Former morning radio host Jim Krenn is back at home behind the mic with a new weekly comedy podcast.
"No Restrictions" premieres at noon Thursday on Sideshow Network. New episodes, a mix of live and studio recordings, will post every Thursday and will run 45 minutes to an hour. "No Restrictions" is a free download and is available through iTunes, Stitcher and on Mr. Krenn's website, jimkrenn.com, and at the Sideshow Network site, sideshownetwork.tv.
Sideshow is an online comedy network featuring a large roster of podcasts, videos and live performances. Mr. Krenn will be in good company there: Sideshow also offers podcasts from Harry Shearer, George Lopez, Phil Hendrie and Tommy Chong.
The debut episode was recorded live at Bricolage in front of a small but highly enthusiastic audience. The conversation is a humorous and irreverent take on pop culture, items in the news and sports. Recorded skits and commercials are interwoven into the live portion of the show.
Mr. Krenn will be joined by a crew of regulars every week, including local comedians Terry Jones, John Evans and Mike Wysocki. Every week, the segment will feature one guest: The first will have Post-Gazette editorial cartoonist Rob Rogers. The following week it will be Pittsburgh City Council candidate Franco Dok Harris.
"No Restrictions" is a mix of morning radio and stand-up comedy -- which is Mr. Krenn's comfort zone: He's a well-known comedian in the area and was host on the WDVE-FM morning team for 24 years, until Clear Channel Media + Entertainment Pittsburgh ended his contract in February 2012.
Mr. Krenn had to sit out a six-month noncompete clause in his contract, which ended in September. "It was time after 24 years to reflect and reinvent," he said. He considered several options, but Sideshow's national comedy podcast "was the most interesting offer ... . We're a partner in producing it. There's total creative and artistic freedom."
He put together a team of fellow comics who he says are the key to the show's success. "It's definitely a team show. I was looking for performers who were taking chances, doing some unique things and were good people. I found that in every one of these guys."
Mr. Jones, who grew up in Penn Hills, has been doing stand-up since 18, performing at local comedy clubs, college campuses and benefit shows. He signed on in part because of the "No Restrictions" nature of the podcast. "I don't have to worry about being a certain type of person on a show or not being able to say what I want to say. It's pretty much no holds barred," Mr. Jones said.
The target audience is 18 to 90, Mr. Krenn says. Given the edginess and subject matter that goes with "No Restrictions," the over-18 label should be fair warning to listeners who might find some content offensive.
Mr. Krenn will bring back some of his old morning show characters such as Ralph the Cat and mall guard Ben Klingston, and also has created new ones.
The podcast is rooted in Mr. Krenn's signature Pittsburgh humor. But most of the topical material is national and designed to engage global audiences. And Mr. Krenn says that people who don't speak fluent Pittsburghese will find the inside Pittsburgh stuff entertaining. "As long as you don't do it too long, you can get away with it. It's almost like listening to a Brooklyn accent. They appreciate this peek inside our world as Pittsburghers. I picture some guy in India going, 'I love Ralph the Cat.' "
Adrian McCoy: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1865. First Published March 13, 2013 4:00 AM