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Dr. Demento

Radio Personality

Born: 2 April 1941
Birthplace: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Best known as: The veteran radio host who plays wacky novelty songs

Name at birth: Barret Hansen

Dr. Demento is the on-air name of Barry Hansen, the longtime host of a syndicated radio show in the U.S. that featureed novelty and comedy records. Hansen studied music at Reed College in Portland, Oregon and at the University of California at Los Angeles. He first used the Dr. Demento moniker in 1970, in his early days as a Los Angeles disc jockey. By 1974 he was nationally syndicated, playing rare novelty songs from the past and present, from Spike Jones and Tom Lehrer to Frank Zappa and Weird Al Yankovic. (Dr. Demento is famous for giving Weird Al his first big break.) The Dr. Demento radio show lasted for 40 years until finally going off the air in June of 2010, though the "good doctor" continued with online podcasts. Hansen is also an avid record collector and expert on the history of recording who has produced several compilations, mostly for Rhino Records. He was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2009.

Extra credit: Before becoming a radio personality, Hansen was a roadie for the rock band Canned Heat.

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More on Dr Demento from Infoplease:

  • Dr. Demento - Biography of Dr. Demento, The veteran radio host who plays wacky novelty songs
  • Tom Lehrer - Biography of Tom Lehrer, Composer of the satirical tune "The Vatican Rag"
  • 'Weird Al' Yankovic - Biography of 'Weird Al' Yankovic, Singer of "I Lost on Jeopardy" and other parody tunes
  • Jandek on Corwood - Starring Dr Demento, Jake Austen, Nils Bernstein, Ben Edmonds, Calvin Johnson
  • Selected Biographies: D - Selected biographies of well-known people and fictional characters

Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

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