TERRY DULLUM — The Dullum File: The Shortest Song In The World

An interview I did with Dan Keating of KMAV/KMSR Radio in Mayvillle stirred up some memories for me earlier today. Clomping down memory lane a bit.

For me, before there was television, there was radio.  And before there was television news, there was radio programming.

KMAV is where I picked up my first paycheck in broadcasting “some” years ago. In 1970, and again in 1972, in between my stint keeping the world free by serving in the U.S. Army, I worked at KMAV, now KMSR-AM. At first, I “signed on” the station with a program of “middle of the road” music. Good for me because I was familiar with the likes of Andy Williams, Tony Bennett, Peggy Lee, and of course, Frank Sinatra.

Later that year the owner decided to switch formats to country music, taking advantage of the then new “Nashville Sound” which was sweeping radio stations across the country that year. Not so good for me.  At least I didn’t think so. But eventually I learned to like, if not love, country music. Later I would meet and interview on television artists like Bill Anderson, Eddy Arnold, Glen Campbell and Ray Price whose music I played on radio.

Like any business, hay must be made while the sun shines. In this case, the hay we’re talking about is commercial advertising dollars during the holiday season of 1972.

As we got closer and closer to Christmas that year I noticed that the station’s log, which dictates exactly what gets heard in radio and when, was getting more and more crowded with commercials. There was no time to play any music. What I mean by that is that there was no time for ANY music. Literally, no time! There was network news at the top of the hour, weather at a quarter to and a quarter after the hour, and local news at the bottom of the hour. In between there was solid, back to back commercials.

Finally, I complained to my boss who said, “Don’t worry. Nobody will notice.” Nobody will notice?

I decided to take some action. In those days we played mainly 45 rpm records with an “A” side meant to be heard on the air and a “B” side which was some times something of a throwaway. I found a 45 by Kenny Price the B-side of which was called “This is the Shortest Song in the World.” Not only is “This is the Shortest Song in the World” the record’s title, it is also the song’s entire lyric. The whole thing is about 18 seconds long.

On the air, I played a cluster of, I don’t know how many, 30-second commercials. Then I said, “Now, here’s Kenny Price.”  Then, “The Shortest Song in the World” and then another half dozen or more commercials. It was my little passive-aggressive commentary of what I thought was commercialization gone mad.

I was also quite certain I’d be fired for it. Sure enough, just as the segment aired, out the window I could see KMAV’s owner/operator Austen Kramer driving in to work for the day. And sure enough he made a bee-line for the control room and me.  Here we go!

Instead I got, “Do some more stuff like that. That was funny.”

As I recall, it was shortly after that that I got a raise. Coincidence? I think not.

Interviews with some former KMAV employees will be heard on KMSR-AM and KMAV-FM on October 20 beginning at 4 p.m., the date and time the station first went on the air 50 years ago.

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Glen Campbell And Other Musings

When I was a little girl, Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman” was a big hit on AM radio. Somehow, because my father had been a lineman in Mississippi in the time period after World War II  I got confused and for a little while and was pretty sure he and Glen Campbell were one and the same person. I eventually got this sorted out and understood the truth, but I’m still rather fond of the song.

Other musings: This photo was a happy reminder for me of a past hike, taken five years ago today. I so love Theodore Roosevelt National Park that I’ll climb the tall bison fence to get into the backcountry. My husband took this photo. My sister, Sarah, joined us for the hike and just as nimbly clambered over that fence.

Garden news is that I planted the hosta seed I’ve been harvesting. We’ll see what happens. A seed can be magic, a miracle in the palm of my hand.

On the way to pick up supplies at the grocery store, I spotted this sign. Good sentiment.

Other tiny seeds have turned this summer to these beauties.

In the kitchen, I’m converting the bounty to yellow tomato lime sorbet and listening to Campbell’s last release as I putter.

 

Adios, indeed, Mr. Campbell.

TERRY DULLUM: The Dullum File — Glen Campbell

After a long struggle with Alzheimers disease, Glen Campbell died this week at the age of 81.

Of all the celebrity interviews I’ve done, the two I did with Glen Campbell are among my very favorite. For openers, it’s always as surprise that a star of his caliber was willing to talk with little, old me.

For some reason, the first interview we did with him took place fairly early in the morning in advance of a show that night in Chester Fritz Auditorium in Grand Forks. Perhaps he wanted to hit the golf course, I don’t know.

After the interview, he invited us to have breakfast with him at the Holiday Inn coffee shop. I headed for a table in the middle of the room. But he said, “Let’s sit over here.” A table in the corner where he sat with his back to the room. I remember thinking that’s what fame is. Avoiding too much attention.

Having breakfast with Glen Campbell is not the worst way to start a day. He was especially proud of the lineup of his show that night, which included John Hartford, who wrote one of his biggest hits “Gentle on My Mind.” Also now gone. And Jim “Spiders & Snakes” Stafford,  another fine entertainer, very much alive in Branson, Mo.

The show was incredible. Did Glen Campbell ever do a bad one?

A couple of weeks later when tour was over, I got a handwritten note thanking me for the interview. Pure class.

Years later, I talked with him live on television when he was appearing at the Spirit Lake Casino near Devils Lake.

MTV had just aired a “warts and all” Behind the Music documentary. The warts included his drug abuse and the very public spectacle that could only be described as his tramping around the country with Tanya Tucker. I had no choice but to ask him what it was like to have that sort of dirty laundry aired so publicly. Now clean and sober for many years, his nearly perfect answer, “I know what I did. It’s between me and my God.” Next question.

I will always admire Glen Campbell’s openness and honesty. His talent and showmanship speaks for itself. A wonderful voice. A tremendous guitarist. A truly great entertainer.