Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Theater of the Mind

There are some great ways to be entertained out there; who hasn't streamed a movie from Netflix directly to their TV, or watched the latest episode of "The Office" on Hulu, or just tried to catch up on the latest with their friends on Facebook. These are all great forms of entertainment, which is why I'm not surprised that my favorite type of entertainment is disappearing quicker than Girl Scout Cookies in a Weight Watchers meeting. So you might be asking, what is my favorite form of entertainment? Talk Radio.

I'm not talking about the news or sports stations, like Fox or ESPN, I'm talking about good ol' talk radio, you know, theater of the mind. I'm sure you can picture a little boy sitting in front of one of those huge radios from the 1920's. What happened to those days? What happened to the kids rushing home from school, to sit in the living room and listen to their favorite afternoon broadcast.

Anyone can entertain you with special effects or pretty girls, but it takes a very talented individual to entertain someone with words alone. There's something magical about listening to someone tell a story. A good storyteller, one who can paint a detailed picture, will actually make you feel like you're part of the story itself. There are a few storytellers that come to mind; Paul Harvey would tell "the rest of the story" so vividly and with such personality that history became fun. Another great storyteller is Garrison Keillor, who has created an imaginary village called Lake Wobegon. When you listen to one of his stories, you can actually picture the daily business of the residents from a little town in Northern Minnesota.

A lesser known storyteller, from St. Paul, MN, is a man named TD Mischke. Although no longer on the air, "The Mischke Broadcast" was one of the most entertaining pieces of talk radio. Mischke would entertain you with whatever was going through his mind, and let me tell you, it was an interesting mind to get inside. Often times, there would just be silence, which on any other show would be a huge mistake, but not with Mischke, he would sit there in silence for sometimes minutes at a time, just ruffling papers, and mumbling and grumbling. You know you have a talent when you can entertain people by saying nothing....on the radio. Mischke would often take calls from a few select people, these people almost became local celebrities themselves. One of my favorite callers was a young boy named Luke, when you listen to one of his calls, you get the feeling that he may be the next great thing in talk radio, that is, if entertaining talk radio even exists in the future.

Fortunately there is still one entertaining talk show in St. Paul. "Garage Logic", an imaginary town where the philosophy is "anything that needs to be figured out, can be figured out in the garage." Joe Soucheray, the shows host, is the Twin Cities' preeminent purveyor of Common Sense. He is also the self-appointed Mayor and Fireworks Commissioner of Garage Logic, Minnesota. Garage Logic is more a state of mind than an actual place on a map. We are lucky to have such a great show on a local AM station, but unfortunately, other than Garage Logic, this station has switched over to a sports talk format. It seems that listeners would rather be entertained with the latest scores than the mind theater of the good ol' days.

As much as I enjoy listening to music, I enjoy listening to entertaining talk radio even more. But sadly, entertaining talk radio - theater of the mind - seems to be disappearing. I'm hoping for a comeback, maybe people will start thinking it's "retro", much like the clothing of the '70's coming back into style. Until then, I'll just have to be entertained by the voices in my head.


Erin said...

I enjoy the times when you read Paul Harvey stories to me before bed! Hearing you imitate his story telling abilities is priceless :)

Adam said...

Turn on NPR. Lots of good stuff. Some of it get's annoying, but This American Life is a fantastic show.

Nancy Holte said...

And, I'm hear to tell your readers that the voices in your head are seemingly very entertaining.

smilingpaul said...

Great news! Mischke is back on the air, in Minneapolis on WCCO 830 AM! 10-midnight Monday through Friday!