Monday, August 9, 2010

INTERVIEW: Legendary DJ and Voice Actor Richard Weirich ("Bob Burton") of Golden Hits Radio

The "Oldies" radio format has been steadily growing in popularity over the past few years (boomers anyone?). Here in Toronto, there are nearly as many Oldies stations as there are Top 40 stations, and you can now find them on the FM dial (they used to be the mainstay of the AM band). The format itself has expanded mainly due to the passage of time; seventies weren't oldies in the eighties - but they are now!

Which brings me to the recently launched Golden Hits Radio (GHR). While you won't hear GHR on any AM/FM tuner (it's a pure Internet radio station), it is in its own way more authentic than your typical Oldies station. What makes GHR such a joy to listen to - apart from excellent audio quality, song selection, DJing, and no commercials - is that it is brought to you by legendary radio personalities "Burt and Kurt". While I didn't grow up listening to "Burt and Kurt", those of you from Florida, Texas, Alabama, or Mississippi will like know who I'm talking about. The duo are famous for such characters as: Uncle Mack; Red Wood; Lonnie "The Beautiful Dude" Bumpus Jones; the Maha Richci Yogo Fogi Nanana Fanna Go Fogi; and many more.

I caught up with Richard Weirich (the "Burt" half of "Burt and Kurt") - an accomplished voice actor for this exclusive TUN3R interview.

Q1 Neil: Richard, thanks very much for taking the time to participate in this interview. On the Golden Hits Radio web site you mention that GHR is very much a "labor of love" and an outlet for your passion of music programming. Can you elaborate on that and describe how GHR got started?

A1 Richard: For nearly 40 years radio was my livelihood as well as being something that I loved dearly. More than a vocation radio is my passion which is why I launched Golden Hits Radio. I love music and the art of radio programming. It is something that I just have to do.

A while back I had a business called the Radio Format Factory in which I developed automation formats for radio stations. The radio company that I worked for took exception to my side business and ordered me to shut it down. Consequently, when I parted ways with terrestrial radio I still had the equipment and the music library which provided the foundation for Golden Hits Radio.

Q2 Neil: I've been listening to your station for the past week, and it's a remarkably well programmed. The song selection, transitions, and overall mix are superb. To my ear GHR is a prime example of how a great DJ can elevate the listening experience. What's your secret? Is there any advice you can pass on to younger DJs?

A2 Richard: You're very kind. Obviously years of experience in radio programming dictates much of my programming philosophy. But I also have a basic belief that radio killed radio. I don't think the demon was satellite radio but the poor choices made by corporate radio. Short playlists and cramming the same music down listeners throats was a recipe for disaster....especially when programming to adults. The basic formula for oldies stations was to play a handful of oldies (usually 200 - 300). The emphasis was not on "what to play" but... "what not to play." There is no wonder that IPods and MP3 players were so successful. Radio drove them away.

Golden Hits Radio is programmed with the expectation that oldies listeners want more variety and less repetition. The art is in assembling so many different kinds of sounds from a massive music library and making it all fit together in an entertaining and enjoyable music mix.

Internet radio is much like radio in the 60s and 70s. Back then you started at a small town radio station, made your mistakes, developed your craft, and moved onto bigger and better radio markets. Your best teacher was the school of hard knocks. The best advice that I know for anyone trying to make it as a DJ is to be your own best self and don't be afraid to take some chances. Learn your craft and always strive to stay relevant.

Q3 Neil: Apart from being a program director, you're also a seasoned voice actor. How did you discover this talent of yours? Was there someone from your youth that inspired you?

A3 Richard: Actually voice talent ( goes back to my childhood. As long as I can remember I liked to read out loud. Oddly, I have always been uncomfortable with my voice and I suppose it comes from being a perfectionist. I still haven't had my best recording session. I suppose that when that day comes it will be time to retire.

Q4 Neil: You have helped create such characters as Uncle Mack and Red Wood? How do you come up with new voices and characters?

A4 Richard: All the voices, except mine, were created by my longtime radio partner, Kurt Kilpatrick. He and I first teamed up in Jackson, Mississippi. He is the most talented individual I have ever encountered in radio. We first teamed up in 1974 and even to this day he still cracks me up. Most of the characters were based on real people. Before Kurt and I teamed up he was a tv news reporter. Uncle Mack was based on an old gentleman that Kurt interviewed. Red Wood was derived from a boss he had in one of his first jobs.

Q5 Neil: Can you tell me about the "Kurt" half of "Kurt and Burt". How did you form your partnership?

A5 Richard: Kurt is a very successful motivational/humorist speaker. We first met in 1974 when Kurt had a record produced featuring his impressions and comedy and brought it by the radio station to see if I would play it. I liked what I heard and invited Kurt to join me on my show as a guest. That morning the phones rang off the wall from listeners who loved what they were hearing. Shortly after I offered him a job....and fortunately for me he accepted.

Q6 Neil: When is the best time to listen to GHR? Are there any shows or sketches where we can hear your voice characters?

A6 Richard: Every hour is consistently the same. There is no dayparting due to an international audience. It's always prime time somewhere. We still have yet to add live talent. That's coming in about a month when we will be joined by Shane Wison, Scott Evans, and Dave Mack. All of them are seasoned radio veterans and share a common love for good radio. As far as the return of Burt and Kurt I am still uncertain how I want to handle that. I don't know how heavy doses of personality will work with the flow of Golden Hits Radio. I am leaning toward offering Burt and Kurt personality breaks in a podcast format. That way listeners can hear us when they want and we won't get in the way of the music. We recently recorded some new material that I will soon make available at our website.

Q7 Neil: You've been on air since 1974. I'm sure you've met some interesting characters and have had some interesting moments. Are there any characters or stories that stand out for you?

A7 Richard: Actually....I first broke into radio in Norfolk, Virginia at WCPK in 1970. '74 was the year that I teamed up with Kurt. Indeed there have been many interesting people and situations encountered along the way. I am reminded of an incident involving a DJ who worked at WSGN in Birmingham about 1973. He did the all night show and would occasionally bring his German Shepherd to work. The station was located in the 21st story penthouse of the City Federal Building. There was a fenced walkway around the penthouse and he would let his dog get some exercise in the late night air. Most often he would clean up the dog's residue and carry it out in a plastic bag. One night....for whatever reason....he decided to heave the mess over the wall. Upon leaving the building he was greeted by a startled paper delivery man who was cursing like a sailor about being hit by droppings from a huge bird.

At WJDX in Jackson, MS....I was listening one night when our station went off the air. I began to call the air talent on the hot-line trying to find out what had happened but there was no answer. Frustrated at not knowing what was going on I drove to the station to get the answer. Prior to arriving we came back on the air but I completed the drive to make certain that everything was OK. The DJ was quick to apologize and told the story of how he had to leave the controls because a naked girl was climbing our station tower and he took it upon himself to rescue her. As it turned out she was the daughter of one of Jackson's most prominent attorneys. I feared repercussions but fortunately there weren't any.

Another story that comes to mind....the program director that hired me at WIST in Charlotte, NC preceded me on the air...which was not a problem....except for the pet boa constrictor that he brought to work with him. The boa rested securely around his neck while he played the hits. I refused to go into the studio until he and his friend left the room.

There are many cherished friendships and memories from my radio past. It all went by so fast.

Q8 Neil: Do you have a favourite song? Or is there a song which you feel exemplifies Golden Hits Radio?

A8 Richard: I have so many favorite songs it would be impossible to single out just one but a song that kind of catches the essence of Golden Hits Radio is Rock and Roll Heaven by the Righteous Brothers.

Q9 Neil: Where do you see Golden Hits Radio going? Is your vision complete, or do you see evolving?

A9 Richard: Golden Hits Radio still has a long way to go. We've been on the air less than three months so there's a lot of growing to do. My vision involves getting GHR played wherever there is a potential audience. That means staying on top of the technology. I also foresee branching into other niche formats. The biggest challenge is generating enough income to keep the project moving forward. I remain committed to commercial and subscription free radio. Radio has given me so much and now I want to give back to the great listeners who have made it all possible.

Monday, April 19, 2010

INTERVIEW: Hamin Mousavi of Radiour talks Crowdsourcing Radio

Radiour came across my inbox a couple weeks ago where I quickly learned that it is based on the collaboration model which I've blogged about before (check out my interview's with Nekkid Radio and Error.FM). Always a fan of the crowd sourced model, my curiosity remains piqued.

Its name is a play on "Our Radio" and if you tune in, you will hear everything from techno to old men yodeling. In the short time I've been listening, I've heard everything from hard dance techno, to death metal, to folk covers, to negativland-esque mashups. It's a bit more hit-or-miss than Error or Nekkid, but occasionally the station finds that elusive groove of being surprising and familiar all at the same time. It's a great station to broaden your horizons, without being overly challenging.

But there's more to Radiour than its stream. It allows you to log in with Facebook and Twitter, and aims to be a place where new artists can get their music heard. I hope to find out more from Hamin Mousavi who has graciously agreed to this TUN3R interview.

Q1 Neil: Thanks so much Hamin for taking part in this interview! How long has Radiour been around for? How was the idea of the station conceived, and what's your role?

A1 Hamin: Radiour started in the summer of 2008 and has been in a closed beta until February 3:rd, 2010. So we're quite new, haha. The idea for Radiour was conceived by Karl Baron, the programmer. I just convinced him to do something with it!

I myself do anything that isn't programming; from bug-testing to icon design, support to translation.

Q2 Neil: Does Radiour have a geographic home base? Where do it's DJs hail from?

A2 Hamin: The awesome thing about Radiour is that it is made for everyone, everywhere. Our DJs are the people who add songs to the playlist, so we're probably the most democratic radio station on the planet. Most of our users are from europe and america, but we also have some asian users, mostly from japan.

Q3: Do you see Radiour primarily as radio station for people like myself to listen to. Or rather as a different kind of social hub on the net?

A3 Hamin: I'd like to think of Radiour as a place for everyone that are looking for something new and different to listen to. It is more than a radio, but it doesn't have to be if you don't want it to. You can just listen to the stream like with any radio station while others might like to vote and comment on the tracks played. Some even upload their own music, create mixtapes and spread them on twitter and facebook.

You can also as a user change pretty much anything, from the album art to the tags on the different tracks. It's a lot of fun to see what other people like and follow. We've noticed for example that listeners look at what others are adding and then search for similar tracks to add to the playlist. Small themes like these are constantly born just by having our users roam free.

Q4: You have mentioned that Radiour is a great place for new artists to spread their music. What does an artist need to do to get their music heard on your station? Can you give any examples of new artists on Radiour?

A4 Hamin: All you have to do is register yourself, upload your music and then add the songs to the playlist. It should take under 5 minutes, especially if you log in with a twitter or facebook account! You are then connected with your Radiour account to the social networks you already use and can easily keep your fans updated about new tracks.

Johan Sveide and Dj Downlow are a couple of pretty sweet artists, but check out the music search for more. Browse by genre and find something that suits your taste.

Q5 Neil: Hamin, how do you see Internet radio evolving over the coming years? Do you see things consolidating around a few big companies like Apple and CBS, or do you think the independent DJ has a future?

A5 Hamin: The big actors on the market with the big money will probably have the big artists. But there are musicians out there that produce music as a hobby or just don't want to be part of the system. And they certainly have a future, especially now when marketing yourself online is so easy!

We at Radiour are focusing a lot on these kind of artists that want to get the word out about their music. We've for example been working together with an indie music association in sweden to make sure that the functions of Radiour fit their needs.

Q6 Neil: What are your own musical tastes? What do you normally spin on Radiour?

A6 Hamin: I really like death metal with the gothenburg sound but also glitch and japanese electropop. Speaking of japan, I love the recent boom of indie artists that uses voice synthesizers for their main vocals. I usually add what I like so you'll hear a lot of metal/electropop if you listen in when I'm around.

Q7 Neil: If Radiour had its own theme song, what would it be?

A7 Hamin: 20 seconds of something that begins as chaos but ends up as a pleasant melody. That's how I envision our listeners experience on Radiour anyway!

Q8 Neil: What's planned for Radiour's future?

A8 Hamin: Other than working on the webpage? Well, we're right now trying to get Radiour into your phones so you'll be able to listen to the station on the go but still have all of the functionality of the web-version. There is still a lot left to do so I can't really say more than.

We'll keep you updated so check out our facebook or twitter page if you have more questions and want to ask us stuff.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Things about the iPad you may not realize

Just yesterday I had the chance to play with the new iPad device. I must thank Peter (the big brain behind TUN3R and Milk Crater) who drove down to Buffalo to get one on Saturday.

So does the iPad live up to the hype? Well, there's no point in answering that question. Everyone who has an iPhone or iPod Touch probably has a preconceived notion of what it's like. Anyone who doesn't have an iPhone or iPod Touch either is unaware of how great it is, or is a contrarian. Plus, everyone who's curious already understands the major capabilities of the iPad and what it can generally do. So, instead of running down that boring stuff, I'll point out the little things that I wasn't expecting:

First off, the weight and dimensions of the iPad were pretty much in line with what I assumed it would look and feel like. It very much is a giant iPhone, but there are some minor departures. For example, the home button at the bottom has a crisper feel to it than on the iPhone. Very subtle, but definitely noticeable. It's a reminder that Apple really takes "meatspace" seriously.

The device also feels more natural oriented in landscape than in portrait, which is opposite to how I prefer to use my iPhone. What's neat is that you can switch between landscape and portrait while on the desktop. Compare this to the iPhone which forces the desktop to always be in portrait mode. Another neat feature is that you can lock your current orientation, which is something I wish I could do on the iPhone.

I'm impressed with the sound quality. It's not a big speaker, but for such a small device it's got surprisingly good fidelity even at high volume. Once I get my own iPad, I'll definitely be using it to listen to Internet Radio (through TUN3R of course) in the kitchen while cleaning up after dinner, or over breakfast in the morning.

The keyboard continues to be a weak spot for Apple. While it is fairly large (and a huge improvement over the iPhone keyboard), I felt I couldn't touch type with it and eventually found hunting-and-pecking to be more natural. Furthermore, because the device has a rounded backside, it doesn't sit flat on a table, making it somewhat awkward as a typewriter. It's perfectly fine for plugging search queries into Google, but until I can touch type, I can't see myself doing much writing on it. Although I could see it as being useful for working with spreadsheets (if Microsoft ever decides to release Excel. OpenOffice: This is your chance!).

The iBook application is one of the biggies. Everyone says that Kindle is the killer app, and that people will use that instead of iBook. Well, I just hope the Kindle App is as good as iBook, cause iBook is very very cool. I had no problems reading off the backlit screen, and enjoyed seeing the colour illustrations in Winnie the Pooh. My dad has a Kindle, and I'll say that the Kindle is a bit smaller and lighter, and might be better for novels. But as a general purpose reading device, it's hard to see how you could make something better than the iPad/iBook (except by making it lighter and thinner). I especially like how you can play with the pages themselves. Once again, it's a wink and a nod to the pleasures of meatspace. Sure it'll never be as good as real pulp, but for fidgety guy like me it's not bad.

As you may already know, the iPad can run pretty much every iPhone App. That said, in my experience, these types of emulators are usually inferior to running the app on their intended platform. Not so with the iPad. The Apps are zippier and look better than on the iPhone. Seriously. I was most impressed with the mode that blows the App up to the full size of the iPad. Yes, it doesn't look as good as a native iPad App, but it does look surprisingly crisp.

As a specific example, we loaded up Milk Crater, and lo and behold it actually runs much better than on the iPhone 3GS. Keep in mind that Milk Crater is pegged to the CPU, so on the iPad you can really fly through your music collection like nobody's business. I know I'm biased, but Milk Crater freakin' rocks on this thing!

As soon as I get the chance (and an extra $500) - I'm treating myself to one of these puppies.

Monday, March 1, 2010

MilkCrater: World's First Real-time iPod Browser

We've just launched the latest App. From the guy who brought you TUN3R!
I've pasted the PR below:

Conalgo Inc. announces "Milk Crater": World's First Realtime iPod Browser
Toronto, ON, Canada

Conalgo today unveiled "Milk Crater" the world's first realtime audio iPod browser.

Unlike other iPod applications (including Apple's own iPod application), Milk Crater allows the listener to browse an expansive tiled grid of their iTunes cover art. As the listener glides over a particular square, the audio switches in real time to the corresponding audio track. If the user returns to the same spot, she will hear the same track from where she left off.

Because the transitions between songs are seamless and uninterrupted, listeners are able to enter a mental state of "flow" when browsing music. It is this deeper level of immersion while browsing that becomes a new experience unto itself - not unlike creating music.

In order to assist users, Milk Crater also includes search functionality consistent with its ultra-fast interface.
It is also simple and fast for the user to add tracks to playlists as they browse. Playlists can be saved for later or even exported.

"I've been bringing Milk Crater to parties and get-togethers and am always surprised by the reaction and how quickly people 'get it.' It's been a great icebreaker." - Neil Hepburn (GM of marketing)

Milk Crater has been translated into eight major languages: English, Chinese, Spanish, Russian, French, Japanese, German, Italian. The is currently on sale in the iTunes App Store for $2.99 (

About Conalgo

Conalgo Inc, developer of Milk Crater (, is dedicated to funding and advising research and development of next-generation technology-centric ventures. Conalgo was established in 2002, and is based out of Toronto, ON.


Media Contact:
Neil Hepburn
Co-Founder and GM of Marketing for

(416) 315-5514

Monday, January 11, 2010

INTERVIEW: Jim Dolan talks Audio Theater

Growing up as a kid my parents never let me have a television in my room. Instead they gave me an old General Electric AM radio they weren't using. Playing around with the dial I was able to find a station playing Old Time Radio Audio Theater. As I recall it was a science fiction story about some astronauts that had discovered a planet that was causing them to rapidly age backwards - so quickly that they might not be able to figure out how to get back off the planet. Lying on my bed with eyes closed I found the story as gripping and scary as any movie I'd ever seen.

A few years later I found "Theater of the Mind", a show that played on CHUM-FM every Sunday night. They would play a variety of Audio Theater from yesteryear including Orson Welles' Harry Lime, and my favourite X minus One. Although the show isn't on any longer, through podcasts and Internet radio it's just as easy now listen to these intimate radio plays.

Which is why I was delighted to have Jim Dolan bring his station "Alltime Oldies" to my attention, and henceforth to the TUN3R Dial.

Q1 Neil: Jim, thanks so much for participating in this interview. What's your background with respect to radio? Were you working in radio prior to AllTimeOldies?

A1 Jim: Thanks Neil for having me here today. As a kid in the 60s my dad built a small radio transmitter for me. The neighborhood kids & I were in the radio business and I never looked back in the 70s & 80s I worked on local radio and audio production.

Q2 Neil: How did alltimeoldies get it's start? Was the original vision what it is now?

A2 Jim: Well I did not start alltimeoldies, That station was started by my business partner who runs it today. The alltimeoldies radio theater channel is a joint project to add a professional programmed old time radio station to the web.

Q3 Neil: What are your favourite audio theater shows? Any specific episodes that stand out?

A3 Jim: I dont really have a favorite show. But to me some of the adult westerns stand out especially the ones from the 50's like gunsmoke, have gun will travel. The Fred Allen show & the Phil Harris & Alice Faye show stands out to me as still being fresh today.

Q4 Neil: Apart from audiotheater what other progamming is there on the station ?

A4 Jim: On the theater channel we have some new drama from Jim French & others but the channel is all about comedy, variety & drama. On the website the main channel also called alltimeoldies is programmed with music from the 50' to the 70's and they take requests as well.

Q5 Neil: How do obtain all those vintage recordings? Is there a national archive preserving these shows?

A5 Jim: I've been collecting old time radio programs since the 70's first recording off the air and later buying them on reel to reel tape from sellers. As to a national archive, the Library Of Congress has a large collection but that is largely unavailable. There are large holdings at the armed forces radio and tv network but they are not open to the public. The good news is that there are otr clubs like or if you are a member you can have access to thousands of high quality old time radio programmes.

Q6 Neil: From a collector's perspective, are there any rare gems that stand out in your collection?

A6 Jim: To be honest Neil, I'm so busy programming the station that I have little chance to listen to my collection but on the air I've heard news & interviews from the late 20's through the 60's pretty much everything that happened during those years is in the collection and it makes for some compelling listening at times.

Q7 Neil: Do you listen to any modern audio theater? Does anything stand out for you?

A7 Jim: We air the Jim French Mysteries on mondays on the theater channel. These are radio drama's that was made starting in the 70's and is still being made here in Seattle before a live audience. Also we air on the weekend Treasures Old & New from ART. This group writes and produces their own radio drama.

Q8 Neil: I love the opening for X minus one? So you have a favourite opening an old time radio song that could be a sort if theme song for AllTimeOldies?

A8 Jim: No. Although the opening of The Shadow is a classic and stands out in my mind. We play almost everything that was good on old time radio. The presentation is similar to a tv station without the pictures. It grew out of the Radio Entertainment Network started in 1995 as an audio alternative to tv for the blind. We still run REN and it is on Radio Reading Services around the country.

Q9 Neil: Where do see AllTimeMelodies going into the future?

A9 Jim: Well Neil we are adding hours and are continuing to improve our sound quality of our old time radio shows. We have added the Radioent daily download which is a otr podcast available on itunes & from the website. In short we plan to make the alltimeoldies radio theater channel the primary station programming commercial old and new radio drama on the web.

Thanks Neil for the chance to talk to your listeners today. You can edit this to fit your format. If you have any questions email me.

Jim Dolan