One of the fondest memories of my teens is The Love Workshop, a fifteen minute comedy program produced in Phoenix for KDKB radio back in 1976. Nowadays, we'd call its themes and subject matter "politically incorrect." But during its brief run, the Love Workshop's hosts, Vern & Craig, were merely "offensive." In fact, they still are, and the modern potential listener would be wise to take this fact under advisement.
In one segment, they microwave then eat a small boy surrounded by an accompaniment of jawbreakers and new potatoes. In another, they seduce the recently widowed wife of a Vietnam vet with bourbon and Quaalude. In another, they punch out the subject of a public television "empowerment" program after calling her a stupid lesbian. In still another, they force a guest to try out an I.U.D made of pop tops and bottle caps attached to a dead scorpion.
Offensive it may have been, but my friends and I worshipped Vern & Craig. They make "bad boys" like Howard Stern and Jimmy Kimmel look like insipid hacks. They regularly offered listeners "shows about nothing" fifteen years before the notion gained respectability. (In one of the samples available here, the boys enjoy a light snack while Vern recounts his weekend in Rocky Point with some "typical west Phoenix types.") And the kitschy background music used on the show can only be described nowadays as highly collectable.
The writing on the show was brilliant. Their sense of comic timing and attention to detail was impeccable. And in the climate of the mid-seventies, the scorched-earth nature of material didn't raise as many eyebrows as it would now. (They did get into trouble with the State Banking Examiner, however, for their fake ads for American Woman’s Credit and Trust.) But not everyone admired it, apparently. Just as the show was poised to expand into other markets, it was suddenly cancelled as part of a controversial housecleaning of KDKB management.
After the cancellation, Vern Schaub joined the staff of the National Lampoon. Later, he worked in Hollywood, where he supplied screenplays for "Clean & Sober" and the film version of the Workshop-inspired "O.C. & Stiggs" stories he wrote for the Lampoon. By the end of the 80s, however, he had disappeared without a trace. Craig Hoover, meanwhile, put aside his career as a local celebrity (which included an unsuccessful run for Governor), became active in Scientology, and settled into a successful living as one of the top producing residential realtors in the country.
I used to have a good collection of Love Workshop shows on cassette. But I foolishly loaned them to an acquaintance and never got them back. Now all I have left is about an hour's worth of material on a beat up old tape. Like so much of the crap I have in my back rooms, however, I have no recollection of where it came from. I seem to recall a friend of mine running into Vern several years ago, and asking him about the whereabouts of the master tapes. If my memory serves me right, I believe he gave my friend the impression that the Love Workshop was a part of his life he'd just as soon not revisit. I'm afraid I cannot share his sentiments.
EXTRA: Thanks very much to reader Blixco for digitizing and posting his Love Workshop collection! In his words, "Good lord! We've got the most complete Love Workshop archive ON THE PLANET!"
Frankly, I hope he's wrong, and a few more kind souls come out of the woodwork with more shows. (I remember one in particular in which Craig screams at a guest for being the sort of person who might own a large tub of "cut-rate peanut butter found ONLY at department stores like Newberrys." I'd love to hear it again.