I’m going to spend a little time shamelessly showing my age in this week’s edition of “Happy Friday!!!” I’m not afraid to admit it, I’m a Baby Boomer… born in 1954 and very OK with it. Growing up was a challenge at times, and in times of stress I turned to the entertainment media of the time which were TV (in glorious black and white) and of course AM radio. And yes, kids, AM radio is still alive and well; although the programming certainly has changed over the years.
TV was OK… it did provide a valuable escape from reality during childhood. When I look back on it, the words of the Talking Heads song, “Love For Sale” (<–click here) come to mind: “I was born in a house with the television always on…”
But when it came to real escape, for me anyway, AM radio was at the top of the heap. That’s because all the cool music of the day was being blasted to the masses all over the radio dial. Growing up on Long Island, New York gave us 24 / 7 access to stations like 77 WABC and 1010 WINS, which featured Disk Jockeys with names like Cousin Brucie and Murray the K.
However, a traumatic event happened to us kids in 1966. Our father took a job in northern Wisconsin. Not only were we experiencing a huge culture shock; but our music was GONE!! Well, OK it was still there, but we couldn’t get to it. We had no money for records; and even if we got our mitts on a record, Dad’s stereo was strictly off limits to us kids. So, the radio was our gateway to the musical universe; and the only AM stations available in the daytime played twang-twang country music or polkas.
There was hope… the ionosphere came to our rescue when the sun went down. “Huh??” you might say. Let me explain: the sun’s radiation energizes various upper layers of the atmosphere; and certain radio waves bounce off these ionized layers and are directed back to earth. It’s a phenomenon known as “skip;” and is somewhat reminiscent of a stone skipping on water. Anyway, after the sun went down, AM radio signals from Chicago would come in really well and voila!! our music returned to us.
Now we were listening to our rock ‘n roll primarily on WLS and WCFL, with DJs like Larry Lujack and Dick Biondi. Both stations were great, but WCFL brought us something extra: “Chickenman!!! He’s everywhere he’s everywhere!!!” Now if you remember that, you’re at least as old as I am. And if you’re as old as I am, I really hope you remember Chickenman.
Sadly, Dick Orkin, the creator of Chickenman, passed to the Great Beyond last Sunday; he was 84. An amazingly talented man, he also created “The Secret Adventures of the Tooth Fairy;” and went on to create wonderfully funny radio commercials. In honor of his awesome humor, I’d like to share of his work I found on YouTube.
So kids, for this week’s “video” I inserted a couple of fun entries: someone created some animation to accompany an entry called “Chickenman, Episode 1.” Each radio episode of Chickenman had the began with the shouting of “Chickenman… he’s everywhere!!! He’s everywhere!!”
The video is followed by the album “The Best of Chickenman.” I hope you can sit back, relax, and let your ears drink the intoxicating humor that only Chickenman could offer.