Staying Demented

When I was around the age of 12, every Saturday from 10 AM to noon, I would sit by my radio and listen to the Dr. Demento Show.  I was in love with Dr. Demento and his “mad music and crazy comedy” he brought to the airwaves every week.  I even joined his fan club – the Demento Society; I still have an autographed picture of the Doctor taped up in my childhood bedroom – the man even announced my birthday on the air! I encourage everyone to visit his website and listen to some of his shows and samples – to this day, it’s a radio show unlike anything else ever done before.

For those unfamiliar with the program, Demento specializes in comedy and novelty music, and covers funny tunes from pretty much every era of recorded music ever.  The Doctor, whose real name is Barret Eugene Hansen, is an avid record collector, and his collection of records, tapes, and comedic discs new and old is as far-reaching and vast as the man’s knowledge of satirical music.  Long before Adam Sandler was making terrible music albums, long before George Carlin wowed us on compact disc, Demento was spinning the most hilarious, and often risque, records on the planet.

Probably the best thing the Doctor is known for is bringing Weird Al Yankovic to national attention and eventual superstardom.  Without the help of the Doctor’s then-popular and widely syndicated program, no one would have ever heard Yankovic’s early parodies of popular songs that would lead him to become a pop star on his own, receiving airplay on MTV, performing to sold-out crowds, and even making his own film, the cult classic, UHF (Demento himself has a cameo in the movie).

I’m giving the Doctor praise today because last week was his last show on traditional radio.  A statement published on his Web site explained that financial hardships have forced the show to cease FM radio syndication and instead broadcast solely online.  In fact, the only station still carrying the program’s online episdoes, at least for the time being, is the station I discovered Demento on, KACV FM in Amarillo, Texas.

While it’s great that the program is still able to continue via the Internet, the ceasing of traditional broadcasts marks the end of an era for the historic 40-year program, and just another modern-day example of the decline of the business of FM.  And so, after the jump, I have provided a short tribute to the Doctor and his weekly whimsical wackiness – just a few of my favorite songs I heard on the Dr. Demento Show.  Though I may not be able to literally “wind up” my radio anymore, I’ll be certain to stay demented for years to come.

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