Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Yes, there were funny songs before Dr. Demento. The longevity of the good doctor has in many ways ended the genre and overshadowed his predecessors. He was a nerd. A nerd with big thick glasses and a loud bow tie and he relished that role. Robert Q. Lewis predates the doc by decades and it's well worth a little reading....

At the age of 11 Lewis made his radio on Dr. Posner's Kiddie Hour. The year was 1931, in another 12 years he'd be a disc jockey. He added the middle initial Q to his name and told listeners it stood for quizzical. He was DJ in New York but was drafted like many others and did not return until 1945. He came back and transitioned from signal corps to commercial radio announcer and disc jockey, first in New York then later in Los Angeles for CBS.

But his best work was his show Robert Q's Waxworks, was devoted to old records. It was short lived, first airing in spring of 1951 on Friday Nights, running into the fall of 1952. CBS moved it around, trying Tuesday nights, then moving to Monday nights. He interviewed older artists like the Inkspots and played old records. In some ways this was like the Dr. Demento show clearly focusing on the comedic and the light hearted. But it was also an oldies program, one that predated the WCBS-led oldies format. I'd love to hear an aircheck of this. In lieu of an Aircheck he did record a handful of LPs.After the program, Lewis made a permanent leap to TV. He had his own TV program, The Robert Q Lewis Show on CBS. He also guest-host appearances on numerous TV variety programs, The Jack Paar Show, The Jackie Gleason Show and many others.