For this quiz show, accuracy is only a maybe. The prizes are worth no more than ten bucks. And it’s emceed by a stand-up comic who depends on audience members, plucked randomly, for his banter. It may sound unlikely, but Michael Feldman’s "Whad’Ya Know" public radio show is carried by more than 300 Public Radio International affiliates and has more than 1.5 million fans. Billed as "a 25-year overnight sensation," Feldman was dubbed by the Wall Street Journal as "the king of small talk radio." He is zanier than Groucho Marx ("You Bet Your Life"), as credulous as Art Linkletter ("Kids say the darndest things"), and as down-home folksy as Arthur Godfrey – and I am totally addicted to his goofy mix of the routine and the unexpected.
Most shows originate in Feldman’s home town of Madison, Wisconsin, but he is on the road now. For his first ever live broadcast in New Jersey, Feldman comes to the Patriot’s Theater on Saturday, June 25, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Call 800-955-5566 for $35 or $45 tickets to be in the audience and be seated by 10:30 a.m. To be a call-in contestant, go to www.notmuch.com and answer questions such as "Which movies make more money, PG, PG-13, or R rated ones?" to qualify for random selection. Or, during the broadcast, call 800-WHA-KNOW (800-942-5669). NJN will air the show live and repeat it on Sunday at 6 p.m., while Philadelphia’s WHYY is scheduled to air it on Saturday at 2 p.m.
According to Feldman, who is one of six siblings, the current occupation of his parents is dead, but while living they were "mother and CPA." Feldman and his wife have two teenage daughters. After earning a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Wisconsin, he taught English for eight years, then turned to driving a cab and working his way into radio, first as a volunteer, then doing a weekday breakfast show from a greasy spoon, and launching this show on Wisconsin Public Radio in 1985.
Every show begins with Feldman asking the audience "Whad’Ya Know" and the audience roaring back, "Not much! You?" Then Feldman tells some topical jokes for the monologue, "All the News That’s Not," and since he will be slingshot distance from the State House, perhaps he’ll pick up some inside gossip from one of his guests, Charles Webster, the state house bureau chief for the Trentonian. Later he’ll have two other Trentoniana experts, New Jersey booster Marc Mappen, author of "The Encyclopedia of New Jersey," and Janet Evanovich, author of the best selling Stephanie Plum, bounty hunter mysteries, in town the same day for the inaugural Stephanie Plum Daze Festival to benefit Crime Stoppers of Trenton (see story page 20).
Feldman works with his own jazz trio (John Thulin, Jeff Hamann, and Clyde Stubblefield) to provide what Jackie Gleason would call "traveling music" as he works his way through the auditorium to pick a player for the Quiz.
Before each question, Feldman’s sidekick, Jim Packard, lists the categories (People, Places, Current Events, Science, or Things You Should Have Learned in School) and announces the tally. Three out of five answers right and you win. If you get three right and none wrong then it’s a chance at the mythical giant kielbasa of prizes but you must get the remaining two questions correct.
Most shows end with somebody throwing a dart at the map, and then someone from that city gets called up, in real time – while everyone listens to the phone ring and ring and sometimes they have to call another number – to get a description of what that city has to offer. Like the rest of the show, this can be hilarious, funny, – or just plain interesting. You never know, and that’s the charm of Feldman:
People do say the darndest things.
Look for me in the balcony.
Michael Feldman, Saturday, June 25, 10:30 a.m., Patriots Theater at the War Memorial, Memorial Drive, Trenton. Live radio broadcast of "Whad’ya Know?," $35 and $45. 609-984-8400.
Chris Osander teaches acting at Trinity Church, Mercer Street, Princeton, on Monday nights, 7 to 9:30 p.m. through August 22. The cost is $180. The 10-week course began on June 20 but late registration is ok. Call 609-468-9174 for information.
Burlington County Footlighters seeks actors for "The Fantasticks" opening Friday, September 16. Auditions are Wednesday and Thursday, July 6 and 7, at 7 p.m. by appointment at 808 Pomona Road, Cinnaminson. Call Jumbo at 215-760-1945.
Bimi Japanese Steak House at the Westin Princeton Forrestal offers classes in hibachi-style cooking and sushi rolling to groups of 10 or more for private parties or business meetings. Call 609-452-7900 for information.
Artists in Residence, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to placing professional visual and performing artists, writers, and musicians into area schools, is currently accepting proposals from artists for the 2005-’06 school year. Deadline for proposals is Friday, June 24. AIR residencies offer students a unique opportunity to interact with professional artists and explore diverse opportunities for self-expression. All schools are within 15 miles or less of New Hope, Pennsylvania. Call Robin Elliott at 215-862-0735.
Music for Kids
Kids’ MusicRound offers music and movement classes for infants through age four and their special adult opens a new location at the Harmony School, Forrestal Village, Plainsboro. Free, 30-minute sample classes are being held through June 30. Visit www.kidsmusicound.com or call 6609-333-0100 for full schedule and reservation.
Help an underprivileged or homeless child get ready for school with HomeFront’s backpack drive. You will sponsor a specific child, to be assigned by HomeFront. You will be notified of the age, sex, and size of the sponsored child, and you will receive a list of backpack contents and back to school clothes needed for that child. Call Jacqueline Stacey at 609-989-9417, ext. 36 on or by Monday, July 18. Items are to be delivered to HomeFront from August 8 to 12.
LOGO, the new digital network from MTV is developing a documentary on coming out. If you are planning on coming out to your family, at a class reunion, in your hometown, at work, or to friends, and would like to share your experience, send E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Township of East Windsor launches educational and public awareness project to combat nonpoint source pollution to local waterways. To encourage people not to allow pollutants to wash down storm drains, community groups are encouraged to get involved. Materials including stencils and paints are supplied. Call 609-443-3000 ext. 215 for information.
Princeton Medical Institute seeks subjects for depression study to assess the importance of T3 supplementation in unipolar and bipolar patients. 609-921-6050.
Multicultural Dance and Drum
The Drum and Dance Learning Center is now open at the Academy Theater, 146 Route 130 North (next to Mastori’s Diner), in Bordentown, offering classes in belly dance, hip hop, world dance, and West African and Middle Eastern drumming. 609-324-7383.