The Blog of Young America

Maximum Fun is your home on the internet for things that are awesome. Our blog will guide you, our family of podcasts will entertain and inform you, and our lively forum community will connect you with others. About


My mom sent me this email:

"put up NAS on colbert"

Who am I to question?

Podcast: TSOYA Classic: Vaudville!


We continue our journey into The Sound of Young America's vast audio archive with this program from The Sound of Young America Classics.

There we were on the back end of the '05 holiday season. You've just broken out the last Christmas cracker! A paper crown. Wait, what's this? Oh! It's author Trav S.D. talking about his vaudville book "No Applause-Just Throw Money". H. John Benjamin shares a few warm-hearted thoughts of Christmas. Listen close and you'll hear a clip of Aziz Ansari live and so much more! Sit down, put your feet up, and say goodbye to 2005 (again).

Please share your thoughts on the show in the comments section!

Download This Week's Show
Subscribe to TSOYA Classic: iTunes / Feed
Please Donate to Support the Show

Listen to This Week's Show

Embeddable Audio Player Code (Copy and Paste)

Sound of Young America Paraphanalia


The best way to support The Sound of Young America is to donate. But what if you're looking for crap to consume? Well, we can help you with that, too. Here's what we have to offer...

My abysmal photography skills can't do justice to our stunning new Sound of Young America art print posters. As you can see, they depict a wild carnival scene, with a young couple and their adorable child enjoying some midway maximum fun. Looks like the gentleman has already won the lady a handsome teddy bear.

Each poster is individually hand-numbered in a limited edition of 100, and signed by yours truly. Every 14"x22" poster features unique variances in printing -- these are printed by a real carnival advertising company, who still run their shop like it was 1962. The posters are printed on heavy card stock, and are most certainly suitable for framing.

Each poster is shipped in its own stay-flat box for only $15, shipping included.


Not only are these handsome TSOYA t-shirts printed on high-quality American Apparel t's, they're also only $18, including shipping!

And what's more, they GLOW IN THE DARK!

These are some of the finest t-shirts available today. You should buy yourself one. Seriously.

Shirts are now available only at some live shows and via donation!

If you're already a MaxFun Donor, and want/need to buy a shirt, email and we'll make it happen.

Support The Sound of Young America


Thank you for choosing to support the production of The Sound of Young America and!

Simply chose the level at which you'd like to subscribe below, and go through the brief and secure checkout process. Your credit card or Paypal account will be charged monthly. In the case of a $2 per month subscription, we will charge quarterly to reduce our credit card processing costs. You can cancel your subscription at any time. We ask for donation subscriptions, but if you'd rather not subscribe, you can also make a one-time donation below.

Give us your address with your donation, and you'll get thank-you gifts! Donations of $5 or more per month get a free (and awesome) glow-in-the-dark TSOYA t-shirt, and all donations get a letterpress-printed Maximum Fun Club membership card and more cool stuff!

Your donation directly supports It's what allows me to continue to produce our shows.

Many thanks,

PS: Please be sure your PayPal shipping address is up to date, so we can get you your stuff.

T-Shirt Size

T-Shirt Size

T-Shirt Size

To make a one-time donation via PayPal, use the button below:

To donate via snail mail, mail a check or money order made out to Jesse Thorn to:
720 S. Normandie Ave. #512
Los Angeles, CA 90005

Thanks for supporting!

If you have an exisiting subscription, and would like to cancel it, click here. Please note that is *not* a non-profit organization (that's super complicated), so your donation isn't tax-deductible.

Embeddable Audio Player Code (Copy and Paste)

The Whipmaster

| 1 comment

If you don't love The Whipmaster, you're probably an asshole.

Bryant Park Project & Fair Game: My Long-Winded Opinions


LOTS of people have been emailing me for my thoughts on some recent events in the public radio world, so here are some preliminary ramblings on the subject:

National Public Radio recently canceled The Bryant Park Project, their experiment in attracting younger listeners to public radio. Not long ago, Public Radio International did the same with Fair Game. I was distressed at both cancellations, not least because The Sound came into the public radio fold on the coat-tails of the development of those two shows. I was worried: what if I'm next? Then I remembered that I own my show, and only I could cancel it... but I was still worried about fallout.

So, what went wrong? I'm not really a public radio insider, (though I did go to a public radio conference last year and I do subscribe to The New Yorker), but here's what I can see from my vantage point, and how the changing landscape will affect The Sound.

* Both BPP and Fair Game were extremely expensive. Bryant Park Project had a reported budget of two million dollars. I don't know how much Fair Game cost, but they had a sizable staff. When you're spending a lot of money, the stakes get high very quickly. I'm producing a lot less radio than either of those shows was, but my total budget is around $50K, of which $10K or so comes from stations via PRI. Most of it comes from underwriting and podcast donations. Given that all PRI is spending on my is a little overhead to have someone check in with me once a month and maybe copy some CDs for stations once in a while, the stakes here are low.

* Targeting entertainment at young people is a very dicey proposition. A commenter on Metafilter wrote scathingly that BPP was NPR's Poochie. If the reference means nothing to you, well, maybe you're out of the key demo ;). Poochie was a Homer-voiced skateboarding hip-hop dog added to Itchy & Scratchy on an episode of The Simpsons. He's also the ultimate expression of inauthentic pandering to youth. Frankly, I don't completely agree about BPP, but the allegation illustrates an important principle: when your brand has such a strong fuddy-duddy rep, even a slight whiff in inauthenticity will set your target audience off. You must guard assiduously against pretending to be anything you're not.

* There was no reason to target young people in the first place. This may sound odd coming from a guy who has a show called "The Sound of Young America," but remember: my show's title is a joke :). Getting younger listeners isn't about creating shows for younger listeners any more than getting African-American listeners is about creating shows for African-American listeners. It's about creating great shows that have diverse perspectives and are inclusive. Public radio has done a good job of the former, but a mediocre to lousy job of the latter. It's telling to me that there's a category click-box on the Public Radio Satellite System website for bluegrass, but not one for hip-hop. Public radio's perspective is monolithic, and the correction has to be systemic, it can't be ghetto-ized to a few programs.

* HD Radio isn't anything. Especially in the case of BPP, a big part of the plan for these two shows was the proliferation of outlets created by HD Radio. No one has HD Radio, and there is zero indication that anyone ever will. I say this as a guy whose station carriage is about 30 or 40% HD channels :).

* Stations aren't address duplicative programming. Both BPP and PRI's new morning show, The Takeaway, relied on the idea that stations wanted alternatives to Morning Edition, especially in places where multiple stations were playing the show at the same time. It turns out, they don't. They're happy to squabble over the Morning Edition audience. NPR could have made ME (and their other shows, for that matter) exclusive to one station per market, but they didn't.

* Podcast monetization is just coming around now, but not really for PRI and NPR. Fair Game and especially BPP were designed for a multi-platform future that's in its earliest stages. Despite speculation to the contrary, both were building very strong podcast audiences. That said, both PRI and NPR are organizations that can't afford to alienate stations, and that means they can't really go directly to listeners for money. So the only real option available to them to monetize those online audiences is underwriting, and that's a pretty modest revenue stream right now. So while both shows were relatively good at online stuff, they weren't getting much money out of it. Certainly not millions of dollars. The only long-term solution I can see to this is charging stations less money for shows, but that's a big change that is against my interests, so, uhm, pretend I never said that.

* Neither show was that great. Both shows had a lot going for them. Faith Salie is really funny and has a killer voice. Mike Pesca is my #1 superstar choice for the future of public radio. There was some great writing on Fair Game. BPP got some amazing guests (Sigur Ros, anyone?). But at the end of that first year, neither show was exceptional or remarkable or amazing. That isn't surprising -- doing something new is unbelievably hard -- but if either of these shows were This American Life, they wouldn't have gotten cancelled. This American Life almost died several times, too, but when a show wins a Peabody its first year out, you kind of gotta give it some slack. Both shows had promise, but neither show made such a compelling case that they couldn't be cancelled.

Given all of that, though, I want to be clear: neither of these shows were failures. There were problems with both, but I think now is the key moment for public radio. Does the funding of these shows generate a rush of new ideas and entrepreneurship, or does the cancellation of these shows drop the curtain on new audiences? Was this just a cover, a way to say, "well, we tried that, and it didn't work," or is it the dawn of a new era, where public radio creates more than one new show every ten years?

Anyway, here's some good news: I'm still here, and I'm not going anywhere. You guys who support this show have shown me that while I love public radio and want to continue to be a part of it, and am often optimistic about my part in it, there is a future for this operation no matter what. I don't need any gatekeepers permission to do this show -- you are the gatekeepers, and you seem very resolute in your support. So: thank you.

Fun on with Bill Hader and Rob Baedeker


MaxFunPal Bill Hader dropped a line to let us know about a new online project he's working on with MaxFunPal Simon Rich and SNL Superstar Seth Meyers. It's a series about waiting in line for a SciFi movie that also stars Joe Lo Truglio of The State. It's above, and very promising.

Below, MaxFunPal Rob Baedeker of Kasper Hauser recently landed the starring role in the web series "Mr. Justice and Powerful Girl," also on Each week on the show, Rob, dressed as a superhero, and his kindly sidekick Powerful Girl step out into the world and try to do nice things. In the episode I've embedded below, Mr. Justice and Powerful Girl take on a subject close to my heart: bunny rabbits.

Podcast: The Explorers Club


The Explorers Club are a South Carolina-based rock band. Their music suggests the easy country-pop of the 1970s, the melodramatic pop of Phil Spector and especially the music of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys. They just released their first LP, "Freedom Wind."

Listen to This Week's Show Online

Please allow our low-bandwidth server a little time after you click "play"

Download This Show

Embeddable Audio Player Code (Copy and Paste)

Discuss this episode on the forum!
Subscribe in iTunes
Please Donate to Support the Show

If you enjoyed this show, try these:
Nellie McKay
Les Savvy Fav
Dan Deacon

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: the podcast

| 1 comment

Last time, we ended up in Wisconsin with The Internet's Maximum Potential. I've decided to stay another week in the forgotten America where people work hard and play by the rules, thinking about one of the net's best-known Wisconsinites, Mr. Benjamin J. Heckendorn.

Heckendorn, better known as "Ben Heck", is revered as a Godhead in the classic video gaming community for his superhuman ability to build portable versions of vintage consoles. He first gained celebrity with a portable Atari 2600, but he's since portablized a Jaguar, an an Atari 7800, a Colecovision, an NES, a Super NES, a Nintendo 64, a Wii, a Genesis, a Playstation, a Playstation 2, a Neo Geo and an XBox 360. For my money, his neatest achievement is the Atari 800 computer he made into a laptop:

Sah-weet. I'd love to play me some M.U.L.E. on that. Now, if only he would build me a portable Turbografx-16. Oh wait.

Being a man of several awesomenesses, Ben Heck also makes neato movies that you can download for free and watch on your computer or iPod, the newest of which is the "action-adventure epic romantic comedy" Port Washington. But this isn't Filmthoughts, nor is it Oldvideogamethoughts; it's Podthoughts, so the Ben Heck joint we'll focus on today is the podcast [iTunes link].

In the podcast, Ben Heck and his buddy Jason Jones talk about many things, almost never including console portablization and rarely including filmmaking. Rather, they turn their attention instead to movies, music, technology, video games; the stuff of our culture. Which, devoted Podthinkers will note, makes this a TTWGBAC. It's no biggie that Ben and Jason are two thirtysomething white guys rather than two twentysomething white guys; while that makes for ever-so-slightly different content, it leaves the abbreviation untouched. In addition to how much they love WALL-E, how disappointed they were by the new Indiana Jones, how much Ben hates the Wii, how Blu-Ray smacked down HD-DVD, and the relative merits of Guitar Hero versus Rock Band, they also discuss conspiracy theories, Egypt, outer space and aerosol cheese. As a bonus for the listener, some episodes begin with elaborate spoof movie or game trailers (the Oblivion "Writer's Guild Expansion Pack" being particularly inspired), and others, such as their trip to the 2008 Midwest Gaming Classic [MP4], go out in glorious video.

This being a Wisconsin podcast, you can once again keep the hosts' voices straight by remembering which one sounds more like Mark Borchardt. In this case, it's Jason: he clocks in at about .65 Borchardt Units (BUs) to Ben's .2. He's also kind of an odd dude, admitting both to believing there was a conspiracy to kill JFK and to having flown on an airplane only twice in his life. There's an ever-so-subtle shade of a Ricky Gervais/Karl Pilkington relationship between Ben and Jason, though it's not as if Jason theorizes that Chinese people age overnight like pears, nor does Ben ridicule him for having a perfectly round head. Not that it wouldn't be beyond hilarious to hear that exact schtick played out in the accents of America's Dairyland.

I poke fun, but I actually prefer my podcasts to be grounded in whatever makes them unusual, be it geographically, temperamentally, intellectually, or experientially. Quite frankly, I wish the guys would talk more about local Wisconsin things, or that Ben would speak more from his unique perspective as a top-tier electronics hacker and independent filmmaker, or that Jason would reveal more things that he believes or hasn't done. Nevertheless, I've enjoyed listening in on Ben and Jason's chats — especially when I disagree with them, as when they dismissed the unimpeachable greatness of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner — but I do admit to wearying of the open-ended TTWGBAC genre. So next week I'll change it up.

Vital stats:
Running since: August 2006
Duration: ~1h5m
Frequency: semi-regular, every 1-2.5 weeks

[The best thing about being freelance Podthinker Colin Marshall isn't thinking about the podcasts, it's showing everyone online he did. Reach him colinjmarshall at gmail. Discuss Podthoughts here, or submit your podcast for the next by-Max-Funsters column here.]

I've got great news for you!


Andy Kindler and The Hold Steady are friends! I love them!

Above: Friendship. Below: Rocking Out.

Syndicate content