Jan 26th, 2019 | Be Funny

BE FUNNY 1980 hear Tom at age 23 hosting one of the original episodes of Be Funny in the summer of 1980! On this edition, Tom asks listeners to "Tell Me A Lie". Legendary late-night talk show host Long John Nebel returns from the dead to take listener calls. And so much more! 

Once again, we have annotated the entire episode for your further enjoyment so you know who all of these 1980 characters were.

  • This episode of Be Funny began with an explosion sound effect and then a lot of music because WBAI was returning to the air after the often-problematic transmitter had become overheated. The reason so much time passed before you could hear Tom speaking and the reason he was joined mid-sentence is because the delay was being restarted and the other sound was to fill the time until the content of the delay could be heard. As a result, this episode aired an hour later than usual, from 6-7 AM.
  • “The number of phone-in comedy shows continues to dwindle here in town” – Tom said this because the show Tom had once written and produced with Mark Simone had just been canceled from WPIX-FM. You can hear an aircheck of Simone in which he uses Tom’s line that a chick was “so fat she had more chins than a Chinese phone book!”
  • While we’ve tried to present these episodes of Be Funny unedited, a couple of WBAI promos were edited out by the curator of these tapes, one-time Be Funny regular (and Long John Nebel imitator) Paul Hiatt.
  • Bob Fass was the legendary WBAI host of Radio Unnameable. Among his regular guests was Bob Dylan, who used to simply drop by and sit in on his show. At the time of this recording, Fass was in the middle of a five-year banishment from WBAI for his part in an occupation of the station’s transmitter site, yet people continued to call WBAI and reference him. He returned two years later. There is an excellent documentary about Bob, also called Radio Unnameable. which contains scenes shot at the WBAI studio where Tom once worked.
  • Long periods of silence occurred when the delay was hit. Such was the technology of 1980.
  • Brother Theodore was a New York-based comedian of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s.
  • The voice of the aircheck of the commercial for the Carnegie Delicatessen was New York radio late-night legend Leon Lewis, an influence of Tom’s. Recently-deceased Ray Taliaferro formerly of KGO/San Francisco claimed to be the “first African American radio talk show host”. He wasn’t. Leon Lewis preceded him.
  • Melanie Chartoff was a comedic actress primarily known for being a member of the cast of the ABC late-night sketch comedy show Fridays along with then-unknowns Larry David and Michael Richards.
  • A caller asked if Tom had ever heard of the “new movie” called The Reincarnation of the Pink Panther. That’s because the star of the Pink Panther films, Peter Sellers, had just died on July 24, 1980 (a clue as to the approximate date of this show in the summer of 1980).
  • The frequent threats of a caller who said he was “coming down” to the station were actually references to the many crank call threats to Long John Nebel by radio pirates “Hank Hayes” and “Jim Nazium”.
  • Dr. Carlton Fredericks was one of the original hosts heard on the talk radio format of KABC/Los Angeles in 1960. He hosted what might have been the first talk show about health and nutrition. At the time of this Be Funny episode in 1980, his show appeared on WOR/New York.
  • No idea who Rabbi Bender was!
  • WKTU/New York was the first “all-disco” radio station in the country. It went from having a 0.9% share of the New York audience in 1978 to Number One, becoming the first FM radio station to beat legendary top-40 station WABC/New York as well as the first FM radio station to become Number One in a radio market. This feat signaled the beginning of the irreversible decline of AM radio as it had once been known. At the time of this episode of Be Funny, WKTU was New York’s Number One radio station.
  • Bess Myerson was, among other things, the first Jewish Miss America, a frequent game-show panelist and, ultimately, the first Commissioner of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. When this show aired in 1980, she was running for the U.S. Senate Democratic nomination. She later lost to Elizabeth Holtzman, who then lost the election to former senator Al D’Amato.
  • Joe Franklin was an overnight TV host on WOR-TV/New York who was frequently parodied, most famously by Billy Crystal on Saturday Night Live.
  • Steve Post was a WBAI host and author of a favorite book of Tom’s called Playing In The FM Band.
  • Chuck Scarborough was a TV news anchor at WNBC-TV/New York, and he still is.
  • Megan Marshack was a 25-year-old aide who was with married former New York governor and former vice president Nelson Rockefeller when he died of a heart attack in 1979, a year before this Be Funny episode.
  • Tom Dunn was a TV news anchor on WOR-TV/New York.
  • Barry Farber was a radio talk show host on various New York radio stations and in syndication in the 80s.
  • Barry Gray was a legendary New York radio host who, for a few years, preceded Long John Nebel on WMCA.


Submitted by xboxown on

You are right TOM! NOWADAYS PEOPLE ARE not into talk show..but blogs and typing comments on chats or like this comment I just typed. I ENJOY the quiet silence of my room and hear only the keys on my keyboard as I type these words that come from my mind and wait patiently for either a reply or no reply. I enjoy downloading mp3 and listening to them as I walk. I never liked be funny when you where live streaming..but for some reason when you typed all that in this SWEET DARK THEMED WEBSITE hehe...with that awesome fonts I am hypnotized to listen to your be funnies when you where live before I never enjoyed it.

TOM! CAN YOU PLEASE REPLY to this request!!? Is it possible you could have one day of the week a 40 minute talk show between you and a family lawyer like Adam sacks? I MISSED THAT!!

Submitted by xboxown on

By the way...I just realized something...YOU NEVER DID QUIT! YOU JUST CHANGED YOUR FORMAT STYLE BASED ON THE DEMAND OF YOUR AUDIENCE.....you realized that this format is better than the original because you save on spending on equipment, renting a place or even hiring people and you still catch the same amount of audience and make profit (hopefully)!! It just now in the 2019+ your audience are invisible...you need to find them and not the other way around. Your audience are behind the keyboard and streaming and not on cars or radios. You are always ahead of time and catch up always with the new demand. You never are loyal to the media or device or hardware...maybe in future your media is not a computer or an iphone or a mobile device..maybe it will be from a chip implanted on a body. Who knows. Point is...media and audience changes and you always seem to find them...while others are too slow to figure out the change of the audience!

Submitted by TallTim on

Appreciate you sharing a bit of Leykis broadcasting history with us.

Submitted by itscaping on

Where is our February Fix.

Again pleaseeeeeeeeeeeee make teach us how prepare for divorce.

What did you learn from your last 4 divorce?