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featuring Gary Owens - "The Music Guy" show from 1967
Posted By: Robert Nickels (W9RAN)
Click the Play button above to listen to the podcast. You can also adjust the volume, and download
the podcast file from the above control.
"This is the United States Armed Forces Radio and Television Service"....
For a soldier, sailor, airman or marine serving his country in some jungle, desert, or surrounded by nothing but ocean, those words brought a smile and a little bit of what things were like back home. Headquartered at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, AFN's broadcast operations have been bringing entertainment and information to American servicemen since 1942, and during the Vietnam war, shortwave radio was a primary medium of transmission, but AM broadcast stations were also created at various friendly locations. AFRTS stations in Vietnam were initially known by the name "AFRS" (Armed Forces Radio Saigon), but as the number of stations quickly expanded throughout South Vietnam became known as "AFVN" (American Forces Vietnam Network).
AFRTS sought out the top talent to entertain the troops and most entertainers were happy to assist. A number of well-known American radio DJs produced programs especially for AFRTS, which included music, comedy, and some well-chosen words that reflected the importance of the mission their listeners were engaged in. Among them was Gary Owens, who would become even better known to American TV viewers as a regular on "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In".
In recognition of his considerable talent and the importance of AFRTS over the years, we present this 26 minute unscoped recording of "The Music Guy" starring Gary Owens, from November 1967.
Gary Owens, born Gary Bernard Altman on May 10, 1934, was a disc jockey, voice actor, radio announcer and personality. His polished baritone speaking voice generally offered deadpan recitations of total nonsense, which he frequently demonstrated as the announcer on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In. Owens was equally proficient in straight or silly assignments and was frequently heard on television and radio as well as in commercials.
He was best known, aside from being the announcer on Laugh-In, for providing the voice of the superhero on Space Ghost. He also played himself in a cameo appearance on Space Ghost Coast to Coast in 1998. Owens' first cartoon-voice acting was performing the voice of Roger Ramjet on the Roger Ramjet cartoons. He later served as voice of the over-the-air digital network Antenna TV.
Owens started his radio career in 1952 as a news reporter at KORN, Mitchell, South Dakota and two years later was promoted to news director. In 1956 he left KORN for a newscaster job at KMA, Shenandoah, Iowa before moving on to a disc jockey job at KOIL, Omaha, Nebraska. He also worked in Dallas, New Orleans, St. Louis, and at KIMN in Denver before relocating to California in 1959, working at KROY in Sacramento and KEWB in Oakland before finally settling in Los Angeles. Owens moved to KEWB's sister station KFWB in Los Angeles in 1961. From there, he joined the staff of KMPC in 1962, where he remained for the next two decades, replacing previous afternoon host Johnny Grant, working the 3 PM to 6 PM shift Monday through Friday.
A gifted punster, Owens became known for his surrealistic humor. Among his trademarks were daily appearances by The Story Lady (played by Joan Gerber); the Rumor of the Day; myriad varieties of "The Nurney Song"; and the introduction of the nonsense word "insegrevious," which was briefly included in the Funk & Wagnalls Dictionary. His regular on-air radio terms included "krenellemuffin," as in "We'll be back in just a krenellemuffin." Gary always credited his radio engineer at the end of his broadcast: "I'd like to thank my engineer, Wayne Doo, for creebling at the turntables" (referring to KMPC engineer Wayne DuBois). He also created the previously non-existent colors "veister" and "krelb".
During this time Owens was also known as "Superbeard," because like his contemporary radio icon Wolfman Jack, he sported a goatee-beard, Hawaiian shirts, baggy Bermuda shorts, and his "1941 wide necktie with a hula girl on it." Often during these comedy sketches on the air, he would have the assistance of other radio comics, most notably Bob Arbogast (known as "Arbo" to his adoring fans), Stan Ross (of "Drowning in the Surf" fame in 1963), and Jim "Weather Eyes" Hawthorne.
Owens also did his famous "Good Evening Kiss" on KMPC when he was on from 9 p.m. to midnight, by saying, "Now I'll just snuggle up to a nice warm microphone, and embrace-moi," making a big wet kiss sound effect followed by the sound effect of a gong striking. In 1966, Owens collaborated with Bob Arbogast, June Foray, Daws Butler, Paul Frees, and others on a comedy spoof record album titled "Sunday Morning With the Funnies" with the Jimmy Haskell Orchestra on Reprise Records.
He was a scriptwriter for Jay Ward Productions (Rocky & Bullwinkle), appeared in many series for Walt Disney, and did over 30,000 commercials. He was also a guest star on The Munsters, I Dream of Jeannie, and McHale's Navy.
Owens received a Hollywood Walk of Fame Star in 1980, between those of Walt Disney and Betty White. He moved from KMPC to KPRZ-1150AM (also in Los Angeles) in the early 1980s, hosting mornings at the "Music Of Your Life"-formatted station. Owens in the morning and Dick Whittinghill in afternoon drive was an inversion of Owens' KMPC years.
When Roger Barkley surprisingly walked out of the long-running "Lohman and Barkley Show" on KFI in Los Angeles, Owens briefly teamed with Al Lohman for the successful morning commute show. Jeff Gehringer was brought on as producer. The program ended after the station changed format to talk. Owens had a hilarious bit part as an emcee for "Pimp of the Year", a dream scene in the 1988 comedy, "I'm Gonna Git You, Sucka".
In 2004, Owens co-wrote a book titled How to Make a Million Dollars With Your Voice (Or Lose Your Tonsils Trying). In his last years, Owens was the promotional announcing voice for Antenna TV, an over-the-air digital network dedicated to classic shows of the past, like Three's Company, The Monkees, Adam-12 and Gidget. He was married to his surviving wife Arleta for 47 years. Owens died on February 12, 2015, at age 80 from complications due to type 1 diabetes, a condition with which he was first diagnosed at the age of eight.