came back to it, no differently than if he were interviewing a head of state.

After a break (which lasts a bit longer than the few seconds we’re used to hearing on the program), Bob’s next guest was Marshall Chapman, singer, songwriter, raconteur, and all-round “tall drink of water.” To try to describe her music, her stories, and her humor is…d*mned well impossible. You’ll need to listen to the show to hear about her gardening hat made out of duct tape and a cardboard box, or about her waking up in the garden in her underwear, or about how she, “Been Rode Hard and Put Up Wet.” Part of me wonders if Bob likes her simply because she has to be one of the few women he can look straight in the eye; talk about tall, the two of them made me feel really short. Anyway, lemme just get to a few photos:


After the taping of the broadcast show, Bob took questions from the audience. Our friend Russ Gifford asked an interesting one, which Bob ducked handily.

After the show, we mingled for a while, not wanting the amazing night to end (yeah, the irony of one of Marshall’s stories isn’t lost on me, although to my knowledge none of the show fans ended up lying nude on the ground). I finally got to meet Melissa Grey (who, as the son of a redhead and the father of a redhead, was a little like being at home), and Andy Danyo (who has the most impressive eyes) , both of whom I’ve emailed regularly over the past few months, but never met. The one comment I constantly make about the entire production staff is that they are so…young. Most of them have considerable experience in radio, and yet they are still so d*mned young, attractive, and energetic - it’s no wonder there’s an energy to this show. These professionals will be keeping Bob young and excited about radio for many, many years to come.

I have a bazillion other photographs, and I’m embarassed to admit the unfortunately sexist fact that I am much better at remembering names of young women than of young men, so before I post more, I’m going to need to beg someone on the staff to identify a few of the male members of the staff. (Guys, c’mon…considering the women you work with every day, can you really blame me?)

Final comments? Great food, great drink, a great show, and wonderful people. I dare you to find a better combination for the perfect evening. And Bob…only twenty-nine more years to go before you best your record at that other company. I’m putting in my reservation now for that party…but so you know, I’ll need to be back at the home by eight…

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Down the Rabbit Hole…Part 2

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 4:00 pm

Talk about the show on

Tish Valva

Executive producer Tish Valva gave a short speech thanking the folks at XM for their support, followed by a short “thank you” from Bob Edwards. It was here he made clear that the only thing that should get near the bourbon is ice, none of that other nonsense some people insist on putting in there. (I was able to act insufferable because I already knew that, unlike my compatriots who adulterated their beverages.) Once the speeches were finished, it was time to grab a bite.

Bob Edwards

After going through the buffet line (and I have to admit, although I sampled most of the dishes, I didn’t get a lot to eat…there were too many butterflies in my stomach leaving little room for food) and having a celebratory drink “The Colonel’s Way,” I became something of a “rat in a maze,” crawling around the coridors of the complex like a rodent in search of cheese. Here, the 70’s studio…there, the XM Cafe studio…Russ found the 60’s studio,. and was invited inside for a chat. I found the XM Kids studio, but by the time I did, Absolutely Mindy was gone (which means I am in serious trouble with my seven-year-old daughter!).

The place is…radio. Studios everywhere, some the size of a broom closet, others (like the XM Home Plate studio) spacious control room/studio combinations. Small corridors lead to yet more studios, and I’m absolutely certain I didn’t see all of it.

Since I’m getting just a little backed-up with getting the pictures up, let’s take a break in the verbage and look at a few:

A Place to Write Congrats
Tish Valva, Executive Producer
The MLB Home Plate Studio
The XM Kids Studio

The Bob Edwards Studio

Eventually, though, I ended up at the “mecca” for the invited guests, The Bob Edwards Show studio. This is one of the more spacious studios, and a number of us took advantage of the room to cluster around the console…and some recorded promo spots to be used during the program! I spent my time photographing producers, fans, and even my wife within the control room and studio. I was even lucky enough to get a photograph of Russ Gifford, site admin of sitting in the big guy’s chair, recording a promo using the same mic Bob uses every Monday morning!

Ok, ok, more photos, all inside the Bob Edwards Show studio…

My Wife
Russ Gifford…in The Chair

Now those who aren’t big fans of the show might not realize how seriously…cool…it is to be in that studio. But lemme tell you, this morning, when I heard David Broder talk live to Bob at 8:00 am EDT, my mental image was completely different than it used to be…after all, I stood there just last week.

Tomorrow…the wind-up. We get the call to hit the XM Live Performance Studio, and attend the program you will hear tomorrow morning at 8:00 am in the east, 7:00 am in the west. Don’t miss listening to the show, then come back here to see it!

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My Trip to Spaceship XM…Part 1

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 2:20 pm

Talk about the show on

Some weeks ago, I received a letter from Andy Danyo, one of the folks on the production staff of The Bob Edwards Show, inviting my wife and me to the first anniversary party for the show. Honored? Yes. Excited? Yes.

Miss it? No bloody way.

Russ Gifford, Reporting from Berlin…er…the hotel.

We drove down to the Baltimore-Washington airport to pick up Russ Gifford, a site admin for who flew in from the midwest for the party, made a quick stop to check-in at a small hotel about a half-mile from the XM studios, and headed to the party. A parking space was reserved for us in the XM parking lot (you’ll find a theme here of the three of us being treated royally the entire evening), and we walked down to the main entrance.

The studio building itself is an old brick factory, with only modern windows and a large XM sign to distinguish it from its original purpose. The main entrance is rather indistinguished, with a small security station and a model of Rock/Roll (the satellites that bring XM to your radio) hanging from the high ceiling.

As we approached the guard station, I noticed Ed McNulty talking to the guards. We gave our names, were given our VIP passes (photo above), and Ed directed us to the elevators, telling us to get off at the second floor.

The Control Center.

That’s when we dropped down the rabbit hole.

The Captain’s Chair

When the elevators opened, we were face-to-face with the central control station, an Enterprise-like room with a visual moving-slider representation of every XM channel being broadcast…and a central station, where someone sitting in what can only be described as “Captain Kirk’s chair done right” oversaw the entire operation.

The party, facing the Control Center (top-right)

We were frankly so stunned by the sight that it took us a few moments to realize that in the wide, high corridor there were hundreds of people laughing, chatting, and mingling. Clearly, this was the party we drove down to attend.

It was amazing; a huge bar, serving nothing but Jim Beam Kentucky Bourbon (and sodas for the weak)…a feast fit for a Kentucky king, with everything from fried chicken to corn bread, and of course the show’s birthday cake. For the record, unlike my compatriots, I had my bourbon Bob’s way…adultrated only with ice.

The Cake

I mean this…you cannot possibly imagine the energy in that corridor; the people there were, except for the few of us wearing the guest badges, employees of XM…all young, energetic people who are using their youth to change the face of radio, if not the world. The feeling of excitement was literally palpable…and this party was designed to thank all of XM for their support of The Bob Edwards Show. I’ve been to a bunch of cocktail parties, office parties, and even some radio station parties, and I have never seen the likes of this, and probably never will again.

More photos, including pics of The Bob Edwards Show studio, coming up next post.

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