Back in 2007, my life was going through a pretty awkward transition. Just when I was getting in the groove of being out of graduate school and beginning my career, the company I had worked for downsized and let me go. It was hard to deal with for sure, but so was driving over 1 hour each way per day to make it to that dumb job.
Because my commute was so long, I was looking for ways to entertain myself to occupy my time. My friend, Jeff, suggested that I listen to The Best Show on WFMU podcast. I downloaded a few episodes, and tried to listen during my commute, but really couldn’t connect right away with the show. It’s really difficult to describe what the show is, especially since it’s really evolved a lot since I’ve been listening. It’s a comedy show, but there’s also a lot of focus on music, media, and current events.
When I was home, unemployed, looking for jobs, I started listening a little more carefully, and I started enjoying the show. It also helped that one of my best friends (Jeff) was a fan of the show and that my brother (Dom) was also getting into it at the time too.
The first episode I remember listening to in its entirety was one where Tom (Scharpling) goes on a tirade about the film experience, Grindhouse. If I’m not mistaken, in that same 3 hour show, Tom had a topic on the table called “C’mon, guys” where people would call in with examples of things that push the boundaries of reality to the point where you want to say to them, “c’mon, guys.” Tom’s responsiveness to these ideas and his comedic timing was something that really helped mold my evolving sense of humor.
After that, I was hooked. And I started finding a lot of Tom’s nuances hilarious. One thing I loved was his “who’s this?” when responding to calls, and I thought it was the greatest thing on the planet when he hung up on people and let out a high pitched, “bye” that almost sounded like a pre-recorded, “huh!” every time.
I filled out the online form to become a Friend of Tom and indicated that these were my favorite parts of the show, and, in the mail, Tom sent me a “Friends of Tom” official card; eerily, his handwriting is almost identical to mine, and, when I found this in my mailbox, it made me question whether I wrote it or not. Even now, as I look at this thing, I can’t believe I didn’t write it.
Around that time, social media surrounding the show started taking off. I started connecting with other Friends of Tom through twitter and facebook. I even got to meet some FoTs back in 2011 (Actually, I briefly met Tom back then too, but we didn’t take a picture together).
It’s been really awesome being connected to such a great community of people. It’s really one of the major reasons I love social media.
Tom recently announced that he’ll be wrapping up his final episode of the show after a 13 year run. The last show will be tomorrow night. I have faith that Tom will find a way to turn this thing that so many people love into something that can provide him a sustainable living (he has done the show for free all these years).
I know Tom isn’t big on the eulogy type of things regarding the show, but, for me, it’s worth mentioning a few great things I related to over the years.
One was Tom’s description of Olive Garden’s salad. Back in 2007, on a show, Tom went on a tirade about how crazy people are for caring that Olive Garden’s salad was a deal. He went on to describe the salad as iceberg lettuce with one shredded carrot per cubic ton of salad, the dressing as pure vinegar, and the breadsticks as “Wonder bread.” I really love this so much!
On a more recent show, Tom helped me get obsessed with tomato sauce made by Jon Bon Jovi’s dad. When a caller mentioned that Jon Bon Jovi’s dad made sauce, Tom’s response was something like “mmm, can’t wait to try the sauce made by the man who taught his son how to make cut-rate, mediocre music; my mouth is watering.” I got so obsessed with trying this sauce just because of this five minute call that my wife bought me some of this ridiculously priced stuff to shut me up about it.
I’ve never been big on going back and re-listening to old shows, but it is nice to know that hundreds of hours of the show are out there and that it’ll always be there for me when I want to hear it.