Friday, April 10, 2009

The Cannon Mess

Steve Cannon, a longtime Minnesota DJ, died this week. Those of us who grew up in the state remember his deep, rich, cultured voice, and the amazing three voices he did for his characters, Ma Linger, Morgan Mundane, and Backlash Larue.

Cannon was no Morning Zoo guy. He didn't go for the low joke or the dumb insult. Kids and parents together listened to him, both were entertained, and he didn't make you feel like your IQ was going down for the time you spent with him. (He also claimed he had a "cough button," which he would carefully explain was going to mute his cough, and of course there was no such button and the cough went out over the airwaves every time.)

It seems like, looking back, that I spent a lot of time in the car with my parents, usually while a bracing Minnesota winter howled outside. Cannon was on as indubitably as the heater was. And it was during his show that they played the always fascinating POINT...OF...LAW!, a kind of legal mini-mystery, where they spelled out the case and then went to commercial to let you think about it, then came back with the verdict. I always tried to guess the answer and I very seldom got it right.

Cannon's three other characters, the Little Cannons, were so well-drawn you had trouble believing they weren't real. Supposedly Twins owner Calvin Griffith, not the brightest bulb in the room on his best day, tried to order Morgan Mundane barred from the Twins press box because of his astute radio commentary on the team, not realizing that Mundane was just one of Cannon's alter egos. (We swear, Calvin, Morgan Mundane never once walked into your press box.)

Some audio clips are here. One of the clips is from his final sign-off, which I think meant more to me than Johnny Carson's final show. We can never go back to that time, when we were in the car with our parents and safe and listening to a whole world spiral out of the radio, but we can hope to give Kelly some memories of her own that she treasures just as much.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love this post - it reminds me of when I used to listen to Harden and Weaver on WMAL in the DC area when I was a kid - my Mom always had it on.