Comedy & Camaraderie
Dean Metcalf’s 30-year career with “The Bob & Tom Show” filled with humor, hijinks and heart
Writer / Jon Shoulders
Photographer / Michael Thierwechter
To Dean Metcalf, the story of how he initially came to be involved with the Indianapolis-based “Bob & Tom” radio show is every bit as humorous as the many comedic songs and skits he’s helped produce and partaken in throughout nearly 30 years with the nationally-syndicated program.
In late 1987, while studying telecommunications during his senior year at Indiana University, Metcalf heard that Alex Whitaker, a high school friend, was interning with “The Bob & Tom Show” and a few weeks later received a call out of the blue from Whitaker himself. After catching up, Metcalf learned that Whitaker’s internship was ending and asked if the comedy-based show, launched by Tom Griswold and Bob Kevoian on Indy’s Q95 station in 1983, needed someone new.
“(Alex) told me to just call Tom and say that I knew him,” Metcalf says. “I called the next day and I swear Tom just said, ‘Okay, why don’t you come up and start Friday.’ I got off the phone and realized I needed to talk to my professors and figure out how the heck I was going to make it work. It was crazy. I wish it was some amazing story where Tom thought I was this great, perfect candidate, but it was plain-old dumb luck and timing.”
Nevertheless, Metcalf’s fateful internship would blossom into a fruitful career as executive producer of “Bob & Tom”, for which he oversees many of the program’s creative and musically related content. Thirty years on, Metcalf recalls feeling an immediate connection with Kevoian, Griswold and their staff.
“The chemistry was there from the beginning, and we all got along really well,” says Metcalf, a New Whiteland native. “I was a really good fit for what they needed, and all of our comedic sensibilities were similar. It was right in my weird little skill set of music and the ins and outs of broadcasting. I couldn’t have designed a better situation for myself.”
As “Bob & Tom” reached national syndication in 1995 and the show’s technical staff grew, Metcalf was able to focus more exclusively on creative content as a producer. He’s assumed many wacky characters on the air and co-written many a silly skit, and while the program includes news, sports coverage and guest interviews, its musical comedy elements will always hold a special place in his heart.
“I couldn’t say I have a favorite song or skit that we worked on over the years for the show, but I have a lot of fond memories from working on “The Mr. Obvious Show” with Chick McGee,” Metcalf says. “We always did a lot of ad lib for that one, and it was so much fun.”
A musician since the age of 12, Metcalf handles guitar and upright bass duties for a total of five bluegrass and rock bands in his downtime. The most prominent perhaps is The Electric Amish, a parody band he launched with Kyle and Barclay Grayson, the younger brothers of “Bob & Tom” alum Whit Grayson. The band has sold more than 100,000 copies of their albums consisting of popular rock songs comically rewritten from an Amish viewpoint (album titles include “Barn to be Wild”, “Milkin’ It” and “A Hard Day’s Work”).
Metcalf and his wife Shannon, an Irvington native and Broad Ripple High School grad, host a music-filled bash every year called DeanBlossom at their Indy residence, where hundreds of friends, colleagues and fellow musicians gather for a day of pizza, beverages and bluegrass jam sessions. Metcalf’s collection of more than 100 musical instruments, amassed since his teenage years, includes a rare C.F. Martin acoustic guitar from the late 1850s.
Every February, Metcalf lends his musical and organizational skills to the Beach Ball, a tropical-themed event benefitting the Abbie Hunt Bryce Home, a shelter for low-income and homeless individuals who are sick or terminally ill. The Tempos, one of his many musical projects, typically provides a rocking live soundtrack for the occasion.
“The people that are taken in at the Abbie Hunt Bryce Home typically don’t have insurance, and don’t have friends or family or any kind of support,” Metcalf says. “Having lost both my parents to cancer, I can’t imagine what it would have been like to not have insurance and not have anywhere to go. We’ve raised a few hundred thousand dollars through the years to help keep it going.”
Also a pet enthusiast with several dogs of his own, Metcalf volunteers with Shannon for Indianapolis Animal Care Services (IACS), and serves as one of the organizers for Howl and Wine, an annual fundraising event for IACS that will be held this year on October 21 at Tavern on South.
Metcalf says the wide diversity of his hobbies and professional duties has kept him energized and motivated through the years.
“My job is not exactly like a factory job or something where you know exactly what you’re going to do every day – there’s always a new challenge or a new story,” he says. “What’s become important to me over the years is to have side projects and passions so I can go out and play music, and then spend time on charity events and give back. I find joy in the fact that every day is very different.”