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The Voice Behind Onion Radio News

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The Voice Behind Onion Radio News

Diversions

The Voice Behind Onion Radio News

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NEAL CONAN, host:

And there is in fact this bulletin of fake radio news.

(Soundbite of fake news bulletin from doyle redland, onion radio news)

Mr. P.S. MUELLER (as Doyle Redland): Al Qaeda vows to win the war on tourism. It's the Onion Radio News, this is Doyle Redland reporting.

Responding to a recent rash of vacation related events, members of al Qaeda are saying they will not falter until they have won the war on tourism. Preventing American and European families from enjoying their packaged tours and weekend getaways is, according to top al Qaeda officials, crucial to defending the tenants of Islam.

Unidentified Man (as Ahmed al-Bez(ph)): (through translator) We will not stop until every knick knack shop and floatie pen is gone from the world.

Mr. MUELLER: Al-Qaeda spokesperson Ahmed al-Bez(ph).

Critics of al Qaeda say the war on tourism can never be won, and now suggest a name change to the Enduring Holy Struggle Against Sunbathing.

Doyle Redland, for the Onion Radio News.

CONAN: P.S. Mueller is also known as Doyle Redland. He's a syndicated cartoonist as well as the voice of Onion Radio News. Unlike many of his tribe who've gone on to places like The Daily Show, on Comedy Central, he has decided to stay in Wisconsin. He joins us now from Madison Wisconsin, in the studios of member station WHA.

Thanks very much for being with us today.

Mr. MUELLER: Thank you Neal, and hello Wausau.

(Soundbite of applause)

CONAN: And I guess that's Doyle we're speaking with today.

Mr. MUELLER: Well, that's a little bit of Doyle. You know Doyle was sitting here next to me fondly remembering those days when he was a lad in Ohio, when at age six his father would take him whaling.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

CONAN: We're having a little microphone difficulty.

Mr. MUELLER: Are you there?

CONAN: Yes, we can hear you now Doyle.

Mr. MUELLER: (Unintelligible) microphone difficulty.

CONAN: Yes, maybe the stentorian tones were so severe as they clipped the microphone there. How do you get in...

Mr. MUELLER: Well then I'll just be Pete Mueller.

CONAN: You'll just be Pete. How do you get into that character of Doyle?

Mr. MUELLER: It's a lot like dropping a needle into a groove and rolling my eyes back and summoning this strange energy that emits from Onion HQ in New York City. You know, I submit myself to these people.

CONAN: And their will takes over your mind and body and you just go into the studio and do it?

Mr. MUELLER: It's incredible that they're so powerful, because, you know, as everyone knows the Onion staff writers are all very old.

CONAN: Unlike you?

Mr. MUELLER: Oh, yeah, I'm only 54. They call me The Kid.

CONAN: We're talking with, well, P.S. 'Pete' Mueller, the syndicated cartoonist who's also the voice of Doyle Redland on Onion Radio News. And you're listening to TALK OF THE NATION, from NPR News.

Mr. MUELLER: We began doing these things before the turn of the century.

CONAN: Really? That would be before radio was invented.

Mr. MUELLER: Uh, the last century.

CONAN: Oh, you mean this current century.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MUELLER: I'm so sorry to have misled you...knowingly. I have to tell the kids in the neighborhood to never take me seriously.

CONAN: And do they do that?

Mr. MUELLER: You know, some of them, except they, you know I'm walking around in this middle-aged man suit, you know, and they, you know, they look at me and they go, no, no, no, I better take him seriously just for default reasons.

CONAN: Presumably because you're bald.

Mr. MUELLER: Yes. Yes. You know actually I went bald thirty years ago. Got a toupee and that fell out.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MUELLER: And now it doesn't so much grow anymore it just accumulates.

CONAN: Now, you are also a syndicated cartoonist. What's the difference in the kind...

Mr. MUELLER: Well, I'm self-syndicated.

CONAN: In other words, those local kids put you in their neighborhood newspaper.

Mr. MUELLER: Uh, pretty much, and quite a few of them actually. In recent years I've done a lot more magazine work. You'll see my stuff in Field and Stream, as a matter of fact, as long as you're on the subject of hunting. A very good magazine. And I occasionally find my way into the New Yorker, and Reader's Digest, and Madison's own Progressive.

CONAN: What's the difference in the kind of humor that you're trying to get across in one panel in a cartoon as opposed to that, well, the infinite palate that radio offers.

Mr. MUELLER: One has to do with what a fellow is doing, you know, by himelf with one single sheet of paper and just a handful of words. And the other has to do with radio, which requires you fill, fill, fill...

CONAN: (Laughing). Tell me about it.

Mr. MUELLER: You pad, and fill, and stretch, and look at it, it's five minute to the news Neal. You're not off the hook yet.

CONAN: Nope, I'm not.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: And I keep having a guest who asks me the questions.

(MORE LAUGHTER)

CONAN: I wonder, how come when the rest of the Onion went to New York, you stayed there in Madison.

(Soundbite of applause)

Mr. MUELLER: I love Wisconsin. Nothing will get me out of here. My wife is from Wisconsin, and my dear in-laws live just 30 miles from here.

CONAN: A terribly controversial statement here in Wausau.

Mr. MUELLER: My co-producer, director, and engineer, Mr. Steve Gotcher also says "Hey" to all his old pals at North Country Radio. And he too is a Wisconsiner. The rest of them make fun of us.

CONAN: Well the rest of them started in Madison and moved on to what they like to describe as bigger and better things.

Mr. MUELLER: It shows you just what a bunch of malcontents they are. They had to leave perfection to find something nasty.

CONAN: Can you give us any hints on breaking stories on Onion Radio News?

Mr. MUELLER: Well, let's see, what is it we did today? I don't even know whether or not that was top secret, but I was recording earlier today and yeah, we did have a breaking story about an incredible new dialysis machine that will do the work of ten kidneys. At the end of the story it's challenged by a single man.

CONAN: And if somebody wanted to hear this exciting development, would they log on to the Onion's website?

Mr. MUELLER: Well, I'm not going to...uhh, I believe it'll be airing in the next couple of weeks. We tend to produce ahead. So, actually, our fellow co-producer Mr. Chris Karwowski, back at Onion HQ in New York City, takes this pool of bits that we record and he places them both on the website and with the iTunes people. It's like magic.

CONAN: Pete Mueller, thanks very much for being with us today. Good luck with the Onion Radio News and Doyle Redland.

Mr. MUELLER: Thanks for having me Neal, take care. Take care, Wausau.

(Soundbite of applause)

CONAN: I couldn't have said it any better. Thank you, Wausau, we appreciate your being with us.

I'm Neal Conan, NPR News, in Wausau, Wisconsin.

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