Dan Carlin's Hardcore History: Addendum - The Fabulous Bill Barrett

And now, the show with the most handsome voice talent

working today, It’s Common Sense with Bill Barrett,

hosted by that Dan Carlin guy.

That voice that you heard just there in the introduction

as he said himself, was Bill Barrett.

The number one choice that I would have had

if somebody had said to me in 2005,

when we started podcasting, that you could have any…

sort of big voice announcer in the entire world,

who would you pick?

And I would pick Bill Barrett,

for reasons that will become apparent,

I think, as we talk about him.

We lost him yesterday,

um, August 17th, 2022, to cancer,

as so many of us have lost friends and relatives

to that terrible disease.

And in Bill’s case, I wanted to do this tribute

because of all he’s done for us.

I hope that Bill’s family and friends are okay with this.

Um, but given all that he’s done for us,

it would be ungrateful, I think,

to not celebrate this amazing person.

And first of all, point out that what you hear

when you hear Bill in any of our shows

is a tiny fraction of what Bill does.

Bill was not a voice announcer as a main gig.

That was just sort of a little side gig he did.

Bill was a star.

In the Pacific Northwest, up here,

and in country music radio, Bill is a celebrity.

I mean, this is a guy who has gone

into the country radio hall of fame.

He spent almost half a century in radio,

just in the area that I live in.

Even longer, if you include outside that area,

he’s a three-time winner of the country music

small market on-air personality of the year.

I mean, this is a guy that is huge

and could have been in New York or Los Angeles

or any of the big radio markets had he wanted to,

but like so many of the media people

that end up in places like Eugene, Oregon,

there’s a lot of small cities out there

that fall into a similar category

where you get these media people

who should be on their way up to New York

or Los Angeles or Chicago or one of those places,

but finds that the quality of life is such

that they’ll trade the success and the perks

that would have come with something

like a New York radio gig, right?

The number one media market in the country,

which Bill could have easily worked in

for the overall life satisfaction

that comes with working in a place like this.

The first reporting job I ever had

was in Eugene, Oregon,

and we used to joke at the station that we worked at

that it was view in lieu of pay,

but the view was fantastic.

The view for Bill Barrett was fantastic.

He was…

the number one guy forever here,

and when he went from KUGN Radio,

you know, with the number one country show,

and moved to another station,

they instantly had the number one country show,

which showed you it wasn’t about song programming,

programmers, decisions on marketing or branding

or contests or anything like that,

it was Bill and his co-host, Tim Fox,

who, by the way, I’ve known Bill for almost 30 years.

I’ve known Tim longer.

He’s the first media person, I think,

outside of the station that I worked in

that I met when I came to Oregon,

and the perfect piece of chemistry

that made the whole Bill Barrett thing

greater than the sum of its parts,

and they always had a third person.

Tracy Berry did it, and Tracy Berry’s been doing it

as of recently, and she’s fabulous.

My wife did it for years.

Co-host to Bill Barrett and Tim Fox,

the bear and the fox, as they were called.

And that’s what Bill Barrett was like, by the way.

If you combine, like, one part Jonathan Winters,

there was a little bit of Jonathan Winters in Bill,

in the sense that he was an improvisational genius,

and I could schedule a ten-minute recording session

with him, and 40 minutes later, we’re still,

you know, riffing off stuff, and Bill is giving me stuff

that I didn’t write for liners that just came to him

off the top of his head, and you’d end up

with wonderful stuff, and just this wonderful little session

with this fabulous personality,

whose idea of calling somebody a bad name,

by the way, sometimes was, you know,

usually was something like Knucklehead.

A mixture of, like, Jonathan Winters

and, like, the big bear from the Jungle Book.

Cartoon, Baloo, without the hipster side of him.

And Bear was one of his nicknames, right?

The bear and the fox, and Tim Fox, like I said,

the perfect, uber-talented foil for Bill’s work,

and then the third person in there.

I mean, he was just awesome.


And could’ve been a star anywhere.

I told Ben, at the time, if there was, or is,

or will be a Ben, the once and future producer

of this program, when we got Bill to agree

to do this for us, I said,

we just got the best announcer in the world.

The number one guy I would’ve chosen from anywhere.

And, God, he was wonderful. And early on,

when we’re in 2005, and podcasting is an uber-amateur affair,

to have somebody that sounded like

one of the major broadcast networks

brought in a big voice to do this,

set us apart from the get-go.

From the very get-go. I mean, Bill, he wouldn’t make,

I mean, he wouldn’t think twice about it,

because he was really an old radio guy

that podcasts never really registered with him.

But, I mean, he must have been one of the first

big, professional voice announcers ever to appear

on a podcast. I mean, I’m not saying he was the first

because I don’t know any better,

and there were other people out there,

but he must have been one of the very early pioneers.

And on the Hardcore History Show,

we’ve always been very straight with the marketing

and the branding and the imaging, as they call it in radio.

But with Common Sense, which was our political

and current events show, we always tried

to take the edge off what was to come.

And besides me being loud, and talking very fast,

and having an edge that I would say was passionate,

but critics might say was angry,

I think the self-deprecating sort of marketing

and branding and imaging that we did,

and the turning lemons into lemonade,

you know, making something like loud, angry,

fast-talking people into a plus,

all that sort of stuff was meant to offset

the downsides of what you were gonna get with me.

What’s funny is all the radical stuff from years ago

that I used to have to warn the audience about,

the political, like, midline, or median attitudes

in places like the United States,

but maybe the whole world, has moved so far

that the stuff I was trying to, you know,

sort of cushion the blow for my audience back then,

in terms of, you know, what you’re about to hear

may shock you, but don’t worry,

it all seemed pretty darn…

blase now, doesn’t it?

That’s how extreme things are.

But that has nothing to do with Bill Barrett.

He helped put this show on the map, I think,

and give us a sense where…

when listeners might give you a few seconds

to see if this was worth listening

to any more of this podcast.

Back in the early days of podcasting,

I mean, all you had to do is listen sometimes

to the audio quality to know,

I don’t want to listen to any more after 30 seconds.

Bill made you realize that,

Bill made you realize right away,

whoa, what is this?

And it was because he had a voice that just…

forced you to sort of prick up your ears and listen.

Let me say at the outset here,

that what you’re about to hear

turns out to be a little self-serving.

It wasn’t intentional, but what Bill did for us

was all of this branding and imaging and marketing.

And so, the only thing of Bill’s work,

the only pieces of Bill’s work

that I have the rights to rebroadcast,

are the stuff he did for us.

And so, he’s doing such a great job

of branding and imaging for us,

there’s no way for me to expose you

to some of Bill’s stuff without it reflecting…

positively on us. And once again, I suppose,

that I am piggybacking on Bill’s talent

for my own benefit.

And he’d have some wonderful comeback line

if I had said that to him.

But let me expose you to a little bit of a guy

who’s been a part of my and my wife’s life

for almost 30 years,

and who we are all, especially in this neck of the woods,

a lot poorer now that he’s gone.

The fabulous Bill Barrett.

Hi, this is Bill.

Dan doesn’t have time to solicit, so I will.

I’m the panhandler of podcasting.

Would you make a donation, please?

If not, we’re gonna send somebody to your house.

You better protect your kneecaps.

Thank yous all very much.

Welcome to Common Sense with Dan Carlin.

For Russian, press one.

For German, press two.

For any Latin-based Romance languages, press three.

Welcome to the people of France

who are listening to The Common Sense.

We say vive la France and vive la…

Let’s see, vive la intelligence.

Congratulations for thinking outside the bun.

You Europeans and Pacific Rim people,

yeah, I’m looking at you, Australia.

You people are just as susceptible to guilt

as everyone else.

So put a little shrimp on the barbie for Dan and Ben,

because we know where you live, in Australia.

It’s a lovely day down under,

but more important, a nice day to catch up with Dan Carlin.

Well, finally, Igor.

I have all the ingredients to create my masterpiece.

Mix one part liberal, one part conservative.

Yes, yes.

Add a dash of libertarian, a pinch of radical,

and a snifter of moderation, plus a bucket of pragmatism.

And behold, my new creation.

Ha-ha-ha. Neo-prudentism.

Master, we need to find a better name.

I know. How about Common Sense?

I was the guy who wrote the copy for Bill,

except when he improvised, which was all the time.

And he would take what I had written

and become the creative talent equivalent

of a force multiplier,

and make a bunch of sort of drab words on a page sing,

sometimes literally, with everything from accents

to celebrity impersonations,

to characters in a movie,

to characters that only Bill knew where they came from.

Here’s an example.

This Dan Carlin stole a whole idea

for a Common Sense show from Russia.

In old Soviet Union, it was called Communist Sense.

Of course, we sons of Ireland count Dan Carlin

as one of our own.

You see, dispensing clear-headed analysis

in an entertaining fashion is an age-old Irish tradition.

Ah, fuffer and thuckethash.

Dan is one of those unique people.

He just has an innate ability to see both sides of an issue,

and then get mad about both of them.

Oh, Father, I’m so confused.

Don’t worry about it, son. So is he.

Celebrity voice impersonated.

Das ist richtig. Backwärts und sideways.

We always get there first.

This Common Sense racket…

This, uh, this, uh, this, uh, this Common Sense racket,

yeah, used to be independent.

Yeah, used to be, uh, independent.

Now that this Dan Carlin guy’s gotten it off the ground,

we’re moving in on his territory.

Why not?

Hey, why not?

We’re nonpartisan, right?

We’re practical neoprudentists, too.

And if the host of a podcast needs to, like,

get whacked sometimes, or perhaps just tied up in a cellar,

maybe that’s just Common Sense.

Maybe not.

It’s a judgment call.

It’s a judgment call.


Bill’s humor was instrumental in setting the right tone

for the current events political show that we did,

which was gonna be intense and, you know,

all passionate and all that sort of stuff.

And when Bill would lead off the entire affair,

sort of setting the tone with some humor,

it was the perfect yin and yang combination.

It gave a real sense that while we might be very interested

and involved in what we were talking about,

we didn’t take ourselves too seriously.

We had recurring characters that Bill kept bringing,

uh, into the opens, and then, uh, a segment

where people would supposedly have written letters

to the show, and Bill would read them.

And here, the man of a thousand voices would read

these supposed letters from all over the planet,

and they would sound exactly the same,

like it was a, you know, American from Middle America.

Check out what I’m talking about here,

and think of how very different it was to have somebody

put a little smile on your face

before you dove into politics and current events.

When was the last time you saw those two things

mixed together, right?

A Mrs. Kayak Khan of Karakora, Mongolia writes,

A Mr. Vinny Boom Bats of the Amazon Rainforest writes,

A Mr….

-…from the Kalahari Desert writes,

Hey, guys, I love the show.

One question, though.

How do you all deal with Dan’s intensity level

on a day-to-day basis?

It must be a grind.

Yes, mister, I can’t pronounce your name, it is.

I deal with it by having as little to actually do

with Dan as possible.

And Ben, the engineer?

Ha ha ha.

Ben is just screwed.

How do I remember that Dan Collin guy?

He was a punk.

A Mr. R. Nader writes,

Fellas, I loved the show.

Until the recent news hit that you were bought

by Cybertech Digisoft.

I mean, with the leather jackets, with the hair.

Oh, my God, the hair.

Am I to believe that the billions of dollars

that such a giant corporation confunneled to Dan

won’t change his independent perspective?

When you’re smiling, when you’re smiling,

the whole world’s got common sense for crying out loud.

I wish I could sing like, I don’t know, like Dan Collin.

Now, there’s a scary thought.

Well, thanks for asking, Mr. Nader.

Just like our legislature,

the host of common sense is completely uncorruptible.

Whomever that person might turn out to be.

After all, Dan Collin is just a symbol.

A symbol of Cybertech Digisoft.

Cybertech Digisoft.

If it’s good, we’ll buy it, and then sell it back to you.

A buck a show, or we’ll call the cops.

One thing that Bill never got on the show

was why I was doing the self-deprecating stuff.

And he would tease me and sometimes just laugh out loud

when he would read the liners that I’d written.

And he would see the self-deprecating comments

I would make.

And it was a way of offsetting what comes off sometimes

maybe as a know-it-all, or an arrogance that in reality,

I mean, I don’t think is there,

but Bill didn’t think was there.

He wouldn’t have come back with the sort of things he did,

which, well, you could listen to his reaction sometimes

when he would hear the ways we would approach

the branding or the imaging.

And he would always try when he could

to slip in something of his own

that had a positive thing instead of the sorts of things

I used to write for myself.

Well, Mr. Cowell, thanks for pointing out

the elephant in the living room.

If you haven’t figured out Dan’s got a way too high

an opinion of himself, you’ve never worked with him.

Take it from me, he shares more qualities

with William Shatner than just his voice.

Way to run yourself down, Dan.

Smothering you in mushrooms and onions since 1994.

He’s Dan Carlin, and this is Common Sense.

What the hell did that mean?

Didn’t care for this episode?

Well, you’re probably not alone.

The good news is there are lots of past shows available

from dancarlin.com.

A mere 99 cents will get you an instant download

of one of the classic Common Sense shows of the past.

Back when it was worth paying for.

Go to dancarlin.com.

Boy, you’re really back-selling your show here.

If you think something’s missing,

it’s probably the Ritalin.

That’s it, keep beating yourself up.

I’m gonna have to come over there and slap you.

As I said earlier, Bill had a Jonathan Winters

sort of vibe to him in terms of his ability

to just come out with stuff spontaneously

and endlessly in turning our, you know,

short little recording sessions into rather,

you know, long, enjoyable affairs.

And I laughed listening to some of these raw tapes.

I mean, the funny thing is, is Bill could, you know,

chastise me for my self-deprecating liners

that I wrote, but he had no problem having some fun with me

in some of the ad-lib statements.

I mean, you know, listen to this stuff.

Giving you common sense, giving you twice,

giving you more bullshit than you can handle.

Dan Carlin.

He’s a jokester, he’s a prankster,

he’s a sometimes wannabe wankster, he’s…


Dan Carlin.

I just wanna love him and pet him and hug him

until he starts talking, George.

I’ll give you some hardcore history.

How about my last prostate exam?

Well, thanks for asking, Mr. Swaggart.

Even though Dan can be pious, self-righteous,

and overdramatic, and he likes to do

a little self-anointing now and then,

he comes by it naturally.

No experience necessary.

Living proof of what happens when cousins marry.

He’s Dan Carlin, and this is Common Sense.

Bill had the ability to talk in a high range

all the way to the low range, and he called the low range

the red zone.

I think that’s an NFL reference, but I’m not sure.

But we loved the red zone voice,

and we would have Bill so often do multiple versions

of different things that we wrote

in a bunch of different voices, but we, you know,

when he got to that red zone voice,

that just hit the sweet spot for us.

I mean, listen to some of these examples

of Bill going way down in the range

of something that sounds like an old NFL film’s production

with some classic voice from the 50s or 60s.

You know, in that announcer range

that is just so rare.

It seems like everybody with a political show

has a deep voice to intro the material.

Okay, let’s play.

-…(COUGHS TENSELY), okay, let’s play like the big boys.

And now, Dan Carlin.

There’s a reason it doesn’t sound like the old media.

That’s because it’s the new media.

Taking you to non-partisan places you’ve never been to

and leaving you there.

I say, it’s a combination of the best

that public broadcasting has to offer.

And NFL football.

Beating the ideas into the turf until something breaks.

Common Sense with Dan Carlin.

I think one of the best barometers

of what kind of talent Bill had is to notice that

most people who could perform and do

what we just listened to Bill do,

would have been content to be some of the best

voice work actors and voiceover guys in the business.

And yet for Bill, this was a side gig.

This was a little addendum to what he really did,

was hold court over the greatest radio success

in terms of ratings that existed the whole time I was here.

And Bill beat my numbers easily by like double.

And that’s how good of a program he and Tim and Tracy

and my wife had during their heyday.

And Tracy and Tim, as I said, are still doing

the work and going strong.

But I mean, there’s a giant bear-sized hole

in all of our lives right now.

And Bill was a great help in our success.

And like a lot of other people,

including his 11 children and many grandchildren,

everybody’s gonna miss him.

You want any repeats on anything?

Just one thing, buddy.

I’d like you to take it from the top

and run through it all again, would ya?

Gonna miss ya.

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