2003   DECEMBER 27   #361

Excerpt from "Soundings" - Week of April 2, 1989

If you tune around your radio dial in the wee small hours of Sunday morning, you'll hear something called "Public Affairs Programming." These boring-as-all-get-out programs are one of those little unpleasant things the FCC likes to see commercial stations do so they can keep their license the next time they get caught faking a nuclear war during morning drive time or something.

As the weekend overnight guy at a station in North Carolina in the late 80s, I had three of these beasts to run, the last and dullest being "Soundings." Soundings was a national program delivered on records, produced by the National Humanities Center (whatever that is). Host Wayne Pond would interview a noted humanities professor or two about whatever research project they were working on at the time. For THIRTY MINUTES. It was usually maddeningly boring, and at 5:30 am, it was, for me anyway, a marathon ordeal in just trying to stay awake until going home at 6.

I was just about out cold early one April morning when Wayne started wrapping up the interview early for some reason, and announced that a different set of eggheads were going to take the last 6 minutes or so of the program, discussing their research project entitled "Discourses of Gender and Desire: The Semiotics of Media in the 60s." But then these guys came on and started pontificating about . . . Gilligan's Island???

I spirited the record away and played it again at home when I was more conscious. Turns out the producers of this stuffy little program had played a brilliant April Fools Joke, parodying their own show with inspired straight-faced gravity--and once you realize that, it's hilarious. Wayne had given out a couple obvious-in-hindsight clues in his intro, but they were easy to miss at 5:52 am. If you listen closely in headphones, you can make out suppressed snickering in the background.

I liked the show a lot more after that.

- Narkspud

TT-6:22 / 3.7MB / 80kbps 44.1khz
"Soundings" April Fools Episode, Week of April 2, 1989

(Image courtesy of Narkspud)