Each episode, we'll play a show from The Firesign Theater's classic Dear Friends era (1970 to 1972) of radio broadcasts, which started out with The Firesign Theater Radio Hour Hour (Originally on KPPC-FM in 1970), which begat Dear Friends ( KPFK in 1970-1971), which begat Let's Eat (KPFK in 1971-1972).
For the uninitiated, Firesign Theater's radio era had its roots in Peter Bergman's radio program Radio Free Oz, which ran on Pacifica Network station KPFK-FM in Los Angeles in 1966.
One night, Peter had as guests three friends, Phil Austin (who was Radio Free Oz's producer), David Ossman (the station's former dramatic director) and Phil Proctor (an actor).
“That Oz broadcast was a life-changing improvisation,” says David Ossman. “After that we set out to stone the system, if you see what I mean.” Phil Proctor concurs: “We knew we were on to something. No matter how absurd we were, the audience bought it!”
The shows were a success with radio listeners and a record deal with Columbia Records soon followed and the rest, as they say, is history.
The Firesign Theater radio era presented here on KBOO covers the period from 1970's Radio Hour Hour to 1971's Let's Eat. These programs were running when Peter, David and the Phils were working on thier classic LPs. It's like listening in the Founding Fathers during a rope-smoking rap session whence came the Constitution. Many Firesign characters and situations appear here in embryonic form. While some shows contain polished skits and japes, some are simply the four or five crazy guys ad-libbing to books they've brought in or riffing on contemporary events. It's easy to see the shows as the crucible from which emerged Mark Time, Artie Choke and Rocky Rococo.
Many may be familiar with some of this era of Firesign radio via the Columbia compilation Dear Friends, which was released commercially in 1972, which excerpted select bits from a similarly titled twelve record set of complete Dear Friends episodes that was distributed to radio stations and was heavily bootlegged over the years and into the bits n' bytes era over the internet. But the Duke of Madness Motors collection goes much further, thanks to the tireless digging of Firesign archivist Taylor Jensen and others who've come forward with airchecks of seemingly lost episodes.
We're pleased as punch to have the kind permission of the Firesign Theater to run these programs on KBOO.
This program alternates with "Talking Earth."