|Tom Snyder Interviewing David Letterman
LETTERMAN: You took your mother to the Bel-Air Country Club for a hamburger.
SNYDER: Don't do this to me. Don't do this to me now. This is why you died out here the last time.
LETTERMAN: 87 years old, a deal lovely woman.
SNYDER: A dear person.
LETTERMAN: She gets a hamburger, Country Club meat.
SNYDER: Here is a man who has been a fixture in late night television since 1982, David Letterman, the star of the Late Show
on CBS. Welcome to the provinces and thanks for coming out.
LETTERMAN: How are you doing, Tom.
SNYDER: Just fine, thank you.
LETTERMAN: Nice to see you, buddy. How's it going?
SNYDER: Couldn't be better.
LETTERMAN: You know what I'm working on here, don't you?
SNYDER: Yes, sir.
LETTERMAN: The first time I was on this show I was the worst guest you've had in 188 programs.
SNYDER: No, sir, you weren't.
LETTERMAN: I want to fight that. I want to lose that. I want to beat it down. I want to get over that. I want to avenge that.
I want to be really, really good tonight.
SNYDER: Well, let me ask you something that's really, really on everybody's mind.
LETTERMAN: Yeah. Sure. Go. Load. Fire.
SNYDER: How surprised were you last week when you were quoted in the New York Daily News as saying at the end of your
present contract you planned to retire, knowing full well that that takes you to the year 2001, when in fact if you read the
Daily News it would appear that Dave was leaving last weekend? Weren't you a little bit surprised by that?
LETTERMAN: No, I wasn't surprised by the fact of it, because this is something I've said four or five times in my career.
When people come to interview you -- you know, like you, if we're on long enough tonight, you'll get around to this question
as well, "How much longer do you think you can do this?" And so I always try and give my best most thoughtful most considerate answer, and you sort of look ahead and you think, well, is there a landmark coming up? Is there a signpost? And
I thought, okay, maybe at the end of my current contract, not even knowing when the current contract comes to an
end, and it turns out it's like five, six years, 2000, 2001 or whatever, and so that's what I said and that's what I believed,
and I think it's a fair enough and a reasonable enough thing to have said, and the fact that it was in the article didn't surprise
me. All due respect to Eric Mink, the man who wrote the article -- what are you doing with your leg, for God's sake?
SNYDER: I'm just putting it over the chair here to be comfortable.
LETTERMAN: Oh, jeez, man. But I think the reaction to it I just found silly, frivolous and a waste of time. That part of it
really annoyed me, because the inference that people seemed to --
SNYDER: It was coming the day after tomorrow. You were leaving the day after tomorrow.
LETTERMAN: That's right, that's right. He's quitting, he's fed up and so forth, and I just thought, no, no, no. This is one of
the few times in my adult life that I know for a fact --
SNYDER: You tried to be straight.
LETTERMAN: -- I am reasonable here and the reaction, the response to this, is unreasonable. So I felt pretty good about that.
I said, jeez, I wish I had money on this, but, you know, how can you make money betting with yourself? You took your
mother to the Bel-Air Country Club and bought her a hamburger?
SNYDER: That's correct, but that's not why you're here.
LETTERMAN: Oh, man.
SNYDER: Let me ask you about your exasperation, which you have expressed publicly and which you have joked about on
your program, about CBS and the fact that the network is underperforming expectations for the 1995-1996 season as it
relates to your own ratings.
LETTERMAN: Well, yeah, but, you know, the truth of it is people are getting tired of hearing me whining about this, and the
only reason we bring it up at all is because people are always saying, "Well, what's the matter with the show? Why does it
suck? Why do you suck? Why are the ratings not where you want them?" And so after a while you have to think, well, it ain't
my fault, and, you know, that's just human nature. So we blame it on someone else. I was talking to Maureen Dowd, who was nice enough to waste some of her evening with me the other night on the telephone, and we were chatting about this back and forth and back and forth, much the same about the retirement and all of that stuff, and she says, "Seriously, what's going on
with the network?" And I went through my song and dance about, you know, "We've got our problems. We're working hard. We're gonna fix this. We're gonna do that. I'm gonna get different hair color, anything you want. It's gonna be great, but, you know, the network also has some problems."
LETTERMAN: And then I said, "Maureen, between you and me, if CBS was an airplane, I wouldn't fly it to Buffalo," and then
I realized, well, you've done it again, dumbbell. You've done it again, dumbbell.
SNYDER: But you take great delight in putting down CBS, but certainly you don't want their fortunes to continue as they are.
LETTERMAN: Everything will right itself eventually.
SNYDER: It's not like the people at the top floor are saying, "For God's sake, let's keep this network failing so Letterman
LETTERMAN: No, no, no, no. Take a deep breath, and before you know it, 50, 60 years from now we'll be back on top.
Mark my words.
SNYDER: But you forget NBC when you first arrived there in the late 1970's and 1980's --
LETTERMAN: I made fun of NBC. I made fun of General Electric. When I worked in local television I used to make fun of AVCO broadcasting which owned it then, and prior to that it was Crossly. It's something you do, it's a device, and Lord
knows, nothing I can say or do on television at 11:35 on CBS, or what's left of it -- wouldn't fly it to Buffalo -- can in any
way injure or damage the interests, pursuits and dreams, visions of Lawrence Tisch. So it's all silliness, and, you know, I'm
getting tired of me talking about it, and I know everybody else is, so what the hell, you just --
SNYDER: Is it possible that people are tired of watching you --
LETTERMAN: Did you get her the jello salad as well? Did you get her a side of the jello salad, Tom, with that hamburger?
SNYDER: Is it possible that people are tired of watching David Letterman make fun of CBS?
LETTERMAN: I suppose, I suppose, but, you know, the truth of it is, it's a device. You walk into a room. What can we
make fun of? We make fun of the Ed Sullivan theater. We make fun of myself. I make fun of Paul. I make fun of Bill
Wendell -- no, wait a minute. He's not there any more. He got fed up. He said, "I'm tired of you makin' fun of me." I make fun
of myself and, you know, you just go by your best instincts, and if your instincts are on the money, then everybody loves you, and if you're wide to the right, so what? Take four and go to first. I have no idea what that means.
SNYDER: You are on a roll in Los Angeles. You've done well here for three nights.
LETTERMAN: We're enjoying ourselves in Los Angeles.
SNYDER: I know you are. It shows on the air.
LETTERMAN: It's great fun. It's nice to be back in a studio. We are in this big theater in New York City, which is altogether a different experience for a television show, a good experience but a different experience, but, you know, as all of us do, we
begin in studios, and it's fun to have the comfort and confidence that that supplies.
SNYDER: There are stories in many papers this morning that the Late Show is considering moving to Los Angeles.
LETTERMAN: I think we would consider it. I think we would consider it. I don't know how soon or when, but I think
obviously we would consider it. Everything here, no surprise, is a little easier than life in New York City, not as many obstacles, fraught with a little less drama. So we might consider it, yes.
SNYDER: What about the availability of guests in Los Angeles?
LETTERMAN: Well, they're all here. They're all here, Tom. It's the show business capital of the world. My gosh, they're all
here, from Jamie Farr to Suzanne Summers. They're all here.
SNYDER: Not Marv Albert.
LETTERMAN: Oh, Marv, well --
SNYDER: Not Mayor Giuliani.
LETTERMAN: Not Mayor Giuliani, but you get --
SNYDER: Not Tony Randall.
LETTERMAN: -- you get that equally charismatic Mayor Riordon. Is that who it is, Riordon?
SNYDER: There is speculation in the press that there is in fact conversation now going on between Worldwide Pants, your
company, and CBS to move this show to Los Angeles.
LETTERMAN: It's news to me. It's news to me. I better get to work early to read the newsletter, because I just --
SNYDER: You don't get the Worldwide Pants Newsletter?
LETTERMAN: They're scheduling meetings without me then, and God bless 'em, more power to 'em.
SNYDER: What is it like to be --
LETTERMAN: Fries, fries? Did you get mom fries?
SNYDER: Mashed potatoes. Far healthier.
LETTERMAN: Oh, man.
SNYDER: What is it like to be in the paper day after day after day?
LETTERMAN: Oh God, I crave it.
SNYDER: Jay wins. Dave wins. Dave getting clobbered. Jay getting clobbered.
LETTERMAN: I crave the attention. I can't get enough of it. More ink.
SNYDER: No, seriously.
LETTERMAN: After a while, like most things in life, you become inured to it. You learn from it. If it's an ongoing negative assessment of your work, I think it provides overview and perspective that you don't have when you're, you know, in
the trenches doing it every day, and it's not a bad idea to stick your head up and let a bullet graze 'ya. So it doesn't bother me
and in many respects I think it's constructive. Now, in the beginning the first time it happens it really knocks the wind out of
you, because you come to television, you think, okay, get ready, we've got all the answers, and two weeks later somebody
takes you apart and you realize, "Oh, well, excuse me." Then it's hurtful, it's painful, but, you know, I've been doing this more
or less for 20 years or so. So you try and use it as something constructive.
SNYDER: Did you make a decision when the O.J. Simpson trial began or when the matter first came up in the press that you would not do O.J. jokes?
LETTERMAN: I don't know if it was a decision. I just felt that -- to me the whole thing was a matter of access. Where does
this circumstance provide access for me and my sense of humor? And I found it deeply confusing and troubling, because at
the core of it you had something grisly and obscene, and so with that as the core, again, where is the access? And I stumbled
and fumfered and felt like, all right, let's lay off of it, but then, as it went on and on and on, it seemed to lift to another level. Unfortunately, sometimes I think people and still today have lost sight of what was at the core of it, and throughout the whole thing, and even today, I'm still not comfortable. I have no confidence that my inroad to this to exploit it in a humorous fashion
is right, is accurate, is true. So me personally -- well, this seems pitifully selfish and shortsighted and small-minded. I'm happy
that that aspect of it at least is passed, because I felt uncomfortable and never really, really confident.
SNYDER: How tough is it to go out and be funny when a tragedy has happened? For example, this Monday night you have
to go on and be funny in the wake of a weekend in which the world mourns the passing of the president of Israel.
LETTERMAN: Right, right. That was a little less problematic for us in that it happened during the weekend. I think the big example for us was when the Challenger exploded.
LETTERMAN: Because that was, I think, a Thursday, Thursday afternoon -- forgive me if I don't have the day --
SNYDER: Weekday morning.
LETTERMAN: Right, and we saw that, saw the videotape of the debris raining from the sky for two minutes, and we saw it
and ingested it and digested it and let it sink and suffocate us, as did everybody who was around and aware at the time, and
then we had to go on and do our little nickel-and-dime dog-and-pony show at 12:30, and that was really difficult for
me, because we knew everybody had seen what we had seen and yet, you know, "Hey, how are you doing?" And it's just like, you just don't know. So that particular night -- and I regret that I couldn't have done it more gracefully -- I just said, "Look,
we've seen it. We know it. We're sorry. We're only doing our job. We don't mean to offend, but here we go," and that was
pretty much the extent of that, and I don't know.
SNYDER: We are with David Letterman. The toll free is up and running at 800-952-2788, your chance to ask Dave whatever's on your mind. He's dying to answer your questions.
LETTERMAN: Oh, please, no phone calls. I'm beggin' 'ya. I'm beggin' 'ya, Tom, no phone calls.
SNYDER: Beg them. Don't beg me. We'll be right back with David after these messages.
SNYDER: Who are some of the more memorable guests for you?
LETTERMAN: You know, this is one of those questions, and good Lord, I've been this through this so many items by now I
ought to have a list, because it's one of those things for which I don't have a good answer.
SNYDER: I know what you mean. They tend to disappear in memory. They run together.
LETTERMAN: It's hard to remember as you're driving home who were the guests on that night's show.
SNYDER: I understand.
LETTERMAN: So memorable, just the obvious, I guess Madonna in many ways was memorable.
SNYDER: How about Drew Barrymore dancing on your desk?
LETTERMAN: Well, you know, this was just to me an absolute delight, because I'm 48 years old, and I didn't have a lot of
dates in high school. I didn't have a lot of dates in college.
SNYDER: What about now?
LETTERMAN: I don't have a lot of dates now. I don't have a lot of luck with women generally. I don't seem to be the kind of guy that, you know, women are -- but, you know, I know they're out there. I know there's a whole strata, perhaps substrata, perhaps not, of men and women who are always naked having sex. I know they're out there. Honest to God, you know they're out there.
SNYDER: Sure they're out there.
LETTERMAN: Maybe you're one of those guys. I don't happen to be one of those guys, and nothing like this has ever fallen in my lap, so to speak --
LETTERMAN: -- in my entire life. I used to work with guys, "Sorry I'm a little late. I was driving in on i-65 and some woman pulled me over and we went in the ditch." "What? How? Who?" "I don't know who she was. She just saw me, she honked
and" -- well, this has never happened to me.
SNYDER: I understand what you mean, yeah.
LETTERMAN: So now when Drew Barrymore comes and gets on my desk on my birthday, and I'm 48 years old, and she
takes her shirt off, I thought holy God, just as a lovely little thing, and I know people said, "Oh, that's obscene."
SNYDER: Not at all.
LETTERMAN: But it's, you know, I just was touched, I was tickled, I just thought how sweet, and I think she's a dear
woman, I think she's a wonderful person and has a heart of gold, and perhaps several other things, but I thought it was great,
and, you know, forgive me if people don't think it was great. I'm sorry. It was one of the perks of the job. It's hard,
ugly, dirty work, and when something like this comes along, you've got to seize it, Tom.
SNYDER: Damn it, Letterman, I'm just trying to have fun with you out here. You don't talk much about your car collection,
your car collection in Los Angeles. You have cars.
LETTERMAN: Yes, I do.
SNYDER: How many?
LETTERMAN: I don't know.
SNYDER: What kind of cars?
LETTERMAN: I have a very small highly polished nicely painted collection of German, British and Italian junk.
SNYDER: Tell me more about this junk. Come on. Show it off a little bit, kid. Come on.
LETTERMAN: No. There's no point in it, because it comes with being able to have a lot of money, you can indulge yourself
in things like this, and if I didn't have a lot of money, I'd probably have just one car that I liked really, really well, but since
show business pays way more -- I mean, the federal government ought to look into this. Talk about a salary cap. Somebody ought to come in and take a look at this, Janet Reno, the nation's top cop.
SNYDER: That's right.
LETTERMAN: So I've been lucky enough, and what I try to do is cars that meant something to me when I was a kid, now
that I'm an adult, I think, oh jeez, maybe it would be fun to have one of those cars, and the first car when I was a kid that
got my attention -- when I was a kid there was this guy who was our gym teacher, Chuck Bolton. Chuck Bolton was just
what his name sounds like.
SNYDER: Chuck Bolton.
LETTERMAN: He was just a guy, and he'd come to work, and he'd have his sweater tied over his shoulders, and he went
to Butler University and was on the football team there, and he was like, you know, the big man on campus, and now he's got
his first gig out in the always exciting world of elementary education, and Chuck would come to work in an Austin-Healey
3000, and I'm telling 'ya --
SNYDER: Great car.
LETTERMAN: -- with the top down, and this thing just rrrrrrrrrrr, and it made a real impression on me, and I was lucky
enough years later to acquire one of those.
SNYDER: You house the collection, or the small gathering of cars, in southern California.
LETTERMAN: Yes, I do.
SNYDER: As opposed to the East Coast.
LETTERMAN: Yes, I do.
SNYDER: You come out to visit them occasionally, I'm told.
SNYDER: You keep them in good repair, run them occasionally, enjoy them.
LETTERMAN: Yes, yes.
SNYDER: They're wonderful toys.
LETTERMAN: Yes, yes, I drive them. I don't care what kind of money you spend on them, if you're not gonna drive them,
you're fooling yourself.
SNYDER: I understand that.
LETTERMAN: I mean, it's nice to go in and look at them, but if you're not driving them --
SNYDER: But here's -- and I'm coming back to this idea of the Late Show moving to Los Angeles again --
SNYDER: -- here is another reason for David Letterman to consider living in Los Angeles. He's near something that he enjoys.
LETTERMAN: This would be way down on the list.
SNYDER: I understand.
LETTERMAN: There are many, many other more reasonable more legitimate reasons to consider moving than just because of
SNYDER: The reason that I ask this is that those of us who heard these rumors today that work on this side --
LETTERMAN: I don't know where those are coming from.
SNYDER: -- wonder if your show were to come here, could we go back and use the Ed Sullivan Theater?
LETTERMAN: Absolutely. Be my guest. In fact, you know, we're not there this week. If there had been a little foresight, a
little planning, if somebody was running this organization, you guys could have had it this week.
SNYDER: You know, it's funny, because we asked for that, and we were told there was no money for it in the company.
Again, you don't know.
LETTERMAN: Again, a meeting I was not in attendance.
SNYDER: I know. You're only the team owner. How would you know these things?
LETTERMAN: I don't know. How about that Art Modell? How about that Art Modell?
SNYDER: Cleveland Browns.
LETTERMAN: What the hell is going on there? I'm serious. Just what is going on there?
SNYDER: How about that World Cup?
LETTERMAN: Exactly, yeah.
SNYDER: You're a big fan of the races. You go to Indianapolis almost every year to the 500 car race.
SNYDER: A lot of people wonder what you get out of car racing, you know, watching cars going round and round an oval.
What excites David Letterman about going to Indianapolis or watching car races on television?
LETTERMAN: Well, Indianapolis is an event in and of itself unto itself and it means something to me, because when I was
a kid -- as you know, in the Midwest the winters are long, hard, bitter and brutal.
SNYDER: Yes, sir.
LETTERMAN: And when the month of May rolls around, suddenly the loveliest of all springs presents itself when you think
it's just never going to happen again, and then, you know, things turn color and bloom and you get a little breeze that has
just a touch of balminess in it, and it's hypnotic. Now, that coupled with the fact that in Indianapolis every May, the
Indianapolis 500, the entire month it takes place out there at the Speedway, and for that one month, especially in those days
when I was kid in the early sixties, late fifties, early sixties, the attention certainly of the city, certainly of the state and the impression is of the world is on Indianapolis. So it's a very heady experience for a kid, and me and my buddies, me and my
uncle -- Earl -- used to go out to the Speedway, and we'd go to time trials, we'd go to practice, we'd watch, and it was just terribly exciting.
SNYDER: Did you think Earl's name was funny when you were a kid too?
LETTERMAN: Yeah, I guess I --
LETTERMAN: Yeah, so that's where it was born, and we did not have a major league baseball team. My team was the
Cincinnati Redlegs, which was, you know, down the road a couple hours, and as I grew older I realized I had the same connection to the Indianapolis 500 as most kids do to their local baseball team, the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Philadelphia Phillies,
the Pittsburgh Pirates, whatever.
SNYDER: Didn't you meet Paul Newman there one year after you had been on television?
LETTERMAN: I met Paul Newman at a race in Phoenix years and years ago. That was the first time I met him through Bobby
Rahal, who is a race driver, through his wife Debbie was kind enough to introduce me to Paul, and just, you know, if this guy
is not the real deal, the sun's not coming up tomorrow. He's just solid gold, he's money in the bank, you know, he's just, I
mean, would that it were, he's one of these guys, you know, in your life you might learn something about being alive from --
excuse the preposition -- and I just think, gee, there's no dents, no chinks, no, nothing here.
SNYDER: Was that the beginning of a long friendship with Paul Newman?
LETTERMAN: I have been lucky enough over the years to kind of have a little --
SNYDER: That's neat.
LETTERMAN: -- relationship. I wouldn't say it's a friendship.
SNYDER: I understand.
LETTERMAN: I think that would be imposing myself on Paul, but he's always been very nice to me, very sweet, very
decent, and I get a big kick out of the fact that on any given day I might get a fax from Paul regarding some automotive matter
or a phone call, and he's -- I'm telling you, you talk to this guy about cars, it's like talking to a 14-year-old. It's just like, "It's a haulin' mother." But, you know, these are expressions Paul uses. "Excuse me, Paul, I'm sorry. It's a haulin' mother?"
SNYDER: "It's a haulin' mother."
LETTERMAN: "Joanne won't go near it. It's a haulin' mother." Okay, thank you. But he's been very sweet to me.
SNYDER: We are with David Letterman. Back with David for a few more comments and questions right after these messages.
SNYDER: Were you disappointed you won't host the Oscars next year? Was that a disappointment to you? I believe you
were quoted as saying you might have liked to have one more chance to come back and do it.
LETTERMAN: No, it wasn't disappointment, but I thought it would be great fun to go back and do it again, because, you
know, the show did pretty well last year. A lot of folks watched.
SNYDER: Yes, they did.
LETTERMAN: I can't take any credit for that, but I'm telling you something, I guarantee you for as many people watched last year, many more would have been watching next year if I was hosting. Who doesn't like watching a guy -- like watching a
sleepy guy -- defuse a bomb? Everybody would say, "Oh, look at that, he's gonna cut the yellow wire. Look out." So from
that standpoint, I think they made a mistake, because it would have just been great, and I've had a lot of time --
SNYDER: Watch old Dave come out and --
LETTERMAN: Exactly. "Bring out the dip, Linda. He's gonna do it." And I've had a while to think about this.
SNYDER: Have you?
LETTERMAN: I was prepared and full ready to just shove it right back up their nose, and I think that they missed the boat.
SNYDER: And they love you for it, Dave, you know.
LETTERMAN: And now this thing with Whoopi, God bless her, she's done it before, she'll do a great job, but was it a personal disappointment? No.
LETTERMAN: No. I'll do it again one year, and you'll get what's comin' to 'ya.
SNYDER: After the show, how quickly were you at the airport?
LETTERMAN: Oh, within, I don't know --
SNYDER: A couple hours?
LETTERMAN: No, no, like two, three minutes. I ain't going to the Governor's banquet, no. What is that? I'm out, through the metal detector and gone. We were airborne, son. We were gone. We were climbing out. We were at 7,000 and going up.
SNYDER: The last time you were here you said to me that once you learned the two or three great lessons of broadcasting
you'd never forget them.
LETTERMAN: That's right. There are not many things to learn, really.
SNYDER: And since that time I've been wondering what the two or three great lessons of broadcasting might be.
LETTERMAN: Regardless of what other things are going on in the studio, when the red light comes on, just start talking.
That's no. 1. Don't try to get in your car while you're still wearing your microphone. That's no. 2.
SNYDER: No. 2.
LETTERMAN: And no. 3, don't do your own make-up, and no. 4, don't cut your own hair. That's it right there. Columbia
School of Broadcasting will teach you half of that.
SNYDER: In the last year, what is the book you have read that's brought you the greatest pleasure or the movie that you've
seen that you've enjoyed the most?
LETTERMAN: Well, the movie I think that I enjoyed the most would be Pulp Fiction. I got a big kick out of that.
LETTERMAN: Oh, man. It was just like going to an amusement park.
SNYDER: Yes, it was.
LETTERMAN: And a lot of people said, "Well, it's violent. It was just ugly. It was nasty." And, of course, it was all of those things, but, I don't know, I looked at it as in the context of this film it was all kind of so hyperbolic, so exaggerated that you
kind of had to just tell yourself, "It's an amusement park where nobody is really getting hurt."
LETTERMAN: And it was just a roller coaster. It was ups and it was downs. I found it very exciting, a nice piece of film making, I thought.
SNYDER: And how personally devastated were you when Colin Powell announced today that he would not be running for
LETTERMAN: Well, I think professionally speaking it would have been too bad, because I think we had a lot of material there,
a lot of jokes to be made, a lot of laughs to be had at his expense, the poor man, but I think he was probably wise not to do it,
for heaven's sakes, you know. I mean, I don't know the man. I don't know much about him politically. I know that he sold a great deal of books, and I know that he is a general, but beyond that I just felt like, oh, yeah, why? Who wants to go through that? Who wants to get beat up?
SNYDER: You know, when I used to come on your show when you were in New York and we would talk, when I was doing the talk radio for ABC, we'd talk about radio.
SNYDER: And you mentioned radio in the break. You still listen to talk radio, don't you?
LETTERMAN: Yeah. I listen to a lot of radio, because in New York City I spend a lot of time in my car.
SNYDER: Rush Limbaugh?
LETTERMAN: I went crazy and had a radio installed in the car.
SNYDER: Really? You went full bore, huh?
LETTERMAN: Hell, when I signed the new deal, I said, "Put AM and FM." But I tell 'ya what, yeah, I used to listen to Rush when I had a different commuting schedule. I found him endlessly entertaining, and you know and I know and he must know that many times he gets up in the morning and just says, "Boy, am I full of gas." But he is endlessly entertaining --
SNYDER: No question about it.
LETTERMAN: -- whether you agree with the guy or not, and we know that he can very neatly shave the corner off facts to
make a point.
SNYDER: Of course he can.
LETTERMAN: He can just round those edges right off and it fits right there --
SNYDER: In the hole.
LETTERMAN: -- in whatever his diatribe might be for the day, and I get a kick out of him. Politically I don't know enough
about politics to say whether, yes, he's right, yes, he's wrong -- I just don't know -- but I found him as a communicator very effective, but what I really get a kick out of is the BBC.
LETTERMAN: My short wave radio. It's just unbelievable, and I know this sounds stupid because short wave radio has been
around since the Phoenicians, I don't know, and one night I was able to listen to the BBC, which I'm telling you on the half
hour when they take you to Westminster Tower for the chiming of Big Ben, it's just like, I don't know, it's very -- it's magical
to me, and you actually get to hear it live there, and you think, wait, this is coming from Bush House in London all the way
short wave, and I think it's picked up on a relay station in the Caribbean to my little house in Connecticut. It's just unbelievable.
SNYDER: You are an incurable romantic.
LETTERMAN: Well, how can you not be a sucker for that?
SNYDER: Thank you. How can you not be?
LETTERMAN: How can you not. So one night I listened to radio Lisbau, Lisbon, Portugal, BBC in London, radio Lisbon in
Portugal, Taiwan, which is the Republic of China, English -- it's just amazing, because they have like a 20-minute radio learn to speak Chinese, and it just will drive you insane.
SNYDER: But you're into it, aren't you?
LETTERMAN: It's sort of like they're going through this, "Don't forget your umbrella." Okay, so I'm there, all right, I'm gonna learn this in Chinese, and then like a year later, jeez, I've got a head full of bees. What the hell are we talking about? And they
do this night after night after night, and I think are there people anywhere in the world learning "Don't forget your umbrella"
in Chinese on the short wave? And so from then now you can go down to one of the bands at sixty-six zero point zero zero,
and you get Radio Havana, and that is endlessly entertaining, because it sounds like it's a guy, an English-speaking guy, in a shopping mall, and all you hear is how great things are in Cuba, how great things are in Havana.
SNYDER: Everything's fine.
LETTERMAN: The news is all about, "We got a deal with Russia for cement. We got a deal -- we're making sandals for
people in Germany," and on and on.
SNYDER: You're absolutely blowing me away, because while most people late at night are home on a computer on-line
somewhere, David Letterman is at a short wave radio dialing up the world, tuning in the world.
LETTERMAN: Like a young Edison, isn't it, Tom?
SNYDER: No, but listen, the broadcaster is still in you.
LETTERMAN: Well, to me it's fascinating. I mean, forget television and everything else and Bill Gates and his multibillion
dollar empire where you get cartoon characters on your toaster, or whatever the hell they're doing.
SNYDER: Damn it, Dave, I'm just trying to have fun with you here.
LETTERMAN: The fact that via this very, very primitive form of radio short wave communication you can access the world --
SNYDER: The world.
LETTERMAN: -- it's just stunning to me.
SNYDER: We think the world of you here, sir, for a lot of reasons and we thank you for coming on during a very, very busy week. Enjoy your time here in Southern California, and damn it, Dave, I'm just trying to have fun with you.
LETTERMAN: Hey, easy, easy, easy. Thank you very much, Tom. Nice to see ya.
SNYDER: Merv will be watching this now, and he'll go "oooh."
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|November 8th 1995|
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