This FAQ is posted twice monthly to rec.music.dementia and alt.music.weird-al newsgroups,
plus once monthly to rec.music.info
It is available on the web at the Demented Music Database (dmdb.org).
This FAQ will answer the following questions:
The show has been around for over 35 years, and got its name when Barry was playing "Transfusion" by Nervous Norvus on Steven Clean's show on KPPC in October 1970, and someone said, "You've gotta be demented to play that!" Soon after that, Steven announced, "And now, ladies and gentlemen, here's Dr. Demento!", and the name stuck.
Refer to question #21 for information about listening online.
Get your friends to write letters too. Get a bunch of them to sign a petition! Many radio executives are simply not aware how many people enjoy Mad Music and Crazy Comedy. Let 'em know!
Most stations pay close attention to feedback from their listeners, so your telling them that you'd like to hear the Dr. Demento Show on their station is the best thing you can do, short of sending rubber chickens.
You can also write the address for a free catalog and brochure listing available merchandise and answering many questions.
[Please note that I am not in any way affiliated with The Demento Society, but am providing this information as a public service.]
You may even find some demented music in the oldies sections and the childrens sections. It's everywhere! Just take a look.
Of course, many demented selections can be downloaded online at various major retailers. There are also independent sites which specialize in demented music, most notably the Funny Music Project (thefump.com).
Many songs heard on the Dr.'s show aren't available in stores, but can be obtained from the artists themselves. In June, 1993, a list of addresses given on the show was started by Annie Sattler. This list is now being maintained by Rob Killam (firstname.lastname@example.org). It is available on the Demented Music Database site (dmdb.org).
Anyone who has had their material played on the program and wishes to advertise qualifies for inclusion in this list. Send address and pertinent info to email@example.com
If you're sending more than three or four songs at a time, a note pointing out the songs you think are best for the show would be much appreciated. This is especially important if you're sending a CD or tape that contains serious as well as humorous material.
If you're doing a parody (new words to someone else's song) you do not need to contact the writer of the original music in advance to get permission. You may wish to get legal advice before releasing your parody for commercial sale, but advance permission is not necessary for radio play.
Try to avoid: 1) the "seven nasty words" and other rough language (we can bleep songs if we really like them), 2) excessive sexism or bigotry, 3) false statements about people or commercial products.
The address for submitting is the same as that for the society:
P.O. Box 884
Culver City, CA 90232
Harry Partch - Inventor, composer, hobo. Invented own instruments to suit his own 43-note scale. Text of this piece comes from inscriptions on a bridge underpass in Barstow, CA. Opening instrument is a diamond marimba, playable either up/down or left/right.
Dr. D once met Partch and was escorted around his then-studio by Partch himself. Dr. D said that those carts still say "Partch #5, Partch #4", etc.
From Partch's autobiography, "Bitter Music":
Partch encountered the hitchhiker inscriptions ... in February 1940; they formed the basis of Barstow--Eight Hitchhikers' Inscriptions from A highway Railing at Barstow, California. The first version ... April and May 1941... (Thanks to Chris Mezzolesta & Annie Sattler for the above info.)
Their address is still:
Close Personal Friends of Al
8033 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90046
A couple of tips from "Lifesize Lynn" (Al's publicist):
Lynn notes that Al has some helpers who read his mail first, but that he does eventually read every piece of mail that comes in...UNLESS it contains an idea for a song parody, in which case the helpers discard it.
If you want to request a copy of a song, it is fine to post that to the group, but please don't bug someone that you know has the song.
The mail server is no longer available. From March, 1993 until December, 2006, it was around to send files via e-mail, but since nearly everyone preferred getting files via the web by 2006 (or, actually, long before that), it was retired. The most useful remaining feature was bulk retrieval of playlists, and that is also now available on the web. The FTP server is also no longer available (and has been gone since the mid-1990s).
There is also an official Dr. Demento web site at http://www.drdemento.com/, where you can get information on merchandise available through the Society, among other things.
Also, if you notice a problem with any of the files you receive from the server, such as wrong or unclear information, misspellings, broken links, etc., please write me and tell me to fix it.
I generally work through them in backwards order, so sometimes it happens that someone will send me a contribution at a particularly busy time and I won't be able to get to it right away. Then it gets buried under several dozen other mail messages. Then another person will send me a contribution, and I happen to have a bit of free time when it comes through, so I put it up quickly. This doesn't mean I like the second person's contribution better or something; it's really just chance.
So please be patient, and I promise I'll get back to everyone eventually. If it has been a long time and/or you have a particularly urgent question, feel free to bug me about it again.
From 1992 - 1997, the live show was taped and then sent out on CD by On The Radio Broadcasting for other stations to air it three weeks later. There was generally no significant difference between the live and syndicated versions of the show at this time, though sometimes because of seasonal topics Dr. D recorded the syndicated show at home, like at Christmastime.
Before that, there were significant differences between the live and syndicated shows, though they often featured some of the same songs in the same week (rather than three weeks later). From 1972-1983, the live show was four hours long. The syndicated show has always been two hours long, except for the first eight (July - August, 1974), which were one hour.
From February, 1984 to August, 1992, the show was distributed on LP by Westwood One Radio Networks and was also available on satellite (Satcom 1-R, transponder 3, 10a-12n Thursdays). Prior to this, WWO distributed the show on reel-to-reel tape (February, 1978 - January, 1984). Before the WWO days (the Gordon-Casady era), the show was distributed on reel-to-reel tape (July, 1974 - January, 1977) by Dr. Demento Productions, except was on LP May - December, 1975. For October, 1970 - June, 1974 and February, 1977 - January, 1978, the show was not syndicated.
Prior to syndication, the live four-hour show from L.A. was taped and sent to station KZOK (102.5 FM) in Seattle for airing the following week. This lasted from February, 1974, until September, 1974, when they switched to the syndicated show. So KZOK was the first station outside of L.A. to pick up the show.
You can also e-mail The Demento Society at TheDementoSociety@drdemento.com to
Starting in January, 2008, this was changed to a monthly Top Ten countdown. It is still calculated basically the same way as the Funny Five. The syndicated show had previously featured a weekly Top Ten from September, 1974 through November, 1975.
The countdown on the live KMET show started as a regular feature in 1972 when it was a monthly top five. This lasted through September, 1972. Starting September 17, 1972, this became a biweekly top five, which lasted through February, 1973. On March 11, 1973, this became the Top Ten, and on March 25, 1973, became a weekly instead of biweekly feature. The KMET Top Ten lasted through May, 1983, after which the Funny Five was heard weekly on KMET and subsequent Los Angeles radio stations where Dr. Demento did his show.
Through 2007, the Funny 25 was computed from the Funny 5's via a point system: 5 points for each #1, 4 points for #2, etc. Funny 5's which were "special" such as "top car songs of all time" or "top dog songs of all time" were not normally included in the Funny 25 calculation. Note this did NOT exclude the all-Christmas Funny 5's in December from Funny 25 calculations, unless they were presented as "top Christmas songs of all time" or something similar.
For the years 1976-1994, the points were tallied and Funny 25/Top 50 computed by "Musical Mike" Kieffer. The 1972 KMET Top 50 appears to have been created by Dr. D based on a general feeling of each record's popularity rather than any point system. In 1973, Al Galek started using the point system to keep track of statistics, and his calculations were used for the 1973 & 1974 KMET Top 50s. Mike took over for the KMET show in 1975. (The 1974 & 1975 syndicated top 20/25 were probably computed by Dr. D, then Mike took over starting in 1976.)
Starting in 1995 and continuing to the present, the calculations have been done by Dr. D. Sometimes ties in the point system have been announced as such, and other times they have been broken by Dr. D himself. You can play along at home - see if you make the same judgements as the good Dr. (No prizes for perfect scores.)
In 2008, the weekly Funny 25 was changed to a monthly Top Ten. The year-end countdowns are now calculated by assigning 10 points for each monthly #1, 9 for #2, etc. However, since there are fewer statistics available, Dr. D is relying more on his feeling of which songs were more popular than others rather than basing the Funny 25 strictly on the point system.