Saturday, July 30, 2016

Thank you!

So today I just finished spending some time with my friends Ray and Rhonda and it got me to thinking.

I want to take some time here to say, "Thank You".

Thank you for being there for me, whether it's by Facebook, by a card in the mail, or in person, your presence has been felt and it's appreciated, very much.

I have been inundated with cards, presents, and facebook messages that have encouraged me to keep on keepin' on. That is precisely what i intend to keep doing.

I've tried to reply personally to the various acts of kindness that i've been the recipient of this past year, so forgive me if I don't get back to you personally. Please know that I am eternally grateful for your kindness.

I sometimes wonder if I am deserving of all this.  All I'm doing is fighting cancer, right?

Well whatever I did, thank you for your support. Since my terminal diagnosis a year ago, my life has certainly taken several twists and turns that I did NOT see coming. The fact that you have come along with me, whatever happens, means a lot.

My original diagnosis one year ago was that I was to have 2 and a half years of good health remaining before things turn. Could that change? Well sure, miracles happen every day. You never know.

I have a new round of Cat Scans scheduled for September, so we will see. Let's face it, a diagnosis of Stage 4 terminal metastatic colon cancer with other tumors lurking around is a mighty big hill to climb. But as a t-shirt that was made for me proclaims, "CANCER PICKED THE WRONG DJ".

My last medical check up showed a magnesium deficiency  but otherwise I'm doing well. My tumor markers are dormant, they aren't shrinking, but they aren't expanding either.

So my attitude continues to be good. To paraphrase Randy Pausch, "We can't change the cards we are dealt, only how we play the hand. I'm going to continue to have fun every day I have left".

What's that? You've never heard Randy's Last Lecture?? well take an hour or so, and watch this:

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

WARNING: This Post is Medically Graphic

I wanted to take a minute to talk to you about what's been happening with me over these last few months.

I haven't talked about it in detail because, well, it's kinda gross.

 I've hinted at it.  There have been 'cute' posts about it.  I've never seriously talked or posted about it in detail, until now.

 First let me say that my cancerous tumors are continuing to shrink.  All is well there. I'm on maintenance chemotherapy. I still receive therapy every two weeks.

What I want to post about is my stoma.

 A few months back, one of my tumors in my intestine created a blockage so severe, I had to have surgery that resulted in the creation of a stoma.

 What is a stoma?

 Well according to Google: Stoma surgery results in a small opening on the surface of the abdomen created in order to divert the flow of feces or urine.

 Gross, right?

 As a bonus, I also now wear a colonostomy bag. Good times.

At first, I didn't even want to deal with the stupid thing. It stuck out on my stomach and was about the size of, and looked like, a stewed tomato.

When it came time to change the bag, which happened a LOT in the beginning, I couldn't even bring myself to look at or touch it. My caregiver, Sarah, had the unenviable task of doing it for me.

There were bag blowouts, late night wake up calls to empty the bag, morning wake ups involving leaks and clean ups. It was a very messy business.

Things finally settled down, I got brave enough to deal with bag maintenance myself. It's still messy, but at least I could manage it on my own.

Little did I know that soon another 'surprise' was to come.

A couple of months after my surgery, I was spending some time with my Mom in Indianapolis when all of a sudden my stoma became quite enlarged. It hung about six inches out from the hole!

My supplies weren't big enough to contain it. I was reminded of the movie 'Alien'. I think you know which scene I mean.

I have to admit I freaked out. What was going on?!

I called the treatment center in Illinois to explain to them what was happening. They said that it can happen from time to time, and not to worry about it. I received confirmation of that opinion when I went to see a specialist about it. He said that it's a weird and uncomfortable thing to have happen, but as long as it's functioning, everything is ok.

As I was to find out later, surgery to fix it is not an option until my chemotherapy is completed. So I guess that for now, I have to live with it. I remain hopeful that at some point the surgery will be completely reversed.  Time will tell.

It's funny that when my stoma was smaller, I couldn't bring myself to deal with it. Now that it hangs out six inches from my stomach, I'm having no problem with it at all.

So that's it. No major side effects from the chemo, but I have a prolapsed stoma. Do yourself a favor and DON'T Google that phrase!

I have been jokingly called a "Murphys Law" kind of cancer patient. Just about everything that can go wrong HAS gone wrong, surgically speaking. I had a port that became infected and was removed, and while I was hospitalized there was a chance I had contracted MRSA. I didn't.

Then there's my stoma.

But at least I'm still alive, and I have a good quality of life going. So I have that going for me...which is nice.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Balloons (part deux)!!

A video I shot a few years ago recording the balloon release at a NASCAR race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway continues to have life. At last check, it has over 184,000 views.

I posted a blog about it back in 2013. Here's the link.

Now it's being used again in a feature story about the effects Balloons have on nature and the environment.

It's an MP4 file and you can download it here.  

Now if I could only figure out how to make money off of this thing. :-)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A final (?) Guinness update.

Well it was a valiant effort, but my Guinness world record attempt for staying on the air continuously for 187 hours, was beaten.

Not long ago I posted audio clips from the press coverage we received, and I put up a few pictures here.

Shortly afterwards I got a call from a Belgian DJ who wanted to let me know that he was going to attempt to break my record, by staying on the air for 188 hours.

He emailed me last week to let me know he succeeded. I emailed him back to congratulate him. It is quite the feat.

I then gave it some thought. Do I want to try and re-take the record? It takes quite the emotional and physical toll on a person.

My first attempt was quite the organizational juggernaut. Volunteers had to be scheduled, meals had to be planned. If I were to attempt it again, I would need to secure a sponsor to pay for an official from Guinness to come here and spend the week. That way, I could be certified on the spot.

I'll keep you posted. email me and let me know what you think I should do.

Monday, January 13, 2014

KFO - Fort Ord California

I recently came across a couple of pictures, that have sparked some memories that I would like to share with you.

The above picture was taken around 1985 at Fort Ord, California in the studios of  "Music Radio KFO".

I have an earlier post about how I got into the Army here: "My Army Days."

Go ahead and read it. I'll wait.

All caught up are we? Good!

After Panama and Honduras, my first 'permanent party' station was Fort Ord, California. For a broadcaster that means being assigned to the Public Affairs Office on post. We couldn't actually broadcast on radio because we weren't allowed to. So we had a 'cable' radio station which could be heard in all of the dining facilities on post, as well as a post cable tv channel.

I was given the morning show to host.  I looked much more official during the week than when I did when this picture was taken on a Saturday.

My show was entered in a nationwide competition and placed in the top 3. For that achievement I was awarded the Army Achievement Medal, presented to me by the Commanding General of Fort Ord at the time.

Quite an honor!

OK that's enough for now, I'll close with a bonus pic recently discovered of me using a typewriter to put together a radio broadcast log in my barracks room at Fort Benjamin Harrison where I took the Broadcast Journalist course:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Guinness World Record Update

The one question I get asked at least once a week is: "Have you ever heard back from those Guinness people about your record?"

In case you didn't hear, back in July of 2012, I attempted to stay on the air for 187 hours straight in the hopes of setting a Guinness world record for longest continuous broadcast by a single DJ.

I started Monday morning July 9th at 5:00am and stayed on the air through the following Monday, July 16th at midnight. I DID IT!

Because we didn't fly a judge from London to keep an eye on me, we had to document everything. The audio was recorded on MP3, and burned to CD. All 187 hours were recorded on video, and also burned to CD. The music and commercial logs were printed out for the week. Everything was compiled and sent overseas to Guinness.

We got some great press out of it too. WNDU and WSBT came down and did stories about the attempt:

I was even interviewed by Rick Dees:

Knox, Indiana Mayor Rick Chambers declared my last day on air as "Tom Berg Day":

It was an amazing and a once in a lifetime experience.

It's been over a year and I have yet to hear back from the Guinness people. I am disappointed, but even if I NEVER hear from them, I know in my heart, I DID IT. 



Tuesday, March 19, 2013

One Of My Guilty Pleasures

I was asked by a friend recently if I remembered the show "Mystery Science Theater 3000". I most certainly do!

I was late to the party when I first heard about this show, but once I started watching, I rarely missed an episode.

In a nutshell: The series features a man and his robot sidekicks who are trapped on a space station by an evil scientist and forced to watch a selection of bad movies, often (but not limited to) science fiction "B-movies". To stay sane, the man and his robots provide a running commentary on each film, making fun of its flaws and wisecracking (or "riffing") their way through the movie.

There are no shortage of websites about this show. Just google "mst3k" and see for yourself. 

The worse a movie was, the funnier the show was. Fans of the show agree that the absolute worst movie they ever featured was a turkey called "Manos: The Hands Of Fate".

See for yourself:

Once the show ended, the staff went their separate ways and formed 2 separate websites that continue riffing on more current films.

One is called "RiffTrax" and it features Kevin Murphy, who was the robot Tom Servo on the show. Mike Nelson is also featured. He was the human who was 'imprisoned' with the robots for the last few seasons of the show.

Another website called "Cinematic Titanic" was created by Joel Hodgson, who created the show, and features the same team that first brought the series to life: Trace Beaulieu (Crow, Dr. Forrester), Frank Conniff (TV's Frank), and Mary Jo Pehl (Pearl Forrester).

There are samples of the recent riffing all over You Tube, here's a look at what RiffTrax is doing:

These shows are like a certain kind of potato chips: "You can't eat just one".

Friday, March 15, 2013

Carl Reiner

I had the chance recently to talk to TV legend Carl Reiner.

Let me back up a second.

As a DJ on a radio morning show, I get ALL kinds of requests for interviews. Most often the requests are from people who no one would know, or they are pushing a book that's just not interesting.

There are interview bookers, who set up celebrities in a radio studio for a couple hours and then send email out saying that they will be available to talk to you for 10 minutes between 8 and 10 am on a certain date. I will email back and request any time available, to be as accommodating as I can.

Think about that. They sit in a studio for 2 hours, and every 10 minutes they are talking to a different morning show in a different city somewhere in the country.

I've talked to Penelope Ann Miller from "The Artist", Valerie Harper, Barry Manilow, and Mickey Mouse and Goofy (!) using this method. It usually works out. Sometimes I tape the interviews after my show, or if I'm feeling especially daring, I try and go live with it.

There's a small problem with going live sometimes. Let's say that during one of these "radio tours" I have an interview scheduled for 8:30 for someone who has been doing interviews since 7:00. That means they've had 9 interviews before calling me. All the interviews prior to my time need to run exactly on time, or else I won't get my call on time. If each interview before me runs just one minute over, that means I won't get MY call until 8:39! That's a lot of time to fill!

My interview with Carl Reiner came through an entirely different route.

We receive a monthly magazine with interview topics and suggestions. 99% of the time the magazine usually goes right in the trash. Once in a great while we find a diamond in the rough.

Carl Reiner was one of those diamonds, and boy did he shine.

He was promoting his book, "I Remember Me".

I don't know how other DJ's are, but when I get the opportunity to interview someone, especially someone that I'm a HUGE fan of, I get star struck. I'm THIS close to sounding like Chris Farley interviewing Paul McCartney: "Remember when you were in the Beatles? That was awesome!"

We booked a time, they sent me the book to read, and I started to think up what I wanted to talk about.

The time we settled on was after my show, so I could record it and not worry about time constraints.

I was extremely nervous. Here was this TV legend waiting for ME to call HIM to plug his book.

So the time comes, and he couldn't have been nicer. We talked for THIRTY EIGHT minutes!!! There was no way I could run the entire interview at one time during my show, so I found 3 to 4 minute stories and played them back. Thank God for the internet, because I can share the entire interview online. I will post it in due course, but for now I want to share with you the snippets that I used:

  Carl Reiner Talking About The Dick Van Dyke Show by Tom's Radio Basics

  Carl Reiner Talks About Steve Martin by Tom's Radio Basics

  Carl Reiner Talks About His Dog Rinnie! by Tom's Radio Basics

  Carl Reiner Talks About Mark Harmon And John Denver by Tom's Radio Basics

  Carl Reiner Telling A Story About Jack Benny by Tom's Radio Basics

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Stan Freberg

The Super Bowl ads this year were a mixed bag for me. There were some that were funny, some that were moving, and some that left you wondering what the ad agency was smoking when the scripts were approved. (As an aside please read Ken Levine's blog on this very topic.)

I bring up the complaints about the lack of creativity in some of those Super Bowl spots as an excuse to write about a man whose commercial creativity in both radio and television was legendary.

Stan Freberg.

I first came across some of his work on a record called "Stan Freberg Modestly Presents: The United States of America. Part One:The Early Years". I was a kid, and didn't get a lot of the jokes, but it was a fun record to listen to, and I slowly started to 'get' more of the jokes as I got older.

Here's a sample from that album:

Look him up. Google him. Youtube him. You will find an amazing amount of creativity. Stuff that he produced 40, 50, even 60 years ago that still holds up today.

I could write an encyclopedic blog post about him. Instead, I'll just post some examples of his genius here, and let you be the judge.

First up, a radio spot

He was a master at commercials that not only entertained, but were very effective at selling the product. Here are a couple of examples.

First, a lawn mower commercial:

This commercial for Butter Nut Coffee poked fun at the idea of subliminal advertising:

Freberg was also a satirist. He had a recording career during which he poked fun at popular songs. He didn't do what Weird Al Yankovic does, which was to keep the melody and change the lyrics. He got his point across in other ways, as in this example of his version of the Banana Boat Song:

Even though he had a very successful career in advertising, he was not above biting the hand that feeds him. His recording of "Green Chri$tma$" got him in a little hot water with people who never even HEARD the record, give it a listen and see what you think. I think his message is as relevant today as it was when the record was first released:

This is but a tip of the ice "berg" There is so much more to listen to and enjoy. I hope I've piqued your interest in him.


Friday, February 1, 2013

"Blow In Her Face And She'll Follow You Anywhere" part 2

Time for a few more print ad's that have to be seen to be believed. I received these in an email and thought I'd share. 
Guns make perfect gifts for the holidays. At least these ads seem to think so:

A lot of companies have tried to tie their product into Christmas, but really, how many wives would want THIS under their tree?

Some ads just defy description:

Wow...just wow!