WASHINGTON (CBSDC) - Lurch is a man of few demands.
His requests during the show are typically limited to Valdez playing themed music beds coming back from breaks, and for that Hump Day Camel Commercial thing to be played on-command each Wednesday.
So when Rick ‘Thanks for Bein On, George’ Valdez couldn’t deliver in a timely fashion on this particular occasion, Lurch was understandably turned off, and fully prepared to tune out for the next two and a half hours … understandably.
Fortunately, Rick’s frequent bouts with incompetence sometimes manifest as inadvertent strokes of genius, as was the case Wednesday when “Replay Roulette” was spawned.
Just as a point of clarity, the ‘Replay’ portion refers to the ‘Instant Replay’ machine sitting in front of Cakes, which stores the various recurring sound drops (audio clips) you hear at any given moment throughout the show (e.g. “Dagger!”). It basically looks like a giant computer keyboard, with about fifty soft-touch buttons spread evenly across the surface.
There’s also a tiny, old-school LCD screen that displays the name of the clip playing.
The reason this machine’s rarely updated begins and ends with Valdez, who has to connect it to a computer, then go in and tediously insert each drop, which then has to be cross-referenced against Cakes’ binder (image somewhere on screen) to check for accuracy.
Oh, and then the binder has to be updated, which usually consists of searching for a Word document on his old computer for an average of no less than sixty minutes.
Although, the Replay machine doesn’t get nearly the love and respect it deserves anymore; sad because each drop tells a story; a reminder of a memorable moment that’s occurred at some point in the Junkies seventeen (or sixteen? eighteen? I’ve lost track) illustrious years on the air.
The painful neglect it’s endured finally came to a head, when just the right series of sentences were strung together to form a watershed moment.
With Lurch Pappy in a foul mood, he began naming off drops he could go without ever hearing again, which led EB to inquire about how many drops are in the machine, which, I’d like to imagine, got them thinking about the bits behind each drop incorporated over the years, which then led to JP asking this…
“Of course, you could get rid of probably half of them and you wouldn’t miss anything,” JP said. “Like I’m just gonna pick a random,” he said. “Bank two, the machine on the right, number 27.”
Below’s an account of how the rest of the segment unfolded, as the guys were issued a stark reminder of the audio element the Replay adds to their on-air product.
[Feel free to press play as you read along, and really take in the full experience]
“Bank two…27…what is that?” Cakes thought aloud. “I’m trying to think of what it is? Who cares?”
“Charley Casserly!” he rejoiced.
“You can’t get rid of that one! “ EB joined him.
Give me another one,” Cakes said.
“Do another one,” EB added. “I like this. Roulette. This is like Chat Roulette.”
“Alright, you know what? Bank two on the left, 14,” JP requested.
You can feel something good is brewing here.
“That’s a good one,” Lurch laughed.
“That’s pretty funny,” Cakes giggled.
“We need ‘em all!” EB realized. Yes. Yes. “Alright, bank five on the right, 12.”
“Alright, my turn” Lurch said. “Bank three on the left, 15.”
Things would continue on this trend, before they realized what they’ve been looking for in life has been under their noses all along
For the record, I’ve done nothing to alter the segment below. Listen for how little time passes between the moment a Junkie makes his request, and you hear the drop played.
As an aside, Bret Oliverio used to tell me how funny it was to watch Cakes in the studio as he’d search for a drop.
He described it as someone saying a specific word, which would trigger a road flare in Cakes’ brain, followed by him locating the corresponding drop almost instantaneously.
Bret would see Cakes’ head drop and his finger shoot to the appropriate spot on the machine, as if he was a robot programmed to do nothing else.
And that’s the magic of radio.