“Puke”. Verb. /pyook/ “He puked up his pizza”.
I once blogged about someone named the Polynesian Pirate; a mythical character who did his Saturday night shows on KAOI/Maui from a boat as it sailed around the island. It was possibly the best Radio Theater since the 1930’s. Truly amazing stuff.
Alas, the “Pirate” was station personality Tommy Ching’s creation and was done entirely from the studio.
I was trading messages with a Radio friends about the Pirate and how he was the greatest DJ who never existed. I got a pretty harsh reply. “How could you possibly leave ‘The Chucker from Chucker’s Playhouse on Power 92’ off that list?!”
Crap. He was right. Because the Chucker was GOLD. Literally and figuratively.
Imagine having such a strong morning show that you didn’t feel that you needed to air all of the celebrity interviews that were being shoved down your throat. Comedians. Actors pushing projects. Those kinds of interviews where you wonder, “What am I supposed to do with Judy Tenuta?”
Well, that has been Tom Bernard’s status and freedom at KQRS in Minneapolis. To say that his show is a Monster would not be doing it justice.
So, with the assistance of a KQ staffer/old college radio colleague of mine, they created “The Chucker.”
If Tom didn’t want to do the interview or thought that maybe the Chucker’s unique spin would be better, it was done by “The Chucker with Chucker’s Playhouse on Power 92….”
Imagine a septuagenarian who probably has smoked a ton, with possible cognitive issues, getting five minutes on the phone with the actress who played Vicky The Robot on “Small Wonder”. Exactly. Or even Woody Harrelson.
Thus one of the most iconic personalities in Twin Cities radio was born.
To even try to do it justice and explain the nuances of the bit would be criminal. So I’m turning it over the John Lassman, The Chucker himself.
“The Chucker was born out of necessity. On The KQ Morning Show, I was doing ‘The Call Of The Day’, the old ‘Candid Phone Call’ bit. But unlike today, these were real calls, set up by a friend or relative. At some point, some stations (not mine), started getting sued for harassment. I guess calling a stranger, recording them without their knowledge and broadcasting their reaction to;
‘You’re Husband’s leaving you for his co-worker, you know Amy, right?, I’m their new Attorney..’ didn’t go over well in court.” Recounts Lassman.
So how did The Chucker come about?
“I was doing 6-10pm on KQ and interviewing all kinds of ‘Hair Bands’ and B list celebrities for ‘Johnny Rock Primetime’.I thought, if they where already agreeing to being recorded for broadcast, why not have some fun with it? A few days later, The Chucker was interviewing the drummer for Kingdom Come. I couldn’t make that up if I tried. “The Drummer for Kingdom Come”. Kingdom Come where a Led Zeppelin sound alike, who’s song ‘Get it On’ was huge at Rock Radio. After the drummer got pissed off and hung up on me for all the Led Zeppelin questions, we had a new morning show bit,” recalls Lassman.
Who would have the BALLS to mess with Keanu Reeves? Tom Bernard and The Chucker The Chucker with Keanu Reeves – YouTube
And I’ve worked with talent who had to interview Rob Schneider and he was a nightmare. Thus…the Chucker got him The Chucker with Rob Schneider – YouTube
“Fred Savage, Carrot Top, Jim Neighbors, Phyllis Diller and Shirley McLaine are just a few of the ‘Big Stars’ that the Chucker has had the pleasure of interviewing. In Focus Groups, this made up D.J. would test better than 75% of the real personalities in the market. That might say more about the on air talent in Minneapolis/St. Paul at the time, than it does about The Chucker? 30 years later, I’m still riding his coat tails,” jokes Lassman.
Fred Savage? He told him how much he loved his work on “Doogie Howser”. The Chucker with Fred Savage from The Wonder Years – YouTube
The best part of The Chucker, for me, was that after he would stumble, he’d just reboot and start again from the beginning.
All celebrity interviews sound the same. Acknowledging that is part of a 12 Step process to Radio Recovery. So doing them differently would be to execute the Art of Promotions: to stand out.
I heard Katy Perry get interviewed by an intern at the BBC who had a completely different line of questions and a certain degree of nervousness that she immediately embraced. Kind of “Thank GOD it’s not the same six fucking questions.”
30+ years later, The Chucker has name recognition here that simply can’t be bought. But it’s time to bid him adieu for now.
“Paige, we can’t thank ya’ enough for all the time and we still remember when you came up with ‘WLOL’s Prince for Governor’ Promotion. Well, they can’t all be Marconi winners”.
I didn’t come up with that promotion and if the Chucker had gotten my resume right, well, he wouldn’t be The Chucker.
Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead