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The Plaza of the Mind Interview with Greg Duffell of the International Connection!

You may have noticed over the past few months that there has been a great deal of controversy concerning my upcoming interview with ParaMedia Ecologist Bob Dobbs. After I had come under attack from the Dallas based Church of the SubGenius for simply expressing interest in Mr. Dobbs I decided to construct an article that would detail the controversy in hopes of making some sort of sense of it all. The article, which I thought would be finished by now, seems to have taken on a life of it's own. As I researched the debate I have been in contact with several different people on either side of the issue. Most of them have given me concise statements to work with, for which I am quite grateful, while others have actually engaged in rather substantial dialogues.

The following interview falls into the latter category. As Mr. Dobbs had been one of the originators of Toronto's CKLN radio program The International Connection, I found it fitting that I should attempt to get in touch with one of the current hosts, Mr Greg Duffell. Little did I know that Mr. Duffell had himself been involved in his own controversy and was terminated from his position at CKLN in the fall of 2006. For the whole story I highly recommend that you check out OpenCKLN, a site that describes the events in-depth.

[The Plaza of the Mind quotes appear in Bold-type, Mr. Duffell’s in normal-type]

[It is also noteworthy that the International Connection is sometimes referred to as IC for brevity’s sake]


Is the International Connection still going or has it been changed from it's original format?

I assume you have been to OpenCKLN.com? This explains, we hope, the controversies involved. Our "programming privileges were terminated" late last year by decree of the CKLN board. We are still protesting this outside CKLN studios every Sunday morning. We hope to resurrect the show at some point in the future.

As far as Daniel Besharat and I (the former hosts) are concerned, the last International Connection show was on October 8, 2006. Since then, CKLN management and volunteers have referred to the slot under various names and titles. As far as an "original format", I can only say there is a block of programming on CKLN that runs for two hours every Sunday morning. We don't acknowledge this as the "International Connection" and we have no idea whether there are plans to continue to use that "brand" into the future.

A major format change happened in November 2005. Actually, the format of the show reverted back to an older model. At that time we withdrew the "Axis of Evil Radio Network" idea (which was an indication of a style of show Daniel and I did that was a full two hour talk radio show that featured live call-in, sound effects, satire, skits and political and media scrutiny) and started to play old Mae Brussell tapes, Dave Emory and, from my personal archive, "Church of the Subgenius" CKLN shows from 1988 to 1991. I would remaster these two hour shows with Myke Dyer and Bob Dobbs, ones that I so much enjoyed as a listener to CKLN and play them once a month, on average. I still feel that these Myke/Bob shows are the finest and most innovative radio ever produced at CKLN and I was proud to be able to present them again..

There were several reasons for making this change. Daniel and I came to the conclusion that the new, supposedly better, CKLN studios were in fact hopelessly inadequate to produce the kind of show we had been doing previously in the old, ramshackle studios that CKLN had occupied since at least 1983. Our program had become more and more elaborate (thanks largely to Daniel's efforts). The new studios were fraught with problems and completely unreliable. Since each IC show, at that time, took an average of 30 to 40 hours to prepare, the problems we encountered often scuttled our plans and were deeply frustrating. That's when I looked for a way to do the show that would still follow in the IC tradition, but would be less time consuming and be amenable to the abilities, or lack thereof, of the new CKLN studios. We produced only five live two hour shows from November 2005 to October 2006. Usually there was a reason why we went live again. for instance, a show about the Canadian election of January 2006, a two part tribute to Slobadan Milosevic upon his death, a denunciation of the head of the Canadian military and what would be our last show (three hours).

How many years had the International Connection been broadcast?

According to Bob Dobbs, the show began sometime in 1985 and was created by David Newfeld and Bob Marshall and aired on CKLN mainly on Sunday mornings. The first few years it was a half hour show and later expanded to 60 minutes. Wayne Morris took over sometime in 1990 (Rick Lines hosted for about a year filling in when Wayne was in Africa) and left in 2000 when I took over. Daniel Besharat joined on a part time basis in 2001 (full time in 2003). I came to the program having been a big fan of the "Bob" era. I didn't meet Bob until September 2001 and I invited him onto the "International Connection". Since then, he has made many appearances on the show, usually by phone from his residence in NY.

Is the show also webcast on a regular basis [usually I can only find MP3s]?

The show WAS webcast via streaming audio live prior to October 8, 2006. Daniel Besharat facilitated putting a large collection of shows on www.axisofevilradio.com that were able to be streamed. This ended in July 2006 when we discontinued the connection between the IC and www.axisofevilradio.com . I believe at the moment there are only a couple of shows available in mp3 on the site, if that.

Of course, CKLN still has a live stream but no archive.

Last October Bob Dobbs called in and stated that he 'pretended to slip up and become Bob Marshall’ in order to entertain Daniel, what is your take on the Dean-Marshall-Dobbs debate?

Daniel and I had predicted that our days at CKLN were numbered because we had filed complaints against the elite at CKLN. Bob was aware of this feeling we had. As you have probably heard on the show, we declare that we're starting a new season and that we're looking forward to 52 more. As grim as the situation was for us, we wanted to have an upbeat show as our last, and I think we succeeded.

As for the "slip up" comment, I can't really remember the context of this.

Regarding the Dean-Marshall-Dobbs debate; all I can say is that I hosted an IC show, I believe in 2002, where I tried to get both Bob Dobbs and Bob Marshall on the phone together. While I was prepared to phone two different locations in order to facilitate this interview, Bob Dobbs said that Marshall would come over to his house so they could be together. During the course of this on-air call, Dobbs passed the phone to Marshall when it was time for him to speak.

I have met a man purporting to be Bob Dobbs in person. I have also met a man purporting to be Bob Marshall in person. He arrived WITH Bob Dobbs at my home in Toronto and stayed for dinner. Mr. Dobbs said that Bob Marshall's real name is Ed Punar.

Bob also stated that he knew that episode was going to be the last episode of the International Connection. How did he know that?

Bob had read newspaper articles from Ryerson (the Eyeopener) in which we suggested that the Board of Directors at CKLN were "itching to get rid of us". I had also spoken to Bob about the situation at CKLN and although I asked Bob not to mention that this was our last show, he did anyway. Dave Newfeld calling in was a complete fluke. Originally I had scheduled to run the Newfeld produced "Producers for Bob" record from 10:30 to 11:30 in the extra hour that we had to fill in for the Spanish hosts that were not coming in to do their show that week. Newfeld knew about this and had just got back from England and tuned in. As far as I know it was the first time Dave had ever listened to one of our IC shows. Newfeld was appalled to hear Daniel making fun of Bob Dobbs on the air and called Bob in NYC. Bob practically forced Dave to call us and thus, the original creator of IC appeared in what we consider to be its' last hour on CKLN.

Our final show was rushed to air with little notice, so it was fortuitous that we had "Bob" and Newfeld on, providing a tribute, as such, to two great radio innovators.

[Now…] I have a few questions for YOU:

How were you listening to the IC in 2002?

Bob's work has been a kind of hobby for me since the early nineties. I have always spent time tracking down the most obscure things possible for my listening pleasure. I didn't have a really solid Internet access until 2000-2002, and that was when I came across the Nelson Thall Media Guru site and then eventually tracked down some of the Bob Dobbs mp3s. I think Mr. Thall may have been on the show as well? I would have to cross-reference my archives [which are in total disarray at the moment due to computer difficulty]. I think maybe Cloak and Dagger may have hosted the mp3s. I can't really remember where I got them, I just knew I wanted more!

Was it because of Bob's occasional appearances?

Yup.

How did you come to know about us?

I got tired of being a member of the 'audience' and last year, after attending one of Bob Larson's exorcisms and volunteering to go up on stage to help him with it, I decided that I had nothing to lose and I would an active participant instead - I did this by starting the Plaza of the Mind. I have been doing my own art works since 1991 with a small band of friends and we have always kept ourselves pretty much hermetically sealed. I guess I got tired of it, decided to see if I could contact Bob Dobbs to see if he would do an interview for my site, and if that happened would take it as a sign of a step in the right direction. He's been kind enough to give me a bit of a timeline and the names and I have been attempting to piece it all together. I really enjoyed the feel of the shows Bob appeared on and wanted to hear more because I get the feeling that other Dobbs aficionados share some of my wavelength.

Now, I will answer [more of your] questions:

Do you have any plans on doing IC on a different station?

We feel that we were treated with enormous injustice by CKLN management. If we were to see justice done, part of it would be going back on the air, in our old time slot and entertaining our audience as we did before. International Connection, as a show, is a name that we don't own and has been at CKLN since 1985. I always felt that I, as host, was simply carrying on a tradition of what Bob had created. We've never claimed "ownership" of IC.

What we did do was promote the show heavily with the website and other internet solutions. Most of the references to IC on the web are because of our doing. Of course, we did this help CKLN, a station we did everything in our power to support. As a result of these actions on our part it is difficult now, for anyone, to separate IC from Daniel and I as hosts in the public perception. In the course of this, we also touted the past achievements of hosts Bob Marshall, Wayne Morris and Rick Lines so I feel that their legacy is inextricably connected to any legitimate future that the IC might have.

Our "Axis of Evil Radio Network", is a concept that Daniel and I created (and used as a banner for our broadcasts for over 2 years on IC) and it continues to maintain a low key web presence until such time as the CKLN situation is put right in our favour.

Do you plan on making public any of your archived shows?

We don't have any immediate plans to do this and as much as I appreciate the kind words you had for our past programs, we are probably more interested in doing new programs with the occasional "best of" compilations assembled from our past shows. That being said, there are some lucky individuals out there who donated money to CKLN in the past and obtained our yearly MP3 cd full season sets that we lovingly packaged. We know of one of our fans who is always getting in touch with us to tell us about content in old shows he's listening to contemporaneously from these MP3 season sets. Half the time I have completely forgotten the material to which he is referring. Daniel and I did at least 100 hours of original Axis of Evil IC broadcasts a year.

What was your favorite aspect of IC?

First, there's the IC I knew as a listener.. In the 80's there were real secrets and few people to decode them. That's where Dave Emory, Nip Tuck and Brussell came in and they were the mainstay of the first 5 or 6 years of IC with Marshall as host/introducer. Also, Bob serialized Emory and Tuck in half-hour installments, giving the shows a cliff-hanger quality where any inquisitive listener couldn't wait until next week to find out more. It was all before the internet era when access to this kind of information really was unique and simply playing these pre-recorded shows with outrageous content seemed like a rare and exclusive treat for a radio listener. That's why I recorded so many of them!

Today, in my opinion, the injustices are splattered out in front of our eyes. The puppet masters are actually seen pulling the strings. There's almost no pretense to what is going on. Mae Brussell would be stymied in this atmosphere because there are no secrets!

That leads me to the evolution of the show when I came on the scene and when Daniel joined in 2001. My favourite aspect of performing the show was working off of Daniel, our callers and the inane clips we would pull from the broadcast media. The show became a live high-wire act and was very exhilarating. The show was more amusing in our hands which I think set it apart from other shows of its' ilk. That being said, it could slip into very serious topics without missing a beat.

---

After Mr. Duffell answered the above questions, he sent me the following message entitled More material I think you might be interested in:

Nelson Thall started the "Cloak and Dagger" show in the fall of 2002 which marked the debut of Bob on Toronto commercial radio. Thall appeared on the old Dyer/Dobbs shows as "Tom Rich" or "Tom Touché" by phone. Bob was rather misused on that show, I thought, although he was the best thing on it.

I think one of my answers didn't hit what I think you may have been intending. You asked about my IC "archive".
Upon reflection (and when I first pondered the answers) I wanted to tell you about my classic "Bob" collection.

My intention with the IC after Nov. 2005 was to play one Dyer/Dobbs show per month. I started an excel sheet to track the shows I had managed to record between 1988 and 1991. The shows are on Betamax videotapes, either in hi-fi or mono sound. I started digitally re-mastering the shows and then, once that was done, doing noise reduction, editing them for content and time in order to fit the slot. Usually this meant cutting out phone numbers and other confusing information. I remember often removing some of the Tom Rich material because it was often dull. I also time-compressed, again for time. I would also do some editing on material that we suspected that the CKLN news director, or other enemies of the program, would use as a reason to eliminate us from the station. IC has ALWAYS been the target of abuse from successive CKLN managers.

Late into 2006, I realized I was running out of shows in my collection and was prompting Bob to digitize his archive. His was done by an active listener at the time (Ed) and supplied to Bob on cassettes. Bob sent me an accounting of these tapes, and this filled in a lot of gaps in terms of air dates. Ed, amazingly, phoned me one morning while I was playing the old tapes on CKLN, completely unaware that he was about to call in on the ORIGINAL recording about to play. If it hadn't been for Ed, or me for that matter, none of Bob's Subgenius shows would exist, let alone be re-broadcast!

Our termination at CKLN has stopped all work on completing the archive, though I will probably finalize the Subgenius shows I have sometime later this year. I did offer some compilations at Fundfest in years gone by, and i know one person in the USA received said compilation.

As you know, some of the shows are accessible from OpenCKLN.com on the international Connection page. They were recorded by a listener in Arizona and uploaded. It is those uploads that are linked to on our site. There must be 10 shows at least, although some are somewhat edited as mentioned previously. I would only distribute the shows again with the permission of Bob and Myke.

...

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