The Best Show with Tom Scharpling

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The Best Show with Tom Scharpling
The Best Show with Tom Scharpling
GenreTalk, Comedy, Music
Running time2 hours (2000–2001)
3 hours (2001–2013, 2014–)
Country of originUnited States
StarringTom Scharpling
Jon Wurster
Mike Lisk (2005–)
Pat Byrne (2014-)
Jason Gore (2014-)
Original releaseOn WFMU:
October 10, 2000 (2000-10-10) – December 17, 2013 (2013-12-17)
Independent revival:
December 16, 2014 (2014-12-16)
No. of episodesapprox. 575 (on WFMU)
258 (independently)
(list of episodes)
Opening theme"Best Show Theme" by Mr. and Mrs. Paycheck

The Best Show with Tom Scharpling (formerly The Best Show on WFMU) is a combination music, call-in, and comedy Internet radio show/podcast hosted independently by Tom Scharpling since 2014, which previously aired on New Jersey-based radio station WFMU from 2000–2013. The show's slogan is "three hours of mirth, music, and mayhem."[1]

The Best Show on WFMU first aired on October 10, 2000, occupying the 9pm–11pm time slot. Starting June 5, 2001, the show was expanded to three hours filling the 8pm–11pm slot, later moving to 9pm–midnight on June 15, 2010. A worldwide audience listened to the show live through WFMU's Internet stream with episodes also archived on the radio station's website. The Best Show began podcasting its shows, with the music removed due to licensing restrictions, on January 26, 2006. In October 2013, Scharpling announced his intention to end The Best Show within several months, with the program's finale airing on December 17.[2][3] About one year later on December 16, 2014, Scharpling revived the program independently at The current incarnation of The Best Show continues to air on Tuesday nights from 9pm to midnight Eastern. On December 27, 2016, the show began accepting donations through Patreon.[4]

The show has listeners and callers around the world, from the United States and Canada, to as far afield as the U.K., Sweden, Japan, New Zealand, and Tasmania. Regular callers and in-studio guests of note have included Todd Barry, Andy Kindler, Aimee Mann, Kurt Vile, Paul F. Tompkins, Ted Leo, John Hodgman, and Patton Oswalt.


Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster is a frequent caller to the show, adopting a variety of personae hailing from the fictional and surreal New Jersey suburb of "Newbridge." Frequent Wurster characters include "Philly Boy Roy" (an unflinching supporter of all things Philadelphia), "Timmy von Trimble" (a genetically modified, two-inch-tall racist), and "The Gorch" (a senior citizen from York, Pennsylvania, who claims that the character of The Fonz on the TV show Happy Days was based on him, without permission).[5] Some of these calls have been released on CD by Scharpling and Wurster's Stereolaffs label.








On February 11, 2003, Janeane Garofalo and Sam Seder appeared on The Best Show to discuss the political atmosphere of America. The chemistry between them as radio talents was evident, and their agreement on many liberal political views made them kindred spirits. In the summer of that same year, Garofalo was approached by representatives of Air America Radio to be a radio personality for their programming. She insisted that they hire Seder and that he share the hosting responsibilities. Less than one year later, The Majority Report was born.


Big Dipper reunion[edit]

On his January 20, 2004 radio program, Scharpling had been derisively talking about the VH1 show Bands Reunited. This discussion led to Scharpling facetiously declaring his goal of reuniting the beloved (though relatively unknown) 1980s Boston indie-rock band Big Dipper. In the following weeks, the concept of a "Big Dipper Reunion" had become a recurring in-joke on the program. Scharpling began calling the members at home to convince them to reunite. In 2008, the group reunited for a live concert. In advance of several reunion shows in April 2008, Merge Records released the 3-disc Supercluster: The Big Dipper Anthology on March 18, featuring liner notes by Scharpling.

TV special[edit]

In 2014, Scharpling and Wurster created and produced a television special for Adult Swim (as part of their project Infomercials), based around their characters and the town of Newbridge entitled The Newbridge Tourism Board Presents: "We're Newbridge, We're Comin' to Get Ya!".[7] It aired on November 3, 2014,[8] and presents itself as a tourism video advertising Newbridge, NJ.

The Best of The Best Show[edit]

Released by The Numero Group on May 12, 2015, The Best of The Best Show is a retrospective box set of Scharpling and Wurster calls, culled primarily from the show's 13-year run on WFMU, on 16 discs and a USB stick with bonus material. It also includes a book featuring essays written by friends and associates of the show and notes on every included call by Scharpling and Wurster themselves.[9]

24/7 stream[edit]

On January 1, 2017, a 24/7 streaming channel was added to the official Best Show website featuring clips from the shows entire run, both the WFMU and independent eras, along with rare and previously unheard material.[10]

Spin-offs and Patreon exclusives[edit]

Best Show Gems/Best Show Bests[edit]

Best Show Gems Logo

On February 23, 2009, a spin-off program titled Best Show Gems began podcasting once every other week. The podcast is a "greatest hits"-type program featuring highlights from The Best Show.[11] Best Show Gems ranges anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes, and usually centers on a call between Scharpling and Wurster. The podcast continues on as Best Show Bests, featuring Scharpling & Wurster calls and celebrity interviews from the modern show, released Fridays on the same feed as the show proper.

The Half Hour of Power[edit]

The Half Hour of Power is an overtime show, typically recorded every other week directly following The Best Show. During the show, Tom and the Best Show crew will take unscreened calls and discuss events from their personal lives.

Meet My Friends the Friends[edit]

Patreon exclusive featuring a fictionalized version of Scharpling hosting a Friends recap podcast as his life slowly begins to unravel. The podcast has currently covered up through the third season of the show.

So Far[edit]

Patreon exclusive limited podcast in which the Best Show crew takes a year by year look at all of the works of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, together and apart.

One-offs and infrequent releases[edit]

Gary The Squirrel podcasts[edit]

Patreon exclusives wherein Gary the Squirrel, a Don Rickles-esque squirrel portrayed by Scharpling conducts interviews, trains the Best Show staff on improv or broadcasting, and comments on pop culture.

The Sad Mirage[edit]

Scharpling and "AP Mike" Lisk discuss various somber topics.

Lights Out[edit]

The Best Show staff share ghost stories, nightmares, and various other horror-related occurrences in their lives with the lights out in the studio.

Takin' the Leap with Jason Gore[edit]

A podcast within the Meet My Friends the Friends universe wherein producer Jason Gore hosts a Quantum Leap recap podcast.

Reception and fan base[edit]

Notable fans of The Best Show include Conan O'Brien,[12] David Cross,[13] and Aiden English.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Interview between Tom Scharpling and Ted Leo in The Believer
  2. ^ Eakin, Marah. "Newbridge mourns as Tom Scharpling announces the end of The Best Show On WFMU". News. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  3. ^ Whitney Matheson (2013-12-17). "Bye bye, 'Best Show': Beloved radio program ends". USA Today.
  4. ^ The Best Show is creating A Comedy Podcast/Radio Show
  5. ^ New York Times article on Scharpling and TBSOWFMU
  6. ^ a b Interview with Tom Scharpling and Jon Wurster on The Sound of Young America (Feb. 3 * 2005)
  7. ^ Adult Swim (2014-11-12), The Newbridge Tourism Board Presents: "We're Newbridge, We're Comin' To Get Ya!" | Adult Swim, retrieved 2017-12-08
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Scharpling & Wurster - The Best of The Best Show [Numero Group]". Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  10. ^ "247 «  The Best Show - STEAMROLLIN' CHUMPS Every Tuesday 9PM to 12AM EST". Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  11. ^ New Best Show Gems Podcast
  12. ^ La Gorce, Tammy (January 1, 2006). "IN PERSON; Gotcha! Stay Tuned". New York Times.
  13. ^
  14. ^

External links[edit]