What's the origin of "Long time x, first time y?"
December 22, 2004 11:25 AM   Subscribe

What is the origin of the awkward sentence fragment construction "Long time [something], first time [something else]?" I've been seeing it written (here and elsewhere) with increasing frequency over the last couple of years. It has the ring of a catch phrase being parroted, but as someone with a patchy at best grasp on pop culture, I'm unable to determine its roots.

I've found there are too many variants of this phrase to effectively Google up a source, unfortunately. I don't even know the actual phrase that I suspect is being [mis]parroted!
posted by majick to Writing & Language (35 answers total)
 
"Long time listener, first time caller," first appeared, I believe, on talk radio.
posted by jefgodesky at 11:29 AM on December 22, 2004


It's a staple of call-in talk radio shows, in the form 'Long time listener, first time caller', tho' I don't know if that's the absolute origin of it.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:30 AM on December 22, 2004


Well, I think you're talking about people who call in to radio shows and tell the jock, "Long time listener first time caller"? That's the most ubiquitous use of the phrase that I know of...
posted by vito90 at 11:30 AM on December 22, 2004


Long time reader, third-place answerer
posted by vito90 at 11:31 AM on December 22, 2004 [1 favorite]


I'm not commenting authoritatively, but I suspect that this originated with call-in radio shows, with the formula "Hi, Ken, this is Bob from Weehauken Glen, I'm a long-time listener, first-time caller."

Or something like that.
posted by adamrice at 11:31 AM on December 22, 2004


Damn, I spend too long finding this link so I could say it was in popular usage as far back as 1994 (sideshow Bob says when he calls in).
posted by Capn at 11:34 AM on December 22, 2004


Aha! Thank you, folks! I've never been a listener of voice radio of any kind, so it's no surprise I missed it. Part two of the question, then: Why in the world does anyone think this low information content tidbit is worth including?
posted by majick at 11:40 AM on December 22, 2004


As an avid listener of talk radio, I'm not sure why people say this. It's annoying, in my opinion. I think it's a way of sucking up to the host for the length of the call. Or just to let them know that they've been a "lurker" for a long time. Same reason all the n00bs say "this is my first post" in the Blue, I guess.
posted by BradNelson at 11:43 AM on December 22, 2004


People lead simple, unimportant lives and it makes them feel good to say it, as if they finally joined a club. What else bugs me about talk radio is when someone says, 'thanks and i'll take my question off the air." why don't they just hang up? it's not like the host is going to be sad to see them go.
posted by Arch Stanton at 11:47 AM on December 22, 2004


Perhaps it is a way for the caller to have it both ways: "long time listener" establishes credentials in terms of knowledge.... but if they blow it, their excuse is that they are a "first time caller". In talk radio land, I guess that first time caller label is supposed evoke sympathy from the host. Here on MeFi its equivalent ("my first post") like waving a red flag in front of a bull.

Cultural difference, I suppose.
posted by Doohickie at 11:48 AM on December 22, 2004


thanks and i'll take my question off the air.

And you know what? That seems to be the way they always say it- using the word "question" when they really mean "answer". Wazzup wid dat?
posted by Doohickie at 11:50 AM on December 22, 2004


Actually, sometimes on both "On Point" and "Coast to Coast AM" (the only two talk radio shows I listen to), the host or the guest asks the caller for clarification of his/her question, and then there is an embarrassed kerfluffle when we all realize the caller has either hung up or been hung up upon.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:55 AM on December 22, 2004


Every time I hear "Long time [fill in blank], first time [fill in blank]..." - I always associate it with Penthouse Forum letters. ("Long time reader, first time writer.") I can remember associating the phrase and magazine together since about 1988. (Although, I can't exactly recall why I do.)
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 12:03 PM on December 22, 2004


I found an earlier reference than Simpson's, from 1992 via Usenet... "First time caller ... " and here's another one from 1991... "First time caller ..."
posted by geoff. at 12:06 PM on December 22, 2004


I think it is unfair to classify all people who call into talk radio as having "simple, unimportant lives." It is a social script, the same as "hello" or "goodbye." I think doohickie nails this one. When someone says it (or writes it - you will often find it written in the letters pages of magazines), I think it also makes clarifies that this peson is not a "whacko" who sits around and calls in to talk radio, or writes into magazines (or posts to message boards).
posted by Quartermass at 12:10 PM on December 22, 2004


The phrase appears in Eric Bogosian's 1984 play, Talk Radio.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:11 PM on December 22, 2004


That saying is ancient. I'd imagine it's from the early 80s and the first pop culture appearance I'm familiar with is Eric Bogosian's Talk Radio, which was written in 1984.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 12:12 PM on December 22, 2004


Doh! Grr.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 12:12 PM on December 22, 2004


*giggle* is that an all-too appropriate-handle moment?
posted by raedyn at 12:33 PM on December 22, 2004


On looking back at that, my giggle seems insipid, and my comment mean-spirited. Allow me to smack myself before someone else bothers. Doh!
posted by raedyn at 12:34 PM on December 22, 2004


Why in the world does anyone think this low information content tidbit is worth including?

Probably for the same reason they feel compelled to type "first post": so they'll be noticed.
posted by rushmc at 12:52 PM on December 22, 2004


"Love you love your show" is another good one.
posted by knave at 12:56 PM on December 22, 2004


So negative! Any chance this is uttered to complement the host, and, perhaps, intimate that he has, or "really" has good ratings? Geez!

Does anyone know what Rush talked about today?
posted by ParisParamus at 12:57 PM on December 22, 2004


Wow, don't we feel superior to those with "simple, unimportant lives" who speak in "awkward sentence fragments" with "low information content", listen to "voice radio" and have a "grasp on pop culture".

Is the purpose of this question (especially part two) to seek information, or to showcase your sophistication compared to the unwashed masses?
posted by mcguirk at 1:04 PM on December 22, 2004


It is meant to establish a sense of kinship, familiarity...relatively harmless in terms of talk radio.

On the other hand, one of my biggest pet peeves is when a caller asks the host, "How are you?" The poor host probably hears that question two or three dozen times every hour, and I'm betting that the condition of the host hasn't changed from the original answer of "Fine."

/mild rant
posted by davidmsc at 1:28 PM on December 22, 2004


Hanz Azaria said, "long time listener, first time caller," in Grosse Pointe Blank [1997], which may have popularized it among people who aren't talk radio listeners.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:16 PM on December 22, 2004


I also remember this phrase from one of my favorite early Simpsons episodes, Like Father, Like Clown, which aired in October 1991.

Wikipedia notes the growth of AM talk radio in the late 70s. As You Should See the Other Guy guesses, the phrase probably started spreading through the radio in the early 80s and thus was a cliché being referenced in mass media by the 90s.

Interestingly, this use of the phrase and the one Capn notes above give a good example of the Simpson's role as cultural barometer. In 1991, talk radio was shown as an AM program with local religious leaders; in 1994, it was shown as a national conservative politics show. This mirrors the changing nature of talk radio in the 90s.

Woo, tangent. Though perhaps it's relevant in tracking the phrase's spread in the popular consciousness relative to the growth of talk radio.
posted by Fourmyle at 4:03 PM on December 22, 2004


Wow, don't we feel superior to those with "simple, unimportant lives" who speak in "awkward sentence fragments" with "low information content", listen to "voice radio" and have a "grasp on pop culture".

gimme a break. arch stanton != majick.
culling quotes from two different posters to indict one is a bit cheap.
posted by juv3nal at 5:03 PM on December 22, 2004


Hanz Azaria said, "long time listener, first time caller," in Grosse Pointe Blank [1997], which may have popularized it among people who aren't talk radio listeners.

Do you think that many people actually saw Grosse Pointe Blank?
posted by Doohickie at 5:16 PM on December 22, 2004


I think there's possibly another reason for saying it, which is to try and legitimise the point you're about to make, ie: I've been listening for a long time, but this is the first time I've had something so darned important and relevant to say that I've been bothered to call in, so you'd better listen up and listen good.

So while it is possibly sucking up to the DJ, or creating a "I know what I'm doing, but I don't" safety-net, I'd guess it's actually just the old "self-importance" snark in neato packaging.
posted by benzo8 at 10:02 PM on December 22, 2004


Sometimes I think people say it because they want to excuse any possible nervousness -- it's their first call, so they might be a little awkward.
posted by litlnemo at 11:13 PM on December 22, 2004


Does anyone know what Rush talked about today?

I think (emphasis on this being my opinion) it started with Rush Limbaugh's callers in the early days of his show, but I don't know if that pre-dates the Simpsons' reference above.
posted by yerfatma at 3:55 AM on December 23, 2004


It most certainly didn't start with Rush Limbaugh.

It was already such a common feature of talk radio by 1984 that, when Eric Bogosian used it in his play Talk Radio, there was a little laugh of recognition in the audience.

My guess is that it probably goes as far back as the 1950s shows of folks like Long John Nebel.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:22 AM on December 23, 2004


George, a reader without an account writes:
Regarding your question, "Long time ... first time ... ". While not exactly the same, it also resembles the strange grammar of "Long time, no see". This is a direct, literal translation of the common Chinese expression: "Hao Jiu Bu Jian" (Romanized version of Chinese Characters). It seems close enough to the phrase you posted to be worth mentioning.

As per the Dictionary.com link below: "This jocular imitation of broken English originated in the pidgin English used in Chinese and Western exchange. [Late 1800s]".

After a brief search, I came up with the following related links:
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=long%20time%20no%20see
http://users.tinyonline.co.uk/gswithenbank/sayingsl.htm
Thanks, George, this is great stuff.
posted by majick at 4:55 PM on December 23, 2004


Maybe we could take up a collection for George to raise $5. I'll chip in $.17 to get the pot started.

Oh, and thanks, George.
posted by Doohickie at 7:53 PM on December 23, 2004


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