WEBN: It's Been A Blast
Negative Calorie Cookies from Brute Force Cybernetics... Martin Luther King Kwiks... Jerry Springer’s endorsement of the American Expense Card ("Don’t cross state lines without it")... The "We Are The Fools" parody song...
I had forgotten how many laughs I've had listening to WEBN-FM (102.7) over 40 years while researching my Sunday A&E story on the station's 40th anniversary. WEBN has produced some absolutely brilliant satire, much of it concentrated in the old Fool's Day Parade and then sprinkled over the rest of the year. The head-banging metal music isn't my favorite, but I still punch up WEBN to hear what they're up to... like getting Donald Trump(!) to do promos for the station contest.
From the first day 40 years ago, Frank Wood understood that the best radio comes out of a keyboard (a typewriter, later a computer), not the microphone. He and his father filled the air with commercials for fake stuff from Brute Force Cybernetics, and the legacy continued though Jay Gilbert, Tom Sandman, Joel Moss, Scott Reinhart and other members of the Committee for Aesthetic Public Spectacle, in a studio somewhere between the WEBN Garment District and Frog's Mountain. Maybe in Frog’s Meadow?
My favorite WEBN memories are from the Fool's Day Parade, when it was an all-day event for 20 years or more. I'd make sure I spent part of my day out in the car, so I could listen and laugh… to spots for the Lard Rock Café... Quakers Mate lubricants... former Congressman Buz Lukens, who solicited sex from a minor, rapping the "Child Thing"... Or the Columbia School of Car Salesmen spot with John Nolan and Jeff Wyler... Or all the variations on Tree Frog Beer, which, of course, gets you there faster. One year they did Jacor Beer ("You’ll get higher than the stock ever will").
But the station also has been a creative force in other ways – like the "WEBN Album Projects"... The graffiti billboard campaign with the call letters spray painted over another company's sign... Eddie Fingers offering to father Madonna's baby... Dennis "Wildman" Walker stuck on that downtown billboard for 61 days until the Bengals won a game in 1991... Or buying up all the tickets to the 1984 Police concert at Riverfront Coliseum, and given them away to listeners... Or inspiring rockin' parents. (In 1995, the station received a graduation invitation from a Kentucky girl named "Webn." True story.)
On WEBN, they like to say, "Portions are pre-recorded; others are given no thought whatsoever." But that was seldom the case. In 2000, they went to great lengths to scam listeners into thinking that a dead guy – a former listener named Gary Willis, who allegedly won $1,000 in a 1970s WEBN contest, and moved to San Francisco – had bequeathed $11,000 to 'EBN to give away to listeners who heard his hacking cough ("coughing up the cash") on the station. They even had a woman from a San Francisco Clear Channel station call my voice mail claiming to be the widow. After I reported that old-time WEBN staffers didn't remember Gary Willis, and that an Atlanta station had done a "coughing up the cash" contest a month earlier, they admitted it was all a hoax, just a way to give away $1,000 each to 11 listeners….
I have so many WEBN memories... the spectacular fireworks... morning host Robin Wood (and her poster for something like the
What are your favorite memories of WEBN? I can’t wait to read them.... Open a cold Tree Frog Beer and pour out your remembrances on the keyboard...