Dead Air: Chronicles

The Wollensak portable reel-to-reel tape recorder used by Thom Savino & Frank Cotolo

The Wollensak portable reel-to-reel tape recorder used by Thom Savino & Frank Cotolo

From below the deepest roots of the 1970s comedy radio series, the original Dead Air, Frank Cotolo and Thom Savino plant the seeds of what would become over five decades (and counting) of each of their various broadcast incarnations in this episode. Witness the planting of one seed in Frank Cotolo’s 53rd Street Brooklyn home in the late sixties as Frank takes on the persona “Todd Fillier” and Thom “Tommy Sloan” in their audio art-piece titled “Construction Workers” recorded in Frank’s living room on his reel-to-reel Wollensak tape deck. “Todd” and “Tommy” experiment with different tape speeds to create sound effects. Cut to the early 1970s to hear Thom & Frank shamelessly use their WNYT college-radio airways to flirt with a “chick” Thom saw sitting in the lounge of the New York Institute of Technology in the Dead Air WNYT Easter Show. [NOTE: Sexist womanizing if not exactly acceptable in the 1970s was, at least, more prevalent than today in 2018. Any accounts of said “game” without the express consent of Major League Baseball is strictly prohibited]. Not to be outdone by the Resurrection, the boys segue right into Christ’s birth with their WNYT Christmas episode as Frank & Thom, graduates at the time of broadcast, returned to their old college radio station. Then hear the dynamic duo as they go pro on WHBI-FM from Newark, NJ. WHBI fellow broadcaster Christopher Scott lampoons Frank & Thom calling them “Frick & Frack” and “reviewing” Dead Air on his show. Hear Thom & Frank’s radio spots for the Brooklyn Diver’s School (SCUBA) heard on WCBS radio and their jingle for People’s Alley Clothing Store. Then hear the legendary WHBI-FM broadcast where the boys take phone calls live, on the air. (Illustrating the ultra-wide range of the boys’ audience demographics, this clip features the famous hermaphrodite call and call from Frank’s first wife who dialed in to remind him to pick up a carton of vanilla ice cream before he comes home). Next, excerpts from studio-produced episodes of Dead Air can be heard including Harve Paulsey, Mel & Collie Baby, and ‘Wasteland Playhouse’ featuring Half Nelson in ‘Sea Search.’ Rare excerpts from Thom & Frank’s appearances on Princeton University’s WPRB-FM Dave Kerman’s “Roots & Branches is included here.

Follow Thom Savino on Twitter @tjsavino.
Read more on Thom’s blog Topical Tweets & Titillations.

Follow Frank Cotolo on Twitter @FrankCotolo.
Read more on Frank’s blog Cotolo Chronicles.