“Fab Fourum”, a new half-hour Beatles talk show, is now available on iTunes. The podcast is hosted by four Beatle experts – radio veterans, authors, and lecturers – who have each done substantial research and reporting on the world’s most famous rock band.
In each “Fab Fourum” episode, the hosts discuss topics that cover all aspects of the Beatles’ history, including the Beatles’ group and solo works, significant events in their lives, and recent relevant news stories. Each host brings his own unique perspective to the table (in the style of ‘The View’) which results in intelligent debates on the Fab Four.
The hosts include Mitch Axelrod (author of “Beatletoons,” the only book covering the history of the Beatles cartoon series that ran in America from 1965 to 1969,) Rob Leonard (host of WHPC’s “Beatlesongs” for over 17 years,) Ken Michaels (host of several Beatles shows on WNYT, WDHA-FM, WBZO-FM and XM Radio,) and Tony Traguardo (music lecturer and journalist, host of WCWP’s “BeatleTrax” and “4F” on Podarama.com and iTunes).
Daytrippin’ caught up with host, Ken Michaels, for a brief interview.
Q: How is this different from other Beatles radio shows?
A: The simplest answer is that “Fab Fourum” is a Beatles talk show … with the stress on “talk”. I don’t know of any other one that exists. You won’t hear any music from the Beatles on the show, unless it’s used as a quick music bed. And we’ve agreed that we can talk about ANYTHING spanning the Beatles’ group and solo careers. As I say in our first show, once you include the solo careers of the Beatles, the topics and possibilities are endless. So, instead of us talking about eight years of music and history, it becomes more than fifty years. We can discuss any song or album, any aspect of the Beatles as artists, musicians, songwriters, or any part of their history. We’ve already talked about Paul’s recent tour, the stereo remasters, the 40th anniversary of the Abbey Road album, the Rock Band game, and our thoughts on remaking the Yellow Submarine movie. Very often we’ll also talk about what’s in the news.
Q: Why did you start the Fab Fourum?
A: After my show was cancelled on XM Radio, I was looking for something different to do on the Beatles other than my regular show. I remembered fondly when my show ran on New Jersey’s rock station WDHA-FM, and I would invite two friends of mine-Tom Frangione (then writer for Good Day Sunshine magazine, now a contributor for “Beatle Brunch”) and Al Sussman (current writer and executive editor for Beatlefan) on the show, usually for year-end review shows and other specials. I missed doing those shows because it wasn’t as if I was interviewing them – it was more a conversation between friends. It was easy to talk to them because we all knew our stuff. It was like I wasn’t even doing any work, since it all came naturally.
Another friend of mine, Rob Leonard, has been hosting weekly Beatles shows on WHPC-FM in New York for over 17 years, and he has been doing anniversary shows every year to celebrate the milestones of his show. He would call in six friends of his, some of whom have done Beatles-related projects professionally, and others who are collectors and knowledgeable fans. So, I was one of the people he chose, and together we were referred to as his “Beatles Rat Pack.” Rob’s show is 3 hours long, and when we did the annual Rat Pack show, we found that we spent most of that time talking … hardly playing any music! Again, it was easy and natural for us to do, and reminded me a lot of the WDHA days. What also made it easier is that I’ve known most of the other guys for almost 30 years!
So, I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be great to do a weekly talk show like this?” I knew it couldn’t have all seven of us hosting the show – that would be way too cluttered and confusing for the listener. It also couldn’t be too lengthy. I thought a half-hour show would be just right. Based on our past Rat Pack shows, I thought that Rob, along with Tony Traguardo (host of WCWP’s “Beatletrax” and Podarama’s “4F”, and music lecturer) and Mitch Axelrod (author of “Beatletoons”, still the only book written about the Beatles cartoon series) would work really well together for the type of show I envisioned. We could also get the other guys in as future guests. I tossed it out to the guys, and they all thought it seemed like a great idea. And it guaranteed we’d see one another more than once a year! We bounced around ideas for the title of the show, and settled on “Fab Fourum,” since it’s about the Beatles, and there are four of us! Little did I know that Mitch had a similar idea all along for a talk show that would involve the four of us!
We knew it would have to start out as a podcast, so we’ve been recording shows periodically, and getting it up on Podarama, as well as making it available on iTunes. And now word has been spreading and we’ve been getting very positive feedback—it’s exciting!
Q: What popular talk show would you say is most similar in format — for example, The View, Real Time with Bill Maher, or McLaughlin Group?
A: That’s difficult to say. Maybe we’re the male version of The View, only the subject matter is the Beatles! So far I’d say the best part of the show is that we all bring along our own insights, perspectives and opinions about these four great artists that we love and admire so much. And there is no leader among us – we’re all four equals. We may have differences of opinion, but there are no shouting matches on the show. We take the Beatles more seriously than we take ourselves. After all, nobody has the final word on the Beatles. We’re just here to have some fun with people who know the Beatles’ full body of work, so even if we don’t all agree with another’s points of view, we still respect each other, which is the important thing. On every show, one of the other guys will point out something I never thought about before, and that makes it all the more worthwhile for me. Hopefully, the show is entertaining, and gets people to thinking a little differently about the Beatles, which is both fun and healthy at the same time.
“Fab Fourum” can be found on iTunes, or by tuning in to the streaming podcast at http://www.podarama.com/fab_fourum.