Theme Time Radio Hour
|Running time||1 hour per episode, weekly|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Home station||Deep Tracks|
Ellen Barkin (announcer)
Pierre Mancini (announcer)
|Created by||Bob Dylan|
|Written by||Eddie Gorodetsky|
|Executive producer(s)||Eddie Gorodetsky|
|Original release||May 3, 2006 – April 11, 2015, September 21, 2020|
|No. of episodes||101|
This article contains content that is written like an advertisement. (September 2019)
Theme Time Radio Hour (TTRH) was a weekly, one-hour satellite radio show hosted by Bob Dylan that originally aired from May 2006 to April 2009. Each episode was an eclectic, freeform mix of blues, folk, rockabilly, R&B, soul, bebop, rock-and-roll, country and pop music, centered on a theme such as "Weather," "Money" or "Flowers" with songs from artists as diverse as Patti Page and LL Cool J. Much of the material for the show's 100 episodes was culled from producer Eddie Gorodetsky's music collection, which reportedly includes more than 10,000 records and more than 140,000 digital files.
Interspersed between the music segments were email readings, listener phone calls, vintage radio air checks, old radio promos and jingles, even older jokes from Dylan ("My grandmother is so tidy she puts newspaper under the cuckoo clock"), poetry recitations; taped messages from a variety of celebrities, musicians and comedians; and commentary from Dylan on the music and musicians as well as miscellanea related to the themes. Dylan repeatedly suggests that musical genres are merely constructed fictions, "ticky-tacky boxes" not to be taken seriously. The show was not live (Dylan taped his portions at various locations and while touring), and the studio location at the so-called "Abernathy Building" was fictitious. Most of the "listener phone calls" and emails were also fictitious, although at least one email read on the show came from an actual listener.
Original broadcast history
The first episode of TTRH was broadcast on May 3, 2006 on the Deep Tracks channel of XM Satellite Radio, a subscription-based satellite radio service, now called Sirius XM Radio after its purchase and merger with competitor Sirius Satellite Radio. TTRH was originally broadcast every Wednesday at 10:00 am ET on Deep Tracks, with several "encore" repeats throughout the week on various channels, including an all-day airing on what was XMX Channel 2.
On November 12, 2008, Sirius XM revised its channel lineup, providing Sirius and XM listeners with access to programming on both networks. As of that date, TTRH began airing every Wednesday at 11 am ET on Deep Tracks – Channel 40 on XM and Channel 16 on Sirius. Several channels on both stations were discontinued in November 2008, including XMX Channel 2, which had aired TTRH all day on Wednesdays.
From 2006 through 2008 AOL Radio offered the show on "AOL Radio featuring XM," a selection of 200 XM radio stations that was available to those with an AOL login and a broadband internet connection. In March 2008, XM Radio and America Online announced that they were ending that relationship "by mutual agreement" and at the end of April, 2008 the XM Radio channels were no longer available on AOL Radio.
Season 3 of TTRH concluded with the show's 100th original episode on April 15, 2009. The theme of that show was "Goodbye." During an April 2009 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Dylan implied that his contract with Sirius XM had ended, and that he had no plans to do additional episodes of TTRH.
In September 2020, SiriusXM announced that a 101st episode of the Theme Time Radio Hour would be produced and aired as part of a marathon rerunning of the whole series. The new episode, with a whiskey theme, is being produced as a tie-in to Dylan's Heaven's Door Spirits.
Sirius XM continued to air rebroadcasts of Theme Time Radio Hour on the Deep Tracks channel to the end of April 2011. At the beginning of May 2011, TTRH was replaced with the "Earle Bailey" show.
On July 25, 2011, Sirius XM issued a press release announcing the launch of a 24/7 "Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour" internet-only channel. The press release noted that channel would launch on Monday, August 15 on channel 801 on Sirius XM Internet Radio and would feature "every one of Dylan's classic 'Theme Time Radio Hour' shows." The release also noted "Sirius XM listeners will hear a show from the Theme Time Radio Hour vault on Deep Tracks, channel 27, on Mondays at 8:00 pm; Wednesdays at 11:00 am; Thursdays at 12:00 am and Sundays at 8:00 am (all times Eastern)," marking the show's return to satellite radio, if only in rebroadcasts. The internet channel and radio rebroadcasts were discontinued in August 2013.
Seasons and episode lists
Season 1 of TTRH consists of fifty episodes, airing from May 3, 2006 to April 18, 2007.
Season 2 of TTRH ran from September 19, 2007 to April 2, 2008 for a total 25 new shows. Three Season 2 shows, "Halloween," "Leftovers" (Thanksgiving) and the "Christmas/New Year's Special" were repeats from Season 1.
Season 3 of TTRH ran from Wednesday, October 8, 2008, to Wednesday, April 15, 2009 for a total 25 new shows. Three Season 3 episodes, "President's Day," "Christmas/New Year's Special," and "Number One" were repeats from earlier seasons.
The "Kiss" episode, 2015
In early February 2015, Berlin radio station Radio Eins made a surprise announcement  that it would broadcast a heretofore unknown episode of Theme Time Radio Hour, titled "Kiss," as a special episode of the station's Friendly Takeover series. The Radio Eins "Kiss" episode was broadcast on February 11, 2015 and later by SiriusXM and the BBC. Due to time constraints, both the Radio Eins and BBC versions of the "Kiss" episode were edited by the respective stations, and neither broadcast the complete hour-long show.
Show track listings:
- "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss)" - Betty Everett (1964)
- "Always Late with Your Kisses" - Lefty Frizzell (1951)
- "Passionate Kisses" - Lucinda Williams (1988)
- "Kissing At Midnight" - Billy Boy Arnold (1957)
- "Kiss" - Prince (1986)
- "Kissing in the Dark" - Memphis Minnie (1953)
- "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye" - Danny White (1963)
- "Pucker Paint" - Huelyn Duvall (1960)
- "Lipstick on Your Collar" - Connie Francis (1959)
- "(Till) I Kissed You" - The Everly Brothers (1959)
- "Let’s Kiss and Make Up" - The Falcons (1963)
- "Baby, Let Me Kiss You One More Time" - Roy Head and The Traits (1958)
- "Last Kiss" - J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers (1964)
- "A Kiss to Build a Dream On" - Louis Armstrong (1951)
The "Whiskey" episode, September 21, 2020
Dylan resurrected his Theme Time Radio Hour format when he broadcast a two-hour special on the theme of "Whiskey" on Sirius Radio on September 21, 2020.
Show track listings:
- “Quiet Whiskey” — Wynonie Harris (1953)
- “If the River Was Whiskey” — Charlie Poole (1930)
- “Whiskey River” — Willie Nelson (1973)
- “Bottleneck Blues” (excerpt) — Sylvester Weaver and Walter Beasley (1927)
- “Whiskey Sununu Odia” (aka "Whiskey Sonn Onuo Da") — Edmund Tagoe and Frank Essien (1929)
- “He’s Got All the Whiskey” — Bobby Charles (1972)
- “Good Whiskey (And a Bad Woman)” — Timmie Rogers (1946)
- “The Whiskey Makes You Sweeter” — Laura Cantrell (2000)
- “Drinking Again” — Frank Sinatra (1967)
- “I’ve Been Drinking” (excerpt) — Jeff Beck / Rod Stewart (1968)
- “Corn Whiskey” — Jimmy Witherspoon (1952)
- “Ain’t That Whiskey Hot” — Billie Harbert (1954)
- “One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer” — Alfred Brown (1968)
- “Rye Whiskey” — Harry Choates (1948)
- “Coming through the Rye” — John C. Reilly (2020)
- “Coming Through the Rye” — Julie London (1959)
- “Mountain Dew” — The Stanley Brothers (1960)
- “Moonshine Whiskey” — Van Morrison (1971)
- “Bourbon from Heaven” (excerpt) — Dean Martin (1964?)
- “Mack the Knife” (excerpt )— Louis Armstrong (1955)
- “Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)” — Lotte Lenya (1930)
- “Jockey Full of Bourbon “— Tom Waits (1985)
- “Tennessee Whiskey” — George Jones (1983)
- “Whiskey in the Jar” — Thin Lizzy (1972)
- “The Parting Glass” — The Clancy Brothers (1959)
- “Hangover Blues” — Byllye Williams (1954)
- “Tuff” (excerpt) — Ace Cannon (1962)
- “Let’s Go to the Liquor Store” — Tuff Green (1949)
- “Top Cat” (underscore) — Hoyt Curtin (1961)
Intro and closing credits
Although uncredited in the closing credits, actress Ellen Barkin read the opening "Night/Night time in the Big City" introduction for each episode during the first two seasons of the show, with the exception of the Season 1 Halloween episode (read by comedian Steven Wright). Barkin read the "Big City" intro intermittently during Season 3.
The production credits were usually read at the close of each show. The usual theme music played under the closing credits was "Top Cat (Underscore)" which can be found on the CD compilation Tunes from the Toons: The Best of Hanna-Barbera, issued in 1996 and reissued in 2002. The music is an acoustic version of the theme song from the 1960s cartoon Top Cat. The show's usual credits were as follows:
- Host: Bob Dylan
- Producer: Eddie Gorodetsky
- Associate Producer: Season 1 – Sonny Webster. Season 2 – Ben Rollins. Season 3 – Nina Fitzgerald-Washington
- Continuity: "Eats" (spelling unknown) Martin
- Editor: Damian Rodriguez
- Supervising Editor: Rob Macomber
- Research Team: Diane Lapson, Bernie Bernstein
- Additional Research: Season 1 – Lynne Sheridan, Kimberly Williams, Robert Bower. Seasons 2 and 3 – April Hayes, Callie Gladman, Terrence Michaels, Sean Patrick, and Lynne Sheridan
- Librarian: Seasons 2 and 3 – Robert Bower
- Production Coordinator: Seasons 2 and 3 – Debbie Sweeney
- Production Assistance: Jim McBean
- Special Thanks to: Randy Ezratty, Coco Shinomiya, Samson's Diner and Lee Abrams (Season 3)
- Studio Engineer: Tex Carbone (changed to Director of Studio Operations midway through Season 2 and continuing through Season 3)
- For XM Radio: Lee Abrams (Seasons 1 and 2)
- Location: Announced as "Recorded in Studio B, the Abernathy Building" – a fictitious location. (Season 2 modified this to "Recorded in Studio B, in the historic Abernathy Building." Season 3 had several variations on the line including "take the tour," "crown jewel of the city skyline," and "on the 8th floor")
- A Greywater Park Production in Association with Big Red Tree
- Announcer: "Pierre Mancini" (suspected to be the voice of Producer Eddie Gorodetsky)
Reception and reviews
"To listen to Theme Time Radio Hour is to rediscover the sense of musical adventure that old-fashioned disc jockeys with strongly individual personalities offered in the days before big-money stations pinned their fiscal hopes to the rigid Top 40-style playlists that took the fun out of radio." – Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal 
"He's voluble, generous, articulate. He's liable to quote a poem, give tips on hanging drywall, pass along a recipe. In his show on baseball, he broke into 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game' – a cappella." – Linton Weeks, The Washington Post 
- Dougherty, Steve (December 17, 2010). "The Santa Claus of Christmas Songs". The Wall Street Journal.
- John Hay, "Theme Time: Dylan as DJ," New Approaches to Bob Dylan, ed. Anne-Marie Mai (University Press of Southern Denmark, 2020), pp. 189-205.
- "Dreamtime – Commentary Inspired By Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour: Prom Night at Brookland-Cayce High School with The Swinging Medallions". Dreamtimepodcast.com. 2009-05-27. Retrieved 2012-08-20.
- "Tune In: SonicTap-XM Music Channel Comparison". Directv. 2009-12-22. Retrieved 2012-08-20.
-  Archived March 14, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- David Hinckley (2009-04-19). "Bob Dylan's 'Theme Time Radio Hour': His time might be up". New York Daily News.
- Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour to return with new episode for first time since 2009, RadioInsight.com, September 16, 2020
- "XM Program Guide". Xmradio.com. Retrieved 2013-07-18.
- Daniel, Anne Margaret (September 22, 2020). "Bob Dylan, Whisk(e)y, And A New "Theme Time Radio Hour"". annmargaretdaniel.com. Retrieved October 23, 2020.
- ""He typically records from home or on tour, XM says, even though an announcer says the show is recorded in 'Studio B of the Abernathy Building,' to lend it a vintage aura." "It's All Right, Ma: Bob Dylan Turns D.J.," New York Times". Retrieved 2012-08-20.
- "Bob Dylan's Day Job: A '60s troubadour turns postmodern disc jockey" in Sightings by Terry Teachout, W14, June 21–22, 2008, The Wall Street Journal.
- "On XM Radio's 'Theme Time,' Freewheelin' Dylan Calls the Tune" by Linton Weeks, Sunday, October 7, 2007; Page M03 The Washington Post.
- Deep Tracks Sirius XM site featuring Theme Time Radio Hour
- History of Theme Time Radio Hour Blog by Lee Abrams (XM Radio VP) who had the original idea for a Bob Dylan radio show.
- BBC6 Music: Theme Time site
- The Dreamtime Podcast Commentary on Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour
- * T H E M E * T I M E * The playlists (including release dates) of the tracks Bob Dylan chose to present, as well as the lyrics to some of the songs
- Annotated Theme Time Radio Hour Annotated Theme Time Radio Hour page from the Bob Dylan Fan Club website
- DylanRadio.com Internet webcast that airs episodes of Theme Time Radio Hour twice daily among other content related to Bob Dylan.
- Theme Time Radio Hour Archive Contains podcasts and 'Singers and Songs' lists for all episodes