Jonathan Richman and a Janitor Walk Into a Bar…

Jonathan Richman

This special Leap Day podcast features another vintage interview from the Medialoper vaults. Recorded in 1987, this is one of the more unusual Jonathan Richman interviews you will ever hear.

How unusual? Well, I think it’s safe to say that this is probably the first and only time a janitor ever interviewed Jonathan Richman. Of course, we call them maintenance engineers these days, but back in the Reagan era, things weren’t so politically correct.

The janitor in question is one Big Jim Hunsicker. Big Jim was a head custodian in the Speech Arts building at CSU Fresno — home of KFSR FM.

In the early 80s, the college radio revolution took off, and running a station that played only your favorite bands was every music geek’s dream come true.

jonathan-and-jim-2465873There was just one problem. While we were happy to have complete control over our little slice of the airwaves, we couldn’t always be relied on to wake up at 6 am to turn the transmitter on. Fortunately, Big Jim was watching over us. Whenever the morning DJ would oversleep (which happened A LOT), Big Jim would put down his broom, turn on the transmitter, read the official station sign-on, and cue up Herbie Hancock’s Watermelon Man (that was the official Big Jim theme song).

Over time Big Jim became something of a Fresno folk hero. Then, sadly, the school administration caught on and barred Jim from helping out. While the administration may have been punishing the slackers who ran the station, their decision also had the unanticipated consequence of punishing everyone who’d set their clock radios to KFSR (including, no doubt, a few of those morning DJs who were always oversleeping).

With Big Jim effectively banned from radio, it was only natural that he would move on to television. Of course, cable access was the thing to do in the pre-YouTube era. And so, former KFSR Program Director Brad “the Slam” Rogers and I proceeded to plot The Big Jim Show. This Jonathan Richman interview is all that remains of that show.

Big Jim is no longer with us (that’s a sensitive way of saying he’s gone on to the great broom closet in the sky).

Jonathan Richman is still going strong.

Performances By:

  • Jonathan Richman and Brendan Totten

Songs:

  • I’m a Little Dinosaur
  • UFO Man
  • Now is Better Than Before
  • Chewing Gum Wrapper
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