You know him as NEWMAN, the sweet-talking charmer and button-pusher of PST’s weekday contribution to society, "The PST Wake Up Crew".
But beneath the caffeine-induced chipper demeanor and killer sense of style is a timid and humble artiste with a keen eye for irony and argyle. With the stipulation that I avoid discussing his failed attempts to garner a starring role on an unnamed award-winning cable drama, I was permitted the opportunity to communicate with Newman over the Internet, and here is that exchange:
ME: I figured the best way to get the ball rolling, is by stating, “You are Newman, PST Wake Up Crew producer.” But, who are you REALLY?
NEWMAN: Dick Whitman
ME: Ok. Hmm. Well, Dick Whitman is Don Draper, but really the actor Jon Hamm, you do know that, right? Well... I’ll just take your word for it. So... like, who exactly are your people?.... I mean, either your ethnic group, or your “peeps”. Or both.
NEWMAN: I’m not sure, but Grandmothers seem to really like me
ME: Interesting. Well, mainly because of your first job….
NEWMAN: Bagging groceries at Grand Union and proceeding to run the entire company into the ground.
ME: Yeah, that’s really sad, actually. They’ve since shut their doors and become a gym. Well, moving on, what is your preferred condiment on a cold sandwich … and do you even like cold sandwiches?
NEWMAN: Favorite condiment is lots of mayonnaise.
ME: And to follow-up, what is your preferred bread of choice?
NEWMAN: …whole wheat because I believe it counteracts the massive amounts of mayonnaise I put on the sandwich.
ME: What was your favorite subject in school?
NEWMAN: German. I took 8 years of it and I can only say “Bless You” after someone sneezes . . . which I am pretty sure I knew before I took the 8 years of classes.
ME: Quite a useful talent. Well, do you have a hidden talent?
NEWMAN: I can curl my tongue into a ‘W,’ which on the range of hidden talents, is somewhere right below belching the alphabet.
ME: Can you actually belch on command? Or do you have to be inspired? Like, inspired by a can of really fizzy soda.
NEWMAN: No, inspiration needed. I can in fact, belch on command.
ME: Can you belch whole words, or just the alphabet?
NEWMAN: Neither. Words are too long, as is the letter ‘W.’
ME: Okay, let’s say it’s a quiet night at home and quiet on the social front, you’re finally sitting down to play catch up with your TiVo… what are you looking forward to watching?
NEWMAN: Fringe. I TiVo it because it airs after House, but House is so great if I were to watch it directly after House I would think Fringe sucks. However, by itself it is mildly entertaining.
ME: When I look at PST’s playlist, I noticed that a lot of our more popular selections are people who either competed on or won American Idol. Since the next season is getting started in the coming months, any forecasts on what would make the next great Idol? More of the same types of people who’ve already won?
NEWMAN: No, I believe once the show gets down to five contestants they will be surprised to find out they must form a band which will, in turn, be managed by Diddy.
ME: Any thoughts to joining the ranks of basic cable reality-TV programming?
NEWMAN: I would only consider a non-basic cable reality show.
ME: I often get asked by listeners about the Wake Up Crew, and many questions about you. Like “What’s Newman like?” and “What’s Newman look like?” and “What position does Newman like?”. I know, can you believe that? I have to say that those are things I get asked most in public after the usual, “Are you really that short?” and “Are those really your lashes?” Then it’s almost always all about you. But the thing I’ve been getting asked more often lately is, “I know Newman isn’t single, but what is his type?”….
NEWMAN: I’m flattered and kind of disturbed. I am only interested in girls whose first name starts with a “K” sound. I have dated: Kari, Carol, Karen, Caroline and now married to Christine. This, by the way, is 100% true.
ME: What is in your iPod that would surprise people?
NEWMAN: This is not a joke answer, I honestly have Britney Spears “Everytime” on my iPod.
ME: More specifically, what is in your iPod that would make someone feel compelled to throw your iPod out the window of a moving vehicle?
NEWMAN: Well, I have a few podcast of a show where chefs talk about cooking. They are great until you put the iPod on shuffle and you get five songs or so and then a two hour podcast.
ME: Good call. In fact, I would totally throw you out of a moving vehicle over that. Although, do you think you could handle being thrown out of a moving vehicle? Like, if it was going at a certain speed? Or if you were properly padded? Or if it happened while rounding the bend above a really pretty grassy meadow?
NEWMAN: I believe I am quite aerodynamic and would most likely float softly to the ground.
ME: Well, how ‘bout this scenario… you inadvertently send an impolite scathing email to someone, and instantly regret it as soon as you hit the SEND button. Do you make the pre-emptive strike and follow up with an apology or an explanation? Or are you more likely to devise an elaborate strategy for hacking into their email, or breaking into their office computer?
NEWMAN: I would just kill them.
ME: I thought as much. Any tips on the best apparel to wear in that situation? I mean, obviously, black. But do you have any functional fashion tips for the would-be breaking-and-entering or average criminal type, in general? Cargo pants maybe? Plus, like you’re probably thinking, I may get busted, better have a good outfit for mug shots, right?
NEWMAN: Face paint is very in right now. I would say have those black smudges under your eyes like football players do. Also, you want a material that can breathe, so steer clear of wools.
ME: You’ve often, both publicly and privately, and occasionally not even out loud, proclaimed yourself as an enthusiast of Tom Bergeron’s work. Let’s pretend he died or was extradited to a communist state with terrible human rights violations, and you got his job as host of Dancing with the Stars. What would change? Either about the show, or the competition itself. Or about the format. Or about the dancing. Or about it being a televised program.
NEWMAN: First off all, let’s not even think of Tom passing. Second, it is clear the first change I would make, and I have been quite vocal about this, would be to equip all televisions with a mute button that shuts off Samantha Harris.
ME: OK, the Think Real Fast segment, ready?
NEWMAN: Ye . . .
ME: Too late, that’s just how fast this segment goes. Well then, I’ll just move on to number 2… Janet Jackson or Michael Jackson?
ME: Number 3, Dancing With the Stars’ Juliane Hough. Better singer, or better dancer?
ME: Number 4, Arrested Development. Better show, or better band?
ME: Number 5, Randy Jackson or Michael Jackson?
ME: Hah, I tried to trick you. My bad, obviously there's no tricking Newman. Number 6. One Republic or Soviet Republic?
NEWMAN: Republic of Congo
ME: What do you see in the radio landscape in the near future? And not just the small patch of lawn in front of the station, like in the “industry” or media in general.
NEWMAN: Radio will compete to keep people listening longer, which is why I believe in the future every show will end all their breaks with jokes minus the punchlines. “Why did the chicken cross the road? . . . Find out after the break.”
ME: I constantly hear a lot of buzz on the World Wide Web on this... that people don’t like music. And apparently it's this underground growing trend, not listening to music. And not just music, but sound in general. Do you find any truth to that? And if that is inevitable, do you think radio has a future?
NEWMAN: Yes, I think a perfect playlist would be: Maroon 5, The sound of dolphins talking, Fergie, A Waterfall
ME: Finally, as we wind down this engaging “Q&A”, where does Newman see Newman in five years?
NEWMAN: The NFL
ME: How about in five hours?
NEWMAN: In bed
ME: What about in five months? Well, specficially, on April 25th, 2009. I’m thinking of having a dinner party and having you make those delicious canapés that you’re going to learn how to make.
NEWMAN: I’m booked that day.
~ fin ~
Newman can be heard weekdays on 94.5 FM, 5AM through 10AM, and in weblog form at Newman's Blog-o-sphere. "Me" (a.k.a. Toni Ryan) can also be heard on 94.5 on those same days after 10AM, and occasionally only heard by the other voices in her head. Special thanks to the Newman Society of America & Greater Princeton for allowing him to take this time for you, gentle reader. Props also to the Toni Ryan Says Special Events art department, Krystle Meth, for capturing Newman's essence.