In case you didn’t get enough blasts from Brinke Guthrie’s past on Monday, here’s another chapter from his storied history: his stint as Banana Man while working for a Cincinnati radio station in the late 1980s (“way before this hack,” he notes). I’ll let him explain:
Our morning show’s theme was “Those guys are bananas.” One of them wore a furry banana costume in the TV spot. So one morning, our programming director calls me at like 8am on a Saturday, and the conversation went like this, word for word:
Him: “Brinker? Say … if we had a superhero mascot called Banana Man, what kind of voice would you do for him?”
Me (sound asleep, but using a huge Ted Baxter voice, and improvising on the spot): “Um … Greetings, citizens! Banana Man is here. Be looking for me … because I’ll be looking for you!” [That tag line would become my signature phrase, but I didn’t know that yet.]
He says okay and hangs up. I roll back over, think nothing more of it.
Monday morning he hands me the suit you see in these photos and says, “You’re the B-Man!”
So we did a promotion we’d ask listeners to send us a card telling us where they’d be Thursdays at 4pm. And if you were there, and you had a radio on with the station playing, and any kind of sign that said “Q102,” I’d hand you 5K in cash on the spot. Fifty $100 bills, wham wham wham.
Every Thursday (a key day in radio ratings — all big contests usually drop on Thursdays) we’d go all sorts of places. One time we went college lecture hall where the prof said, “Stop the film, there’s a Banana Man here!” Another time we went to a young lady’s house. She was like 20 with five kids already, had no money, poor part of town, and we peer in her window, and there she is, clutching her radio while sitting on the couch with her kids…
She was waiting for me.
We burst into her house. Like they do on Cops.
“GREETINGS, CITIZEN! BANANA MAN IS HERE WITH MONEY FOR YOU!!”
People were crying. It was great. Everyone was called “Citizen,” because everyone was equal in Banana Man’s eyes. If I knew your name but not the other guy, he’d feel bad. So everyone was “Citizen.”
On non-Thursdays, I’d waddle (you waddle in a banana suit) into some public place with $100 in ones, and just throw handfuls up in the air, to reinforce the illusion. The local food court downtown where all the secretaries went — in I go. A local eatery where the competition station was having a luncheon — anywhere. Even in our corporate offices — right into the CEO’s office. The admin looks shocked — “You can’t go in there!” I go in anyway. He’s meeting with the head of the radio division. “Greetings, corporate citizens!” He cracks up, and I go into my act. Toss a few ones at ’em, then out the door.
I had billboards, my own theme song (I stole the Elvis intro theme from his Vegas shows). I got chased around when I’d wear the suit in my VW convertible.
These photos show me at the Reds’ Riverfront Stadium offices, and also giving Bengals coach Sam Wyche a $1000 check for his homeless shelter. And that fellow looking dubiously at me is my pal at the time, Richard Marx.
Bigger than the Beatles.
I think it’s safe to say you won’t find any job histories like that on some lame-ass site like LinkedIn.
Meanwhile: New ESPN column today, about BP caps. Enjoy.
Blue meanies: “With a 4-2 home loss to the Bruins last night, the Blues finally lost a regulation game in their home jersey this season,” writes Ethan Kassel. “They had been 16-0-4 in that uniform. The loss leaves the Rangers’ Winter Classic jersey (2-0-0) and the Sabres’ third jersey (4-0-0) as the only NHL uniforms that have yet to suffer a regulation loss this season.”
He goes on:
Other uniforms that have performed well are the Sharks’ third (9-1-0), the Red Wings’ home (25-2-1), and the Rangers’ third (6-1-0). The Canadiens’ home jersey and Hurricanes’ away jersey have each been defeated eight times in OT or a shootout, tying for the lead in that category. The Oilers’ road uniform has the most losses overall, at 9-20-2.
The most successful away uniform is that of the Flyers, at 20-9-2. The only winless designs are the Flyers’ Winter Classic jersey (0-2-0) and the Kings’ pruple heritage jersey (0-1-2). The Islanders are 1-5-2 in their awful third jersey, while the Panthers are 1-2-1 in theirs. All other uniforms have won at least twice.
Uni Watch News Ticker: New York Times Magazine editor Hugo Lindgren, an old pal/colleague, has informed me that the mag is holding a little contest to design some Jeremy Lin gear that doesn’t suck. Yes, this is very much in keeping with the law requiring the Times to be at least two weeks late on any pop-cultural trend, but whatever — Hugo went out of his way to tell me, “This is something we’d love for your Uni Watch community to know about and participate in,” so take a second to feel flattered and then get crackin’. Just don’t submit any designs for a suit of armor with a dent in it — pretty sure that idea’s been taken. … Utah basketball wore 1976-77 throwbacks the other night. “That’s the season when they won the WAC championship,” notes Landon Fretery. … Some interesting background on Syracuse basketball wearing blue uniforms (from Rick DiRubbo). … The votes have been tallied and Indiana now has an official plaid. … Check out this headgear being worn by Oscar Robertson (good find by Nick Houser). … Missouri’s new football uniforms won’t be unveiled until April 14, but someone has already created a blog about them (from Rob Bratney). … The San Jose Earthquakes are using a series of retro photos for their season tickets (from Kenn Tomasch). … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: New logo apparently in the works for TCU. … Annals of Bizarre Uni Violations, Chapter 371: A high school girls’ swimming team has been retroactively stripped of its county championship due to improper shaving. And no, I don’t know which body part was shaved, so please don’t ask (from Benji Boyter). … New Euro 2012 home kit for England. … Spring training is also taking place in Japan, and the Yomiuri Giants have a pitcher in camp named Kyohei Ohdachi, who’s wearing No. 016 (from Jeremy Brahm). … John Hasson lives in Wilmington, Delaware, where he spotted these tremendous Notre Dame- and Villanova-themed cement trucks (or, in John’s words, “the FUCKING COOLEST cement trucks I have ever seen”). … Look, I know education budgets don’t allocate much funding for design, but come on. Timmy Steffes spotted that yesterday in Virginia. The school’s teams are called the Ponys. Lame. … New Adidas shoes for NASCAR’s Brad Keselowski (from Adam Jackson). … Edward Kendrick has created a spreadsheet showing all the alternate NBA uniforms worn so far this season. … Florida baseball’s orange sanitaries were the subject of a bit of commentary during the broadcast of last night’s game (from John Carton). … Yesterday’s Ticker included a link to a hockey jersey with Velcro-seamed sleeves, so the jersey could be easily shed in case of a fight. “This modification was previously done by Basil McRae of the Minnesota North Stars in the 1989-90 season,” says Fred Teigen. “The league outlawed the practice after a large brawl in Chicago when McRae got into three fights. I own the jersey McRae wore that night. It’s been in my collection since shortly after that brawl.” … Oooh, check out this Chargers picnic set. … David Trett was poking around at a thrift shop in Chapel Hill and discovered a foot locker with a cool old UGA logo.