FAQ: rec.music.dementia

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Jeff Morris

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Jul 1, 2009, 10:38:17 AM7/1/09
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Frequently Asked Questions

* = new info since last posting

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:

1. What is "dementia", other than a mental disorder?
2. Where can I hear "The Dr. Demento Show" in my area? Can I hear him
online?
3. What can I do if the show isn't heard in my area?
4. On what sort of radio station is the Dr. most likely to be heard?
5. What is the phone number for the Dr. Demento hotline?
6. Where can I write to Dr. Demento?
7. How can I join The Demento Society?
8. Where else can I get demented music?
9. How can I submit my own songs to The Dr. Demento Show?
10. Who did those "Number 3..." things that he always plays in the
Funny 5?
11. Is there a "Weird Al" fan club?
12. What is appropriate to be discussed in r.m.d? Can I post lyrics or
request songs or talk about a new album?
13. Is there a web site to access things such as lyrics,
discographies, playlists, etc.?
14. Do you accept contributions and/or corrections to the things
available from the web site?
15. I sent you a contribution to the web site months/years ago. Why
has it not shown up yet?
16. Can I make requests for the show online?
17. Is The Dr. Demento Show broadcast live? If not, how do stations
get the show? Who syndicates the show?
18. Is there a subscription service for the show?
19. Does Dr. Demento have internet access? Can I communicate with the
Demento Society via e-mail?
20. How are the weekly/monthly/yearly countdowns computed?
21. Can I hear the weekly show online? Is there an archive of shows
from the past?

1.

What is "dementia", other than a mental disorder?
The group is so named after "The Dr. Demento Show", a weekly radio
program hosted by Barry Hansen, a/k/a Dr. Demento. It is described
by him as: "Mad music and crazy comedy from out of the archives
and off the wall. Rare records and outrageous tapes from
yesterday, today, and tomorrow."
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.
2.

Where can I hear "The Dr. Demento Show" in my area? Can I hear him online?
The list of stations broadcasting the show is posted to
rec.music.dementia regularly, and is also available at the
Demented Music Database web site (dmdb.org)
Refer to question #21 for information about listening online.
3.

What can I do if the show isn't heard in my area?
The Dr. sez:
If the Dr. Demento Show is no longer heard in your area...WRITE to
the PROGRAM DIRECTOR at one or more of the stations you listen to
and say how much you'd like to hear the show. (A letter is more
effective than a phone call). If the show was heard on a
particular station until recently, be sure to write that station.
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.
4.

On what sort of radio station is the Dr. most likely to be heard?
I don't think there's an answer to this. I've heard of him being
on all kinds, from hard rock to Top 40 to oldies. The music that
the Dr. plays fits all formats and no formats at the same time.
Try any radio station that you think is open-minded enough. :)
5.

What is the phone number for the Dr. Demento hotline?
(562) 633-8863 a/k/a (562) ODD-TUNE
You can use that number to make requests for the show, or you can
write him with requests or submit them online. There are no longer
the fancy features on the hotline that there used to be when it
was a 900 number.
6.

Where can I write to Dr. Demento?
The Demento Society
P.O. Box 884
Culver City, CA 90232
USA
7.

How can I join The Demento Society?
Order online at drdemento.com or send a check or money order
payable to The Demento Society for $29.95 U.S. dollars + $4.95
shipping ($32 + $9.95 outside U.S.A.) to the above address. You
will receive a membership kit which includes, among other things,
a membership card, a photo (personally autographed to you) of the
Dr., a Stay Demented! button, a demented bumper sticker, a
subscription to the Demento Society News (comes out 2 or 3 times a
year), and a "Basement Tapes" CD of tracks unavailable in stores.
Plus this year you will get a Certificate of Recognition printed
on deluxe diploma paper. Allow 6-8 weeks for delivery if paying by
check. For faster delivery send a money order, or use Visa,
MasterCard or American Express; visit drdemento.com for details.
(Check the Dr. Demento discography at the Demented Music Database
site for the track listing on the most recent Basement Tapes
compilation.)
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.]
8.

Where else can I get demented music?
Check out the comedy section in your local record store. If there
isn't one, you may have to hunt around for particular artists.
"Weird Al" Yankovic can sometimes be located in the rock/pop
section. Dr. Demento's albums are often in the
compilations/various artists section. Some stand-up comedy may be
in the spoken word section.
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 (rob...@bigfoot.com).
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 rob...@bigfoot.com
9.

How can I submit my own songs to The Dr. Demento Show?
The Dr. sez:
I'm always happy to listen to original humorous songs, parodies
and spoken comedy pieces for possible airplay on the Dr. Demento
Show. We can use (in order of preference): CD (including CD-R),
DAT, reel-to-reel, vinyl or cassette.
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:
Dr. Demento
P.O. Box 884
Culver City, CA 90232
USA
10.

Who did those "Number 3..." things that he always plays in the Funny 5?
Harry Partch, from a piece of his called "Barstow" that is
available on his album _The World of Harry Partch_ which is on
Columbia Masterworks.
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.)
11.

Is there a "Weird Al" fan club?
Kinda.
[This information courtesy of "Lifesize Lynn".]
He used to have an official fan club called Close Personal Friends
Of Al. This organization is still around, but it is no longer a
fan club. It is just a place that sells merchandise, and also a
place for Al to receive mail.
Their address is still:
Close Personal Friends of Al
8033 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90046
USA
A couple of tips from "Lifesize Lynn" (Al's publicist):
1. Always include a BUSINESS-SIZED Self-Addressed Stamped
Envelope (SASE) for a reply - that will speed things up about
a thousand percent. Otherwise your letter goes in a pile to
be answered "later" - after all the SASE's are fullfilled.
Later can be a LONG time.
2. If you're requesting something specific or have a very
specific question, know this: It's going to take awhile and
you might not get what you want.
You can send an SASE to get a brochure of merchandise. You can
also e-mail them at cp...@aol.com to check on orders or request
info on available merchandise. (The e-mail address is NOT for fan
mail; please use the snail mail address.) Please always include
your full name and postal address when e-mailing.
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.
12.

What is appropriate to be discussed in r.m.d? Can I post lyrics or request
songs or talk about a new album?
Sure. Anything related to comedy and/or novelty music, records,
performances, personalities, etc. is fine to post about.
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.
13.

Is there a web site to access things such as lyrics, discographies,
playlists, etc.?
YES!
The Demented Music Database is available at http://dmdb.org/ to
satisfy your craving for demented information.
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.
14.

Do you accept contributions and/or corrections to the things available from
the FAQ server?
Most definitely! If you have something you want considered for
addition to the site, please visit dmdb.org to find the proper
address for submission.
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.
15.

I sent you a contribution to the web site months/years ago. Why has it not
shown up yet?
I get many contributions to and questions about the web site. I
regret that I can't get back to everyone immediately. I currently
have hundreds of e-mail messages regarding the site that are
waiting to be answered. I do plan to get back to everyone, but it
takes time.
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.
16.

Can I make requests for the show online?
YES! Just go to http://drdemento.com/request/ to make a request.
17.

Is The Dr. Demento Show broadcast live? If not, how do stations get the
show? Who syndicates the show?
The show is currently recorded in Dr. Demento's home studio for
syndication to all markets by Talonian Productions. For most of
the years 1970-1998, the show in Los Angeles was broadcast live,
but the show is not currently heard in LA.
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.
18.

Is there a subscription service for the show?
The syndicator does not make CDs of the show available except to
radio stations. They do not sell copies to individuals, nor do The
Demento Society or Dr. Demento. However, you can subscribe to
stream old and new shows online - see question 21.
19.

Does Dr. Demento have internet access? Can I communicate with the Demento
Society via e-mail?
Yes, Dr. Demento has a web presence at http://www.drdemento.com/.
You can e-mail him at DrDe...@drdemento.com.
You can also e-mail The Demento Society at
TheDemen...@drdemento.com to
+ ask for a catalog
+ inquire about the status of your order
+ ask about items heard on the show
Neither address is for making requests for the show. That should
still be handled in the manner outlined above.
20.

How are the weekly/monthly/yearly countdowns computed?
From November, 1975 through December, 2007, the syndicated Dr.
Demento Show had a weekly Funny Five countdown of "the hottest and
the coolest" songs of the week. This was based on phone, mail, and
internet requests, as well as timeliness, album sales, and
Billboard charts.
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.
21.

Can I hear the weekly show online? Is there an archive of shows from the
past?
YES! The official Dr. Demento web site now offers streaming of
both old and new shows at http://drdemento.com/online.html in
addition to occasional web-exclusive shows. You can purchase shows
individually or purchase a monthly or yearly membership. The
membership packages offer enhanced sound and additional features
such as periodic live chats with Dr. Demento himself. You may want
to fill out the comment form at the bottom of their page to let
them know what you like and dislike about their service.

_Stay Demented!_ - Jeff

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