WHRW to celebrate 30 years of The Mad Trivia Party
By Charles Berman
On Friday, March 27, Binghamton University’s WHRW-FM (90.5) will pre-empt its regular programming from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m. to celebrate 30 years of The Mad Trivia Party, one of the longest-running audience participation radio programs in the nation. To honor the show’s past, present and future - and salute its loyal fans who have kept the program on the air since 1979 - WHRW will present The Mad Anniversary Party, a special three-hour Friday night edition of The Mad Trivia Party to be broadcast live at 8:30 p.m. Heard weekly on WHRW at its regular slot of Tuesday at 10:30 p.m., The Mad Trivia Party has been a mainstay of WHRW programming and a college radio institution for three decades.
MTP, as the show is known, has been on the air since the Carter administration providing listeners with a weekly dose of unpredictable humor, biting satire, and, yes, trivia. Led by 15 different hosts over the years, the student-run program has evolved to adapt to changing times. Still, WHRW’s irreverent weekly bash is going strong after a remarkable 30-year run that has given rise to countless fans, an array of comedy albums, and imitators at radio stations around the country. The program shows no sign of slowing down any time soon. In fact, by some accounts, the weekly phone-in trivia show is more popular than ever.
The March 27 special will mark MTP’s 30th anniversary by mixing elements of the show currently hosted by Charles "Chris Played by Charles Berman" Berman, rare clips of past MTP programs, appearances by past hosts and panelists, and, of course, phone calls from listeners. Visiting WHRW studios and joining the mayhem will be the originator of The Mad Trivia Party, Mitch Berkey '79, who will return to help celebrate the program he conceived and launched as a Binghamton University [then SUNY Binghamton] senior.
Berman and Berkey, together with current MTP panelists Dallas Hogan, The One Handed Bandit and Dr. Kaboom, will try to maintain control over the three-hour anniversary festivities. Berkey will take over hosting duties during a segment of The Mad Anniversary Party in a nostalgic return to the format he employed as the original host in 1979. While MTP has long featured a series of rambunctious “expert” panelists who verbally spar with the host and callers, Berkey hosted solo – sailing alone into a sea of callers every Tuesday night with no prizes, no seven-second delay, and no panelists to lean on. And, strange as it may seem now, in 1979, there were no blackberrys, laptops, internet or even cell phones [except those giant ones used to call in air strikes]. Three decades later, the show can be heard in the Southern Tier on 90.5 FM, as well as around the world on streaming audio at WHRW’s website.
The Mad Trivia Party was a hit in its January 1979 premiere and the phones have been ringing off the hook ever since. Memorable moments from 30 years of MTP range from a full-page feature in the local press of Berkey and the show in its inaugural season, to Berman and the MTP cast being declared honorary Mayors for a Day by Binghamton Mayor Matthew Ryan '82 when he appeared with the MTP panel on a show in 2008. The intervening years saw The Mad Trivia Party featured at numerous live events throughout the Binghamton area, and the release of seven compilation albums of MTP’s best moments, with the upcoming Don't Slash the Mad Trivia Party being readied for distribution in 2009. Over the years, the show has been imitated by a slew of college and commercial radio stations. The original still leads the way in 2009, delivering cutting edge comedy and trivia every week courtesy of WHRW.