The last picture-show show



The telltale opening theme of Take Two, KCBX radio’s long-running movie program—featuring the percussive bursts of a film projector starting, popcorn kernels popping, and castanets clacking out a jaunty rhythm—has fallen silent, at least for now. The final episode aired April 23.

Hosts Jim Dee (of the Palm Theatre) and Bob Whiteford (formerly of Insomniac Video) led listeners through popular and obscure cinema each week since February 2002, waxing encyclopedic on actors, directors, studios, A-listers, B movies, awards, trivia, and anything else that tickled their filmic fancy.

Both men cited the need for a breather as a reason to end this chapter of their lives, though they’re hopeful their collaboration will continue as occasional live events. For now, Dee is focusing on converting his solar-powered theater in San Luis Obispo to using digital projectors, while Whiteford—whose quirky video rental business closed in 2008—is working at the Palm and Cuesta College and “hanging on.”

Whiteford summed up the way the world has changed since he and Dee first started their show: One day at the Palm, Whiteford saw another employee rewinding a film reel for the recent French film Love Crime while simultaneously watching Creep Show 2 on his phone.

“The metaphor to that is pretty obvious,” he said.

Over the years, the duo riffed on themes inspired by everything from the Oscars to Occupy and welcomed calls from far-flung listeners. KCBX sent the shows to NPR, which streamed them on its site. The hosts reported hearing from listeners in Mexico City, Ireland, and Australia, as well as someone in the Sierras able to tune in through some atmospheric anomaly.

While movies were the focus, the duo’s interplay was the show’s heart. Dee described himself as the Abbot to Whiteford’s Costello. Whiteford described himself as the monkey to Dee’s organ grinder.

Their favorite moments over the years are too many to list. Whiteford shared about when Dee and he interviewed Malcolm McDowell for the SLO International Film Festival, first chatting with the actor for hours when he came into town; the next night, they were to interact with him on stage. Whiteford recalls the event starting late, his getting “three sheets to the wind” while waiting, and his walking onto the stage, alone, to see McDowell glaring at him: “He gives me the Alex from Clockwork Orange face and says, ‘You fucked up your cue, Bob!’”

While realistic about their current challenges, both men are hopeful for what tomorrow may bring.

“The way I see it now: I ain’t done yet,” Whiteford said. “I’ve still got more stuff in me, and I can’t wait to get on to whatever it is. I’m not done by any stretch, and I know Jim isn’t done either.”

“We’re not going anywhere,” Dee said.

KCBX Director of Programming and New Media Marisa Waddell said she was sorry to see them go and that she tried to convince them to stay on the air. The 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. slot will next go to a 13-week series from South Carolina, Song Travels, in which Michael Feinstein explores the Great American Songbook.

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