Fud Nucklebick had a vision, and that vision was sound.
In 1932, Nucklebick built and brought onto the airwaves WBVL, also known in town as “Radio Beaverlick”, which is just past the end of your AM dial. You just have to turn the knob a little harder than usual. Maybe give a good smack to the side of the radio.
Nucklebick was driven to entertain and inform just the right amount of people, and he decided early in the century that the town of Beaverlick had just the right amount of people: slightly bigger than a crowd, but smaller than a riot.
At first, Nucklebick bought a megaphone and screamed out the window of his home; performing skits, singing the hit songs of the day, doing some commercials, and, of course, the news: every hour on the hour. After he recovered from his injuries incurred when his neighbors beat him senseless, he tried a new tack: A one man show performed at what used to be the Florence and Ethel Twinkleslink Memorial Theatre. Nucklebick wrote, produced and directed the play, called: “Some Skits, A Little Music, And News Every Hour On The Hour”.
It was going to take three days to perform the entire play. He was beaten senseless after the first five hours by two old ladies who were the only people left in the theatre.
In 1895, Marconi first broadcast a long-range radio signal, and later the sound of wireless communication via radio waves spread like a virus around the planet, except for one place in South America and quite a lot of Africa, and for reasons no one really knows, Beaverlick.
It was Fud Nucklebick that brought the world of radio to our little town.
When WBVL first hit the airwaves, Fud was doing all the work himself: reading the news (every hour on the hour), playing his Aunt Gertie’s old 78 rpm records, and writing and performing odd skits involving a rotating bunch of characters with weird names who were all supposed to be citizens of some made up town. I didn’t really understand it.
However, no matter what Fud Nucklebick did, it was fine with his fellow Beaverlickers because no one in town owned a radio until a few years later, when by then Fud hired a D.J. by the name of Herm “Uncle Jimmy” Manwaist to play the music. He also hired Colleen Bint and Lou Cratz, two writer/ performers who could really write and perform, as opposed to Fud, who had a habit of winging it, and doing a poor job of it.
I interviewed “Uncle Jimmy” Manwaist, who is now retired from working 30 years in a retirement home, and after a long stint in show business with magician and prognosticator Oomad The Omnicent as his assistant “Sierra”, and asked him to talk about his memories of Fud Nucklebick and of working in the early days of radio at WBVL:
“Fud Nucklebick was, in many ways, one of the most disgusting and repulsive human beings I ever met. He was always dropping stuff out of the huge sandwich he always had stuffed in his left hand, and he always had corned beef sticking out of the sides of his mouth. He would eat and smoke his cigar at the same time. He would always talk with his mouth full of sandwich and he would spit stuff at you while he talked,” explained Uncle Jimmy. “Fud was not as keen as he could have been regarding his personal habits. He smelled like a cross between sweat socks, whiskey and cigars, and whatever they can scrape off the walls in the bowels of hell and bring back up into daylight. His eyes were crossed and his nose was pushed over to one side of his head because of the amount of times his fellow townspeople beat the snot out of him. He also walked funny because he had both of his legs broken, again by his fellow Beaverlicker’s. He even used to lisp on his “v” sounds,” he exclaimed incredulously. “How do you even DO that?”
“Let me just say this, however,” said Uncle Jimmy, “Fud Nucklebick was a genius! A visionary! He had a heart of gold…AND he PAID well!”
I asked Uncle Jimmy what it was like working at WBVL in the beginning.
“I was hired on just as Fud was about to transition the station from his kitchen table to the shed he built in his backyard, right beside the brand-new transmission tower, almost 2000 ft. of tower that he built himself after he had gathered and used all the step ladders in the county to build it. Interestingly, just as soon as Fud had gotten all the station’s equipment out of the kitchen, his wife Flip came home after three and a half years, claiming that she couldn’t find ‘that one store’ she was looking for,” Uncle Jimmy remembered. “and she started vacuuming the floor. She was a lovely lady!”
The former WBVL D.J. continued: “So-we were broadcasting from his kitchen and the broadcast was in the air by virtue of a fifty-five-watt transmitter that barely covered a two-block radius. Still, the people who lived in houses closest to the transmitter would hear the radio coming from their house plumbing. Radiation was also a problem. One day Ida Fft (pronounced “Evelyn Goosebaiter”) noticed that the wart on her face turned green and started to move, so it was a good thing that Fud got the tower built to get the transmitter farther up into the air.”
I asked him if the heyday of the original employees of WBVL, which was on a Thursday in 1952, was as good in reality as it is currently remembered.
“It was wonderful being live on the air and entertaining Beaverlick,” answered Jimmy. “It was so exciting! Of course, I never did understand what was going on with Bint and Cratz and their weird and disturbing stories about the people who lived in that town… I never did get that. After a while, Aunt Gertie’s 78’s were getting pretty worn, too. But I was GREAT!
For almost a decade, WBVL stayed on the air entertaining and informing Beaverlick successfully, until the rise of Rock ‘n Roll in the 1950’s. Most of the people in town viewed Rock ‘n Roll music as something that came from Satan’s posing pouch. Fud didn’t play any Rock music on WBVL for a while, but the kids in town, and especially Furn and Fragile, Fud’s two daughters, convinced him to open up an hour of programming on Saturday Night for “Jumpin’ Uncle Jimmy’s Jungle Juice Jam.” After Fud was beaten senseless by the angry townspeople, he relented and didn’t play rock music again on WBVL until 1975, when the people of Beaverlick heard Fud’s Aunt Gertie’s record of Benny Goodman playing “Sing, Sing, Sing!” one too many times and beat him senseless.
Today, the main job of keeping WBVL on the air falls to Fud’s grandson Freem, a former child prodigy nose-harp player and ambassador to Cuba. WBVL has changed its programming over the years, and now the station plays the latest Rap and Hip-Hop. with “Swedish Death Metal Suicide Saturday Nites” for two hours on the weekend and the “Beaverlick Church Rodeo”, where commentators The Rt. Reverend Gormless Parsnicket (ret.) and Weather Girl Tina Bumps get hammered and critique the day’s services from all the churches in town.
Freem Nucklebick also broadcasts an hour of “Primal Scream Therapy” every Tuesday at 4:17 PM, sponsored by Landly Tink’s “Scream It Sane” in which Freem (a lifelong advocate of this form of therapy) and Landly (a lifelong purveyor of frauds and cons) lead an audience through an hour of…screaming. No one knows if this technique is at all helpful, but Freem insists that the hour of screaming is what pays his electrical bills and keeps WBVL on the air.
Almost nine decades ago, Fud Nucklebick brought radio to Beaverlick. Fud is dead now, and he is buried under the transmission tower that bears his name. The broadcasting that is transmitted from that tower reaches almost the entire county, and despite multiple attempts by people, institutions, and governments to make it stop, Fud Nucklebick’s WBVL “Radio Beaverlick” has made it into the 21st century and will endure into the 22nd, as long as Fud’s grandson Freem can pay the electric bills.
Keep screaming, Freem!