Talking to Dave Hill About His New Radio Show on WFMU

Last month, Tom Scharpling ended his comedy radio program The Best Show on WFMU after 13 years, and comedian/musician/author Dave Hill was given his timeslot on listener-supported New Jersey station WFMU. Dave Hill’s new show, aptly titled The Goddamn Dave Hill Show, is set to premiere tonight at 9pm EST. Hill has a lot planned for the new three-hour program, which will be a mix of comedy, music, listener calls, and guests.

I recently had the chance to chat with Hill about The Goddamn Dave Hill Show, trying to escape The Best Show’s shadow, and writing his second book.

How’d you end up doing a show at WFMU? Did they come to you or did you go to them?

Ken Freedman, the station manager, emailed me and asked if I wanted to do it. It was just a few days before it was announced. It wasn’t in the works for a long time at all. He just emailed me asking if I’d be interested in taking over the Best Show slot. So yeah, that’s what happened. I wasn’t expecting it or anything.

What’s your mood going into tonight’s show?

I’m looking forward to it. I’ve gone in a couple times already. I was a guest on Seven Second Delay to just get used to — ‘cause aside from being interviewed and being on other people’s shows, I have no radio experience — I have gone in there a couple times to get acclimated, figuring out how to work the board, the microphone, play music and things like that. Just the very basic things. It’s been a lot of fun. I’m more worried about not breaking anything, just figuring out the technical side of things first and foremost.

I’m a huge fan of The Best Show, as are so many people, so I think anything that goes in its place is gonna be up for a lot of scrutiny. That was my first thought, like ‘Oh shit, I wouldn’t want to be the guy that takes over that timeslot.’ But then, I like trying new things. So far, the tiny bit of on-air time I’ve had, the reaction has been positive and on Twitter and all that stuff. Of course, there’s always gonna be people that are gonna talk shit on message boards or whatever, but it’s my fault for even looking. I try not to look at that sort of thing.

But I’m generally looking forward to it and hoping it goes well and evolves. I’m curious to see what it turns into. I’m [preparing] as much as I can, but I’m also trying to keep open to seeing what it becomes. Playing music that I like and having people on that I like and taking phone calls and things like that. I’ll figure it out. Hopefully, it won’t be a painful process for me or the listeners as that happens.

So you’re taking calls from listeners?

Yeah, I’m gonna do that. Ken Freedman at the station, I think he wanted it to still be a call-in show, to maintain that aspect of it. The tiny bit that I’ve done has been fun so far. I really like that interactive element to anything. I think it’s more inclusive that way. Unfortunately, I won’t have the magic of Jon Wurster, the awesome calls that they would do. I’m not gonna have calls in that way, but listener calls. And then, call-in guests and in-studio guests. See where it goes. Hopefully, it won’t be a disaster and no one will come down to the station and shoot me in the face. That’s my goal, for that not to happen. Not spilling Coke on the board. Little things like that. But hopefully, I’ll do a good enough job not to alienate — I’m sure, without question, I’ll alienate some people. Hopefully, there’ll be enough people who will like it as well.

I think people will give it a chance. I don’t think people will just be upset that you’re not doing The Best Show.

No, I love The Best Show. Tom and I are friends, but we’re pretty different guys. I’m just gonna let it evolve as it does. There’ll be some similar things — music, guests, and things like that, but those are the basic elements of radio. We’ll see where it goes. I’m just excited to get in there. It’s been really fun, the tiny bit I’ve done so far. I’m a little bit like ‘Holy shit, it’s three hours.’ I did an hour last week and that flew by and it was super fun. Three hours is a whole other thing.

But yeah, I’m excited. Jon Benjamin is gonna be on tonight, Doug Gillard, and Phil Anselmo is gonna call in. Those are three good friends and people that I really love what they do, so it’s fun having them. I’ll keep a mix of comedy and music on every show, and I’ll branch out beyond that also and ask all sorts of people to come by.

Are you gonna continue doing your podcast, or will you put that on hold as you get the radio show started?

I think I’ll still do it. One thing I’m really looking forward to about the radio show is the consistency of the schedule ‘cause with the podcast to be honest, I’m pretty horrible about staying on schedule. So it’d be nice to have something that’s every Tuesday at nine o’clock. So the podcast, I think I’ll continue doing it, but I think it’ll needle me to maybe have it be monthly instead of trying and failing to have it weekly. I just kind of suck at staying on schedule when I’m traveling and all that. But yeah, I would like to keep doing it. I think they’re two different things. My podcast is just super laid back, hanging out in my apartment. There’s a feeling to radio — that live audience and things like that — there’s just an energy and immediacy to it.

While the two shows are different, do you feel like the podcast has prepared you at all for hosting a radio show?

I guess so. I would say almost that my experience being a guest on radio has probably prepared me for doing this radio show moreso than my podcast has ‘cause my podcast is super laid back where with radio, you have to keep talking. On the podcast, I have such a relaxed pace. I’ll put my microphone down and go take a piss.

You can’t really do that on the radio.

Yeah, I’m gonna step it up a little bit. [Laughs] I’m gonna try to be more professional with the radio show. I think the experience I have going into the station and with other radio shows has been more instructive, but we’ll see. I don’t know. I honestly have no idea what to expect. If it’s anything like the past couple times going in, it’ll continue to be super fun. I don’t know if I’ll be skipping down the block after tonight’s show or I’ll be like ‘Oh my God, what did I get myself into?’ But I think it’ll be fun. Worst case scenario, I’ll play some good music if all else fails. At least what I think is good music.

What kind of music are you looking to play?

You know, old guy music. Nothing from the past 20 years. It’ll be rock and metal, stuff like that. Indie rock and pop. Typical white guy music. Boring. Actually, it’s funny. That’s one thing that’ll probably be — it seems like Tom and I have similar tastes in music. We’re both pretty huge Led Zeppelin fans. Things like that, I think will be quite similar. I’m also excited. The WFMU library is amazing. Hopefully, it’ll inspire me to check out some stuff I haven’t heard before.

Do you have plans to incorporate live music into the show?

Yeah, I think as much as possible. I’m pretty sure Doug Gillard is gonna play in studio tonight. Ideally, I would like to have live music every show. I think Mike Doughty is gonna be on the second week, and Bridget Everett is coming on. Walter Schreifels. I’ve been talking to a lot of people about coming in and playing. I’m as excited about the musical aspect of the show as anything. If I did nothing but play music for three hours, that would be a blast for me, but there’ll be a lot of other stuff besides that.

Do you have a dream guest for the show?

Dick Cavett, I would like to have on at some point. I’m sure he’ll do it. He’s my dream guest for any scenario pretty much. He and I have done a lot of stuff together in the past. I’m sure he’ll do it at some point. He’s just my favorite human, the smartest funniest guy.

Do you have plans to write another book?

Yeah, I’m writing another one now for Blue Rider Press, which is a Penguin imprint. Hopefully, if I get my shit together, it’ll be out sometime in the next year or so.

Is it similar to your last book, Tasteful Nudes?

I honestly don’t know. I’m at a weird phase with it where it could potentially be two or three different books, but my goal in the next couple weeks was to commit to a direction with it. Maybe another book of essays, but it might a novel instead. I’ve turned in a few different things, basically. I think we’re gonna have a coin toss or something to decide what it’s gonna be.

Talking to Dave Hill About His New Radio Show on WFMU