View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Monday, October 13, 2003

Columbus Day

"What was that?" "French Horns."

As a kid, I used to listen to tapes of Stan Freburg. His Columbus Day radio play is possibly one of the funniest things ever committed to the airwaves. The script doesn't do it justice, but if you've heard it before, listening to the few clips at the site should spark your memory enough to be able to read through the thing and laugh at the right places. Freburg got his own radio show for a short while, but never really matched the USA series. He also did a few promos for radio advertising, trying to show how much more powerful radio was than television, but you can see how that worked out.

Freburg also did the "Green Christmas" sketch that got local DJ Bill Cerri canned the first time he played it. Remember that it took a lot less to get canned 40 years ago. Cerri was a real radio legend in the DC area, and along with Harden and Weaver, Ed Walker, and a handful of others, pretty much defined that era for a certain demographic. Few people remember him now, and I suspect in a few years it'll be the same with most others. You listen to a guy every day for 30 years, or you listen to him growing up, and it's surprising how perishable his work is. Jack Benny, George Burns & the rest produced shows, but a guy talks into the mike, day after day, playing a hymn at 6:55 and a march at 7:23 and "I Love Onions" just to annoy his partner, and it means just as much, only it's completely meaningless to listen to again. I know Lileks has been listening to Arthur Godfrey or something, but who knows if WMAL even saved that old tape?

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