Most of the time, Los Angeles radio may be replete with the same old formats--hot hits, all talk or nonstop news--but at least some stations aren’t ushering in the New Year with one more replay of the Top 40 play list.
For instance, a marathon broadcast of James Joyce’s “Ulysses,” a night of live music and interviews from Disneyland and a wicked satirical commentary on the Tournament of Roses by the Firesign Theater and KMET deejay Frazer Smith promise to keep local radio properly strange as it enters 1986.
Beginning at 6 tonight over KCRW-FM (89.9), the Santa Monica City College radio station will broadcast 30 hours (yes, 30 hours) of “Ulysses” . . . all the way from Page 1, when stately, plump Buck Mulligan argues away the morning with Stephen Dedalus to Page 783, when Molly Bloom finally ends her infamous after-midnight stream-of-consciousness monologue with " . . . yes I said yes I will Yes.”
According to deejay Deirdre O’Donoghue who spent the past month putting the broadcast together, all the lust and earthy language that brought about a temporary ban on the import of “Ulysses” into this country during the 1930s remains intact in the radio version. She said she hopes the Federal Communications Commission doesn’t tune in during the racier readings which, fortunately, will air during the early morning hours.
For a short while, U.S. Customs inspectors held up the suitcase in which the tapes were shipped direct from Dublin to KCRW last month. At one point, KCRW General Manager Ruth Hirschman said she feared another First Amendment battle with the U.S. government over the controversial novel. Her assurances to inspectors that the tapes were literary treasure instead of some controlled substance or just plain smut finally got them released, she said.
“Broadcasting it all in one broadcast was something we had to agree to before Irish National Radio would let us have it,” said Hirschman who paid $1,000 for the rights to the one-time only airing.
The only breaks in the dramatization will be from 4 to 6 a.m. for “Morning Edition” and 4 to 6 p.m. for “All Things Considered.” The rest of KCRW’s New Year’s Day celebration will be devoted to 50 Irish actors, fleshing out the 18 episodes that comprise Joyce’s epic parody of the classic Greek tale of Ulysses and his wanderings.
If Joyce grows a bit weighty, veteran deejay Roger Carroll offers a Disney-esque alternative over KABC-AM (790), also beginning at 6 tonight. Carroll ushers in the New Year with guests Sergio Mendes, Ray Anthony, Mr. Mister, Klymaxx and Renee and Angela, live from Disneyland. The National New Year’s Eve broadcast, to be carried by 250 stations nationally, runs through 1 a.m.
And beginning at 7 a.m. New Year’s Day, KMET-FM (94.7) offers its own suspect version of sobering Rose Parade commentary from Frazer Smith and the three members of the Firesign Theater.
Smith advises listeners to turn down the sound on television station KTLA Channel 5 and watch the parade coverage that is usually narrated by game show host Bob Eubanks and Lucky supermarkets spokeswoman Stephanie Edwards.
Based on Smith’s six previous seasons as an alternative Rose Parade commentator, the results should be as bizarre as 30 hours of James Joyce.
“We’re looking forward to a good, clean parade this year,” Smith told The Times. “The Marching Vegetables of Del Monte High will be the opening band this year. We’ve had a problem with them in the past, because they leave the parade route and keep marching through the Norton Simon Museum . . . that’s the Ed Norton and Carly Simon Museum, of course.”
As grand marshal, Erma Bombeck will be a sure target of some of the running KMET gags, Smith said. He said he skipped his comedy commentary last year because of rumors that Bernhard Goetz might open fire from one of the floats.
“One year Evel Knievel leaped the entire parade route,” he said. “We’re hoping Ev Jr. will be there this year to jump the Raleigh Hills Marching Band.
“We’ve hired our own security unit to maintain control this year. Al Haig’s Total Control Inc. will be in total control. He’s an amazing man. He’s already in control and now he’s running for President. That’s comforting.
“We’re also planning on bringing back Vanessa as Miss America. She has her own personal float, sponsored by the people at Hoffey. They’ve also supplied the theme for this year’s parade: It’s not just a hot dog anymore.”
Smith, who will be joined by Firesign comedians Peter Bergman and Phil Proctor, said he will assume the role of Bob Eubanks. He had not yet decided Monday morning which of his co-hosts would be Stephanie Edwards.
“Phil looks best in a dress,” Smith said. “If he can just get the chest implants in time . . . I’m sending him to Lance Boyles, practicing physician and Godfather of Boyle Heights, who’s been losing patients as much as I’m losing patience with this interview.”