One of the classics of Tone Madison‘s short existence so far would have to be Ben Munson’s February 2016 piece about the man who portrayed Rocky Rococo, the suspiciously Leon Redbone-esque mascot for a Wisconsin chain of pizzerias. Munson, who used to work at a Rocky Rococo location in La Crosse, set out to interview Madison’s Jim Pedersen about Kitchen Licks, a bizarre cassette of novelty music Pedersen made in the 1990s in his Rocky persona.
But before the story was done, Pedersen died, and this prompted Munson to take things in a more introspective direction. The resulting piece considered Pedersen’s contribution to pop-culture ephemera—Rocky’s is, after all, the pizza chain that gave us heart-shaped pizzas and the greatest bus ad ever—but Munson also tried to explore the complexity of the man behind the larger-than-life antics.
After the Wisconsin State Journal reported that one of Madison’s main Rocky Rococo locations, on East Washington Avenue, will be closing later in 2018, we decided to bring you this story in audio form, read aloud by Tone Madison‘s own Chris Lay and enhanced with a few clips from Kitchen Licks. Give it a listen here or on our Apple Podcasts feed.
Pretty soon, we’re going to transition these audio extras to being a bonus for anyone who supports the site at the $3 a month level, so please consider joining up and helping fund our work. We’ll reward you with some fresh local content for your earbuds.