GK: I started listening to radio when I was a boy and I had no friends because I was kept in my room because my parents were afraid other kids would be a bad influence so they kept me in my room and my only friends were people on the radio.
TR (OLD TIME ANNC): And now the Consolidated Broadcasting System brings you BAGHDAD BY THE BAY sponsored by San Jose Sourdough Bread.
GK (SINGS): Sourdough is delicious
And it comes from the West Coast.
Try it every day, San Jose
TR (ANNC): And now......today's story. San Francisco's notorious Wolfman is loose again, having escaped from Alcatraz in a hail of hot lead (MACHINE GUNS, SIREN) and with the help of an evil dolphin (SFX CHATTER) he made it across the Bay to Sausalito where he commandeered a fast car (RACING CAR) and headed up Highway One to the Muir Woods.
FN: I hate nature. Having been locked up in that tiny cell, I am going to get my revenge by throwing these beer bottles (SFX) out into the redwoods. (CRASH) And now, for good measure, (CHAINSAW)----- (EVIL LAUGHTER) (CUTS BIG TREE, AS IT SLOWLY FALLS)
(DARK CHORD, SUSTAIN)
GK: My parents kept me away from other children for fear I'd learn bad things, but instead I learned them from the radio.
(GALLOPING HOOVES, MUSIC UNDER)
GK (ANNC): Galloping out of the setting sun on her horse Ramon....it's the woman who brought rationalism to the Wild West, AVIS BURNHAM, ACLU -----(GUNSHOTS) ---- As we join Miss Burnham, she is carrying on her war against Christmas in Yellow Springs ---- (GUNSHOTS)
SS: I will never give up, you Baptists. Hear me? There will be no religious symbolism in public places and that includes Christmas trees. (GUNSHOTS, RICOCHET) There. And that includes Christmas bulbs. (GUNSHOTS, GLASS BREAKAGE)
GK: Radio was full of very bad people and violence. I'll never forget the show where the Giant Slime rose up from San Francisco Bay (GIANT PROTOPLASM, MOVING, GRUNTING) and found a lonely windsurfer in the dark (SFX) and devoured him----- (FN PROTEST, CRUNCH OF SURFBOARD, SWALLOWING) ----- Bad things happened to good people on a daily basis in radio. And people made terrible career choices.
TR (ANNC): FAMILY HORROR THEATER.... Brought to you by b the manufacturers of Baked Beans, America's favorite vegetable....(PIANO GIVES GK NOTE)
Oh Baked beans are nutritious
Help you live the healthy way.
Take a tip from me, treat your family
To baked beans every day.
TR (ANNC): As we rejoin the Jones family this week, we find that little Wanda has wandered away from the asparagus fields where the family has been doing farm labor ever since Pops developed a cough syrup dependency and lost his job as a school counselor.
(NIGHTTIME AMBIENCE, CRICKETS, DISTANT HOWL)
ER (KID): I think I'll walk up this dark road and see what's in that deserted barn over there. I'm tired of picking asparagus. There's no future in it whatsoever. (WOOF) You stay here, Rex.
SS (OFF): WANDA!!! Wanda????
ER (KID): Oh gosh. Look. It's an old Curtiss biplane. (CREAK) It's covered with cobwebs. I wonder if I can get the engine started. Then I could take her up in the air even though it's pitch dark out and I can fly to Los Angeles and perhaps gain employment in the motion picture industry. (ENGINE COUGHS AND STARTS, ROARS) Oh boy! Hollywood, here I come! (REVS UP ENGINE, AND TAKES OFF) I'm flying! I'm flying! (PLANE CLIMBS) How do you steer this thing? (CRUNCH) Oh dear. The steering wheel just broke. (PLANE DIVES) What to do now? Maybe if I press down on these foot pedals! (PLANE ROLLS) Nope. Didn't work. (BIG CRUNCHING, TEARING) Oh gosh. The right wing just fell off. Oh well. I'm a left-winger anyway. I can fly on one wing. And if it comes to that, I have my little red umbrella for a parachute. (PLANE MISSING, MUSIC COMES UP)
GK: I loved shows about aviation, since I was locked in my little room. Airplanes meant freedom ---- the freedom to leave earth behind-----
TR: They come out of the sky (DIVING AIRPLANES) in their unending quest to bring justice and equality to the world------ SANDY SAN RAFAEL AND HIS AIR CADET SQUADRON------ brought to you by Nelson's Non-Dairy Whitener .....
GK (SINGS): Nelson's Non-Dairy Whitener
Good for coffee or for tea.
It's famous for its whiteness
Which stands for purity.
It tastes just like whole cream
But it won't make you fat.
Nelson's Non-Dairy Whitener
In the little plastic pack.
(ORGAN FADE INTO.....)
TR: And now as we join Sandy and the Boys, they're trapped in a deserted barn on the old Slocum place, on the trail of a desperate criminal----- (CREAKING, CLICK, OF DOOR CLOSING)
GK: What was that?
FN: The barn door just swung closed and I heard it lock.
GK: That can't be. (ATTEMPTS TO OPEN DOOR, RATTLES LOCK) Hand me the flashlight.
FN: Oh no. The flashlight won't work. (CLICKING OF SWITCH) The batteries are dead.
GK: Where are the fresh batteries?
FN: We left them in the plane. Out on the grass landing strip. A quarter mile from here. Criminy.
GK: We'll have to send Rex. (DOG PANTING) Rex----- you know where the landing strip is? (DOG BARKS) Good. And my plane---- Spitfire? (BARKS) Search the rear and you'll find the ammo bag and two double-A batteries, Rex? Can you go find them and bring them back? (DOG BARKS) Okay. What kind of batteries? How many A's? (TWO BARKS) Good. Off you go, Rex.
FN: I hear footsteps.
GK: Aww. You're just hearing things.
FN: That's what I said. I'm hearing things. And they're called footsteps. Someone is putting his feet on the ground in a stealthy fashion.
GK: I don't hear anything.
FN: I hear twigs breaking.
GK: Sometimes twigs just break. It doesn't mean someone is stepping on them.
FN: I'm hearing stepping-type sounds as well as twig breakage. And now I'm hearing someone breathing.
GK: Maybe it's you.
FN: I'm holding my breath.
TR (KISSINGER): Maybe it was me breathing.
FN: Who are you?
TR (KISSINGER): If I wanted you to know who I am, why would I be tiptoeing in the dark and stepping on twigs.
GK: Oh yeah?
TR (KISSINGER): What?
GK: That wasn't a twig.
TR (KISSINGER): It was too a twig.
GK: It wasn't. It was a trip lever and when you stepped on it, it ignited a fuse that is burning and the end of the fuse is tied to a big bundle of dynamite that is approximately two feet from where you're standing. Hear it? (FUSE BURNING)
TR (KISSINGER): Why you dirty double-crosser----- I will stamp out the fuse! (STAMPING) I will stamp out the fuse and then I will stamp out you!!!! (BIG EXPLOSION)
GK: Well, that took care of him. And it also illuminated the airstrip.
FN: Wow. That was so neat.
GK: Let's head for the planes, Air Cadets. What do you say? Contact! (PLANES REV UP AND TAKE OFF)
(ORGAN THEME UP)
GK: And then one day I heard a show that changed my life.
TR (IRA): This is Ira Glass and this is THIS AMERICAN LIFE ----- brought to you by San Francisco's Golden West Coffee---- (MUSIC)
San Francisco Natural Coffee
It's organic as can be.
Harvested by farmers
And raised sustainably.
All the workers get good wages
Health benefits are the best
So choose the brew that is good for you,
San Francisco Golden West.
TR (IRA): Today's show is about people who spend hours alone and so other people tend to think of them as weird in some way, misfits, oddballs, odd ducks, losers, but the people who are alone don't see themselves that way. I certainly don't. I see myself as engaged in a lonely battle for knowledge and understanding. Me and my radio dog, Seymour. (WOOF) (BRIDGE)
GK: It was a radio show that spoke to me and that gave me the idea that I could go into radio. As I am now. Here in my basement radio studio with my records and tapes all around me and whenever I want, I can push this button here (KLAXON) or this button here (FN: DIVE, DIVE.) and I can make the music come up like this ----- (ORGAN) and I can hit this tape here----- SS BREATHY: Oh you are so strong. I love it when you put your arms around me like that. I feel so secure with you. ------ and whenever I like, I can press the Applause button. And that's the story of me and radio.
Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).