The Idle American: Old-school radio gaffes

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Timeout – a feature that helps remove bass gaffes – hasn’t always been a “backstop” when there’s a tongue tangle on radio broadcasts.

A classic, of course, was the announcer who said he “got his tail twisted”.

Perhaps the first nationally recognized mistake occurred in June 1921, when Harry Von Zell needed to make only one statement to introduce the new American President for his inaugural address: “Ladies and gentlemen , President Herbert Hoover”. What he said, however, was definitely mangled: “Hoobert Heever.”…

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Groucho Marx, a radio and TV personality who appeared in several thigh-high films with his brothers, had a quick wit and an ubiquitous cigar. He was a weekly comedian on his radio show, “You Bet Your Life.”

One evening, a candidate who was practically beside herself after saying her name listened intently when Groucho asked the oh-so-simple question, “What do you add to water to make soap suds? “

Pausing, she finally replied, “Lye?” Always the quick thinker, Groucho replied, “That’s a lie, but we’ll take it anyway.”…

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Many of the best “crushes” have happened in local situations, dying when radio signals and word of mouth have stopped near county lines. Today, I’m going to share some testimonials I’ve come across, starting with yours.

I remember finishing a New Years sports show on KBWD in Brownwood.

I wished the listeners a “Happy Newbury”.…

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My friend Gilbert Stogsdill remains amused by a story on the radio involving his late brother, Jim Stogsdill, 13 years his senior. They lived in Guymon, OK, where their father was on the church staff.

Jim had a radio “gig” at KGYN, providing him with “money to ride around” during his college years at nearby Panhandle A&M College.

Every afternoon he made live phone calls to local residents, ending each session with goodies to lucky listeners….

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One day he met a youth who provided limited conversation. Jim asked if the child’s mother could come on the phone.

Jim complimented the young man, admitting to the mother that he didn’t even know her son’s name. “It’s slimy,” she replied. Jim figured she hadn’t studied much herself. Taken aback, he said he had never heard that name before.

“We didn’t either,” she remarked. “But I read it in a book before it was born, and my husband and I loved it.” The retort came when Jim asked about spelling. “Just as it sounds,” she replied, “GUY.” (Maybe she thought she was a resident of “Gooeymon”, OK.)….

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Here’s another mess with a hospital setting. I can’t verify it, so there won’t be any attribution to anyone exactly.

After giving birth to a daughter, the mother said she would name her new baby “Fee-molly”.

Taken aback, her nurse said she had never heard that name before. “I hadn’t either,” the new mom confessed, “but I saw it on the hospital registration form.” (The word she had seen was “female.”)…

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No radio personality provided more good humor than the late Joy Culwell, though pretty much confined to the confines of Colorado City and Mitchell County. She had a daily conversation on radio station KVMC, rarely failing to joke about her waist, which was, well, baggy and more.

A woman of many stories, she recounted an unlikely experience at a department store in Abilene. “I got stuck in the revolving door,” she laughed. Emergency personnel urged her to “turn sideways”. Joy replied that she “didn’t have a side”.…. On another show, she bragged about being hugged by three Texas governors, but “not all at the same time.”

In Snyder, a Western Texas College student was a part-time presenter at radio station KSNY. Chairman of the WTC at the time, I saw a tornado hit Snyder. It made for a welcome turn, but the announcer’s disclaimer is memorable. “A tornado is approaching Snyder. Details in a moment, but first a word from Piggly-Wiggly.”…

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DNewbury, a longtime college president, still writes weekly and speaks to groups of all types across Texas and the Southwest. Contact him at 817-447-3872. Facebook: Don Newbury. Twitter: @donnewbury.

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