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January 26, 2007


Mary Stella

You're the second person I know who has named his car GPS unit. My teenage nephews named their parents' Eleanor after Eleanor Rigby. I guess the disembodied voice reminded them of "wearing a face that she keeps in a jar by the door".


Your note on station promos reminded me of when I lived in Philadelphia and the station that had acquired syndication rights for "Married...With Children" had a promo with Ed O'Neill sitting on Al Bundy's couch, wearing a Phillies jacket (the station had just become the Phils' TV flagship). I hope for Ed's sake not many other stations with "M...WC" syndication rights carried MLB games -- he probably had to change a lot of jackets. (Of course, Ed is no stranger to sports, having been a star football player at Youngstown State and actually getting an NFL tryout that was cut short by injury, making the Al Bundy "four touchdowns in one game" high school reference a wonderful in-joke.)


Just so you know, the lady in the Acura GPS system is named Maxine, but we call her Max for short.When not in a GPS equipt vehicle, I find it perfectly appropriate to say either "I need a Max" or "I miss Max."


A friend of mine called Honda wanting to know how to turn off the feature on the car's map that put a red flag at the location of every school. He was told that you couldn't turn it off.He pointed out that if you're a parent, you've researched the hell out of the schools in your area and know where each and every one is located. However, if you are a drug dealer or pedophile this would, indeed be a very handy feature. This comment was met with silence.The 2007 version does NOT have this feature.


I would love it if these GPS units responded angrily when you do not do as they tell you. "Turn right in a quarter mile...Right turn ahead...Hey, slow down, this is the turn...You missed the turn, you idiot! Great, now I have to figure out a new route. Thanks, schmuck."


When I was the voice of a syndicated radio format (automation tapes for small market stations), I was asked to do a "time check tape."Yes, I actually recorded every possible "time" starting at "It's 12 o'clock," followed by "It's 12:01," "It's 12:02." And so on...It took three sessions to do this because after about 45-minutes your brain bids your mouth a fond farewell and all verbal communication becomes gibberish.What time is it again?

Great Big Radio Guy

I think Ben Stein did the first generation Toyota GPS units. None exist now, of course, since all those cars were totaled when the drivers fell asleep.

The Curmudgeon

I wouldn't depend quite so heavily on the voice of the GPS if I were you.They can get the directions wrong... and it's become a problem in Germany where compliant drivers have turned off the road... and into an accident... all because their "satnav" ordered them too.


I hear ya, John! I did time checks for an automated station, too. With DIRECTION! Twelve hours times sixty minutes with a doofus saying..."Can you do that again and put a little more sincerity in it?"


People who can afford a Lexus still eat at Shoney’s?!


Mary Stella - I'm so encouraged that your teen nephews know Beatles tunes. I have a hand-held GPS with a choice of voices. I used to have it on the generic American voice, but I didn't like how upbeat she was when she said, "Arriving at destination!" I can just hear her head bobbing. We've reprogrammed it to the flat and rather insulting-sounding British voice (though she has an interersting interpretation for Sepulveda that makes me giggle.)


I am so addicted to this blog, what made me laugh before Ken Levine?Please, Ken, write a book about comedy, partly a memoir, partly a how-to for writers. Maybe title it, Good Times With Mary Tyler Moore. By itself, the stuff in your blogs would pack maybe a hundred pages.


That reminds me of the audio of Casey Kasem losing it while recording one of his Requests and Dedications. It's old, but a classic.


My car is named Gretchen (its a BMW). her voice seems to get more stern the more you ignore her. "plesae make a legal u-turn). The voice is cool and all but shouldn't cars fly by now? Over 100 years of automotive technology and the only thing they have managed to perfect is the back seat driver.

Paul Duca

I'd get a GPS system if it talked like Ken (with or without swearing).


I'm a guy, I don't need directions. My navsys is hardwired in my brain.


Did you see Alec Baldwin try to act badly in a recent "30 Rock"? Hysterical. It takes a really fine actor to do that.


As somebody who used to work in TV syndication marketing, I can say for a fact that everybody involved in the production of these custom tags hates it (you should have seen the ones for a popular syndicated film review show that shall remain nameless) but the affiliates still go gaga over them... Go figure.


Who needs a GPS. My wife is constantly telling me where to go, very effectively.


Great Big Radio Guy, you made me laugh. Ben Stein. Very funny.

Beth Ciotta

Ah, Ken, you light up my life. *g* What Max said.


Reminds me of a clip I saw years ago on a "bloopers" show. A woman was doing a spiel for some podunk bank and had her (real-life) kids in the shot as props. She's nattering away on and suddenly one of the kids pipes up and demands to know why she keeps saying the same thing over and over..


I remember being on a Westwood One format and recording liners and promos for 120 stations over an eight hour period.Besides getting bug eyed you really see some of the worst writing ever, like the station in Lima Ohio: "WERT 1220 AM, FOR THE FARMERS WHO ARE SO OUTSTANDING IN THEIR FIELDS"Bill Nesbitt

Paul Duca

Curmudgeon is SO correct...I don't know if any of you were following the story a couple of months ago, about the family that was lost in the Oregon wilderness. One report stated the reason they got stranded in the first place was their car's navagation system instructed them to take a mountain road that, in fact, was closed for the winter.


"What are you doing, Dave?"I'm signaling a right turn, Hal."I don't understand. The turnoff to your mother-in-law's house is still three miles north."That's true Hal, but I'm still turning here."But this is Marv's Liquor Barn"That's right Hal."But your mother-in-law said specifically..."Goodbye Hal."Daisy, Day shzeeee..."

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    Ken Levine is an Emmy winning writer/director/producer/major league baseball announcer. In a career that has spanned over 30 years Ken has worked on MASH, CHEERS, FRASIER, THE SIMPSONS, WINGS, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, BECKER, DHARMA & GREG, and has co-created his own series including ALMOST PERFECT starring Nancy Travis. He and his partner wrote the feature VOLUNTEERS. Ken has also been the radio/TV play-by-play voice of the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres.
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