A behind-the-scenes view from a former producer of "The Dr. Demento Show," with 500+ programs produced and 500+ stories to tell. Read more
This project's funding goal was not reached on February 11, 2014.
About this project
Of course, there’s a cool story behind this cake…..and it's in the book.
It's been said that good fortune and 'being lucky' is what happens when you are prepared, and I can't argue with that. I started preparing for the job of producer when I was in puberty, and it seems now that everything I did since then prepared me to sit in the producer's chair of radio's "The Dr. Demento Show."
I give more details about my background in the interactive e-book that I'm writing, "Producing Demento," but I can tell you that I was very fortunate to be the show's Associate Producer for the Westwood One Radio Network in Culver City, California, from a week after Christmas, 1981, until just about the same time of year in 1990.
That's nine years of intensely fun work on a show that was on a growth rocket from the time it started in the early '70's until well into the '80's ....and, fact, it's still on the 'air' now (on the internet at "www.drdemento.com.")
I just have to work out how I'm going to pay for clearances on more photos and on paying the artists for the use of their music.
To be clear, I am not going to imitate or otherwise compete in any way with “Dr. Demento.” He’s got his own thing. These are my memories.
By the way, I've always been a supporter of these artists, picking more than a few of them up at the airport and bringing them to dinner, to my house to sleep, etc. I consider them to be more than acquaintances, and what I can say I enjoyed most about my time on "The Dr. Demento Show" was meeting, greeting, recording, photographing and in many cases, helping the artist in any way I could.
It's a long and damned fine story but I need some dollars to fund it, and so I come to you now, hat in hand. In exchange for your $20, I offer an interactive e-book that features a view of the show only a handful of people have had....the songs, the artists, the characters, as well as the great times we enjoyed. Dr. Demento (Barry Hansen) is a great guy, very smart, reliable, no drama. Working alongside him left a lasting impression on me that I have to talk and write about. I just tell the stories of the songs and artists and people that were involved somehow in the 500+ two hour shows that we produced in the 1980's.
For $25, you get the e-book , plus your name in the credits.
For $50, you get the e-book, AND I’ll call you and chat for awhile, at a time to be arranged.
For $1500, I come to you in the 'contiguous 48 states" and we go out for dinner to talk about all this.
Alternately, I’ve also included a ‘lobster’ menu item….which, for $4000, you come to L.A., I pick you up in a limo and we drive around the city for a day and evening looking at sites mentioned in comedy novelty songs, where things happened that are related to the comedy novelty artists or that are otherwise of interest to you. Special guests will join us for dinner.
As for the content of the e-book, the list of songs and artists I talk about is VERY long so I won't even try to mention them here. By now, you've seen the video, but that's just a drop in the bucket. I tell stories about more than a few people who went from obscurity to big time broadcasting success after contributing to the show. Many got the courage to come to L.A., and to stay there long enough to make something happen. You know, they got lucky and were overnight sensations after 5-10 years.
It was a pleasure to watch and I helped them all I could. I am still friends with many of them now. I have to mention "Weird Al" Yankovic at this point, who I was first introduced to by Westwood One Exec. Producer Norm Pattiz on my first day. Young Al Yankovic was working away his days at that point in the mail room and affidavits dept. at the 'network. Soon he would be out on tour with his band (including another Westwood One alumnus and drummer Jon Schwartz) and making comedy/novelty/parody/film/TV history with his fantastic talent.
So, I was there right when that was happening, and witnessed the attempts, the rejections, the doubts, and confidence, and finally, the success, of “Weird Al” and his band.
With more than 300 stations and thousands of listeners, we mined that deep vein of weird and funny comedy/novelty songs and bits for two hours each week, usually late on a Sunday night. It was a very enjoyable format-breaker and a can't miss program for many...and a staple of Album-Oriented Rock stations nationally.
My desk was on the right in this photo, under the clock for a long time and then just to the right of it.
So.......It's a big subject, with lots of people involved, and the result will be an interesting e-book. If you get the interactive e-book, "Producing Demento," please know that you will be getting something that the general public won't be able to buy for at least several more months. Your donation gives you the jump on everybody else, and it goes to make it better....more photos, more interviews, more guests, more time and support to research the details and hone the writing so that the book will be very hard to put down (or shut off or close, since it's an e-book).
I am delighted to be able to give you my perspective from the other side of the glass. I'll talk about many of the popular artists and as many of the 'one hit wonders' and more obscure artists as I can as they are really the ones that stick in my brain more than anything. Odd people, usually, but always very nice and dedicated to the work. I appreciate their efforts.
I also talk in the book about the fans, weird and otherwise, from whom I loved to hear because they are who I felt I was working for. I decided early and often that I could serve the advertisers, the stations, or the fans (pick one) and I felt that serving the fans, giving them what they wanted, when I could, was the way to go. No fans, no advertisers. No advertisers, no stations. Fans it was.
I was there for the heyday of the show, and between what I know and what insights such artists as "Weird Al" Yankovic, Barnes and Barnes, Judy Tenuta, Mark Davis, Wally Wingert, Jon Mammoser, Kip Addotta, Ogden Edsl, Emo Phillips will contribute....well, it’s a story that's waiting to be told and now that we're doing it, it's going to be good.
That's me in the middle, this time on the other side of the camera lense. I bought a state of the art 35mm SLR Canon camera just to be used to photograph artists on the show for the company newsletter.
I'm joining with one of Dr. Demento's early network producers, my boss at the time Lynnsey Guererro. He produced the show for about two years and before that he was a fan while in high school and then at UCLA. Reading the book is one thing, but when it is appropriate, I have enabled you to click on a link in the book that will take you to Lynnsey and me talking about the topic. We'll be giving additional information, laughing about things, and no doubt cracking up.
In a way, it'll be like we are back in the studio, and you are there, too.
Lynnsey is a great guy! Well educated, very damned funny, and super knowledgeable about music. His pop culture observations just make you wanna sit back and smile and think. In a good way. We had a front row seat for nearly 1000 separate and unique programs, and had the extreme pleasure to meet, photograph and record interviews with the cream of the crop of comedy.
Many weird things happened under that studio track lighting, I can assure you.
One of three buildings that housed The Westwood One Companies in Culver City, circa 1978-2011.
The building where it all happened, the now closed Westwood One Radio Network, "Building One," as we called it, now part of an urban renewal rebuilding project in Culver City.
In thinking about raising money to cover expenses, I tried to keep the prices down while remembering that any "sustainable" project is only sustainable if it can carry its own weight. No money, no sustainable. I think the price of helping me produce this "Producing Demento" is fair, and I think the value you will receive is going to be excellent!
I'm keeping it simple. Four price levels. I start pretty low, Just $10, and for that I will cook dinner for my little family and read your name aloud while they applaud. Then we'll eat and toast you as a group.
Slightly more gets the e-book weeks and probably months before anyone else can buy it anywhere else. That price is $20.
It'll have as many details, as many photos and as many songs and artist interviews as I can fit in and still keep it manageable. Right now, it's hovering around 80 pages. I don't want to write "War and Peace" here but I do want to be fun, factual and kind of twisted.
Someday, maybe I'll write "Part Two," but for now, I'm putting my soul and spirit into this.....because, just like when I was a kid, I want to produce something I'll be proud to put my name on, and you'll be glad to own.
Thank you for your support.
Risks and challenges
I've been preparing this project for years, so we're ready for blastoff. I expect it will take some time to get clearances for certain photographs, and to schedule further interviews, but I am confident that I'll be able to deliver an entertaining book. After all, I'm a producer!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
A detailed and colorful description of the work area and working situation where we recorded the show, with photos: Culver City, Westwood One, Studio A, My House, restaurants where we ate and met, record company studios, radio station people and interiors, record stores, concert venues, etc.
Descriptions, photos and character analysis of the various people who crossed my path, friend or foe (mostly friends).
A detailed 'highlight' discussion of most of the shows that I worked on, discussing artists, particularly if they came into the studios in person or if we went to where they were to interview them.
Contests, controversies, cease and desist letters, "Weird Al's" rise from our mailroom to major label success, office parties and romances (when they are interesting enough to warrant a mention), the general and particular political and social scene of the times,John Mammoser and Pirate Radio, Wally Wingert coming to L.A. and his fascination with Adam West (of "Batman" fame), pop music and culture, the 1984 Olympics in L.A., the US Festival '83, the Westwood One Mobile Recording van, and meeting Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Pres. Carter, Bob Hope, Bobby "Boris" PIckett, "Screamin' Jay" Hawkins, and many others. I will also recall that our receptionist was robbed at gunpoint right outside the front door of our building just minutes before I arrived for my first day of work, and about another receptionist who claimed to be a witch, and who claimed to 'put a spell' on me (HELP 'Screamin' Jay".) I'll tell about being shipped out to some trailers 3 blocks away to work for three months, and the fun barbecues we had there. It was right next to the Harley dealer where Gary Busey fell from his bike in the street and hurt his head, which explains alot, and ....you know, things like that.
Well, I was not the producer, actually. Barry Hansen ("Dr. Demento") is and always has been the producer, since he invented the role and the show and he was the one who picked the songs each week, and all of that.
I was the "Associate Producer," which can mean many things, but in this case it meant that I was the interface between him and his manager Jay Levey, and the Westwood One Radio Network (WWO), which were my employers. It was my duty to handle any issues, to get the show out on time, correctly reproduced and broadcast and containing the correct commercial mentions. I took photos, booked some of the guests, traveled occasionally with The Doc, and handled the recording sessions with Michael Jordan, the chief engineer and head of studio operations.
To answer your question....the short answer here would be that I was a journalist and met Norm Pattiz's sister Sandra Kreiswirth (Norm being the CEO of WWO).She introduced me to Norm, he hired me, and I moved from San Diego to Los Angeles in mid-December, 1981.
There's a long answer in the book that involves Sea World, cocaine, white water rafting in the Yukon, the Central Intelligence Agency (no kidding), and more, but there's no room for that here.
If you love the odd song, or odd song artist....and if you were always curious about what really went on when Dr. Demento was doing his thing....then you should support the project. It's a fun read through a pretty radical time in radio, full of lively and colorful characters trying to have their way with me in a radio type of way. It's sort of a mashup of "Full Metal Jacket" with "Wall Street" meets "Pulp Fiction" and "The Big Liebowski," only with better music.
- (30 days)