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April 21, 2009

Tom Snyder passed away on July 29th, 2007. It's taken me a while to gather my thoughts about him and put them into words -- not so much because of any depression or sadness, but more because I just got this blog a few days ago. And even though he's been gone for two years, I'd still like to take this opportunity to say a few words about him.

For those of you not familiar with Tom Snyder, he was this big time broadcaster and talk show host back in the seventies. He even followed Johnny Carson until David Letterman took his time slot in 1982.

I didn't become aware of Tom Snyder's existence until sometime in 1993 when I was a high school sophomore. I was way into Letterman at the time, but he was on at 12:30 so I would watch anything I could to help me stay awake until then. My options were limited since the basic cable package in Auburn, Maine only included 27 channels. But one of those channels was CNBC, and at 10 pm they aired this weird cable talk show called the Tom Snyder Show.

Tom Snyder was this lanky, old guy with corny jokes, a big laugh, and an even bigger comb over. Kinda like Larry King but more hip and not as creepy.

Occasionally he would interview C or D-level celebrities like Meatloaf and Larry Hagman, but usually he interviewed random people I had never heard of before. Authors, or old Vegas performers, or people with funny jobs. One time he interviewed some pervert who owned a condom company -- and keep in mind, CNBC was so new at the time they had to repeat what little programming they had over and over again to fill up all of their time slots. And I swear to god, they aired that stupid condom episode at least 100 times... Anyway, the best part of the Tom Snyder Show was when Tom took 20 minutes or so at the end of each show to answer phone calls from the viewers at home.

The Jerky Boys were big in the early nineties, so me and my friends made a regular habit of prank-calling local grocery stores, bars, and restaurants. And one random night when I was staying up to watch Letterman, I decided to prank Tom Snyder. I thought I'd fuck with him a little. I dialed the 1-800 toll free number and an operator answered. She asked me what topic I wanted to talk about, and I quickly said I wanted to talk about Tom's new set because they had recently redesigned the look and removed Tom's desk. She said, "please hold...", and I could tell I was actually about to talk to Tom because I could hear him talking to another caller on my phone.

I started planning all the rude things I would say once Tom got to my call. I thought about making fun of his hair or his teeth. I thought about just yelling out an obscene word like "cock" or "pussy." I even tried to get a fart on deck in case I wanted to put the phone by my ass. I didn't know exactly what I was gonna do, but whatever it was, it was going to leave a lasting impression on the Tom Snyder Show. 

A couple minutes later I heard Tom say, "okay, going to Steve in Maine...", and at that moment e
verything I was planning to say just went out the window. And to be honest, I don't even remember talking to Tom -- I just remember watching it over and over again when CNBC repeated it 47 more times that week.

Below is the footage of me calling in Tom Snyder's CNBC talk show when I was 15. You be the judge: