PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

The RFC Flashback: Episode 69

We have a bit of a bittersweet flashback today. May 2009 was “Mark Beckner Month” on Radio Free Charleston. Mark is a long-time friend and was a fixture on the radio incarnation of RFC as a member of both Go Van Gogh and The Tunesmiths.

Mark is still making new music, and we hope to bring you some as soon as we get our hands on it, but as many of you know, Mark’s bandmate in Go Van Gogh just passed away a few weeks ago, and we still miss him a lot. But we are presenting these shows in order, and even though we recently posted the unedited version of the film used in this show, here it is as we brought it to you back in May, 2009.

I had a wealth of archival material and new video featuring Mark, so I decided that, as a way to plug his “return” show with his band, Hitchcock Circus, I would devote an entire month of shows to Mister Mark Beckner. We kicked off what turned out to be his homecoming with this truncated version of the Go Van Gogh rockumentary, Go Van Gogh: The Sad Truth.

This film was directed by Timothy Rock, the bassist for GVG. Stephen Beckner showed it during a movie night at his house, and I started wondering why it seemed familiar. Then it got to the scene where I’m crouched over a toilet blaming the band for the RFC radio show getting cancelled, and it all came back.

It turns out I was the cameraman and was the offscreen interviewer in addition to my cameo as myself. I have this bad habit of forgetting really cool things that I’ve done.

I was able to get a copy of the film from Stephen, and trimmed it a bit for time so I could present it as an episode of RFC. This is a rare episode of the show which was not named after a T Shirt for the simple reason, it does not include a “host segment,” instead empoloying a simple voice-over.  This is also one of the few RFCs that doesn’t have the opening theme, and with this 2014 remastering, I corrected one shocking omission–after the end credits and remastering card, I put the “Ya-Hooo” guy back in.

The original production notes can be found HERE. You can see the uncut version of Go Van Gogh: The Sad Truth at this link, along with a bounty of other vintage Go Van Gogh video hijinks.

Update On The Bakery, The Air Fryer and More!

ar-170929934-jpgimageversionsoftcroparticlepicturesThe PopCulteer
September 22 , 2017

Several weeks ago I wrote about the fate of The Bakery, Charleston’s music and arts incubator space that’s located in the building that used to house the Purity Bread Factory. The loss of a major tenant and the need for vital repairs had left them in dire financial straits, with a possiblity of them having to close their doors by the end of the year.

Now we have some great news. All of the small spaces that were available to rent have been snapped up. Just this week it was announced a non-profit has been formed to convert the space formerly occupied by Children’s Theatre of Charleston into an all-ages venue, eventually with a capacity of 500 audience members.

This is fantastic news because it not only guarantees that the building is rented nearly at full capacity, but it fills two voids in the Charleston music scene: We don’t have a reliable all-ages venue, and we don’t have a mid-size venue for touring acts that are too big for a local bar, but too small for The Clay Center or Municipal Auditorium.

Kudos to Chris Ojeda, Dennis Strom, Wesley Eary and Jason (Roadblock) Robinson for stepping up and forming The Charleston Music & Arts Collective, a non-profit to finance the venue, which will be called “The Bakery.” If you want to chip in and help support Charleston’s music scene, you can visit a crowdfunding page they’ve set up at IndieGoGo/Generosity. Rewards for your donations include admission to an upcoming concert by Byzantine, a compilation CD of musical acts that record or rehease at The Bakery, a T Shirt, or several levels of custom-created art with your name that will adorn the walls of The Bakery.

This is a great way and a great time to step up and support the local scene.

The Air Fryer

6999263_r_z002aLast week I promised that I would write about my new Air Fryer. The problem is that I’ve been producing radio and writing PopCult and magazine articles about stuff all week, and it’s hard for me to muster the enthusiasm that my nifty new kitchen gadget deserves.  This thing looks like some sort of space-pod from a science fiction movie, and it cooks your food with a torrent of super-heated air, sort of like a convection oven on crack. For me, it’s perfectly duplicated the effect of deep-frying, without the added calories and mess of using cooking oil. And clean up is a snap, since every part that comes in contact with food is non-stick.

To make it brief, about a month ago I impulse-bought an Air Fryer at Kohl’s after reading about them on Facebook and finding myself with a ton of discount coupons. I picked up the Power XL Air Fryer, which is apparently the one they sell on infomercials on TV.

It’s a spectacular machine. Mine works perfectly. I’ve seen some online reviews of air fryers that trash them and say that they don’t cook evenly or quick enough. Those reviews are of other brands.

I’ve used my Power XL Air Fryer on a variety of frozen foods (chicken tenders, fish filets, french fries, pizza rolls, pretzels, cheddar biscuits, etc.) and it’s handled each one perfectly. These items cook up with way less oil (none, in many cases), and way fewer calories. I’ve also used mine on sweet corn and I intended to experiment with all sorts of other fresh foods.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Show Of The Week

I don’t really have time to compile Stuff To Do for you this week, so be sure to hit the Gazette-Mail interactive calendar to see what’s going on. But I do want to plug this cool showing that’s happening tomorrow evening…




And that is it for this week. Check PopCult for all of our regular features, and be sure to check out The AIR, which I’ve been plugging the crap out of this week because we’ve started our NEW FALL SEASON. All week long not only have we been bringing you brand-new episodes of all of your favorite shows, but we’ve also been paying tribute to the famous TV Guide Magazine Fall Preview covers from years past. You can see them just by scrolling down the main PopCult page. You can hear encore plays of all of this week’s new music programs Saturday, starting at 7 AM on The AIR.

tvg-air-lolo-9-21Friday we wrap up NEW FALL SEASON week on The AIR, West Virginia’s for-reals, no kiddin’, most-listened-to internet radio station as of this writing. All week long we have featured brand-new episodes of our most popular shows! Friday is no exception as we present new episodes of Radio Coolsville and The Third Shift and celebrate the return of the legendary Sydney Fileen and Sydney’s Big Electric Cat after many months away. Check it out at the website, or on this nifty embedded radio player…

After our Friday morning encores of this week’s new episodes of Radio Free Charleston International, Word Association with Lee & Rudy, Marking Out and Life Speaks to Michele Zirkle we dip into the AIR music rotation for some early-afternoon tunes and then at 2 PM, it’s time for a brand-new episode of Radio Coolsville, with DJ Betty Rock. We’ve got a fresh batch of Radio Coolsville, which comes to us from our friends at WMUL (as does Marking Out) and we think it’s the perfect lead-in for Sydney’s Big Electric Cat.

At 3 PM Sydney Fileen returns to the AIRwaves with her first brand-new episode of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat in several months. Haversham Recording Institute has been overwhelmed in recent months by what we in the industry call “paying work,” but we finally have the team back in full force and Sydney hasn’t missed a beat. This week’s show is filled with sets of music that show off some fun wordplay, and we’ve been told that next week’s episode, which is number 25, will bring a special treat.

Continue reading…

9-20-fall-preview-logoIt’s Day four of our NEW FALL SEASON on The AIR, West Virginia’s for-reals most-listened-to internet radio station as of this writing. All week long we have featured brand-new episodes of our most popular shows!  Thursday sees only one brand-new show on The AIR, but it takes “brand-new” to a new level, as Radio Free Charleston International presents two hours of newly-released music. Check it out at the website, or on this nifty embedded radio player…

Every track you’ll hear on RFC International this week comes from a record released in the last two months. some of the songs are new versions of old tunes, but they’re all newly-recorded.

You can hear Radio Free Charleston International at 3 PM, following an encore of this week’s new episode of Radio Free Charleston at 2 PM.

On RFC International you’ll hear new music from Gary Numan, Ringo Starr, Foo Fighters, the former Cat Stevens, Weezer, Gogol Bordello, Living Colour, Sparks, Tori Amos, The Waterboys and more. Much of this music is so new that it may well not have shown up on your musical radar yet.

We also have a bounty of tracks by new artists that you probably have never heard of before. Think of this week’s RFC International as a huge sampler mixtape of new music. Check out the playlist…

RFCI 041

rfci-june-variant-004Gary Numan  “If I Said”
Ringo Starr  “Back Off Boogaloo”
Foo Fighters  “Dirty Water”
Yusef  “The Laughing Apple”
St. Vincent  “Los Angeles”
Greg Howe  “Push It On”
The Contortionist  “Reimagined”
Weezer  “Beach Boys”
The Foxholes  “Andromeda Blues”
The Used  “Over and Over Again”
Living Colour  “Preachin’ Blues”
El Goodo  “It Makes Me Wonder”
Dinner  “Don’t Belong”
Sparks  “Scandanavian Design”
DYGL  “Boys On TV”
88 Fingers Louie  “All The Right Words”
The Preatures  “Yananda”
The Woggles  “Tally Ho”
Johnny Lang  “Signs”
Thirty Seconds To Mars  “Walk On Water”
Mosquitos  “Mexican Dust”
Tori Amos  “Chocolate Song”
Secure Escape  “Obsession Addiction”
The Waterboys  “Morning Came Too Soon”
Brendon Small  “The Agenda”
Gogol Bordello  “Did It All”

You can listen to Radio Free Charleston International Thursday at 3 PM, with replays Friday at 7 AM and 10 PM, Saturday at Noon, and Sunday at 1 AM and 10 PM. That’s plenty of chances for you to hear what’s new in the world of music.

air-fall-preview-wednesdayOur NEW FALL SEASON continues on The AIR, West Virginia’s for-reals most-listened-to internet radio station. All week long we will have brand-new episodes of our most popular shows! Wednesday is a madhouse on The AIR as we bring you brand-new episodes of FIVE programs, two of which have been on hiatus for nearly a year! Check it out at the website, or on this nifty embedded radio player…

Continuing a week of premieres that will see new episodes of every one of our late-afternoon music programs plus many of other talk and comedy shows, we are thrilled on Wednesday to offer up brand-new editions of Life Speaks to Michele Zirkle, Beatles Blast, Curtain Call, Word Association with Lee & Rudy and The Comedy Vault.

This is all part of our big fall initiative that will see new editions of all your favorite shows for at least a month before we start filling up timeslots with Halloween programming, then go back to reruns for a while, using the holidays as an excuse.

evans-picOur premiere episodes begin at 1:30 PM with Life Speaks to Michele Zirkle. This episode features the first part of Michele’s interview with Patricia Evans (left), a celebrated life coach and the best-selling author of The Verbally Abusive Relationship, which is closing in on one million books sold. Michele credits Evans’ earlier book, The Verbally Abusive Man, for much of her success in finding her own path to success.  Dealing with verbal abuse is a very important subject and Michele’s interview with Ms. Evans is a real eye-opener.

Michele will be holding a workshop on recognizing and dealing with verbal abuse Thursday, September 21, at Kanawha County Public Library in Charleston from 6 to 7 PM.  You can hear a replay of Life Speaks Wednesday night at 7 PM and Friday morning at 11 AM.

At 2 PM things turn bad, sort of. Beatles Blast, hosted by your PopCulteer, observes their 13th episode by presenting an hour of some of the unluckiest covers of Beatles songs ever recorded. Kicking off with David Bowie’s unfortunate take on “Across The Universe,” the show continues with celebrities who think they can sing, metal bands who don’t quite understand what they’re supposed to be doing and easy-listening vocal groups who should just say “no.” And we won’t even go into the abomination that is “Looney Tunes Sings The Beatles.”

There is entertainment value here, just not musical entertainment value.

spongebob-squarepants-ocr_cover_sq-cfbb337635edbcfbfe28475cb71b0bd8cb21b1b8-s500-c853 PM sees a special edition of Curtain Call, hosted by Mel Larch. This week Curtain Call presents a preview of the cast album of the upcoming Broadway show, SpongeBob Squarepants: The Musical.

Featuring the original cast performing songs written by They Might Be Giants, David Bowie, Aerosmith, Cyndi Lauper, Jonathan Coulton and more, this show is a huge surprise, with a great story, terrific songs and energetic performances. This may be the great Broadway musical based on a a cartoon about sea life ever produced. Sorry Ariel.

Curtain Call replays Thursday at 7 AM and 8 PM.

1200px-george_romero_66eme_festival_de_venise_mostraAt 7:30 PM Wednesday it’s the long-awaited return of Word Association with Lee & Rudy, back after eleven months off! In this rambling and unrehearsed half-hour, Mr. Lee Harrah and yours truly discuss all manner of pop culture topics with no preparation whatsoever. In fact, I never tell Lee what the topic for each show is until after we roll tape. Luigi, our official timer, returns to make sure we don’t run long.

Tonight we discuss The Father, the late George Romero (left), and his influence on film. This episode will replay Friday morning at 9 AM and Saturday night at 8 PM.

Also returning with a new episode after many months in reruns is The Comedy Vault at 11 PM, which presents an hour of Lenny Bruce, recorded at Berkley.

There you have it, a full day of cool new programming on The AIR. Go nuts listening to it, folks!

More New Cool Radio Shows For You!

air-logo-tv-guide-coverOur NEW FALL SEASON continues on The AIR, West Virginia’s most-listened-to internet radio station. All week long we will have brand-new episodes of our most popular shows! Check it out at the website, or on this particularly swell embedded radio player…

Continuing a week of premieres that will see new episodes of every one of our late-afternoon music programs, we are thrilled to offer up brand-new editions of Radio Free Charleston, Ska Madness and The Swing Shift.

At 10 AM and 10 PM, Radio Free Charleston delivers its usual mix of new and classic tracks from Charleston-connected bands, hosted by yours truly. Check out the playlist…


rfc-logo-julyThe Heavy Editors   “Heavy”
4OHM MONO  “A Lunatic High”
Byzantine  “Verses of Violence”
Bobaflex  “Moon And Shadows”
Scarlet Revolt  “Wait”
Hawthorne Heights  “VANDEMONIUM”
Speedsuit  “Riddle”
Red Audio  “Robotomy”
The Science Fair Explosion  “Coinslot Part One”
The Science Fair Explosion  “Coinslot Part Two”
Strawfyssh  “Netted Fish”
Payback’s A Bitch  “Nut Up or Shut Up.”
David Synn “The Future Is History”

At 2 PM our colleague from Haversham Recording Institute, Dexter Checkers, offers up a new hour of Ska Madness for your listening and dancing pleasure. Here’s what Dexter has to play…

Ska Madness 012

ska-madnessThe Toasters  “Don’t Let The Bastards Grind You Down”
The Bodysnatchers  “Let’s Do Rock Steady”
The Selector  “Three Minute Hero”
The Specials  “Rat Race”
Rico  “Sea Cruise”
Save Ferris  “Come On Eileen”
Reel Big Fish  “Take On Me”
Skankin’ Pickle  “Cup Flipper”
Bad Manners  “Inner London Violence”
The Hot Knives  “Turkey Stomp”
Big 5  “Walking On Sunshine”
The Riffs  “Peter Gunn”
King Hammond  “The King Hammond Shuffle”
The Skatalites  “Christine Keeler”
Prince Buster  “Flying Ska”
Dillinger  “Rock To The Music”
Madness  “Prospects”

Tuesday at 3 PM, I return to the microphone again to host an all-new hour of The Swing Shift, and this one’s loaded with brand-new Swing Music discoveries. Just look…

The Swing Shift 029

swingshift-player-logoBig Bad Voodoo Daddy  “Jump Jive and Wail”
Louis Prima Jr.  “New Orleans”
Tomaccos  “Ugly Pretty Things”
Adriano Baltolba Orchestra  “Shame, Shame, Shame”
Reno Youth Jazz Orchestra  “Smack Dab In The Middle”
Lady J and Her Bada Bing Band  “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby”
Finn Ziegler  “Ribald In Rhythm”
Woody Herman  “Sidewalks of Cuba”
The Swinging Dice  “Rhythm Off The Shelf”
The Peppi Moreale Trio  “The One I Love Belongs To Somebody Else”
Noel Akchote  “A Smooth One”
Swing Republic  “Searchin’ The Desert For The Blues”
Janet Klein and Her Parlor Boys  “Sing To Me”
The Swing Shift Big Band  “Sho Nuff”

Only two days into the week, and we’ve already loaded you up with tons of great new music programs. It continues tomorrow with more cool stuff, including new episodes of Life Speaks to Michele Zirkle, Curtain Call and Beatles Blast!


The NEW FALL SEASON on The AIR Starts Today!

air-previewBeginning today on The AIR, West Virginia’s most-listened-to internet radio station will have brand-new episodes of our most popular shows! Check it out at the website, or on this particularly swell embedded radio player…

Kicking off a week of premieres that will see new episodes of every one of our late-afternoon music programs, we are thrilled to offer up bright, shiny, new editions of Harrah’s Hard & Heavy and Prognosis.

Our long national nightmare of rerun season on The AIR is over, and now audiences can once again thrill and delight to brand-new episodes of the coolest radio shows ever crafted by humans. Just look at these highlights…

proghhhAt 2 PM, Lee Harrah returns with his first new episode of Harrah’s Hard & Heavy in 2017. It’s been a rough year for Lee, with the passing of his mother in January, and it’s great to have him back in the saddle for HHH and also for Word Association with Lee & Rudy, which returns with a new show Wednesday. This week Lee introduces part one of a two-part special that brings you live performances by Iron Maiden. If you know Lee, you know that this is his favorite Metal band. If you don’t know Lee, you will learn that fact.

At 3 PM we have our first new episode of Prognosis in months. Haversham Recording Institute in London, where this and some of our other shows originate, has been swamped with work, due in large part to their being pressed into service for international news organizations in the wake of the terror attacks in the UK.

Now they are ready to return, but Prognosis host, Herman Linte, was still working on what we politely call “paying gigs,” so for one week only Prognosis will be presented by Nigel Pye, who is familiar to listeners of The AIR from his Psychedlic Shack series. Since Psychedelic Shack is still being retooled to fit into a new one-hour format, Nigel decided to step behind Herman’s microphone this week to present classic albjms from two bands that qualify as both Psychedlic and Progessive Rock, Tomorrow (featuring a pre-YES Steve Howe) and The Nice (featuring a pre-ELP Keith Emerson). This is a powerfully cool show. We are assured that Mr. Linte will return next week.

At 5 PM today we are expecting a new episode of Marking Out, covering the world of professional wrestling with BelVillain and Betty. This show originates out of WMUL in Huntington.

At 6 PM The New Music Show will add several new tunes to the mix, including tracks from Byzantine, The Heavy Editors, Bobaflex, Todd Rundgren, The Foo Fighters and more.

Our evening talk line-up will remain in rerun mode for a couple more weeks, before we shake things up and move things around.

Tuesday should bring new episodes of Radio Free Charleston, Ska Madness and The Swing Shift. Wednesday we expect new episodes of Life Speaks to Michele Zirkle, Beatles Blast, Curtain Call, Woord Association with Lee & Rudy and The Comedy Vault. Thursday will see a new edition of Radio Free Charleston International. Friday we expect to bring you new installments of Radio Coolsville, Sydney’s Big Electric Cat and The Third Shift.

It’s an exciting time to be alive, if for no other reason than you can listen to new episodes of your favorite shows on The AIR!



This week’s jump-starting art is a painting of my lovely wife, Mel Larch, based on a photo I took a few years ago. I decided to update this with some paint effects and color play, and I didn’t tell her about it, planning instead to surprise her with it when she sees it here. That’s the kind of thing you do when you’re still deeply in love 27 years after you start dating.

You may all go “Awwwww” now.  Click the image to see a bigger version.

Sunday Evening Video: Svetlana Revisited

uf_bahr-iris_071307This week we are re-presenting a video I first posted here in PopCult back in May, 2011. This is Svetlana.

Svetlana is a Russian prostitute and madam working in Los Angeles, and she has many fun adventures in Hollywood. Actually, Svetlana is a character created by Actress/Author/Comedian Iris Bahr, and after appearing on skits on the old Marc Maron show, she wound up with her own show on HD Net (which is now called AXS TV, and doesn’t carry cool shows like this anymore).  With very sharp writing and terrific acting, it was a very well-crafted show, and it’s also good, raunchy fun.

Bahr has been around for a few years, appearing in everything from Star Trek videogames to sitcoms like The Drew Carey Show and Friends.  her first book, “Dork Whore” is a highly acclaimed account of her travels in Asia.  After Svetlana ended with its second season, she went on to star in a YouTube series about an ever-pregnant redneck, Rae Lynn’s Preggo Tips. Bahr is currently touring with her third solo stage show, I Lost You There.

Above you see the pilot for Svetlana. You can jump over to Vimeo to watch both seasons and more comedy clips by Bahr. It’s a shame that Svetlana was cancelled in the purge of cutting-edge programs that followed the conversion of HD Net into AXS TV.  This was a quality show. I liked this show so much that I thought it was worth a second look. It’s hard to believe I first posted this more than six years ago.



The RFC Flashback: Episode 68

montage-68Radio Free Charleston 68, “Axiom Starliner Shirt,” dates from April, 2009, and we bring it to you once again.  This episode of your favorite local music, animation and film show featured music from Jeff Ellis and Marcie Bullock. We also had the first edition of The Radio Free Charleston Financial Report, as well as the debut of the cutest li’l cute cartoon show in the history of cuteness, “Cuticles.” neither of those segments ever appeared in the show again!

Host segments for this show were shot late one Sunday evening in the parking lot at the Nitro Marketplace shopping center. “Why there?” You ask? I honestly have no idea. It seemed like a good idea at the time. The green ball cap seemed like a good idea, too, but it sure looks stupid on screen. The shirt was from the movie, “Wall-E.” This episode also includes the ultimate onscreen URL joke, in case you were wondering which show that one was in. You can find the original production notes HERE.

We recorded Jeff way back in the Autumn of 2007, at the unity open mic. The footage was used in another music program for The Gazz, but by the time 2009 rolled around, we felt it was time to present our mix and edit of Jeff’s song, “In Harm’s Way.” Closing the show is Marcie Bullock, who was from Huntingon but is now living in Memphis and occasionally Disneyworld. Marcie, backed ably by The Steve Himes Connection, treats us to her soulful, bluesy original song, “Can’t Undo,” from her CD. You can read my review of her CD here, and you can order it from CD Baby.