The airwaves | Mark’s Remarks

In my hometown, we have a little radio station that started broadcasting in the 1950’s. I grew up listening.

In the mornings, there would be commentary from the announcer, a guy who had a distinctive voice and a good, folksy manner about him. He would do a lot of things that folks might think are a bit boring. However, somehow, he made even the simplest of tasks and gags interesting, funny, and entertaining.

On a daily basis, he would periodically call the local time and temperature number and carry on a one-sided conversation with the pleasant sounding recorded voice on the line. After listeners heard “Emily” announce the time and temp, he would continue on with the conversation, inquiring about her garden, if she had covered up her plants to avoid an early frost, and on and on.

As I said, it wasn’t cerebral humor or anything. However, we listeners thought it was charming and humorous.

He would also read the lunch menus each day and it was almost possible to hear audible groans as he read things like “beets” and “pizza casserole.” He always had a special way of saying “peanut butter sandwiches” and would delight in announcing that grade school students would be having beans and wieners.

Before ending his morning shift, he’d host a talk show. During the weekdays, he’d interview just about anyone from town and allow callers to phone in questions and comments. He would open up the phone lines on Friday and welcome callers to call in with whatever was on their mind. The show was called “What Do You Think?” and again, it wasn’t anything earth shattering. But it was, like the announcer, dependable and folksy. We all loved it.

When I was visiting my hometown not too long ago, I was tickled to hear a show on that same radio station. It is called “Woody and Murvis.”

“Woody” is actually the son of the late morning announcer I mentioned above. He is carrying on the tradition of providing that same brand of local, down home humor and topics of interest.

“Murvis” is actually a former TV announcer who I used to watch on Evansville, Ind., channels when I was a kid.

Both Woody and Murvis provide listeners with all kinds of information. They open up the phone lines for a “swap shop” type of program. They interview local elected officials. They talk about weather, fish frys, charity events, and newsy topics.

According to my mother, who listens on a daily basis, they have a routine during the week that involves phoning various businesses around town. The businesses happen to be their sponsors.

They call a local car dealer and talk to him about all kinds of things related to new cars and what have you. While I was listening, Murvis piped up and said “Say there, is it still Big Truck Month?” To me, this is a heck of a clever way to work in commercials for their sponsors and it’s no wonder the show is able to find plenty of businesses to cough up money for air time.

Now, you may still not think this is all too funny. Just picture Larry the Cable Guy and you might get an idea of their brand of humor. They use those thick, southern Illinois accents, too.

Every now and then you’ll get a traffic report from their fictitious helicopter pilot. He will fly over various places in town and make comments. Some days there are inside jokes, and some days there are jokes that push the envelope a little bit.

Mom says there have been times the duo is clearly trying to see who is funnier. They go out of their way to “crack each other up.”

When one of them succeeds, it is contagious. The particular punch line or funny anecdote is followed by one of the two getting so tickled that there will be a need to turn off one of the microphones. Coughing fits are common during one of these laugh fests, too.

When I’m able to listen, I am reminded how having such a community institution means to the folks of a small town.

It’s a way of connecting. It’s something that brings the town together.

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Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.
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