Monday, February 2, 2009

Rick Emerson Radio, The Age of Geek

I have not listened regularly to music radio in years. I was tired of listening to the same songs over and over again. Personal music players and Personal Computer storage has advanced enough that I can put 500 songs on a device that is just a little bigger than a US quarter, clips to my shirt and doesn't skip. So why would I want to listen to the same thing day after day, interspersed with lame commercials about divorce attorneys, cheap cars and credit services? I wouldn't. That's where old tapes and talk radio come into the picture.

In the mornings on the way to work I would listen to Mark and Brian or occasionally tune in to Stern. When we moved back to Oregon in 99 I found the Rick Emerson Show, at the time the show was nationally syndicated. At one point the show was canceled but came back on air in Portland in 2001.

In 2005 the show was again canceled by Entercom. There was a gap from 12-3pm. It wasn't just a radio show because a lot of us had a weird emotional attachment to the show. The fans bonded by the show were having none of it. Arron Duran, of Geek in the City, along with Joni DeRouchie came up with the Coffee Cup Crusade. Asking listeners to vent their anger with E-mails to Entercom's sponsors and Coffee cups sent/dropped off at Entercom's offices. (Arron actually has a great blog about in on his site. Coffee Cup Crusade.

Well It worked. CBS Radio heard of the fans devotion and responded by hiring The Rick Emerson Show. This was the best show ever. Pop culture, Local Portland personalities, the Hot Producer, relatable host, and charming yet enigmatic newsman. Emerson's style, interest in all things geek and the ability to derail any topic with anecdotal musings.... March 13 2006 people cried, t-shirts were made, and the show reappeared on the dial this time on 970am.

What draws us to this show. There are no wacky, contrived personalities. Rick, Sarah, Tim, Richie and guests all seem to be as true to life as possible.
PortlandLfe nailed it with this opening to their article: "Geeks tune in to their time"
Listeners calling in to Rick Emerson’s radio show recently were given an unusual choice if they wanted to win a pair of concert tickets. They could either identify one of the band’s songs after listening to a few notes, or answer a question about the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons.

Caller after caller misidentified the song until, finally, one listener chose the D & D question.

Emerson asked, “What dice are required to play first-edition Dungeons & Dragons?”
“Four-sided, six-sided, eight-sided, 10-sided, 12-sided and 20-sided,” the caller answered without hesitation. “Although you actually need two 10-sided dice to play properly.”

Emerson, laughing, was impressed: “Why am I not surprised that one of our listeners would know that?”

On December 8th 2008 Tim Riley, the shows straight man, news anchor, and yen to Emerson's rants, interruptions and questions was let go. Mr. Riley's departure from the show was saddening, but CBS allowed the show to actually have a "Goodbye" day. (very uncommon in the radio industry) Rick, Sarah and Tim described the situation siting financial reasons. Fans were able to call in to state their admiration and to say goodbye. The station went so far as NOT to delete every iota of web content. (Bravo CBS/KCMJ)

You listen for hours a day, (even if it's in the background) to someone for years. People who make you laugh, think, suggest a good book or movie. People you E-mail with news nuggets, ideas, questions and answers. It's difficult to let them go. Luckily it wasn't the whole show being canceled again. Mr Riley actually has a news blog that he is writing to daily. He is missed but not forgotten by many of his fans, including me.

The show goes on. Instead of the Laid-Off Mr. Riley, the show asks other laid off news personalities to come in and do the news hour for one day. These personalities responded with an almost unanimous "yes!" Other local personalities brought a new perspective to the show People like; former screen editor of Willamette Week David Walker,review author Dawn Taylor, former KWJJ news director Chuck Knopf, and former editor of PDX magazine and more recently the editor of LivePDX Liz Hummer. You will find it hard to find anything on these folks as for some reason radio and news organizations find it necessary to sanitize info, pics, screen callers, and forget anyone no longer associated with their organization.

The Rick Emerson Show (also acronym'ed as RES.) also does watches. Usually during the news hour. Usually with a theme song put together by staff or fans. Some celebs or even groups could have there own watch. Confused? Just look at a partial list, you will get it.

Clergy Watch - clergy doing bad things.
Penis Watch - injury to the male genitalia
Cannibal Watch - Self explanatory.
Corpse Watch -grave robbing, defiling, and sometimes - "grave buggery".
Snuff Watch - celebrity deaths.
Hick Watch - hardworking rural folks doing strange things.
The Jock Watch - Funny sport stories.

Specific persons have had their own watches. Britney, Bush, Whitney, Tanya Harding and Saddam. There are many more not listed yet are still a part of the core programing. Usually being advertising at the beginning of each show to let listeners know they have a story coming up in "log watch". Yes stories involving logs that usually cause injury. (Both Rick and Sarah are fearful of log trucks)

There are many regular guests on the show. Most are Portland area bloggers, radio personalities, A few are nationally know. Mr Skin comes to mind.

CNN correspondents call into the show to discuss current events, each with there own theme, usually chosen by Rick. Most seem to enjoy calling in and the Portland audience. Sometimes showing up at Listener parties.

During the shows various runs there have been 12 listener parties. Occasionally maxing out the venue and drinking ever drop of alcohol (the venue was warned). It's a place to meet fellow fans, local celebs, bands and guest speakers. Happening infrequently but they try for once a year, on a Thursday. Thursdays so fans can call into the show and rave about the fun had by all to Emerson, who is usually horse and hungover.

Listeners have taken snippets of the show and made YouTube videos. Oscillating Fan and White Wheat Sourdough English Muffin Bagel.

Emerson occasionally goes into controlled rants. You can usually find these on the YouTube as well. I even threw a few together so as to have a visual to some great radio moments. What a Geek Believes.
and 8-8-08 The first pretty much tells everything in the title. The second is more an address to the world. Emerson asked fans to have everyone tune in and listen even if they were not normally a listener. Delivery truck drivers stopped there rigs, opened the doors and cranked up the volume. Other fans put their radios in the windows of their homes, hooked radios up to the company PA system or broke tuning knobs off other radios after tuning in.

If any of this has peaked your interest and you live near enough to Portland you can listen in on 970am If not you can Listen live Or even listen to or download the RES pod casts An alternate source is the Tegianzone Not updated often but each day is condensed into one file and the size is reduced by about 75%. I spent a lot of time in Iraq listening to these pod casts. Getting them the day after they aired caught me up on local news and gave me a few chuckles. I even used MySpace to comment occasionally on the show. In someways this kept me sane. Oh I would have found something else to do the same but I prefer the RES.

Best Show Ever

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