Homeless Ted Williams: „Radio is defined: Theater of mind!“ (Looking Back at Wolfman Jack & „American Graffiti“)

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Ted Williams' Plea (Screenshot, (C) Columbus Dispatch)

Ted Williams' Plea (Screenshot, (C) Columbus Dispatch)

One of the most fascinating current viral phenomena (over 5 million views!) is the YouTube video „Homeless man w/golden radio voice in Columbus, OH“. It features Ted Williams, a Columbus/Ohio panhandler with a remarkable voice and attitude who was interviewed by the Columbus Dispatch. The clip has been removed from YouTube – here is the original:
Vodpod videos no longer available.

Geekosystem offers a transcript of my favorite Ted Williams quote:

>> When I was 14 I kind of listened to one of our area radio announcers, and I went as a field trip to go meet the guy, and he looked nothing like what he sounded like. So I asked him about that, and he said to me, “listen, radio is defined — theater of mind.” And so when he said “theater of mind,” I just said, well, hey. I can’t be an actor, I can’t be an on-air personality, but the voice just became something of a development over the years and I went to school for it.

And then alcohol and drugs and a few other things became a part of my life. I’ve got two years clean, and I’m trying hard to get it back. And hopefully somebody from one of these television or radio stations will say, ‘hey, I need a voice-over,’ or ‘ I need something.’ <<

When I worked as a free-lance music journalist from ’81 to ’94, radio was my favorite medium. As it was when I was in my early teens: I secretly stayed up until 11 p.m. and tuned in to RTL Luxembourg (1439 on the AM dial). At that time, RTL Radio switched from the German to the English service and I was able to enjoy DJs like Honey Bee Benson (what a great name!) and Johnnie Walker.

Listening to English-language DJs on late-night radio in my darkened ‚children’s room‘ (German term: Kinderzimmer) at low volume (didn’t want my nagging mother to know) added the „Theater of Mind“ feel mentioned byTed Williams.

A few years later in my teens, I also turned into a serious movie fan. Back then, there was a flick which perfectly expressed the „theater“ aspect: George Lucas‘ „American Graffiti“ (still an all-time favorite of mine).

To me, the pivotal scene of the movie has always been Curt’s (Richard Dreyfuss‘) discovery that his favorite DJ Wolfman Jack (German Wikipedia entry) didn’t look as cool as the Wolfman’s gravelly-voiced radio persona made him (Curt) believe.

Here’s a clip of that scene (please forgive the bad quality):

That’s radio! I keep my fingers crossed that Ted Williams will become part of the magic again.


Written by Peter Jebsen

5. Januar 2011 um 22:50

3 Antworten

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  1. Kaltes Nacht. TSA stopped Ted Williams from getting on his flight from Columbus to NYC. No appearance on “The Today Show” on Thursday morning. No visit to 92 year-old Mom in Brooklyn. See, he didn’t have ‘proper ID’, said the TSA. So Ted spent today at the Columbus Courthouse, trying to figure out how to get a copy of his birth certificate. Obviously he did have some form of ID, but the TSA wasn’t satisfied with it. The man has been homeless for four years. OK, America – What are we going to do about this out-of-control phony security dance? These blockheads, however, are typical of our society. Follow the little rule book, and throw common sense out the window. Wrong. No little rule book takes away YOUR OBLIGATION TO THINK FOR YOURSELF. There are times you have to make an exception. That’s “the exception that proves the rule”. It’s like the traffic cop giving the mother of the little girl in a coma in Las Vegas a ‘jaywalking ticket’ – gave it to her right in the hospital. Or the policeman giving a ticket to the Dad who raced to the hospital while his wife’s water broke in the car on the way to the hospital in New Hampshire. RETRAIN EVERYBODY — OR FIRE THEM.

    Gefällt mir


    6. Januar 2011 at 2:56

  2. Schön geschrieben!

    Gefällt mir


    6. Januar 2011 at 21:32

  3. Danke!

    Gefällt mir


    7. Januar 2011 at 23:47

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