GE 1997-8 Season 4 Episode 10: The Listener's Letters Show
Note: this is not a transcript, but a working draft of the script, so there may be differences in the aired version.
PAUL:	Wake up, Canada, get the 
        guests out of the living room 
        and into the kitchen,  
        Iceland, are you receiving me!  
        My name is Paul Moth. 

        On today’s show:  you and you 
        and you and you and ... you !  
        Right now, coming up next, the 
        first annual Listeners letters 
        show, where we read and answer 
        your questions. 

        All of us, for you, with me, 
        on The Great Eastern, Nfld.’s 
        Cultural Magazine.


        Joining me at the microphone 
        this morning is BCN’s weather 
        watchdog, Erling Biggs, host 
        of both ‘Traffic Alert’ and 
        ‘Later’ ... what else do you 
        do around here, Erling ?

ERLING:	Sign on seven days a week; 
        World Weather Watch, Sundays 
        from 2 to 3.

PAUL:	You are a busy man.  Thanks 
        for taking time to help me out 
        with Annual Great Eastern 
        Listeners Letters show.

ERLING:	I love reading, Paul.

PAUL:	And you have the first letter 
        there in front of you.

ERLING:	Yes, away we go with an e-mail 
        from Alberta.  Gordon Gilroy 
        writes “I can’t quite remember 
        how The Great Eastern gets its 

PAUL:	That’s an easy one, Gordon.  
        Our programme takes its name 
        from a famous ship of the 19th 
        century.  The Great Eastern 
        was a commercial failure and 
        rather prone to disaster on 
        the high seas.  However, the 
        giant nautical machine ensured 
        itself a hallowed place in the 
        history of electronic 
        communication when it laid the 
        first trans-Atlantic cable 
        from Ireland to Heart’s 
        Content here in Newfoundland.  
        We at the Great Eastern are 
        proud of our name.  Let’s hope 
        recent talk about changing the 
        name of the show dies away 

ERLING:	(short pause as Paul looks 
        sternly at him)  I think it’s 
        a good name.

PAUL:	It’s a great name.

ERLING:	O.k., here’s a letter from 
        Andrea Dalton in Shawinigan, 
        Quebec, and la ‘tite gal from 
        Shawinigan writes:

    	“Dear Paul Moth and Co., 
        according to the BCN schedule 
        on your Web site, The Great 
        Eastern lasts two and a half 
        hours.  In what way is that 
        Great Eastern different from 
        the half hour programme we 
        hear on the CBC ? Your radio 
    	Andrea Dalton, Shawinigan 

PAUL:	Well, Andrea, The Great 
        Eastern has been a two and a 
        half hour show ever since it 
        first went to air in 1935.  
        What you good folks of Canada 
        are now hearing is the final 
        half hour of The Great 
        Eastern.  As for the first two 
        hours of the show, it’s pretty 
        much the standard fare of 
        cultural features, interviews 
        and the like, wouldn’t you 
        agree, Erling?

ERLING:	Ya, the same old stuff.  Maybe 
        a bit looser.

PAUL:	You think?  Hollis, why don’t 
        you just roll back the logger 
        tape a few minutes, let’s 
        compare, see if there’s ------
        ------------(PAUL’S VOICE 
        ROLLED BACK)



PAUL: 	-------------I guess maybe a 
        bit looser.

ERLING:	That was really good earlier.

PAUL:	So, Andrea, hope that answers 
        your question.

ERLING:	Now a letter from Manitoba, 
        and it’s from Helen Buckley in 
        Tolstoi ...

PAUL:	That’s between Ridgeville and 

ERLING:	She writes; “I have been a 
        loyal listener to your program 
        since it was first carried by 
        the CBC back in the summer of 

PAUL:	That’s nice.

ERLING:	I am continually amazed by 
        Paul’s determination to 
        record, and then play, tape of 
        events that would be 
        personally embarassing to 
        someone like myself.  I know 
        that most regular CBC 
        programmes are much more 
        judicious when it comes to 
        editing.  Why do you reveal so 
        much of yourself in the show?  
        This is not a complaint - I 
        like it, but I feel weird 
        about listening sometimes, 
        like it’s smutty.”  And that’s 
        from Helen Buckley of Tolstoi, 
        Manitoba.  I’m sure the answer 
        has something to with Sub-

PAUL:	Indeed.  Well, Helen.  You are 
        correct in observing that I do 
        not edit out those portions of 
        my tapes that are ... 
        embarassing, or extremely 
        revelatory, lets say.  I was 
        involved with a group of 
        artists, known variously as 
        the post-minimalists or sub-
        monoists.  These artists 
        believed in absolute truth in 
        media, viewing the temporal 
        disruption caused by editing 
        or montage as the most 
        egregious form of 
        prevarication.  This led to 
        the real time film work of 
        Lester Mons ...

ERLING:	This is the guy who made a 
        film of his life.

PAUL:	That’s right.

ERLING:	And it takes 37 years to 

PAUL:	He was 26 when he started and 
        if you fast forward through 
        the bits where he was asleep 
        it only takes 25 years , 
        anyway that’s not what I do, 
        but I was so moved by this 
        profound commitment to 
        veracity in media that I 
        resolved that in my work as an 
        audio diarist I would never 
        “hide” from an audience.

ERLING:	But your tape is cut.

PAUL:	Cut to the extent necessary to 
        fit into the show format but 
        essentially naked audio.  I 
        play what happened.

ERLING:	There you have it, Edna.


PAUL:	O.k., more listeners’ letters, 
        beginning with one from 
        Ishpeming, Michigan ...

ERLING:	Getting a lot of mail from the 
        States these days.  I wonder 
        if someone is monitoring the 

PAUL:	(worried) Gee ... you think.

ERLING:	The letter?

PAUL:	Yes, from Ray LaPierre, in 
        Ishpeming, Michigan, “Dear 
        Paul, I heard the show guest 
        hosted by Erling Biggs and am 
        wondering if he is the same 
        Erling Biggs who wrote the 
        novel “Gearbox”?  I went 
        looking for my copy and its 
        “about the author” but 
        couldn’t find it.  I remember 
        the book as being very 
        challenging.”  Well, Mr. 

ERLING:	That would be me.

PAUL:	Shortlisted for the Booker 
        Prize, wasn’t it?

ERLING:	In fact, yes.

PAUL:	Great book, I recommend any 
        listeners who love good 
        literature run out and buy a 

ERLING:	Unfortunately the book is out 
        of print.

PAUL:	No!  What a shame.  Wonderful 

ERLING:	What was your favourite bit, 

PAUL:	Me?  Oh ... the beginning was 
        ... stirring?

ERLING:	How about the conclusion.

PAUL:	Well .... okay ... I tried it 
        again the summer, Erling, but 
        I couldn’t get through it.

ERLING:	Yeah, yeah.

        it, I promise.

        Next ?

ERLING:	Here’s an e-mail from Allison 
        Fizzard in Toronto.

PAUL:	Ah, longtime listener to the 
        show, and a former contest 
        winner, I believe.

ERLING:	Allison inquires, ‘What is the 
        origin of the BCN's "special 
        relationship" with Iceland ?’  

PAUL:	Yes, many people wonder about 
        that.  Our peculiar 
        intercourse with Iceland came 
        about due to an anomaly of the 
        BCN’s repeater station on the 
        Funk Islands. The station was 
        established in 1937 to relay 
        the signal to distant parts of 
        Newfoundland.  However, owing 
        to two phenomena which I don’t 
        know much about, wave-warping 
        and tunnel jumping, a pristine 
        BCN signal is received in 
        Iceland.  Unless, of course, 
        the ambient temperature on the 
        Funks exceeds about 18 degrees 
        Celsius, which never happens, 
        Erling, believe you me.

ERLING:	How long did you spend out 
        there in all ?

PAUL:	I manned the repeater station 
        for just over a year.  That’s 
        right, your turn in the 
        rotation must be coming up.

ERLING:	What rotation?

PAUL:	In any event, for whatever 
        reason, the BCN has become a 
        cultural institution in 

ERLING:	Similar sensibilities, 

PAUL:	Who knows, Erling. But some 
        BCN programs have become so 
        popular in Iceland that 
        translated versions are 
        broadcast on Radio Iceland 
        Rikisutuarp, Ras eh.  To all 
        our friends listening over 
        there, as always, “Nith 
        huffdum path myug gott, 
        sjaumst ath ari.”


PAUL:	Erling Biggs is here with me 
        and we are answering your 

ERLING:	A surprising number of queries 
        relating to the contest 
        portion of the show.

PAUL:	Indeed. One here from 
        Antigonish, Nova Scotia.  
        James Vivian of Hubtown 
        writes, “You often refer to 
        the What’s that Noise from 
        Newfoundland contest as the 
        ‘longest-running contest in 
        the empire’.  How long has it 
        been running exactly, and can 
        you tell us a bit about the 
        origins of the contest?”  You 
        know, Jim, I didn’t even know 
        the answer to that myself, so 
        I  dispatched Erling Biggs to 
        the archives in search of the 
        sonic embryo.  Any luck ?

ERLING:	Luck is the word for it.  
        Despite the unfathomable 
        mysteries of the Lundrigoonian 
        filing system in operation 
        down in the archives, I did 
        manage to pin it down. The 
        “What’s this Noise from 
        Newfoundland Contest”, as it 
        was originally known, was 
        introduced by Ron Gellately.  
        Ron, of course the legendary 
        helmsman of The Great Eastern.  
        The inaugural contest was on  
        Saturday September the 9th, 

PAUL:	Wow.

ERLING:	And here it is.


PAUL:	That is a tough one.

ERLING:	The contest was also different 
        in that Ron played a new noise 
        every week, regardless of 
        whether anyone guessed right.

PAUL:	Well, there were a lot more 
        good noises in those days.  
ERLING:	Some BCN trivia.  Who was the 
        first winner of the contest?

PAUL:	Rock Hiscock?

ERLING:	No, a fellow by the name of 
        Alan Turing.

PAUL:	Well, whaddaya know.  I have 
        to say, Erling, I was 
        surprised by how many letters 
        expressed doubts about the 
        veracity of the contest.

ERLING:	Shocking really the number of 
        people who suggested that 
        winning entries were made up. 
        Fallout from this summer’s 
        scandal, you think?

ERLING:	Perhaps, but this doubt and 
        naysaying must be nipped in 
        the bud, so Hollis?  -- yes, I 
        believe we have on the line, 
        right now, from Orleans, 
        Ontario, the most recent 
        winner of the What’s That 
        Noise from Newfoundland 
        contest, Vivek Krishnamurthy.  
        Vivek, what’s that noise from 
        Ontario ?  


PAUL :	Now it’s time to play the game 
        show whose existence has just 
        been verified !

        Without further ado, Hollis 
        Duffet, me.


        That could only be 
        Newfoundland noise.

        Erling, why don’t you pick 
        this week’s entrant.

ERLING:	Fine, Paul.  Let’s see, I’ll 
        search around ...

        Ooohhh, yuck.

PAUL:	Jeez, Erling, oh god, maybe 
        you’d better go wash your 



PAUL:	While Erling is off at the 
        little boy’s room, I’ll pull a 
        ... an e-mail from the contest 
        sack.  And it’s from Joe 
        Schneider of Saskatoon, 
        Saskatchewan.  And Joe writes:

        “The mystery sound on your 
        program of Nov. 1 is the sound 
        of a chicken farmer calling 
        his chickens.”

        Well, Joe, good guess, but a 
        wrong guess.  Not a chicken-
        caller.  Try again.

        Get a pencil and paper handy, 
        I’ll give you our mailing 
        address as soon as Hollis 
        Duffet gives us an earful of 
        the noise.

        If you want to enter the 
        contest, send mail to What’s 
        That Noise From Nfld., c/o the 
        BCN, 342 Duckworth St., St. 
        John’s, Nfld., A1C 1H5.


    	Oh, here’s Erling, back from 
        the well, buffed and dried.

ERLING:	Or e-mail us at


PAUL:	Here’s a letter from 
        Kaughnawaga, doesn’t say which 
        province, is that in Canada?

ERLING:	Six Nations.  

PAUL:	Hmmm?

ERLING:	Mohawk, I think, a distinct 
        society within some colonial 
        boundries up on the mainland.

PAUL:	Oh right, upper and lower 
        Canada, I can never get that 
        straight.  Anyway ... writes, 
        “I was recently in Cuernavaca, 
        Mexico.  While there I went 
        out to the movies, a double 
        bill was playing, an old Peter 
        Lorre flick, ‘Los Manos de 
        Orlac’ and ‘Viva Pepito’, 
        which had a Paul Moth credited 
        as director.  Surely not you, 
        Mr. Moth?”

ERLING:	Few know.

PAUL:	It was a lifetime ago.  Re: 
        the query, yes, I directed 
        some of the Pepito Films when 
        I was in Mexico.

ERLING:	(PAUSE)  Perhaps further 
        explanation is required.

PAUL:	Pepito El Grande, or Pepito 
        the Great was like the Latin 
        American world’s Lassie, if a 
        wee more politicized.  He’d 
        get in adventures, rescue 
        people, overthrow despots, 
        that kind of thing.  It was 
        for kids, really, but grown-
        ups liked it too.  And ask me 
        if I see any royalties for 
        that screening in Cuernevaca?

ERLING:	Do you see...?

PAUL:	NO!  In any event I did a 
        bunch of those films.  Next 

ERLING:	Not so fast, Paul.  I went to 
        my local downtown video store, 
        in the art movie section ...


ERLING:	They didn’t have ‘Viva 
        Pepito’, but I got ‘Vamos 
        Pepito Vamos’, and here comes 
        Hollis with the video player.

PAUL:	In Beta, hey?

ERLING:	50 cent rental.  Here we go.

SFX:	spanish movie

ERLING:	Oh, I figured it would be 

PAUL:	I’ll do it.  Right, I remember 
        this scene, what a hellish day 
        this was.  Anyway, “The evil 
        priest has destroyed the 
        deeds, I will soon have all 
        the peasants’ land.”  
        Malicious laugh.  “You are a 
        cunning one, Don Victor.”  “I 
        will soon become rich on 
        coffee.”  Snarl.  “What’s 
        that?”  “Snarl. Bark, bark,”  
        well, that’s a dog, I don’t 
        need to translate that.

ERLING:	This would be Pepito ?

PAUL:	That’s the one.  Actually, 
        it’s the second Pepito.  I ran 
        over Pepito # 1 backing my 
        truck up one night.  #2 was 
        actually a much better actor.

ERLING:	A Chihuahua.  They’re pretty 

PAUL:	The underdog, you know.

ERLING:	Right.

PAUL:	Little dogs, but insatiable.

ERLING:	Really?

PAUL:	As they say in Guadalajara, 
        “perro pequeno, amor grande”.

ERLING:	Next please.

PAUL:	Jimmy Brown of St. John’s 
        writes, “Dear Paul, I’ve been 
        looking at your web page a lot 
        recently.  Is it just my 
        imagination, or is the 
        Furlong’s Knob spinning 
        faster?”  This technological 
        stuff leaves me in the dust. 
        Got any insight, Erling ?

ERLING:	There are a couple of 
        circumstances that might 
        result in knobs spinning 
        faster.  The first is if Jimmy 
        has upgraded his computer 
        system recently.  A larger, 
        faster processor means a 
        quicker knob.

PAUL:	Isn’t the knob spinning at the 
        same speed for everybody ?

ERLING:	The other possibility - the 
        longer you look at the knob, 
        the faster it appears to spin, 
        though in reality it isn’t 
        spinning any faster.

PAUL:	Is that true?

ERLING:	Ya, try it some time.

PAUL:	Far out.


PAUL:	I hope I’m not the only person 
        who’s flummoxed by changes in 
        time and place.  It was all 
        confusing enough when we got 
        shipped backwards to this new 
        time slot we inhabit.  Then we 
        were informed of our re-
        appearance on CBC Radio Two - 
        in three different time slots 
        across the country.  And then 
        we found out we were on Radio 
        Canada International, and over 
        there they use a completely 
        alien time code system.

        Now, I’m not complaining about 
        the exposure Newfoundland and 
        its culture is receiving.

        But does every program on the 
        CBC experience the same 
        quotidian confusion ?

ERLING:	To whit, here’s a note from 
        Mike Cooper in Atlanta, GA, 
        who writes, “Your troubled 
        host ( that would be you, 
        Paul) persists in telling 
        listeners that the RCI 
        broadcasts the Great Eastern 
        on Sundays. This is true, but 
        only technically.

        The shortwave broadcast does 
        go out on Sunday if one is 
        using Coordinated Universal 
        Time (UTC).  However it 
        actually airs at 10:05 Eastern 
        on Saturday nights in Latin 
        America, the Caribbean and the 
        US.  In short I suggest you 
        say "Saturday nights" when you 
        mention the SW broadcast ... 
        Simple, eh?”

PAUL:	Simple, elegant and within my 
        powers.  Thanks to Mike Cooper 
        of Atlanta, Georgia, for that 


PAUL:	Oh, there’s the buzzer.  Time 
        for short snappers.

ERLING:	Mark Ferguson asks, “Are the 
        hosts of Variety Meats real 

PAUL:	Yes, I’m going up there after 
        the show -- fancy a bit of 
        white pudding.


PAUL:	Charlie Hale from Moorhead, 
        Minnesota asks, “What’s the 
        most popular show on the BCN?”

ERLING:	Easy. Interred, with Morris 
        Jesso.  Also on Morris, 
        Maurice Pooby of Whaletown, 
        BC, asks “Does Morris Jesso do 

PAUL:	oooooo. No.  Patsy Kotsopolous 
        of Vancouver wants to know, 
        “Is Erling Biggs single?”

ERLING:	Alex Pietro of Toronto asks, 
        “Any thought of taking the 
        Great Eastern on the road, say 
        to mainland Canada?”

PAUL:	Absolutely not.  Let’s see... 
        JP Beck of somewhere in e-mail 
        land asks, “Why doesn’t the 
        BCN apply for a grant from the 
        new green Liberals to replace 
        that aging coal-fired 

ERLING:	No way, our listeners have 
        spoken, the coal-fired signal 
        is too sweet.  Lauren Banerd 
        in Vancouver asks, “What was 
        the name of the technician you 
        brought back from South 
        America to re-commission the 
        coal-fired transmitter?”

PAUL:	BCN’s director of engineering 
        emeritus, Ari Uldmanis, 
        originally from Latvia.  John 
        Botari of Saskatoon inquires, 
        “How did the BCN studios 
        become equipped by the little-
        known German electronics 
        concern, Krupps-Funkenscheidt, 

ERLING:	That...

PAUL:	Will just have to wait. Our 
        apologies to all who wrote but 
        whose letters we were unable 
        to fit into the programme. 
        Thank you Erling Biggs for 
        your dulcet tones.  To the man 
        from Calgary who sent a dozen 
        beer, special thanks from the 
        coal-stokers whose thirst was 
        slaked.  To all of you out 
        there, thanks for listening.

    	The director of radio at the 
        BCN is Ish Lundrigan.  Our 
        engineer today was Hollis 
        Duffett.  My name is Paul 
        Moth.  Join me again next week 
        for The Great Eastern, NF’s 
        Cultural Magazine.