by Chris 'Blue Shorts' Lingebach

WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Happy Birthday is in order to Eric Carlton Bickel, who turns 44-years-old today.

Normally, I, poor, would give the gift of overemphasizing my gratitude — whether for the countless doors he’s opened in my career or simply the air time I so desperately seek — to which he’d likely respond with some offhand remark about my sexuality.

It has occurred to me that this isn’t about myself, so perhaps the greatest gift would be to show him just how much the Junkies’ web presence has grown over the last twelve months, how much that’s helped me professionally, and transitively, how that’s finally allowed me to give back to the show that’s given me so much.

You see, the line between the on-air greatness the Junkies cultivate daily and what translates well to the internet is often blurred. It’s even harder to explain. To put it more succinctly, it’s a total crap-shoot, and I’ve been rolling the dice blindly for a year.

As I took on this role — which over the last year, I’ve embraced wholeheartedly, pouring endless man hours and late nights into — it quickly became apparent that writing about the show, through the ears of its listeners, could sometimes yield unexpected reactions from its hosts.

Essentially, as I was finding myself through my writing, trying to establish another firm leg for the Junkies to stand on — all the while, no one really quite being certain of my intentions — I learned this process was as new to EB as it was to me.

That comes with it’s consequences, and there were many times (many, many times) when I thought to pick up the phone and explain to Bickel that whatever I’d written to ruffle his feathers; it was nothing personal.

I’ve had this conversation play out in my head over and over, infused with varying degrees of emotions, and yet, I still can’t find the right words.

All I can say is, the entire time I’ve been writing Junkies recaps and blog posts, never once have I done so with any malice or spite in my heart. Every single post has been about trying to capture the tone of the show, and incorporating another element into the all-encompassing formula which has helped keep the Junks ahead of the game for years.

Heck, I remember the Junkies talking about podcasts literally before I knew what the word meant, learning about them in my ‘Intro to Journalism’ class at West Virginia, then giving my professor the old hairy eyeball when he said podcasts would become the way of the future.

Without wasting any more time, I’ll let the writing and results explain my vision, as it’s come into existence in this last year.

And again EB, Happy Birthday, and thank you.

Here are the Junkies’ Top 10 Web Stories (by traffic) from Eric Bickel’s 43rd Year on Earth:

  1. Two Years Later: What Really Caused the Death of Amy Winehouse
    Sometimes I’m not quite sure the Junkies realize the depth of their impact. It’s stories like these, from guests like the father of Amy Whinehouse, which prove just how wide a net the foursome from Pr. George’s County actually cast. With similar international appeal, this story actually had a longer lifespan than any of the Rob Ford stories — enough to make it the most-read Junkies post from the last twelve months.
  2. The Junkies 2013 Bikini Contest (Photos & Video)
    For the first time in history, I think, since the Junkies have had consistent web presence, T&A was bumped to the No. 2 spot. It doesn’t make the girls any less attractive or the item any less clickable — it just means horny men have been dethroned by a broader audience.
  3. How to Pick Up Hookers in Dubai
    This was so funny. I don’t think when longtime contributor Hagerstown Steve called in with tips to evading the draconian laws of Dubai, he could have expected it to warrant a web story, which would grow enough legs to serve as the official unofficial guide to picking up hookers in Dubai.
  4. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to Appear Weekly on The Junkies
    Ah yes, Rob Ford. Better known as the gift that keeps on giving. By the time the Junkies finally crossed paths with the mayor, it seemed as though his fifteen minutes of fame were waning — that is, until the admitted crack user signed on to appear on an American radio show, aptly titled The Junkies, opening him up to a whole new book of easy jokes and rush of headlines. I’m pretty sure every newsroom in North America tuned into the Junks that first day.
  5. Vote for the Top 10 Greatest Junkies Tweets
    This one sounded better on paper, and was far more difficult in practice than in concept. ‘What are the greatest Junkies tweets of all time?’ Little did I know just how time-consuming this would be, although I was willing to put forth the effort, as it was one of the first times I can remember all four three Junkies getting behind on Twitter. It didn’t help, however, that the story depended on comments to rank the tweets, which would ultimately become this list’s undoing.
  6. Memoirs of a Shorts Tzu: Asa Akira Dominates Blue Shorts (Video)
    Where to begin? Where to begin? Perhaps the better question is where to finish. From the moment Valdez came to me with this idea, I knew it was the culmination of my time at The Fan. For years I’d been building up my love for Asian women on the air, and this was simply a happy ending to the recurring dream.
  7. Taking a Closer Look at Former Miss Delaware Teen USA
    I actually feel kind of bad about this one, but only because the girl was 18-years-old, and couldn’t have possibly possessed the scope to realize the long-term repercussions of her actions at the time. Still, she was 18, and she did it.
  8. Defending Dan Snyder: EB Defends Snyder’s Right to Keep the Name
    This had been a long time coming. After over a year of hearing the pleas from the left for the Redskins to change their name, it was only a matter of time before EB went on record with his thoughts about the ongoing controversy. He read this over and over and over before going to press with it, and then I read it over and over and over again, because I can sympathize with having your words misconstrued, and with such a hot debate, his detractors were surely to pick apart every last character. I’m still glad he wrote it, as I’m sure he is as well.
  9. Junkies Intern Twerks; EB Inexplicably Removes His Pants (Video)
    The Junkies were a little late on the Twerking game. Even still, T&A always sells, especially when it’s college girl T&A. No further explanation is required.
  10. Michael Jordan’s Trainer Wants RGIII in a Brace All Season
    To understand why this story hit so well, one must transport themselves back to last spring, when RGIII was still only months removed from reconstructive surgery, and the hype machine behind his recovery will still going full bore.

Honorable Mention:

Happy Birthday, Eric Bickel.

I look forward to another year of transcribing your every move, for all your devoted, longtime listeners.

Also, apparently you got a flat tire for your birthday…

During a time in my life when I was completely and utterly lost, your show gave me a purpose — one which allowed me to dispense some of the excess creativity coursing through my veins — and for that, I am eternally grateful.


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