A short trip down memory lane from Donnie Dodge, one of the best and creative producers and members of the Todd and Tyler Show
Before it all started
It was summer of 94. I was working at the Farmers Co-op in North Bend,NE. For whatever reason, rain or it just being slow, I turned on the radio to 92.3 and there it was. Two brash, fowl mouth guys talking about drinking and chicks and sports and sex and everything else that was going on in my mind at that exact time. They were Mike Tyler, Todd Brandt, Craig Evans, and "The Beastmaster". They were the "Todd n Tyler Show". At the time they weren't very well known, or liked because they replaced longtime FM morning standouts "Otis XII and Diver Dan".
They always liked to joke about how they dragged the Omaha area "kicking and screaming into 80's radio-in 1994". That particular morning though they told the story about how that weekend they had traveled to Fremont,NE. (my neck of the woods) at the invite of local musical gods The Fishheads. Well, a lot of beer was consumed- usually Coors Light- and Tyler somehow ended up either dancing with or making out with somebody's girlfriend or ex-, the specifics are blurry because I wasn't there. So a confrontation, not physical, ensued and the usual insults flew, Longhairs, Fags, East Coast Bastards, and the wonderful "You're not from here are you?!". They talked about how they needed some "love" from the people of Dodge County. At the time they finished EVERY call by saying "LOVE YA!". So I heard my chance.
1-800-955-9230 was the magical number and I dialed away, I was greeted with "Todd n Tyler Show, who's this?", it was during a song, at the time they played a lot of music in the morning. From what they had told me their program director was a dick and made them "tape" all the phone calls until they got a delay system, for what reason I don't know.
I was greeted by Todd's voice and that was the beginning of "The Redneck man", or "Red Neckman" as the character evolved. For whatever reason I layered the country drawl on pretty thick, telling the guys how if they ever had any problems in Dodge County again, "all's ya'll gotta do is give yer little redneck buddy a call.". That's it, it wasn't funny, it wasn't inspiring, it was what it was, the first call in what I like to call an 9 year "forced occupation" of the Todd n Tyler show.
They told me to call back anytime, they played my call on the air, and I liked it! I had been in radio before in college, but nothing like the 50,000 watt blowtorch that was KEZO Z-92.3 FM. I liked being the center of attention and this was my chance. I wasn't gonna get attention like that working at the Co-op, Wal-Mart, or welding fire trucks at Smeal Manufacturing. So I made up my mind right there- one day I will be on that show.
The calls to the show eventually got funnier, or as funny as they could be back in the day. Their bosses were pretty strict from what they told me, telling them once "before you say something, think about what I would think about what you're saying."- It may not be a perfect quote, but, that's close. After two to three months of calling, I was blessed with the hotline number! No longer did I have to wait on hold with the rest of the "Running Characters", I had a direct line to the fame that I craved. I was calling the show about 2 to 3 times a day, I eventually got my own "theme music", or just some music that Tyler would play every time I called in. At the time no one else had any music so I admit I thought I was pretty special.
Now remember I was still working at the time, so every morning became a job in itself to get my work done, and still call the show and be on topic of what they are doing for the day. Usually the work suffered for the sake of the phone calls, but to me, that was OK. I was quickly becoming addicted to the rush of hearing my voice, making the guy's laugh, being the funniest call of the day. Now I've never been on drugs but, to me it felt like an addiction. I would put listening to the show ahead of anything else in my life. That's no shit, my job was secondary. One morning I called Todd after the show and asked if I could come hangout during the show. At that time it was unheard of for anyone to come into the studio. He said that was ok, but, I would have to make my calls from the next room. He didn't want all the other running characters to get the idea it was ok for all of them to come up and try and take over the show. To me that was fine it was still in the studio.
Now herein lies the problem, I had only been at my job for a few months, therefore no vacation time. So I used what I had, sick time baby!! At the time I had already told pretty much every person I knew that I was a running character on the Todd n Tyler Show, whether they knew what I was talking about or not, I told them. Once again here's the problem, I'm calling in sick to go talk on the radio, opps! That job ended pretty quick, and not well, if you ever apply for a job at the Farmers Co-op in North Bend,NE. don't use me for a reference- it won't help!
Now let's move ahead to that day, my first day meeting TNT. At the time they went on the air at 6 AM, so I got there about 7:30 and Todd sat me in the corner, nowhere near a microphone. Let me give you a quick layout of the studio. The console was U shaped and Tyler sat in the center facing all the control computers, to his right were 3 microphones to be used by Craig or their producer Beastmaster. Behind him was the large CD library and to his left was Todd , the phone system that he ran, and the reel to reel tape machine. When I came in they sat me in between Todd and the tape machine. I can understand their fear- you meet a guy for the first time, a total prick for a boss, and no delay system, I wouldn't put me in front of a microphone.
So I made a few calls from the other room, and after the show was over at 10AM we retired to the ,JOCK LOUNGE. Their home away from home, their only sanctuary from sales weasels and pissy bosses. I suggested an idea for a promo, that is the TNT commercial that runs the rest of the day, once an hour!!
They took my suggestion and that was all she wrote, I was already hooked on making 2 sometimes 3, even 4 calls a day to the show. But now my voice, my character, MY IDEA, on the air every hour, ALL DAY-HOLY SHIT!!! At the time they would occasionally pick an old song and sing along-badly- but they would sing along all the same. This morning it happened to be "don't pull your love" by Hamilton Joe Frank and Reynolds. They talked all morning long about how country artists took old rock songs and twanged they up and called them country. I said; "How about Redneckman sings his brand new #1 country hit", a twanged up version of "Don't pull your love". They liked the idea and into the production room we went.
I swear to God himself; I listened to that station for the next 24 hours. Every hour, somewhere between :35 and :45 past the hour depending on the music, the promo would play. And I heard it every time!! There was no turning back, I would not stop until I was on the radio or a restraining order was in place, that's no joke.
Todd n' Tyler show, who's this?
From 1994 through most of 1997 my life consisted of a marriage, 2 kids, 4 different jobs, and of course calling the show everyday. That's right, everyday. There were days that I would call once, there were days that I would call 6 times. That would pretty much fill up your morning, but I liked it. Each morning I did my best to be the best of the "running characters". I've mentioned them before, and for the people that weren't listening back from 95'-98' , we were a group of "self-proclaimed losers", it consisted of the following:
RedNeckman- me their redneck buddy that would go out shooting guns, blowing up mailboxes, and wreck cars for the sake of "the bit".
Chris- TNT's friend behind the scenes- a local handyman- and very intelligent.
Council Bluffs Dave- The X-factor, somewhat political, You never really knew which Dave would call in day to day- He may have been mentally ill- seriously!
The husker freak- all's he would say is "I'm freaking out about the huskers man!!! What are we gonna do man!!"- he ran his course after he dropped the character one-day and tried to sell his motorcycle and look for a job.
Dodge Co. Duke-The best of the best- he could comment on anything- anything and relate it to every person listening. AND make it funny- every now and then he would go over the heads of some of us "booger-eating' morons". But all in all he would make you laugh.
Cheeseburger Charlie- Todd's buddy from Yutan. A raspy voiced, beer swigging', weed puffin' redneck that had no problem driving the humor in the gutter, very, very funny guy.
Mitch Towne- A very talented musician, he could be considered the original round table member. He would sit-in sometimes 2 to 3 times a week. He would play keyboard, and pimp his band at the time- Brazen-The 9's- as well as any side gig he may fall into. Sadly Mitch left the show never to be heard from again.
Child prodigy- He was able to answer the questions about white collar jobs, oh and of course-GAMBLING. And has managed to out live us all!
The 12 year old kid- a young sassy mouthed kids that would call and for whatever really call out local newspaper outdoor columnist Larry Foster.
Of course all of these people can be heard on the song "We Are The Show" on the first CD I ever produced, "Greetings from Throckmorton".
Making the push
In the summer of 1997 I was still living in North Bend, with my then pregnant wife and our one-year-old daughter. I was working overnights unloading trucks at the Wal-Mart in Fremont. It really seemed to be my perfect just at the time. I t allowed me to work a full job and still listen to the whole show and call as much as I wanted. I would spend that time in the mornings figuring out a way to reach my goal, working for Todd n Tyler.
I had a plan and it seemed foolproof, call as much as I could, be funny, the rest would fall into place. Well as simple as the plan sounds- it really wasn't working. One morning on my ½ hour drive home at 7am from Fremont, TNT were talking about getting someone famous on the show, to be honest I don't remember who, but, they wanted "Beast" their producer to make the call. After several times asking him to do this and him not following through, they began to complain.
I saw my opening, start lining up interviews for them, on my own dime. It was perfect. All I needed to do is line-up a few guests as the "Assistant Producer" to the Todd n Tyler Show. Todd seemed to be impressed with my drive to make the show better, even from my house.
I began to make calls on behalf of the show. Mostly sports teams, trying to get coaches or players. Once I accidentally got put through to Jimmy Johnson in Miami by his secretary. He quickly hung up on me be I knew that It was possible to get through to these famous people and eventually I could lockup an interview, which I was sure would be my foot in the door.
Then I got the call from Todd. They had just got a new computer system to run their phone systems, and the needed someone to screen the calls. This would then free up the Beast to do more producer like duties. He wasn't sure about the pay, but, said something could be worked out. I had a one-week vacation to be used from Wal-Mart and was ready to use it.
I started Aug. 14th 1997. From that day on my life was consumed by radio- living by the credo-"anything for the bit". Meeting famous people, making a name for myself-good or bad, living on $20,000 a year for most of the next 5 years, producing 3 very popular CD's for the show, changing from character to character, the divorce, the marriage, the babies, the lawsuits, driving to the Super bowl, twice. The ups and downs that our relationships took being together 5 to 6 days a week, the show members that I outlived, and the ones that have proven to be indestructible- Oh the things that I've seen, and oh the things that I've done. All of which remain locked inside forever! It was some of the most fun I've ever had, and at times it was the most frustrated I've even been. For those of you who remember me- Thank you, and for those of you who have no idea who I am- you missed out on some of the greatest radio ever done!!
Todd n Tyler Producer Aug 14th 1997 through Oct 22nd 2002.