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Date Posted: 16:25:23 07/02/13 Tue
Author: Larry Berger
Subject: Re: John Demchak
In reply to:
's message, "Re: John Demchak" on 11:23:25 06/15/13 Sat
I think about John alot...I wonder how many people he mentored, entertained, surprised and charmed throughout much too short of a life. Those House of Chiang sessions were legendary as were similarly lengthy Saturday morning visits to Pancake Kitchen. I loved seeing the Winn Fanning piece... Great find, Jay!
A few random memories:
1. When I started at WYEP c. 1975, I was often stumbling through on-air, on-the-job training with childhood friend Brian Yost. This was also when O'Brien and Garry were really coming on strong. John, I think with Jay's help, dubbed us O'Larry and Brian and recorded some great bombastic intros.
2. Those wonderful long phone calls from John ALWAYS seemed to come at the worst moment, e.g. while kneading bread dough or soldering circuit boards! Also, John typically had a "route" to his calls, placing them to me, then Bill, then Bruce, etc. We all adored John, but in pre-caller ID days and as hard as it was to have a conversation with John lasting under an hour, we sometimes "warned" one another that John was making calls just in case we had a commitment. John would leave incredible answering machine messages, often in dialect, and we'd always call back in a day or two...and then have that 90-minute chat.
3. One of the best memories was John in the role of the original Russian Santa Claus. This became a tradition on The Saturday Light Brigade and John would appear in Russian dialect and talk about Christmas in the old country, with Bill Lucker (may he also rest in peace) often interviewing him with straight lines in a fashion not unlike Carl Reiner interviewing Mel Brooks in a 2000-year old man sketch. During one of these appearances, which was actually on Christmas Day, a father and little girl (perhaps 5 years old) came to the radio station with a present for Santa. I'll never forget the look on her face when she saw our John smiling over the microphone in the radio studio as he authentically portrayed Santa Claus while wearing a simple shirt and jeans. It was as if she got to see Santa himself in his civilian clothes. And I'll never forget the look of delight on John's face either...
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