The term “nerd” started losing its pejorative punch about 20 years ago by my calender. Bill Gates and the tech boom showed the world that kids who like to play with computers not only make a lot more money than varsity fullbacks; they define social mores, determine how we communicate, and set the cultural as well as economic stage. (See every company with an online presence or Big Bang Theory, network TV’s episodic take on geek culture.)
It’s gotten a little silly, though. Saying someone is a nerd is almost as complimentary as calling someone cool was in 1986. The difference lies in the self-proclamation. You rarely heard someone call themselves “cool” back in the day. Nerdiness is a self-promotion game. You tell the world: “I’m a food nerd.” “I’m a Jeopardy nerd.” “I’m a car nerd.” Translation: I’m really knowledgeable about (insert subject matter).
It’s a phenomenon I’ve kept tabs on. I was happy to hear the topic explored on my maiden voyage of The Morning Stream, a thrice weekly show piloted by Scott Johnson and Brian Ibbott. Johnson steers from Salt Lake City, and Ibbot joins via ISDN from Denver.
Granted, the top-ten list of the nerdiest cities in America as determined by Movoto.com, was just a blip in the two-hour episode, the show revisited the idea tonally again and again. (Atlanta was no.1 incidentally.) Here’s how they quantified it:
Morning Stream: the good and the not-so-good
- I love the laid-back, unpretentious approach these guys take. It’s an energetic, but slightly less-caffeinated, take on The Morning Zoo style of broadcasting. You know, innocuous banter about life and entertainment goings-on.
- There were one too-many fart drops. They colored what could’ve been killer material with a real Jay and the Jackass in the Morning, weather-on-the-nines vibe by hitting the sound effects buttons on the reg.
- Stump a Trek Nerd. Johnson calls Darrell, a fan and regular listener I’m guessing, then asks him a Star Trek deep-deep-trivia question. He chooses from four possible answers. The two ham it up for a bit about TNG, and the original series, and Darrell gives his answer. As a Trek fan, I was sold on this segment right out of the gate. Very funny, and very fun.
- I don’t know if this part of every episode, but barely-audible swing jazz spanned almost the entire show, just beneath the hosts’ audio. It was distracting. A technicality sure. But technicalities that last as long as this one did can really turn a listener off.
I will certainly be listening again. I like the cut of this cast’s jib. Steady as she goes, Morning Stream.