I Am A Pod Person

This has nothing to do with “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” Although, if an alien with access to a forklift, would like to snatch my body, they are welcome to it. As long as they return it, thirty pounds lighter and with a full head of hair.

I am a pod person because I now do a Podcast.

About a year ago, I was Tweeted at by a fellow named Matthew Anderson. First, I must digress. “Tweeted at” is such an odd thing to write. It used to be that the only thing tweeting at you had wings, a beak and, occasionally, dropped a gooey present from its feathered colon on your freshly washed car or freshly washed head. Now, you can be “tweeted at” by businesses, political causes, and human beings. Although, based on some of the Tweets I’ve seen, the human beings may have feathers, beaks and improper toilet habits.

Back to Matthew. He and his compatriots, Kyle and Josh, do a show called Can City Podcast. It’s a light-hearted and, thanks to Josh, light-brained, show you can learn more about at cancitymedia.com or listen to at cancity.podbean.com. I was a guest on that program three times. The last came after I was let go by KSHB. At that point, the Can City trio suggested I do my own podcast.

So, with no effort on my part, there is now a “You Should Talk with Joel Nichols” podcast. You can find it at ystjoel.podbean.com and on iTunes. So far, we’ve chatted with Johnny Dare, Maria Antonia, Michael McQuary and the band, Hembree.

Podcasting reminds me of my first job in broadcasting. I was about three years old when I landed an announcing position on a local radio station in a small Wisconsin town. Did I mention that I was only three?! But, due to my amazing articulation and unbelievable grasp of world events, I got the job. Also, my Dad was a part-owner.

This is my first 8x10 glossy. It was all downhill from there.

My Dad, Ron, and his good friend, Jim Kirchstein, combined forces in the early 1960s, to create WVLR-96.7 on your FM dial! WVLR stood for Wisconsin’s Very Live Radio because everything was, just that, live. I recall my Dad sitting on the roof of a house across the street from a fire, doing an on-the-spot report, for example.

In the summer months, they sometimes said WVLR stood for Wisconsin’s Vacation Land Radio, to entice the tourists.

That’s my Dad walking from the studio to the station vehicle. He was a thin man. In fact, for Halloween he dressed just like this and went as a clarinet. Or, he could stand sideways, stick out his tongue and be a zipper.

Mr. Kirchstein was the engineering genius who did all the technical work, including building the sound board and erecting the antenna. My Dad did the other stuff like sales, news, programming and on-air work.

WVLR quickly became an important part of the town. Like many other small-town stations, they had a show called Swap Shop, where folks could call in to buy, sell and trade. “I’ve got a large ball of barbed wire that I’d like to get rid of…and I’m looking for a small goat.” That kind of thing.

There was also a program named “Penny’s Patter.” Penny was a local minister. After a sermonette, she’d take calls about all kinds of problems. No politics. Nothing heated. Mostly, just an open ear and friendly voice. “Well, Verona, I think you should gently tell your sister-in-law that you don’t care for her cream of chicken soup casserole and let it go at that.”

WVLR played every type of music. There was a Country and Western Hour, and a Rock ‘N Roll Hour hosted by my teenage brothers. In the mornings, the music was a free-for-all. You might hear The Statler Brothers followed by Jerry Vale followed by The Beatles. My Mom had the station on the kitchen radio first thing every morning. I’d notice the voice of my Dad say, “That was Frank Sinatra with That’s Life! Now, today’s funeral notices.” Twisted sense of humor.

In addition to his other duties, my Dad did a show called Ole Hanson’s Old Time Radio Hour. Here he is before putting on his costume. This is just how he dressed on Saturdays, as he climbed into his Ford Falcon convertible to drag race the local juvenile delinquents.

Actually, Ole Hanson made personal appearances at local businesses like appliance stores. “Come on down to Crow’s Appliance to meet Ole and see what kind of deal The Old Crow can make you on a new fridge!”

On the show, Ole/Ron played polka records and waltzes and schottisches. He also took requests. I would go along to pull the records off the shelf, as needed.

For the character, Ron perfected a Norwegian accent. For example, his “ch” sound was really an “sh” sound. A “chair” became a “shair.” One of Ole’s regular listeners was my grandma, Ron’s mother. She knew the ch/sh deal. So, on a monthly basis, she’d call to request the song “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”

As I tip-toe into this new world of podcasting, I like to think that, somewhere, Ole Hanson is smiling.