"The Lady of the Aether", it seems, has found her way onto the internet. It also seems that she prefers the company of pinball enthusiasts. Not one but two credible radio shows focusing on pinball have started in the past month.

The first show, “Pinball Talk ” is hosted by Norm and Shaggy of This Old Pinball, with TheKorn lending technical support on the back end making it a "TOPcast".

The second show, “Talk Pinball” is hosted by Jesse (a.k.a. Pinball Magic) and LTG of SS Billiards.

But just who are these people? And should you listen to either show, or both? Pinball News went to find out! Pinball News sent each participant a set of standardized questions, and here are the answers from the two shows.

How about a little of each of you; as people?

Shaggy: I'm insanely cute and chicks love me. Ok well that's an outright lie, but I like it.

My name is Shaggy (well not really) and my partner (no not love partner, just 'partner'!) is Norm. We do the "this old pinball" video DVDs as seen at . We have been doing this since late 2000. I also write and maintain the website at . So maybe I am insane? Well don't ask my wife that question about me...

Jesse: I have lived in Green Bay , Wisconsin for my entire life. I am married with two daughters. My hobbies/interests include pinball, fishing & camping, website design, and motorcycles. I am also a musician.

Korn: Oh, what's to tell? I'm in my thirties, married, and have not only an understanding wife but also one who really enjoys playing! Oh and in case any Pinball News readers are wondering, yes I'm the SAME guy who keeps harassing Stern's test machines!

LTG: I love pinball. I've spent a lifetime in the coin operated industry, from working for my Father, to working for one of the largest ops in the Midwest . I was a test operator for about 18 years. I've owned SS Billiards for over 34 years. And I'm a people person; quick to care and help.

How did you get the idea to do a pinball radio show?

Shaggy: I stole it! Hey I know a GREAT idea when I see one! Really though I heard another radio program* and thought, "Gee, we can do this, but better!"

We thought we could do a more 'nuts and bolts' version of what that other program was doing. Something where callers could call on a (toll free) 800 number with tech problems, in addition their opinions. We thought this could add another dimension to the show.

Our show is based loosely on the NPR radio show "Car Talk". I'm a big fan of that show, and thought having a pinball version of Car Talk would be great idea. We expanded on their format too.

Both Norm and I know pinballs well from 1947 to present. Our collection of games stretches from WW2 to the present, so EM and solid-state questions are equally welcome. We try and solve the caller's problems on-air, give advice on restoration, or even give our opinions; it's whatever the caller asks for.

Also since the TOP team is, well, a team, having two hosts is a bit easier and more fun (for us and for the listeners). Similar to morning FM radio - they rarely have just one host.

To make the show better there is a web cam so there are pictures to go with the audio stream. This really helps a lot as it makes people want to listen at the time of broadcast, because listening to a MP3 of the show after the fact will miss out on the web cam pics.

This web cam pictures may or may not be important to the listeners. On the first show we did (4th February 2007), they were not that important. The second show (8th February 2007) the web cam will be very important. Since we are going to be showing some classic EM games, how they work and how they play, the web cam will really add to the audio stream.

We are planning on having a forum on the web page so listeners can post comments and questions while the show is on the air. This will be in addition to the 1-800 number they can call-in with.

Jesse: For the past 3 or 4 months, I have been looking into adding “voice chat” to our existing pinball chat room. I looked into several applications including VoIP chat software and stumbled upon webcasting applications. The idea of doing a webcast where we could talk about pinball was born.

Korn: I didn't; Shaggy approached me with the idea and wanted to know what it would take to get the ball rolling. The rest, as they say, was downhill from there.

LTG: Right after that Keith Stelter has posted he was leaving RGP because of all the noise. I posted asking him to stick around. Now I had just got off the phone with Jesse, and when I went in I start with the newest posts, anyone needing help probably hadn't gotten a response yet. Then I ran into a couple separate different long threads and I emailed Keith and told him I was sorry and didn't blame him, and hoped he'd at least hang around until we got the radio station going. Well in my haste I didn't email it, but posted it on the newsgroup.

Then things really got going.

People offered financial support, initially Jesse and I weren't inclined for that. But in talking, we remembered the year Expo didn't have many games there, and people decided it's their Expo too, and what can we do to help? And Expo is bigger and better. We talked about that, people wanted to be part of something very special. and this opportunity is bigger than Jesse or I, and we agreed that we wanted people to be involved. Besides financial help, there are offers of web work, art work, recordings, help, pieces and parts, people really came together to make this happen. Jesse has some equipment, and a lot in place already. And the help will make things even better. This isn't set up to be making money, but with the help and sponsors for shows, we can keep out of pocket expenses small or none, so the show can continue for a long time.

What is your background in the area of radio and/or web casting?

Shaggy: None! This venture is new for both Norm and myself. Again, we have made eight full length (2 hr) DVDs on pinball repair and restoration, and that experience certainly helps.

Jesse: My background in radio starts back when I was about 16. This is when I received my Amateur Radio license and started a weekly get together called the “Green Bay Area Youth Net”. This show was geared towards teenagers and young adults to promote and discuss Amateur Radio as a hobby. We would take “check-ins” and talk to people in the area. Around the same time, I started a rock-n-roll band with a couple of local teens. I played drums and was also the “tech guy”. I ended up buying and operating PA equipment for the band. At the ripe old age of 21, we were playing in bars and even scored a few wedding gigs. I setup and ran the sound equipment for almost every show we played.

Korn: Nothing, other than knowing a lot about audio/video formats and also a lot about computer networking.

LTG: In high school I wanted to be a DJ.

How does your background tie in to pinball?

Shaggy: We don't have any particular background tie in. We've been involved with pinball since about 1994 as a hobby, and also have been interested in the repair/restore side of pinball.

Jesse: I already mentioned Amateur Radio. I used to repair old, tube radios and amplifiers as well as build electronic kits. I have also been a welder, kitchen cabinet builder, telecommunications equipment technician, and IT System Administrator.

Korn: My background doesn't tie in at all. Pinball is a diversion for me from my real job. I collect games because at my core I'm a problem solving type of guy. But you can't always solve the same type of problem or you get lazy, bored, or both. So (IMHO) I needed a problem-solving type hobby that had completely new problems. So, I fix pinball machines!...and occasionally I'll get bored doing that and gut a room in my house to the joists and rebuild it from the outside in. :)

LTG: It gives me the chance to spread the word of Harry Williams. Yeah though I walk through the valley of the silver ball, I shall fear no drained balls, thy flippers and pop bumpers do comfort me.

How you are able to bring your idea to fruition?

Shaggy: I presented my ideas to Vince (TheKorn). He wanted to help, and was instrumental in making the show happen. Basically we got the whole thing up and running in two weeks! Jim Schelberg also helps as our on-site engineering during the show. Norm and myself on the mics. Jim runs the intro songs, commercials, and the comical "drops" during the show. Jim also screens the call-ins to make sure we don't get any 'insane' callers on the air!

Korn: Setting up a radio station is pretty far removed from rocket science, but depending on your provider it can either be trivially easy (live365) or more complex. Typically, the easier to set up option (live365) is also the costliest.
At TOPcast, we have a provider that's guaranteed us one thousand concurrent listeners. While admittedly that's more than the show needs right now, I'm hoping the audience will continue to grow into that number as the weeks progress. More to the point, TOPcast is paying for the bandwidth. So if things go poorly on the server side, we have server support that has a genuine reason to want to resolve our problems! (i.e. we'll take our money elsewhere if they don't! :) )

LTG: I ran this by my webhost Greg Kemnitz , because anything that needed to be hooked up here, he'd most likely be doing. Greg had a bunch of ideas, and said Jesse and I should be co-hosts. Jesse loves pinball, is very involved in the chat room and products, and I have a long relationship with the industry. Two completely yet similar passions, for Jesse it's a hobby, for me it's my livelihood. Greg thought if a guest didn't make it, or the show went flat, that Jesse and I could carry it.
And the ball was rolling. I inadvertently spilled the beans on Metallic ( Larry ) who has gotten a lot of flak there, posted that he wished there was an alternative to listen to, to which I posted   :)       nothing else.

Why did you choose to team up?

Jesse: I contacted Lloyd about being a guest on the show. I admire his true willingness to help people and keep pinball alive. He asked if we could take it one step further and be a co-host. I said “sure”!

Korn: I didn't. Clay chose me!

LTG: Jesse of Pinball Magic .com called me and asked if I'd be interested in helping with a radio show he wanted to put together. Jesse has been doing his chat room for 4 or 5 years, so I knew anything he'd be doing wouldn't be a flash in the pan, but would be around for some time. I said yes, what can I do to help ?

Do you have any future plans for pinball radio?

Shaggy: Would love to do a weekly video version of the show, and the web cam is a step towards that. But doing the video is more work, bandwidth, and time/money. More importantly, first you have to walk before you can run. Right now we're getting the hang of walking. We need to implement a few more things on the web site as well. There is definitely an evolution to this, and we're learning quickly.

Jesse: Lloyd and I have a couple things planned. We are trying to organize a live show from Pinball Circus, next month. There are also some other ideas we are tossing around. I'd also like to say that I truly appreciate all of the people involved in getting this show off the ground and helping it succeed.

Korn: We're going to be adding more structure to TOPcast as the weeks roll on. For example, I'm going to have a weekly spot on TOPcast, and so are a few other gents whose names I'm not at liberty to divulge yet.
More to the point, TOPcast is about leading by example in creating a radio show that we all WANT to listen to. So while some people may like content free radio that slings nothing but insults, that's absolutely not my style, and not Shaggy's style either.

LTG: And that is where we are, a week or two from a test broad cast, website is well under way. With a forum so people can comment on the show and all kinds of neat things like Lloyd's corner. We need to have on the site to where people can down load shows, and we also need to find somebody to type them up, so the hearing impaired can join in the fun.

Jesse laid out much of the shows format,  now we are working on questions and guests.

Exciting times these are. I hope each and every step like this make the hobby stronger, and get us yet another step closer to where we see ESPN covering PAPA or Pinbrawl .

Can we have a few pictures of the behind the scenes operation?  

Shaggy: You can see this if you listen to the show at time of broadcast. the web cam does all that work!
Jim at the Pingame Journal may have some pics too as he has been at all the broadcasts (so far) with a camera.

Jesse: I don't have the broadcast studio finished yet. I don't have any pictures at this time.

LTG: Yes, you can sit here and listen.

How is the station funded?  

Shaggy: We do not take ANY donations from anyone for this project. I paid for everything myself. It was not that expensive,but I was frugal and shopped around for all the products and Vince shopped around for the services we needed. That saved a ton of money.

I have heard that other show spent $1500 up front and roughly $250/month for ongoing costs. That's crazy! We did the same thing for about a third of that. But TheKorn (my technical advisor) and I excel at spending money in an intelligent fashion.

Though i have a good tech background, TheKorn really helped a lot. He's located in Chicago, while Norm, Schelberg, and myself are in Detroit . So he acts as our 'remote engineer'.

To help with the ongoing costs we have taken on some paying advertisers. Right now we have Pinball Life and Marco Specialties as paying advertisers. I hope to expand that a bit, though. Not too much more, but it would be nice to have a few more paying advertisers. Similar to the TOP videos, all of the team is fairly disinterested in turning TOPcast into a money making venture. As long as the expenses are covered, that's good enough!

LTG: Jesse put up everything, after the ball was rolling, many people came forward and wanted to be part of it. That help, and the show's sponsors will keep things going for some time. If money is needed, Jesse and I will provide it to ensure its continued success.


*Gary Cubeta started a pinball broadcast from Arizona at the beginning of the year but it has since ended.


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