33 great songs to hear anytime – A DeafGeoff playlist


This is what 33 sounds like. In honor of my 33rd birthday, I put together a fun Spotify playlist of songs that represent some of my all-time favorites and are great to hear anytime. Turn it up, share and enjoy.

From the archives: ‘DeafGeoff’ in The Post-Standard, 2006

From The Post-Standard archives: Feb. 27, 2006, by William LaRue



WWHT-FM (Hot 107.9) morning producer Geoff Herbert has trouble taking calls from listeners. Sometimes, he misunderstands what hosts Marty and Shannon are saying to him.

“Recently, Marty said something about Duke University and I thought he said something about Jewish people, ” Herbert says. “Sometimes, it’s so off-base, it’s funny.”

Even if he didn’t call himself “DeafGeoff” on the air, there would be little doubt that Herbert is bringing something quite exceptional to Syracuse morning radio.

Herbert, 21, was born with a hearing loss so severe that music often sounds to him like his head is under water. Some notes he can’t hear at all.

And yet, despite a speech impediment caused by his severe hearing loss, he is finding early success in a broadcast profession that usually values people with a good ear for hit songs or with a clear voice for announcing.

Herbert has become a listener favorite on the Top-40 station’s morning show, where he regularly joins the hosts in on-air banter and comedy bits. The station in the fall gave away 250 copies of a Christmas album, “Deaf the Halls, ” in which Herbert sang holiday tunes, including off-key versions of “Do You Hear What I Hear” and “Silent Night.”

Allowing the hearing-loss humor to flow easily on the morning show is something Herbert says he encourages.

That, plus asking people to call him “DeafGeoff, ” are his ways to let others know he embraces his hearing loss and wants others to do the same.

“It’s a good characterization of who I am. My name is Geoff and I’m partially deaf, ” Herbert says. “Of course, with the disability, being hearing-impaired, the least likely job is probably radio. But that’s one of the things I love about it. It excites me to be able to do something people don’t expect. And if I can do it well, people can kind of go, “Wow!”‘

He also embraces the local fame that goes with it.

A few weeks ago, at the drive-up window of a fast-food restaurant, some employees inside recognized his voice.

“They were like, “Are you DeafGeoff?’ And they go, “Ah, man, I love the show. You’re so awesome. You’re so funny, “‘ Herbert says. “I’ve even been asked for my autograph.”

Technically diagnosed as “hard of hearing, ” Herbert says, he was born with the ability to pick up only about 10 percent of what an average person hears. He uses lip-reading, two hearing aids and an eye for visual cues to understand most of the time what people are saying, although over the phone he often has to ask callers to repeat themselves.

Herbert began working at Hot 107.9 two years ago as an intern while he was studying communications at Syracuse University.

He performed so well as a volunteer that he was hired in fall 2004 to become Hot’s morning producer. It’s a job that involves getting to the station by 5 a.m. to edit audio clips and coordinate that day’s music, comedy bits, contests, games and other content.

On a recent Tuesday morning, shortly after 8:30, Herbert is carrying on a long chat about TV with Marty, who, like Shannon, doesn’t reveal his last name publicly.

Marty asks Herbert if he heard about “American Idol” auditions in Boston last summer, hinting that he should have considered trying out for the Fox talent series.

Herbert tells Marty he “heard about it plenty.” Then he adds, “Let’s be honest. My singing was not going to get me very far.” They both laugh.

Marty and Shannon often make references to his hearing loss, Herbert says, although they draw the line at doing anything smacking of ridicule.

When one listener called up to ask why the show didn’t “just get that retarded guy off the air, ” Herbert says, Marty and Shannon quickly “ripped into him.”

“They are very protective, ” Herbert says with a smile.

Interviewed off the air, Marty says Herbert is a talented morning producer who does his job well.

“I think it’s cool he puts his disability aside and says, “I’m going to do this, ‘ instead of being embarrassed by it, ” Marty says.

In addition to his part-time job at Hot, Herbert works nights and weekends at a Blockbuster video store, and is also a disc jockey for private parties and dances.

Herbert, who grew up in Acton, Mass., was manager of his high school radio station for 2 years. He was also general manager at WJPZ-FM (Z89), the student station at SU, where he already has met requirements to graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in radio, television and film.

He says his dream is to eventually get a job in radio in Boston or another big city.

For what he has done already, Herbert can be seen as an inspiration, especially by young people with a disability who worry some occupations are closed to them, says Anne Costa, director of communications for Aurora of Central New York, an organization that serves people with hearing and visual impairments.

Although he’s a rarity, Herbert isn’t the only one with hearing loss working in Syracuse radio. Aurora in November presented an excellence award to WVOA-FM and WSIV-AM general manager Jim Wall, 68, who still does occasional on-air work, despite losing most of his hearing in the mid-1980s due to disease.

“I would certainly congratulate the young man, ” Wall says when asked about Herbert. “I encourage him 100 percent.”

Costa says Herbert probably has strong support in the deaf community, although she says some might be offended if they thought on-air bits were making fun of him for his hearing loss.

Herbert says some aspects of living with his disability are funny. He says he’s not afraid to share this or to show that, like anyone else, he excels at some things and struggles with others.

“I want to let people know my hearing disability is part of who I am. I’m comfortable with it and you should be as well, ” he says.

Note: This article appeared in The Post-Standard in 2006, years before Herbert started working at the Syracuse newspaper.

Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups: The next great food invention is coming

Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups

Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups are coming in February 2014.

Look out, Reese’s.

Nestlé is launching Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups — yes, a mashup of PB cups and Butterfingers — in February 2014. And since teasers for Super Bowl commercials is now a thing, the candy company released a promo video for the delicious-sounding food invention.

A married couple — Peanut Butter and his wife, Chocolate — are in #CupTherapy (brilliant hashtag) to talk about their differences and relationship troubles. Cheese & crackers and fish & chips are having similar issues, but “Nut Butt” and “Choco” may have found a solution to spice things up: Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups.

According to The Associated Press, it’s Butterfinger’s first new product in more than five years and they’re boldly launching it with a full-length ad during Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday, Feb. 2nd. More than 100 million people will be watching the big football game on Fox, so the brand is taking a chance by foregoing the celebrity endorsement schtick (sorry, Bart Simpson) that many others are planning on: Ben Kingsley for Jaguar’s F-Type coupe, Scarlett Johansson for SodaStream soda pop, Stephen Colbert for Wonderful Pistachios, and “Seinfeld” stars Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander for some mystery ad campaign.

It’s also Nestle’s first time buying airtime on Super Bowl, famously the most expensive show for advertisers hoping to cash in on the biggest audience of the year. This year, a 30-second spot reportedly costs $4 million, plus whatever price production, marketing and actors (or famous spokespeople) sets them back. It’s a big gamble, but I think Nestle has a shot at making theirs pay off.

Of course, until we actually taste the Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups, it’s unclear whether it can ever usurp Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups as the greatest Halloween candy of all time. But as someone who loves sweet treats and crazy food mashups, I’m game. I’ve tried pumpkin pie Pop-Tarts (meh), candy-corn flavored M&Ms (tasty), gingerbread Twix (interesting) and candy apple Milky Way bars (yum!) in the past few years, and I’ll definitely give Butterfinger PB Cups a shot. How ’bout you?

Don’t believe the rumors: Amanda Bynes is NOT going to Syracuse University

This is a (clearly) Photoshopped picture of former actress Amanda Bynes wearing a Syracuse Orange hat.

This is a (clearly) Photoshopped picture of former actress Amanda Bynes wearing a Syracuse Orange hat, but you Otto know the truth: She’s not coming to SU.

Attention: Amanda Bynes is not enrolling at Syracuse University next semester, despite what a few Twitter users may believe.

It all started with a May 28 article on Yahoo! News by snarky The Atlantic writer Richard Lawson. It was recap of the starlet’s crazy news that week, including threatening to sue the NYPD for allegedly groping her during her arrest over a bong-tossing incident and claiming her many “you’re ugly” tweets were doctored.

Lawson wrote: “The Amanda Bynes saga continues, as it will until its inevitable end. (Meaning when she gets her act together, enrolls in undergrad at Syracuse, and then after graduation moves to Paris to study architecture.)”

It was a joke — but some are taking it seriously. There has been no other mention or report of Bynes considering Syracuse University in her future, except on social media.

In the past four weeks, there have been at least 50 tweets by people who think the former Nickelodeon star will attend SU as an undergraduate student. Most of the posts came this week and, thanks to the telephone game, some believe the rumors are now fact and she’s already enrolled:

  • “Sooooooo Amanda Bynes is going to be enrolled as an undergrad at Syracuse next year ‘if she gets her act together’…..” @MeredithLeigh93 tweeted June 30. This is the first tweet mentioning Bynes and Syracuse, clearly based on Lawson’s article.
  • “Bring out the dancing lobstahs everybody, Amanda Bynes is coming to the Syracuse University,” @selflesskid wrote Oct. 1.
  • “amanda bynes wants to get an undergraduate degree at Syracuse University? WUT girl bye,” @OhYeahCHELSEAA added Oct. 21.
  • “Amanda Bynes is enrolling in Syracuse? Is she All That? Or is she being a Big Fat Liar? Regardless, She’s The Man if she does go here,” @Arick_With_An_A joked in a serious of movie/TV title puns on Oct. 23.
  • “Hahaha what Amanda Bynes is enrolling in Syracuse??? Has cuse really lowered their standards THAT much?” @nicolearroyo questioned Oct. 23.
  • “If I don’t get into Syracuse and Amanda Bynes gets to go there I’m going to throw a bitch fit, because that ain’t fair,” prospective student @JackieAkerley griped Oct. 23.
  • “AMANDA BYNES APPLIED TO SYRACUSE THIS IS NOT A DRILL #newbestfriendalert,” @shelleykendall optimistically tweeted Oct. 26.

None of the tweets cited any official sources, save for a few people who linked to the Yahoo/Atlantic article. But the author has a habit of making outrageous throwaway jokes in his celebrity gossip articles. In one post last week, he sarcastically referred to Kim Kardashian as a “former NASA engineer who just left a visiting professorship at Cornell” and hypothesized various reasons for the Jonas Brothers’ canceled tour: “Joe is addicted to dolls — he likes the purple ones. Or Kevin has been having marital problems ever since that strapping fireman moved in next door and won’t stop mowing the lawn while shirtless. Or Nick thinks he killed her, he’s not sure, but whatever happened he’s gotta get this body out of this Days Inn and into a shallow grave somewhere. Problems like that.”

How do I know that Lawson’s Bynes comment can’t be taken seriously? Simple deductions and reading comprehension.

For starters, Bynes is not mentally fit to attend college anywhere. She’s been getting intense treatment in rehab facilities since late July, unable to even contact the public for the past three months. (Her last tweet? July 19: “drake is gorgeous.”) And despite making “great strides” recently, she’s also under her parents’ conservatorship until at least Dec. 17.

Further, Bynes hasn’t expressed much interest in higher education. She got her high school diploma in 2004, but the only quote I could find from her even discussing college (“I’ll play it by ear”) was from a PBS Kids interview when she was about 17 years old. (If you find anything more recent, please share.) She announced she was retiring from acting in 2010 at age 24, and three years later hasn’t done much except downward spiral into tabloid fodder.

And finally, if you read the entire May 28 article, you’d see Lawson later admits he doesn’t know what’s next for Bynes. No one does.

Could the former “The Amanda Show” star eventually go to college at Syracuse University or someplace else? Sure. Everyone loves a good comeback story, especially when it involves a troubled former child star. But don’t hold your breath for her to start wearing Orange gear and braving the winters on the SU Hill.

Adventures in Google: DeafGeoff appears in book ‘The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane’

Yours truly appears on page 12 of the new book 'The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane' by Kelly Harms. Well, sort of.

Yours truly appears on page 12 of the new book ‘The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane’ by Kelly Harms. Well, sort of.

What happens when you Google yourself? It’s a fun exercise that does little to reveal what people are saying about you (unless you’re Kim Kardashian) but sometimes you find other people with the same name or nickname as you — in real life or in fiction.

Geoff “DeafGeoff” Herbert is a former radio guy turned entertainment reporter for The Post-Standard and syracuse.com. I also work as a DJ, motivational speaker and dabble in writing independently. But if you search for my name on the Internet, you’ll also find a British politician named Geoff Herbert, an IMDb page for a Geoff Herbert who worked as a rigging key grip for The Hunger Games, and a “Deaf Geoff” Garbage Pail Kids trading card. There also was a “Deaf Jeff” in Arliss Howard’s 1988 movie Plain Clothes and a late ’80s rapper named Def Jef, who found better success as a producer for artists like Nas, 2 Pac, Snoop Dogg and Shaq.

Now there’s a “Deaf Geoff” in a new book called “The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane” by Kelly Harms. Published in summer 2013, it’s the debut novel from a Madison, Wisconsin, resident who previously worked as an editor and agent. A Google preview of the story’s first 30 pages reveals one of the “Girls” is living with her boyfriend Geoff, who’s a bit of a drunk slob who watches TV too loudly because he’s losing his hearing playing in a band. His favorite TV show is “South Park” and he’s painted as a jerk who Nean is waiting to leave as soon as she wins a contest for a house in New England.

As much as I got a kick out of seeing my nickname in print, I doubt I’ll buy/read the book as it seems to be targeted towards the same readers of “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” or “The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.” I also doubt I can relate to my namesake character, who likely won’t make it to the final chapter, as I was born mostly deaf, I rarely drink and I would watch reruns of “Seinfeld” over “South Park” any day.

But still, it’s fun to occasionally Google yourself and see what comes up. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve found when searching for your name?

Holy Sorkin! Jim from ‘The Newsroom’ was also on ‘The West Wing’

John Gallagher Jr. on 'The West Wing' in 2002

John Gallagher Jr. on ‘The West Wing’ in 2002

When John Gallagher, Jr. first starred on “The Newsroom” as Jim Harper, fans of “The Office” remarked at how humorous it was that writer-creator Aaron Sorkin had basically made a Jim Halpert-like character who had almost the same name. There’s even a Harper or Halpert? Tumblr that shows the two Jims making the same faces at the camera. But Gallagher, Jr. made all the same faces and awkward shrugs more than 10 years ago on another Sorkin series: “The West Wing.”

John Gallagher Jr. making Jim faces on The West Wing a decade ago

John Gallagher Jr. making Jim faces on The West Wing a decade ago

Gallagher, Jr. played Tyler, a 17-year-old Democrat living in a Republican-friendly rural town where Josh Lyman, Donna Moss and Toby Zeigler had been stranded after they missed the presidential motorcade leaving a campaign stop. He picks them up in his Jeep, only to later get decimated by a pretty face a la Maggie (Alison Pill). Poor guy.

John Gallagher Jr. will probably never win with Maggie on The Newsroom. He was similarly doomed on The West Wing.

John Gallagher Jr. will probably never win with Maggie on The Newsroom. He was similarly doomed on The West Wing opposite Danielle Harris.

He’s 29 now and doesn’t look much more grown-up on “The Newsroom,” but his character’s clothes make this baby-face look extra young. This episode, titled “20 Hours in America: Part I,” aired in 2002 as the fourth season premiere of “The West Wing.” Danielle Harris and Oscar-winning actress Amy Adams were on the episode too.

John Gallagher Jr. played a Democrat who helps Josh Lyman and other White House staffers stranded in a rural town.

John Gallagher Jr. played a Democrat who helps Josh Lyman and other White House staffers stranded in a rural town.

Gallagher, Jr. hasn’t been in much else — his credits include a few TV appearances and small roles in 2003’s Pieces of April (the Katie Holmes movie about Thanksgiving that no one’s seen), 2009’s Whatever Works with Larry David and 2010’s Jonah Hex with Josh Brolin. But hey, how many roles are there for a Jim type in movies and television? Keep it up, John — and you too, Mr. Sorkin.

John Gallagher Jr. as ACN producer Jim Harper on The Newsroom

John Gallagher Jr. as ACN producer Jim Harper on The Newsroom

“The Newsroom” currently airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. on HBO. “The West Wing” can be viewed in its entirety through Netflix streaming.

Top 10 best albums of 2013 (so far): Dawes, The Band Perry, Jamie Lidell and more

It was the busta rhymes, it was the wursta times…

The year in music is off to a promising start, including the return of Mr. Sexyback and Daft Punk (new album Random Access Memories drops May 21). Jurassic 5 reunited, and even PSY is back with “Gentleman,” managing to one-up the ridiculousness of last year’s inescapable “Gangnam Style.” If you haven’t been paying attention, your ears deserve to listen to some quality new music.

THE BEST: 2013’s TOP 10 ALBUMS (through April)
1. Dawes – Stories Don’t End
They’ve previously collaborated with Jackson Browne, whose chillout-and-be-groovy Americana sound fits this California band perfectly, and this new album is so captivating I had to listen to it all the way through — twice — before I could even check out anything else that came out that week.

2. The Band Perry – Pioneer
If you say “I like everything but country,” you haven’t listened to The Band Perry (and a dozen other great artists). Sibling trio Kimberley, Reed and Neil Perry drop some fantastic harmonies and infectious hooks that you’ll love to sing along with in the car. Remember that song “If I Die Young”? That was just a glimpse of how good they are.

3. Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience
You’ve heard this album by now. If it wasn’t JT, would we all think it’s so good? Perhaps not, but what I admire is that he and Timbaland didn’t fall into the trap of following popular music trends (i.e. dubstep or having David Guetta and Calvin Harris make the beats) and did their own thing. It’s groovy, and an expanded album (with 20 tracks, since it’s “20/20”) is due later this year.

4. Jamie Lidell – Jamie Lidell
If Beck were a British soul singer, he might sound like Jamie Lidell. Mix equal parts funk, soul, pop, dance, electronica and rock, let it simmer for 45 minutes, and then it’s bon appetit for your ears.

5. Eels – Wonderful, Glorious
Sometimes it’s hard to get in the mood to listen to Mark Oliver Everett, a.k.a. “E,” the one-man creative force behind Eels — because he makes so many different sounds. You’ve heard his songs in movies like Shrek, Knocked Up and Yes Man, but his entire genre-jumping discography is fantastic and mind-bogglingly unique. Check out the expanded edition of this album, too, for a few great B-sides and live versions of some of his past post-modern pop gems.

6. Ra Ra Riot – Beta Love
I may be biased because I knew several of the band’s members when they were students at Syracuse University where they first formed, but this is a solid album. Influenced in part by futurist thinker Ray Kurzweil, start with “Dance With Me” and enjoy.

7. Fall Out Boy – Save Rock and Roll
While it seems unlikely that Patrick Stump, Pete Wentz and co. can “save rock and roll,” the title track featuring Elton John is fantastic. Skip “Young Volcanoes” and “Rat A Tat” (featuring Courtney Love), and you’ve got a great album that will make any emo/pop/punk fan glad to see FOB is back.

8. The Black Crowes – Wiser For The Time
I don’t like the Black Crowes, which should tell you just how good this live compilation is. The blues-tinged southern rock group is back stronger than ever after going on hiatus, shining the brightest on updated renditions of their ’90s material, plus covers of Bob Dylan (“Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You”) and the Blind Willie Johnson-inspired “Oh The Rain.”

9. Steve Martin & Edie Brickell – Love Has Come For You
The guy from The Jerk and the girl who sang “What I Am” in the late ’80s? There’s a new She & Him in town, and this one’s easier to listen to multiple times than Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward. The banjo-playing comedian pairs up with the folk-singing wife of Paul Simon for a delightful mix of modern and traditional (“When you get to Asheville send me an email,” Brickell sings on the first track) that’s worth repeat listens.

10. Various Artists – The Music Is You: A Tribute to John Denver
I’ve always respected John Denver’s body of work, and these covers make me realize what a great songwriter he was. The world didn’t need another rendition of “Rocky Mountain High,” but check out fantastic contributions from Dave Matthews, Train, Brandi Carlile (“Take Me Home Country Roads”), Amos Lee, Old Crow Medicine Show and My Morning Jacket (“Leaving on a Jet Plane”).

Other new releases worth a listen: Free Energy’s Love Sign, Cold War Kids’ Dear Miss Lonelyhearts, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down’s We the Common, Fall Out Boy’s Save Rock and Roll (the title track featuring Elton John is fantastic) and Michael Buble’s To Be Loved (featuring a duet with Reese Witherspoon). Kid Cudi’s Indicud isn’t bad either, and I also still love New Kids On The Block’s single “Remix (I Like The).”

And the worst albums of 2013 (so far): Some musicians have been either mailing it in (we’re looking at you, Lil Wayne and will.i.am) or completely disappointing us. Avoid at all costs listening to the latest from Eric Clapton, Bon Jovi, They Might Be Giants, Orianthi (remember her?) and Limp Bizkit. Brad Paisley and LL Cool J managed to insult anyone with taste on “Accidental Racist,” but it’s not all LL’s fault — the rest of Paisley’s album is equally terrible, especially “Facebook Friends” and “Those Crazy Christians.” I still don’t understand why critics like Frank Turner so much (though I like a couple songs on his new “folk-punk” album Tape Deck Heart) and the latest from Phoenix doesn’t hold a candle to their previous gems like “1901,” “If It’s Not With You” and “Too Young.”

Also, Snoop Dogg, who’s been “reincarnated” as reggae artist Snoop Lion, appears to have proved that you can overdose on marijuana.

But on the bright side, there’s still plenty of artists with music coming out later this year. Keep your eyes (and ears) open for new material from Jimmy Eat World, Daft Punk, Lady Antebellum, Deltron 3030 (!), Goo Goo Dolls, Eminem, Hanson, KT Tunstall and Britney Spears. Chali 2NA released a new EP in March, so hopefully he and/or the rest of Jurassic 5 will also have more on the way. And on their upcoming third album, maybe Vampire Weekend will finally live up to the hype started 5 years ago. Maybe.

Have I missed anything? What are your favorite releases of 2013 so far? Let me know!