Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday Reading Assignment: On the Radio

"...the senator, while insisting he was not intoxicated, could not explain his nudity." 

That's a line from the opening scenes to the classic TV show, WKRP in Cincinnati, which I've been watching lately.  Re-watching the TV shows you loved as a kid can be risky.  Many of them don't stand up well to the passage of time, (*cough* Welcome Back Kotter *cough*) but WKRP in Cincinnati is just as hilarious now as it was back then.  Even my mother, who loathed television, enjoyed WKRP.  I remember watching "Turkeys Away" with my parents the first time it aired, one of the greatest moments in television history.  Of course I had a crush on Andy Travis, who I now suspect was hired for his hair, and possibly for one other physical attribute.

Watching these re-runs has been my happy place this week and also reminded me of a great book about the wacky world of radio: WLT: A Radio Romance by Garrison Keillor.  I reviewed this book on Amazon, back when I read it, and I will try not to plagiarize myself here.  I had never listened to Keillor's radio show or read his Lake Woebegone books, but based on what may have been erroneous assumptions, I was expecting WLT to be a festival of aw shucks midwestern wholesomeness.  WLT probably has more sex and crude language than any book I have ever read.  To say it was a shock is putting it mildly.

It's set in a radio station in the midwest in the pre-TV age when people listened to radio shows the same way they came to watch soap operas.  One of the things I loved about this book was the radio show story within the book.  I also loved the contrast between the corn fed characters on the radio show and the rackety real lives of the actors.

WLT is a fun, quick read, although I should warn you that the ending is terrible.  I can't remember exactly what happens, but I do remember that the plot degenerates into something dark and tawdry and depressing. The first three quarters of the book, however, are more than good enough to make up for the awful ending.

Any Garrison Keillor fans out there?  What are his other books like?


  1. I can't help you as I haven't read any Garrison Keillor. Like you, I would assume his books would be full of wholesome fun, not smut. Ma Ingalls will have something to say about this!

  2. Strange that a Garrison Keillor wouldn't be like watching "The Waltons."

  3. I am a GK fan and I think I read that book, but I don't recall it at all now. I do think it was slightly different from some of his other books (some of which at least, I know I have).

    LOVE WRKP. Also had a crush on Andy Travis. And I will quote that turkeys episode until my dying day.

  4. Love GK and have seen him twice where he spoke and read aloud from his work. Love him and his imaginary people from Lake Woebegon. Also loved WKRP. The turkey episode never fails to kill me. "They're hitting the ground like sacks of wet cement!"