|Birth Day:||April 2, 1941|
|Birth Place:||Minneapolis, United States|
|Height:||in centimeters - N/A|
|Weight:||in kg - N/A|
He worked as the Program Director of KRRC in 1960 after attending Reed College. He later received a master's degree in ethnomusicology and folklore from UCLA.
Hansen was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the son of an amateur pianist. He claims to have started his vast record collection as early as age 12, when he found "that a local thrift store had thousands of old 78 RPM records for sale at 5 cents each." He attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where he was promoted to Program Director of KRRC in 1960 and General Manager in 1961. He wrote his senior thesis on Alban Berg's opera Wozzeck and Claude Debussy's opera Pelléas et Mélisande. He graduated in 1963, and later studied at UCLA, from which he earned a master's degree in folklore and ethnomusicology.
Hansen created the persona of Dr. Demento in 1970 while working at Pasadena station KPPC-FM. The positive listener response to the offbeat novelties that Hansen included in his rock oldies show led to his eventually turning it into an all-novelty show. At the end of 1971, he moved to KMET in Los Angeles. From 1972 to 1983, he performed a four-hour live show on KMET. From about 1974 on, the local Los Angeles market was the full 4 hours and the nationally syndicated show was cut to 2 hours. The show became a two-hour live show on KLSX and, after that station converted to a talk-only format in 1995, moved again to KSCA, where it remained until that station changed to a Spanish-language format, in February 1997.
His weekly show went into national syndication in a two-hour all-novelty format in 1974, produced by his manager Larry Gordon of Gordon/Casady and during 1978–92 was syndicated by the Westwood One Radio Network. The Westwood One period marked the height of the show's national popularity; it was carried in most major radio markets, airing mainly on FM rock stations, usually late on Sunday evenings. The producer Westwood One assigned to work with Hansen from 1978 to 1982 was Lynnsey Guererro, a former track star from UCLA and Senior Producer at the company. In 1982, he handed off the show to a new producer from San Diego, professional journalist Robert Young. It was under Young's guidance that the show gained in popularity, mainly due to his willingness to foster relationships with national media and with nationally known and up-and-coming artists, including John Mammoser, Judy Tenuta, Emo Philips, Pinkard and Bowden, Wally Wingert, and Mark Davis (Richard Cheese). Young accompanied Dr. Demento to Portland, Ore.; Dallas, Texas; New York City; San Diego; Montreal; Phoenix; and other cities to do live performances and PR Events, taking photos, setting up interviews and even 'running the board' at some of the live shows. He left the radio network in 1990 during a business downturn. In January 2014 Young released an e-book titled "Producing Demento," about his memories of working on the show.
After earning his master's degree, he lived for two years "in a big house on a hill" in Topanga Canyon with members of the rock band Spirit. He also served briefly as a roadie for Spirit, and for Canned Heat, before being hired as an A&R man, or talent scout, for Specialty Records. The Doctor began his weekly radio show while working for Specialty, and he later worked for Warner Bros. Records. He was responsible for preparing many of the "Warner Brothers Loss Leaders" compilation albums of rock music issued by Warner Bros. in the 1970s, which featured new artists and new material from established Warner Brothers Records artists. These were advertised on the inner sleeves of WB's current releases—and were only available by ordering direct from WB using a coupon printed on the record sleeve—and were priced at $1 per LP. Most of these releases were 2-LP sets, so they were priced at $2 at a time when a "double LP" typically carried a $9.98 list price. Using his real name of Barry Hansen, he also contributed many articles on rock music to magazines including Rolling Stone, Down Beat and Hit Parader, liner notes on various late-1960s and early 1970s albums, and in 1976 contributed the chapter on "Rhythm and Gospel" in The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll.
Dr. Demento may be best known for bringing parodist "Weird Al" Yankovic to national attention. In 1976, Hansen spoke at Yankovic's school where Yankovic gave a self-recorded tape of comedy songs and parodies to Hansen. The first song, "Belvedere Cruisin'" about the family station wagon, was featured on the show. Positive listener response encouraged Yankovic to record more parodies; Hansen then funded Yankovic's first EP, Another One Rides the Bus, which eventually led to a record deal and pop chart success in the 1980s and beyond. Hansen has appeared in a number of Weird Al's music videos as well as in Weird Al's movie UHF.
From 1992 to 2000, the show was syndicated by On the Radio Broadcasting. Hansen, under the name "Talonian Productions," handled syndication himself from 2000 until discontinuing syndication in 2010 (though Hansen did not reveal he was Talonian until being forced to respond to significant criticism of the company in 2007; this despite the fairly obvious fact that Talonian had no involvement in any other show than Dr. Demento). Between the mid-1970s and the mid-1990s, Hansen continued to do live broadcasts on KMET and other Los Angeles area stations, in addition to his weekly taped syndicated show. He also made occasional television appearances, on such shows as The Gong Show (on the 1988-89 revival), Bobby's World, The Simpsons, and on the Barnes and Barnes music video for "Fish Heads".
Starting in the late 1980s, the show began to lose affiliates, a victim of media consolidation and other changes in the radio industry that were pushing many alternative rock stations and individualistic broadcasters off the air. In 1992, Westwood One dropped the show which was immediately picked up by another syndicator, On the Radio Broadcasting. This allowed the syndicated show to air records which were popular on the local Los Angeles show, but Westwood One would not allow, such as "It's A Gas" by Alfred E. Neuman and "Moose Turd Pie" by Utah Phillips. It also allowed Whimsical Will's Demented News, a fixture of the local Los Angeles show, to also air on the national show.
In 2000, Hansen formed Talonian Productions to syndicate the show himself. According to Hansen, the show steadily lost advertisers, and as such, he had to restructure the distribution of the show from the usual barter system to a system in which stations pay a rights fee for the program (though he apparently made exceptions in some major markets, such as WLUP in Chicago). He stated in October 2007 that "unless the show's financial situation changes soon, I will be unable to continue the show much longer." After approximately two and a half years, and no significant change in the show's financial situation, the Dr. Demento official website announced on June 6, 2010, that the show that aired that weekend would be the final broadcast in the terrestrial radio version; however, new episodes of the online streaming version would still continue to be produced for the foreseeable future, with new episodes posted every Saturday. In addition, according to the site, "...by special agreement and due to contractual considerations, a version of the internet show will be heard weekly on KACV-FM (in Amarillo, Texas), at least through the summer." The show was removed from KACV-FM in January 2011.
From 2003 to 2005, XM Satellite Radio aired a weekly "Best of Dr. Demento" show (featuring a mixture of old and new material) initially on the Special X channel and then on the 60s on 6, Deep Tracks, and Laugh USA channels.
He was interviewed in the 2005 documentary film about outsider musician Wild Man Fischer, titled Derailroaded: Inside The Mind Of Wild Man Fischer. In September 2007, Dr. Demento portrayed the role of Hippocrates on The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd.
Beginning in approximately 2006, The Dr. Demento Show began offering pay-per-show audio streaming at the show's official website. Large archives from 1992 to the present, as well as a few select archives from the early 1970s, are available, but most of the syndicated programs from 1978 to 1992 are not because the broadcast rights are currently in limbo (Dial Global and later Cumulus Media purchased Westwood One in the early 2010s, but spun off several of its music shows to Compass Media Networks; it's unknown whether the Dr. Demento syndicated archive was among the programs). Some live local shows which aired in Los Angeles from this period were added. As part of the contract between Dr. Demento and radio stations, radio stations were prohibited from streaming the program online. Several radio stations were forced to drop the program because of this policy, thus reducing Dr. Demento's affiliate count, (at the end of the show's terrestrial run only six stations were carrying the show, versus over 100 at its peak), further exacerbating the show's financial problems and inability to sell advertising. Despite the show's terrestrial cancellation, new online episodes are expected to be produced for the foreseeable future. The show ended its terrestrial broadcast on a cliffhanger, with the last terrestrial broadcast devoted to songs involving the word "big" and the first post-terrestrial broadcast devoted to songs involving the word "little."
In addition to his syndicated show, he still makes occasional guest appearances for other shows. Among his guest-hosting stints were for Montel Williams on the now-defunct Air America Media (despite the network's politically driven format, the guest stint followed his normal format of novelty music, specifically Halloween music, since the show aired on October 30, 2009, the day before Halloween) on Anything Anything with Rich Russo on Super Bowl Sunday in 2011 and 2013, and annually with classical music host Jim Svejda on New Year's Eve.
In April 2013, Meep Morp Studios began seeking donations to fund a documentary named Under the Smogberry Trees: The True Story of Dr. Demento through Kickstarter. Under the Smogberry Trees was meant to be a filmed history of “The Dr. Demento Show”, covering the lasting impact of funny music on popular culture, and including current interviews with Dementites connected to and/or inspired by the show. The Kickstarter campaign ended successfully on May 4, 2013 with a total of $118,722 in donations from 1,764 backers. On September 27, 2016, Hansen announced he had terminated his support for Meep Morp's version of the film, was working on producing his own version of "Under the Smogberry Trees" with Devin Lucas as director, and forbade Meep Morp from continuing to use his name or likeness for their film. Meep Morp's Under the Smogberry Trees, directed by Scott McKenzie, is listed as complete in IMDb as of 2016. The officially endorsed version of Under the Smogberry Trees was largely abandoned after its initial announcement.
In 2013, Meep Morp Studio put out a boxed set of all 17 of "Dr. Demento's Basement Tapes" to date. The box set was limited to just 50 copies, available only by donating to the Kickstarter campaign for "Under the Smogberry Trees", the Dr. Demento documentary. Each box was hand signed and numbered by Dr. Demento himself.
Hansen was married to Sue Hansen (née Sue Charles) from 1983 until her death on September 10, 2017. Sue was a former clerk and training officer at the Union Pacific railroad for 12 years. Hansen describes himself as "an armchair railfan", sometimes sampling his extensive collection of railroad-related songs on his show.
Dr. married his girlfriend Sue Hansen in 1983.
Currently, Dr. Demento is 81 years, 5 months and 29 days old. Dr. Demento will celebrate 82nd birthday on a Sunday 2nd of April 2023. Below we countdown to Dr. Demento upcoming birthday.