*Stars in the massively successful Winner Tv that was voted best idol variety show in 2014 even before they debuted*
*all members participate in the writing/ composing of their songs* *said songs are critically acclaimed*
*Upon debut raises YG's stocks by 6.57%*
*has record breaking debut* *is the quickest group to ever win #1* *gains title of "monster rookie* *SURPASSES ALL OF YG'S EXPECTATIONS FOR THEM*
*WINS ALL THE AWARDS* *FIRST ALBUM WILDLY ACCLAIMED*
*dominates charts all summer long* *becomes a major trend setter in Korea and displays major impact with the songs he writes* *FEAR manages to become one of the longest withstanding songs on the charts, competing against the likes of Exo and their seniors Big Bang* *DOES ALL THIS WITHOUT ANY PROMOTION FROM YG WHATSOEVER
*choreographs everything for WINNER* *does exceedingly well on variety shows*
*has a super successful solo debut pre- debut* *slays the charts*
*produces title tracks for second album which receive universal acclaim, not one criticism to be had* *works his ass off for Actor School to improve himself and becomes a trending topic on Naver*
*Becomes more beautiful by the year* *learns to play the drums only to be shoved in the back*
*PRODUCES A BEAUTIFUL SECOND ALBUM AFTER A YEAR AND A HALF HIATUS* *ALBUM HITS #1* *ALBUM BECOMES #14 ON AMERICAN ITUNES CHARTS* *ALBUM CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED* *Namsong track "Pricked"despite not being promoted, managed to debut at number 2 on Melon and number 1 on iTunes in multiple countries namely Singapore, Thailand, Brunei and six other countries*
Settling The Ultimate Argument: The Best Three Hours Of Radio
Obviously this is my first tumbleage, so forgive whatever whatever. This was an essay I wrote for my History Of Recorded Sound class’ final assignment, which was to nominate any recording for inclusion in the National Registry. I wrote it in like three hours, so be gentle, weirdos.
“Tonight, we are going to make radio history. Because the one and only Ted Leo—that’s right, songwriting superstar Ted Leo—is going to write a song with us tonight on the radio” (“The World Is In The Terlet”). Fifteen minutes into the three hours that is The Best Show on WFMU, host Tom Scharpling laid out his plan for the episode. And sure enough, ninety minutes after the lyric-writing commenced, WFMU premiered a song, written by Tom and the listeners of the show and recorded professionally by Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, called “The World Is In The Terlet.” This episode perfectly represents the combination of cultural commentary, unhinged creativity, underdog attitude, and combative yet loving and constructive relationship with callers that built a twelve-year long masterpiece of a radio show and a community of fans willing to follow the adventure through any challenge. It most certainly deserves a place in the National Recording Registry.
WFMU is the largest and longest running non-collegiate freeform radio station in the country (O’Malley). The Historical Dictionary of American Radio defines freeform radio as:
An approach to radio programming in which a station’s management gives the DJ complete control over program content. Freeform shows are as different as the personalities of DJ’s, but they share a feeling of spontaneity, a tendency to play music that is not usually heard. Their ideology tends to be liberal or radical, though their program content is not usually overtly political. Many DJ’s mix diverse musical styles, engage in monologues between music sets and/or accept callers on the air. The only rules that free-form DJ’s are bound by are FCC regulations such as station identification and restrictions on foul language. (O’Malley)
While more traditional commercial radio broadcasting dates back to 1920, the idea of freeform radio took longer to emerge (“Broadcasting Timeline”). The peak years of freeform coincided with the peak years of countercultural sentiment: the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Since then, stations have moved away from the format, leaving only miniscule local stations, college radio, and WFMU (O’Malley). Because of this, and because of its variety of consistently weird and quality programming, the station has been called “the best radio station in the country” by Rolling Stone Magazine, CMJ, The Village Voice, and New York Press (“About WFMU”).
When people hear tell of The Best Show on WFMU, they’re understandably intimidated. The show’s archives are vast, since it started in October of 2000 and ended in December of 2013, meaning there’s over 1,700 hours accessible (Callan). Despite the fact that legions of cool celebrities (such as Ben Gibbard, Zach Galifianakis, Aziz Ansari, Patton Oswalt, Aimee Mann, Marc Maron, and countless more) count themselves as fans of the show, its length and lifespan is easy to find impenetrable. There are few casual fans of the show; the length of episodes and perceived “inside jokiness” keep most Johnny-come-latelies out. However, this means that the fan base consists of many people who the show means, or meant, the world to. Fans of The Best Show refer to themselves as “Friends of Tom,” or FOTs for short. In the early days of the show, Tom called his fans “Scharpling’s Army,” but he changed it to promote some positivity and keep them from getting overly defensive or combative.
By hearing of some of the FOTs that called in most, it becomes easier to understand the texture of the show. Though Tom is the Svengali ever at the helm, keeping the show running the way he wants, episodes always consist of at least one third callers, usually much more than that. Most of the recurring callers are funny and human, like Jason from Huntsville (a southern gentleman and one of the most regular callers). But there are also people like “the Z-Man” (Zach Woliner), who called in frequently with his straight man, vaguely “on the spectrum,” puppet Wally Wackiman until an event known as “the feltdown.” After months of criticism and insults from other callers, particularly a wrestling villain-type named the Greggulator, Wackiman had a complete meltdown on air to the delight and confusion of the listeners. The fact that this puppet existed entirely for the radio, a non-visual medium, is not surprising in the Best Show universe, as Tom invented not one, but two puppet characters of his own: Vance, the prog-rock loving green monster, and Gary the Squirrel, a manic shrill squirrel with the timing of a Catskills comedian. The puppets, however, cannot replace Tom’s real sidekick/associate producer, AP Mike. Over time, Mike became more and more of his own character: in addition to screening calls, he also threw in his opinions on film, television, and all-around filth, and eventually became the supervillain Doctor Cronut. Obviously, this all only scratches the surface of the bizarre level of details around every part of The Best Show.
The devotion to specificity and detail that drove every interaction on The Best Show as well as every fan’s love of it is admirable and reached in few other places. Every episode occurred amidst countless IMs on the show’s chatroom, and was scrutinized on the official forum as well as blogs like that of Omar the Scrivener, who wrote the most detailed recaps of the show through 2011. He would often write a paragraph per caller; his recap for “The World is in the Terlet” comes in at over 10,000 words (Omar).
This specific episode stands out because it united the callers and Tom in a concrete creative pursuit, and it goes better than expected. While it takes a while for the submitted lyrics to stop being awful (it’s worth noting that the first suggested lyric was “teenage supertrash Maserati nightmare), the resulting song stands for the core concepts of The Best Show. It’s funny, mostly because Ted Leo repeatedly sings “terlet,” but is also strangely artistic and profound. It is united in its anger as a sort of anthem for what the show stands for and rallying its people against their enemies. To believe this, one only needs to hear the end of the episode after the song is finally played. Tom is clearly beaming with pride, but so are all the listeners: one after another, they call in to say that the song is a “smash”. Only one caller says the song is a “trash” and he is trash-talked by the subsequent callers.
It is worth noting that this episode lacks one of the defining features of The Best Show, a call from one of Jon Wurster’s characters. Famed rock drummer Jon Wurster has given life to every resident of the fictional town of Newbridge, New Jersey, and most episodes contain a call from one of them (Fogelnest). While there is an episode, “The Mayubinatorial Debate,” which showcases Wurster voicing at least thirteen characters in a debate moderated by Tom, that stands as a testament to how well-written and performed this duo’s work is, I don’t think it is as universally unique or recognizably worthy of commendation as “The World is in the Terlet.”
Despite suspicion to the contrary, “The World is in the Terlet” can be heard and appreciated whether the listener knows the show’s entire back catalog or has never heard of Scharpling before. But don’t take my word for it—“the proof is in the pudding, so give it a try” (“The World is in the Terlet”).
“About WFMU.” WFMU.org. WFMU. 2007. Web. 9 June 2014.