MUSIC: Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss
Uh, is this thing on? Can everybody…hello? All right, can you hear me in the back? South Korea? French Polynesia? Fargo? Can everybody…OK.
MUSIC: David Arnold’s score to Independence Day
People of Portland. Residents of Oregon. Citizens of the United States. Inhabitants of this good planet Earth.
This is Rick Emerson, host of The Rick Emerson Show on AM 970 and three-time winner of the Oregon Entertainer of the Year award. First off, my apologies for commandeering the world’s public address system like this. We considered buying infomercial time, but it’s all filled up with George Foreman grills and that thing that shaves the skin off your feet.
My friends: we live in fractious times. Times of upheaval, turmoil, times of discord, where the only certainties we have to face are uncertainty, unpredictability, and the relentless hands of the ticking clock. We rise each day and go out the door and put on our bravest face, one foot in front of the other, walking toward the future, whatever it might be.
And even in a country of 300 million, a planet 6 billion strong, there are times you feel as though you are alone. But I’m here to tell you, there is something that binds us all, a common thread, a uniting force, and you’re using it right now.
Radio, you see, is…magic. Not the fairy-tale kind, but real, honest-to-goodness magic. Wherever you are right now, your car, your home, your office cubicle, headphones on, you turn a dial and this voice comes out, a voice you can carry with you, the size of a pack of cigarettes, the cost of a battery. No matter no where you are, where you go, it all comes out of this one tiny device: music, debates, discussion – this one tiny device tells you what’s happening in the world, and what’s happening in your community. It’s there, all around you, just waiting, and it comes right out of the air. My friends, that is magic.
Perhaps around the dial, you’ve felt that same energy, that same magic, but maybe you’ve found it disappointing, diluted, diminished, the province of bottom-feeding hacks, obvious and unimaginative. Does anyone really need another Block Party Weekend? Does anyone still need to Get the Led Out? How much Led could you possibly have that you continuously need to expel it? The Led has been out since 1982! Move on!
Does anyone need another station claiming they play everything? Do you realize there are 4,000 albums released every month? Entire wormholes in space would have to expand exponentially just to create sufficient real estate to hold such a radio station. And “We Play Everything” doesn’t even make sense. If I recorded an album of Peruvian whale song, would they be legally obligated to play it? What about a record of Hobbit noises? What about a record of earthworm yodels? What about a record consisting entirely of the sound of Abe Vigoda gently scratching his inner left thigh with a slightly stale macaroon? No one plays everything.
DJs with names like Dan Halen, Ken Fusion, Mark St. Mark, Bill St. Bill, Jonathan St. Jonathan, Stevie Van Rock, and The Morning Zoo starring Generic Edgy Guy and Breathy Air-Headed Sidekick and guys whose sole purpose seems to be giggling in the background. Wet T-shirt contests for Nickelback tickets, battle of the sexes, voice-tracked inanity systematically designed to appeal to a Lowest Common Denominator whose collective brain power, if harnessed, couldn’t heat a Hot Pocket.
You’ve had it up to here with the automated, regimented, pasteurized, homogenized, More Rock Less Talk Ten In A Row Nineties At Noon Something The Whole Office Can Agree On crapfest.
Now perhaps you’ve sought refuge in the enlightening world of AM talk radio, only to find much of it an endless parade of the tedious, the tired, the banal and insipid, the dull and the predictably non-threatening. Does anybody really need a contest in which the alleged prize is the chance to sit across from Lars Larson while he eats lunch? I mean, can you imagine what that would sound like? Does anyone need another conservative who sounds as though he’s been constipated and sexless for at least 16 years, or another liberal whose voice sounds like a living thesaurus for screechy whining?
You, deserve, better.
For everyone who would rather be talked to than talked at, for everyone who prefers humor to bombast, for everyone who has their Google News Alerts set for “Hasselhoff” or “Star Trek” or “wood chipper accident,” for everyone who knows what it means to love Motley Crue unironically, for everyone who still proudly displays their action figure collections well into adulthood, for everyone who stood in line at midnight for Sith, The Black Album or The Deathly Hallows – perhaps at Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing, 3415 Cedar Hills Blvd. where Hall and Cedar Hills Blvd. intersect – for everyone who’s ever fervently debated the proper use of the Oxford Comma, for everyone who ever like Yoda talked, for everyone who prefers the company of their XBox to most living people, for everyone who would rather get their news from Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Doyle Redland or Tim Riley, for everyone who’s ever debated Mike Versus Joel, D.C. Versus Marvel, Mac Versus Everything, for everyone who’s ever signed a petition or written a strongly-worded letter to bring back an unfairly cancelled yet brilliant television show, for everyone who knows that Goonies never say die…
…for the overeducated, the underestimated, for the hopelessly idealistic and the cheerfully nihilistic, the bitter crazed loner, the disenchanted smart-ass, the shut-in, the misfit, the brain, the basket case, the athlete, the princess, and the criminal…
The Rick Emerson Show is for you.
For those already loyal to the cause, we salute you, and with your help this movement will grow beyond imagining. For those just joining, just hearing, only now discovering this program, we welcome you. Your search is over. You have found your home, and this community becomes stronger every day. So spread the word, tell a friend, pass it on, and take your first step into a larger world.
People of Portland, residents of Oregon, citizens of the United States, inhabitants of this good planet Earth: this…is the magic of radio. This…is The Rick Emerson Show.
Chris here. Now to go all Paul Harvey and tell you The Rest of the Story:
Rick Emerson hosts an AM talk show. He also is the program manager of AM 970, formerly Solid State Radio, now called The Talker. His listeners, me included, are a VERY interactive cross-section of greater Portland geekdom; thanks to AM 970's podcasts, Rick has listeners all over the world.
And Rick has a flair for the dramatic. On June 6th 2006 -- 6/06/06 -- hundreds of his listeners lined up on the northern sidewalk of the Hawthorne Bridge and simultaneously threw devil horns. He hosted a special concert by Vanilla Ice on July 7th, 2007 -- 7/07/07. Just over a week ago a listener e-mailed him and wrote Dude: August 8th, 2008 is 8/08/08. You should do something special. And that listener suggested something special.
That something special evolved quickly into the Emerson Address (above, and transcribed by me, because I'm that kind of listener). The goal: have the speech heard simultaneously by as many people as possible. And the smart-assed but benevolent Viso-sippers who comprise the Emerson Army -- yes, we call ourselves that -- spread out, moving our speakers into windows, turning up our car radios, opening the doors to delivery trucks tuned to AM 970, changing the dial or the live internet stream to the station, even (in one case, I heard) tuning an entire office building's P.A. system to the live feed. (And this happened in spots all over the world.) To get the message to ever more people, the station's street team spread out to multiple Portland overpasses and, minutes before 3, held up banners and signs saying AM 970: LISTEN NOW.
After a 90-second computer-voiced countdown, that speech played.
It was written and delivered by someone who loves radio, and loves the potential of it, the possibilities it has...and who's annoyed at how much crap is on the air. He's working to produce Something Special.
Well played, sir. That was special.