Podcasts You Should Know: Enter the paranormal with Rainn Wilson on Dark Air with Terry Carnation

Christine Fitzgerald 15 Min Read
15 Min Read
Rainn Wilson on Dark Air with Terry Carnation

If you’re a fan of late-night paranormal call-in shows, the actor who introduced us to some unforgettable characters on The Office and in films like Galaxy Quest and Super is back to re-introduce you to the “Pope of the Paranormal”, the enigmatic and complex Terry Carnation.

On his Audioboom Original podcast, Dark Air with Terry Carnation, Rainn Wilson stars in this fictional darkly comedic series that explores the on and off-air life of Terry Carnation – a late-night talk-radio show host who deals with bizarre topics, outrageous callers… and gets caught up in a mystery of his own.

Season 1 consists of 14 weekly episodes featuring Rainn as Terry Carnation, Karan Soni (Deadpool, TBS’ Miracle Workers) as his co-star, and Al Madrigal as his boss. Additional guest stars include Angela Kinsey, Yvette Nicole Brown, Tom Lennon, Creed Bratton, Mindy Sterling, Jason Reitman, Sam Neill, Nathan Fillion, Mark Proksch, Rizwan Manji, Kate Flannery, Kevin Smith, and Desmin Borges. The first episode debuts on April 1 on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and anywhere you get your podcasts.

Rainn Wilson on Dark Air with Terry Carnation
Photo by Dennys Ilic

We were able to get the radio legend in the hot seat to talk about his storied career, he things and people who inspire him and lots more in our exclusive interview.     

Hello, Terry.

Hello, Christine, how are you?

Good. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. I know being a radio personality is a very taxing job.

It is. Normally at this hour, I'd be resting my vocal chords, as you know, my show begins at 10:00 PM and go until three in the AM and I need to preserve these languid tones.

Yes, of course. Now a lot of us may not have heard of you before and some of us didn't have the time to read your autobiography. Could you tell me a little bit how you got your start in radio?

Yes, absolutely. I got my start in radio at the University of Buffalo playing rock and roll music, so to speak. It was the height of the nineties. I was Mr. Grunge, a huge fan of all the nineties bands, especially Goo Goo Dolls. I was a groupie of the Goo Goo Dolls. They actually call them Goopies. I was a Goopie. I hit the road with the Goo Goo Dolls from one end of this great nation to the other. But more importantly, more striking, is how I got my start in the paranormal, in audience interaction, in a call-in show.

There was another radio disc jockey who had the show on after mine, the late night, middle of the night call-in show. And I can't even remember the name of it. It was called like, Dr. Demon or something like that, or Demon Dave, the Devil Doctor’s Call-In Show of All Things Supernatural, Supernatural Spitfire. I can't even remember what it was. And, as I was finishing my show, I went to the bathroom. I had an exceptionally long, large and arduous gastric event. When I emerged about 14 minutes later, Demon Dave had collapsed. He had died behind the keyboard. There was no one around, I had to pull his deceased body away from the keyboard. I say keyboard, whatever, the console, and I took over the show and really the rest is history. I was so into it that I forgot to call 911, and then the sun rose.

And, there was Demon Dave lying in the corner and we eventually called the ambulance and alerted his family, but more important, him aside, no one really liked him, most importantly is a star was born and that star's name was Terry Carnation – at the time as it was Terrance Carnation. I shortened it to Terry Carnation for good reason.

Rainn Wilson on Dark Air with Terry Carnation
Photo by Dennys Ilic

What interests you about the paranormal?

What doesn't interest me? Who isn't captivated by the mysterious, the ineffable, the indescribable, that feeling in the pit of your stomach, that tingle in the back of your neck?

When you move in a cold basement and you, and you realize, Oh, someone must have died down here. That feeling that someone is watching you, that feeling that someone is watching you is a feeling that I have 24 hours a day. I am constantly feeling that I am under surveillance. Some might call that unhealthy. Some may call it practical.

Now, you had your radio show for many years and you kind of took some time off. What drove you to come back and to be back on the airwaves?

That's where I belong. I was gone for three years after the tragic death of my wife, DuyLoan, Carnation, Vietnamese. And it was heartbreaking. I had a bit of a mental breakdown. I'm not sure if that's the PC term these days, but that's what it felt like to me. And, after a long, arduous period of reflection and self-searching as well as petty theft and burglary. I fell in with the wrong crowd in Bakersfield, we were stealing car radios and stereos and airbags for sale on the black market.

I came back around realizing, you know what, Terry, the time for daily ritual Ayahuasca use is over. And it's time to go back on the air and to speak to your people again, to connect, to reconnect, to plug in.

Rainn Wilson on Dark Air with Terry Carnation
Photo by Dennys Ilic

Okay. And I noticed that you do share a lot of your personal life. How did you decide to share that much with your audience?

Well, what can I say? You know, my audience loves me, and I love them and they expect nothing more. They want to know the real Terry, they demand to know the real Terry. I share something and they say more Terry, more, give us more. And I give, and I give, and I give ,like a fountain constantly giving of itself, like the candle. Giving his life to the world and burning itself down to a nub.

Besides sharing things about your personal life, what other topics do you enjoy talking about the most on your show?

Oh, so many topics I enjoy talking about, paddle tennis, crabs, crustaceans – all kinds of crustaceans. I’m a big fan of all kinds of seafood ­– shellfish, especially. I have a tattoo of an oyster on my left testicle. What else do I enjoy talking about? The history of thesauruses…the list goes on and on.

Have you ever been surprised by something you've learned while recording your show?

That's an excellent question and yes, I am surprised every night recording my show. Just the other night I learned that Sasquatch loved to dance. I didn’t know this, but it's true. They have mating rituals. They have societies, secret societies. They like to move just as much as the whippoorwill or the stallion or the human on spring break in Fort Lauderdale.

Rainn Wilson on Dark Air with Terry Carnation
Photo by Dennys Ilic

That's really interesting. I did not know that myself. Has there ever been a certain caller or a certain guest that you've had on your show that really stood out to you?

Yes, several times, Satan himself called into the show. And, honestly, I was too afraid to take the call and we always send him to voicemail. But one of these days I will work up the courage to speak to Satan, the Lord of Darkness himself and see what he's doing. Calling into an AM radio station. At two in the morning, number one, like “Hello? Busy much?”, but number two, to see what he wants with me – and I hope it's nothing nefarious.

Besides the Lord of Darkness, who would be another dream guest to have on your show?  

Antonio Banderas. He’s so handsome. I think he's underrated.

He is and he was a very excellent Puss in Boots.

Yes. And that's just his voice acting, which takes nothing away from his incredibly gorgeous face and body. His body's exceptional. It's a work of art.

Rainn Wilson on Dark Air with Terry Carnation
Photo by Dennys Ilic

How do you think that that doing Dark Air has changed you as a person?

His body should be showcased in the Prado museum in Madrid as the highest pinnacle of the Spanish people. I hope when he dies, they, you know, he allows them to taxidermy him. In fact, they should do it now, before he gets too old and too saggy. You know what I mean? We could all benefit.

We know that you've written your autobiography, also called Dark Air. If you were to adapt that to film, who would you want to play you?

I'm going to go with Antonio Banderas. He is so transformational, but if we can't get him Antonio Banderas, his brother, Doug Banderas, would make an excellent Terry Carnation. He's a little bit less handsome as Antonio, but the pure, the sheer physical beauty of him might take away from his performance as Terry Carnation.

Now I am a handsome fellow, I've been told, but, at the same time, we don't want to detract from the story.

What would your fans be surprised to learn about you?

I have no esophagus. Born without one. It forces me to swallow like a full-throated robin, you know, taking an earthworm down its gullet. So not terribly pleasant at dinner outings, but you get used to it.

Rainn Wilson on Dark Air with Terry Carnation
Photo by Dennys Ilic

What's the oddest question you've been asked either by a caller or in an interview?

Excellent question. Um, why so many nipples?

Is there any context behind that? Or is it best that I not know?

It's a long story. We don't have time for that right now. Maybe our next interview.

What do you feel that the future holds for you, Terry?

Well, I know what the future holds because I have been to the future and it holds me getting run over by a street car, oddly enough, in 1887 San Francisco. Which is actually the past. How was that for a paradox? Did that just blow your mind or what?

Consider it blown. Definitely. And in your lengthy career, what are you the most grateful for?

I guess, scallops. You know, again, I love all shellfish, crustaceans. It's my favorite food. If I ever want to lose weight, I just go completely on the shellfish and crustacean diet. But, for me, the simple bay scallop is what I'm most thankful for.

Rainn Wilson on Dark Air with Terry Carnation
Photo by Dennys Ilic

Lastly, do you have a special message for your audience out here and for newcomers coming to the show?

Yes, I would say to them, please, please, dear audience and dear listeners, come back, finding me on the radio dial, pledge your allegiance to me once again, as you did so many years ago. Terry's back and he's better than ever, baby. Please forgive all of the horrific, insulting and degrading things that I've said over the years and, come back to Papa. Sit on Papa's lap, Papa Terry's lap and let him, weave you a story. A story of mystery, of intrigue, a story of the unknown.

Thank you so much for speaking with me, Terry. I greatly appreciate it.

It has been a most sincere pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.

Listen to the trailer and subscribe so you don’t miss an episode of Dark Air with Terry Carnation available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and anywhere you get your podcasts. The series’ first episode premieres on April 1st.

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