The “Best” of Randi Rhodes

by AK - October 18, 2013

You asked for it.. So don’t be mad that it’s long…

Friday Midday bedtime story: The “Best” of Randi Rhodes was the Worst of Randi Rhodes.

Its not going to be a short story… and it’s not going to be pretty either.

Reader beware.

There may be some who disagree with how I remember this era, most noticeably Jim and Randi.. but trust me. This is all absolutely 100% true from my perspective.

I’d gotten the Randi producer gig after they’d courted me behind the scenes for months, finally gotten their original producer kicked off the show, tried unsuccessfully to get Jim the job, and the Program Director convinced me to take it even though I’d declined the first offer.

From day one, I made some good decisions and changes to the show. I’d replaced the random rock song open of the hour with a specific piece of music that set a tone, and used it as the out music at the top of the hour to give Randi the opportunity to “play it out”, hitting the post, and ramping out to the break. I’d done a parody song (“Randi My Queen” to Mississippi Queen by Mountain”). Replaced all her music beds with more current, or classic 80’s rock. And Randi loved it. She affectionately, regularly, proudly professed on air and off that I was, in that jewy NY accent that the used to have before she started posing as a political elitist as “Huh ProDOOOS-huh”

And I’d be ratcheting up the cranks for Randy to shoot down like clay pigeons. I’d hang up on the chronics when they became to chronicky.

Jim didn’t have a job. Well, not one that he got paid for, anyway. Jim was Randi’s “Do-Boy”. He would run to the store. He would be the one to calm her when she was having a freak out over some issue and was pulling out her eye lashes (yes, she really would do that when nervous or fussy). He was the one to do any of the monotonous, daily tasks most have to do so that Queen Cersi, err… Randi could continue to relax and get ready for her show. I really don’t know what they did all day, every day. And I really didn’t want to. My role was producing the radio show. Editing. Production. Prepping stuff she might think was interesting. Dealing with pulling copy for live spots, Carting up promos, etc.

Every time Randi did anything, Jim filmed it. Soon, Jim had hooked up with a guy he met who I think was a listener named Jean-Paul who was a videographer for a local TV station, and got him to start filming things on his own time. Foreigner came in and played live in studio (on an AM station??), Kipp Winger came in and performed live, Jean-Paul and Jim filmed it.

When it came time to do our Camillas House/Center One promotion (usually it started getting talked about late July… it took weeks of producing and editing those audio tapes to be sent off to the production house in order to get them back in time for the Autumn sell) Randi and Jim said they wanted to do a best of video.

“Of what?” asked Mgmt. “Randi sitting in a studio?”

But Jim and Randi convinced Mgmt that they had a plan, to leave it to them, they had it all taken care of. They probably assumed it would fall through the cracks and they wouldnt have to do anything Randi for the charity.

I declined to be involved.

“I’m a radio producer. You want audio edited? I’m your guy. You want parody songs? You want audio pulled from the show? Count me in. But this? No thanks.”

And they were relentless. Trying to guilt me into it. Taking shots at me on and off the air about my being her part-time producer. “Marvin is helping Rick and Suds. Jorge is doing Neil’s” theyd say.

“They’re editing bits together and show audio. It takes them a week or so to do. This aint that.” I’d say.

And now theyre scheduling and event at a nightclub so Randi can sing “Backstabbers” with a band so they can film it. She’s playing the song on the air and singing along with it. I assume it’s me she’s singing about, tho she says it’s this guy, or that guy, or this chick or that. After a week of prep and rehearsals, she did it live. I didn’t attend.

Finally, I just couldn’t take the harassment any longer. I agreed to help as much as I could. That made them really happy, and I was happy I’d made them happy.

So that night, while Randi is on the air, I start asking Jim questions.

“So where we editing?” – “I dunno yet” “Do we have a script/story line/storyboard?” – “Kinda, in my head” “What’s the premise?” – “The Best of Randi” “No, I get that, but are we just throwing a bunch of these random videos together or is there some theme?” – “We’ll worry about that later”

“Uhhh… Jim.. the thing is DUE for printing in 4 weeks.”

First things first we get hooked up with SportsTalk610 Producer Scotty Mac, who’s father is in charge of WLRN TV. He gets us in the door to use the edit bay, and gives us a guy to show us how to use it. Neither of us had done any video editing.

And every day, for the next 3 weeks and 6 days, 7 days a week it went like this:

6:am – Wake
6:30am – Go to WLRN
7a-5p – Edit at WLRN
5p-11 – Prep and Randi’s show
12a Get home, shower, eat, watch TV
2a sleep.

On weekends, we’d just work the 7a-5p shift.

And to keep me going, I’d discovered and purchased the equipment to make and consume large quantities of Cuban Coffee at home. There’s a reason they serve it in those tiny cups. Unaware, I was making a pot and putting it into a travel mug, and a thermos to take with me all day. That and my trusted Marlboro Lights. I was the absolute poster boy for bad health. 6’1, 165lbs, chugging Cuban coffee and smoking a pack of smokes each day. But we were actually getting really creative.

Fist we scripted out the idea that we’d do it like a mini documentary.. where we interview people associated with the radio station, and talk about their memories of Randi, when they met her, what she was like to work with, etc. Then, feature them each doing their jobs on air or off… so that in addition to just Randi, people would wanna see it to watch Neil or Rick&Suds in action etc. So we scheduled a day to go into the studio and do segments with everyone (Chuck Meyers, R&S, NEIL, etc). We even went across the property to get Rick Sanchez who turned out to be super cool and a total ham and a goofball just like us, and a failed attempt at talking to Sally Fitz who I’d mentioned in an earlier bed time story was all for it and loved the idea of the video until we mentioned Neil Rogers and she went to pieces in tears over the horrible rumor about a vibrator that Neil kept pushing and how it was absolutely untrue and how she had to move because her neighbors were all whispering and pointing, but I digress.

Then we outlined the order we’d put stuff in. Start with this, use footage from this, and laid out a full timeline by combing through hours and hours of footage, frame by frame, and marking them all down in order.

TAPE 3 – Foreigner - :09:07:13 - :22:15:04
TAPE22 – NEIL - :04:44:07 - :14:18:01
TAPE31 – BACKSTABBER :01:01:09 - :07:04:11

On and on and on..

Then came the editing. Frame by frame. Second by second. Onto a master tape. Mixing and mastering down the audio. Adding music under segments.

Leaving space to add segments between everything where Randi hosted as the narrator.

It was a grueling, exhausting, effort.

One night, as we were wrapping everything up for the video, and things looked like we were coming to a close of this nightmare or craziness, and we could see the light at the end of the tunnel, it all caught up with me.

Sitting in the control room during the show that Friday night, smoking my 35th Marlboro Light of the day while polishing off the thermos of the Cuban coffee (with a ton of sugar, mind you), I started getting heart palpitations. Which made me panic. Which made me palpitate more. Which sent me into a full cant-breathe, chest-pain, feeling dizzy panic attack. And I asked Jim to drive me to the hospital. He smoked in the car on the way there.

I spent the night in the hospital where they told me to layoff the Cuban coffee for a while, and to eat a “B.R.A.T.” diet because they were pretty sure I had an ulcer too.

2 days later, I was back to editing with Jim.

Through all of it, I’d actually started bonding a little with the guy. I understood him more than I’d had, and we’d worked really hard on this project for Randi. And we’d both learned a ton about each other, from spending time for endless hours in a 4x4 room can like only 2 guys working really hard on a project can.. or, prison.

And Randi seemed pretty happy with the results. So I was back in good graces, and we finished up the project on time, turned it in, and for what we’d started with 4 weeks earlier (which was nothing) to what we’d produced for distribution was a monumental task considering we started with not even a slight understanding of how to produce a video.

And, in the ultimate irony, when it was nearly all finished and ready to print, after more than a month of endless 18 hour days, 4 hour naps, and a trip the the Miami Heart Institute, Jim and Randi decided it would be an absolutely HI-LARI-OUS joke for the audience if when the credits rolled, it read like this:

Produced by: Jim
Directed by: Jim
Edited by: Jim
Music by: Jim
Written by: Jim
Scripted by: Jim
Best Boy: Jim
Gaffer: Jim

Backstabber, indeed.

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