“The idea for ‘Rock, Rot & Rule’ came during a phone conversation Tom and I had regarding people’s subjective use of superlatives. We wondered, “Why do some things ‘rule’ and some things ’suck’? What does it mean when something or someone ‘rocks’? Our discussion eventually led to the concept of Tom doing a short interview on his WFMU radio show with me assuming the guise of Ronald Thomas Clontle, the know-it-all author of a completely misguided rock reference book called ’Rock, Rot & Rule’ (we weren’t sure we could say ‘suck’ on the air).
What we didn’t anticipate was that many of the people listening in that night in November of 1997 would assume Tom was speaking to a real author about a real book purported to be ‘the ultimate argument settler’ on the true worth of hundreds of musicians and bands. When we began taking calls from irate listeners things took a very unexpected and entertaining turn and our loosely-scripted little prank turned into the near hour-long epic you hold in your hands.
Looking back, I really don’t think Tom nor I had any idea that what we were doing that night was the beginning of a twenty-year (and counting) partnership, but I’m sure glad it turned out to be the case. Here’s to twenty more.” – Jon Wurster
While they are now known, revered and loved for having entertained thousands upon thousands of loyal listeners to The Best Show on WFMU from 2000 to 2013, at the time of this first Jon Wurster on-air call to Tom Scharpling’s (pre-Best Show) WFMU radio show in 1997 the recognizable Wurster timbre was unknown to listeners. This allowed for the routine, hilarious in itself, to be made even more enjoyable when upset listeners call in, taking Wurster’s character at face value as he is interviewed by Scharpling, the greatest straight man in the business.