20 years ago this month, I wrote the first parody for NHB. The parody, called A.R.A. was a mockery of Yesterday, by the Beatles and was a trash song about the Monmouth College dining facilities. I’ll explain how it happened.
Mike Ellis, the original cohost for No Holds Barred radio, and I had done radio shows throughout 2003. IN the fall, we named the show No Holds barred Radio and were still getting to feel out how radio works. We had both taken production classes and one of our first bits, the Driving School for the blind, had gotten us suspended from the radio station for a semester. We would not do a show together for the entirety of 1994. WE had discussed our eventual return to working together and decided that we should really try to do a real comedy show with produced material. We got a morning show shift, where we were allowed to do comedy material, and began to plan.
To avoid possible issues with management, (yeah, right), we decided to call the show Mike and Damon in the morning to conform to the morning show format. One of Mike’s ideas, capitalizing on my musical ability, was to do song parodies. I thought he was nuts. But being fans of Weird Al Yankovich, he convinced me that it could be fun. The premise was, using the recorder built into my keyboard, we can do all the music ourselves, record it on a cassette, take it to the production studio at the station and put the vocals to it there, recording direct to quarter inch reel to reel tape. The final product would be dumped to cartridge tape and used on the show. WE borrowed, cough cough, some carts from the production room as needed and set to work. AS I recall, A.r.A. was actually recorded in the smaller studio on campus, the size of a broom closet. The second parody we did that week was called Wedding Day, a Blues type number bemoaning the pitfalls of getting married. I tried to frame it from both men’s and women’s sides to not single anybody out. And such was our first morning show.
Within a few weeks, we realized that recording the music to cassette made the parodies sound crappy. So, we’d drag my Ensoniq TS10 keyboard up to the studio and patch it into the board directly. When the station engineer found out what we were doing, he actually hooked up a connection for us without tearing open the rack. This improved the parodies tremendously. I’d still do the music at home, laying down drums, bass, guitar and whatever else was needed, save the sequence to disk and then drag the keyboard and disk up to the third floor of the student center, patch it into the board and have a foot pedal on the console to trigger the sequencer to start and stop while we did the vocals direct to reel to reel tape. This was how it went through 3 semesters. IN September 1995, we moved the show to evenings and rebranded it as NO HOlds Barred rAdio, but the technique did not change.
When Mike and I brought the show to the internet, we recorded the parodies out of my bedroom where we did the show. I acquired a Roland 8 track hard disc recorder and with my growing arsenal of keyboards, we’d track everything into that, then mix it down to minidisc. AS I learned more about audio recording, I’d soon figure out how to digitally connect the 8 track to my computer and mix down to Sound Forge, run some normalization or mastering puglin on the song and it would sound a bit better. This was how we did it from 1999 through 2004.
Starting in 2004, I retired the 8 track and went to cakewalk Sonar, so now I was recording direct to the computer, mixing and whatnot and saving it direct to mp3 files. And this is how it’s done today.
It’s been almost 3 years since the last NHB song was produced. I hope to honor the 20th anniversary by returning to parody production this year.