PORT HURON, Mich. (AP) – In some ways, fictional radio host Tom Bobbajobski is like all of us. Broadcasting from a boat in the middle of nowhere, shouting into the void, hoping someone’s listening.
But not really, not if you don’t want to take it that seriously, said fake radio station “Huron City Radio” creator Daniel Williams.
For the past two months Williams, a St. Clair resident, has been consumed by the show, which is “broadcast” by Bobbajobski on a boat in the middle of Lake Huron by the “kitten state.” The show’s tagline sums it up pretty well: “Fake radio station. Real funny.”
The show includes a drama portion, including the supernatural tale “Raccoon Man”; weather with a woman at the bottom of the lake who, depending on the episode, is half salmon, half soccer mom; call-ins from people trying to sell cursed dolls and individual socks; an advertisement for roadkill fashion and much, much more.
“Some people hate it I’m sure ‘cause it’s so stupid,” Williams told the Port Huron Times Herald.
Williams moved to the area from the United Kingdom about 11 years ago. Growing up, radio drama and comedy shows were always on and he and friends would gather and record stupid shows, “crude and full of profanity,” just to make themselves laugh.
“In some ways ‘Huron City Radio’ is just the spirit of that,” he said.
Williams, who has been involved with Enter Stage Right local theater productions, was working on a film based in Huron City, an agglomeration of Blue Water Area cities and towns, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
After the pandemic hit that was put on the backburner and Williams had three kids at home doing remote learning. There was a vacuum for entertainment with theaters closed and he started writing a radio show based in Huron City. Inspiration came from facets of the area “and almost making it as stupid as I could,” he said.
The show is low-tech and low-maintenance. To say it’s on a shoestring budget, “it’s not even a shoestring” and it’s done through the good will of people who want to be a part of it, Williams said.
Many people involved in Enter Stage Right joined the show but occasionally guests from the United Kingdom can be heard. The only part of the show that isn’t scripted are band interviews, though the question what type of plague would the band want to play through, frogs, locusts or fishflies, is.
Bands didn’t have ways to perform or get their music out as much during the pandemic and Williams wanted to give them a platform. Most of the bands on the show are from the Port Huron and Detroit area.
Including The Poltroons, which Raven Café co-owner Sadaat Hossain is part of.
Hossain and wife Jody Parmann are both fans of the show. Parmann said it playfully makes fun of the area and natives can appreciate it’s cheekiness.
Hossain said the café has a QR code posted in a vestibule to try and garner more listeners for the show, “because it truly is a brilliant and hilarious body of work.”
“I appreciate that the entire cast of the Midnite Hour and all of the musical guests featured are from the area,” he said in a written message. “Without theater during the pandemic, listening to the teleplays was one of the closest things we could get.”
Fans of the podcast “Welcome to Night Vale,” the show “Twin Peaks,” music fans or anyone with a taste for the absurd would do themselves a favor by listening, he said.
Williams said he wakes up around 4:30 a.m., when he has no filter, and writes, getting in around three hours of work. He said he switches off his “critical faculty” to see how stupid it can go and still hopefully be amusing.
“Well if it makes me laugh it could make someone else laugh,” he said.
And a lot of it comes from his perspective as a stranger in the area, even after 11 years. He was surprised when he came to the United States and found out quilting was quite popular, with whole stores dedicated to the craft.
What else is a big thing in the United States? Prisons. So he thought it would be funny to have a prison rehabilitation bit in the show where prisoners put their crimes on quilts.
“It’s not far away from reality,” he said. “Otherwise it’s just not funny enough.”
The show has been listened to in eight countries and 16 states. Although “The Midnite Hour” recorded its last episode, Williams will keep Bobbajobski’s voice in listeners’ ear with “Shore Leave” which will be four episodes where the radio host makes it back to land, but it doesn’t end well, he said.
There will be seasonal specials for Halloween and “definitely Christmas.” He’s working on another show, “Uncle Walter’s Year of Wonders” to help him practice writing stories, which comes out monthly.
There’s a sketch show planned where someone tunes in and catches a couple minutes of a show and he has a bigger project in development where he wants to take everything he’s learned and up the production value. It will be more like a comedy drama but is still in the story development stage, with rehearsing and recording not starting until mid-May.
Williams has learned a lot during this process, how to work with audio software, different elements of storytelling, and the fact maybe he can write.
“And maybe I should keep writing,” he said.
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