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TV's Undercover Spy Does Satire On Radio
Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK (AP)- One of television's intrepid spies, Bill Cosby, is doing undercover work in radio.

Sometimes he is that masked crime fighter, The Brown Hornet, or Peter Poet, or Captain Oh Wow, or even a hippopotamus. You never know who Cosby is going to be in his new five minute, five days-a-week comedy spot.

Each show is closed with the voice of the turtle--Cosby, to be specific--giving a thought for the day: "A ship without a sail has an engine in it somewhere." Or, "Hitch your wagon to a star and pay for it by the month."

The radio show is aimed mainly at teenagers, but adults who dig Cosby's cool humor can find him on about 500 rock 'n' roll and Top 40 stations. Frank Buxton appears as his straight man.

Asked about his rapport with young people, Cosby said, "When I play my characters that's what they're concerned with. To adults it's going back. To teen-agers and youngsters it's like today. And they're more or less listening to what's happening to them or what's going to happen."

Cosby, who shares the billing on NBC's "I Spy" with Robert Culp, said what he is doing is not a nostalgic journey back into radio's golden age.

"I've never been in favor of doing anything old," he said. "I think it's a mistake when people say, 'Look out, here comes radio.'

"All I'm doing in the two-minute span, whatever, is some sort of comedy, some sort of satire or some sort of silliness I've thought up. It's all ad lib. When we're cooking we're really, really groovy, and when we're not, it's good.

"For instance, I say what if I had a poet who didn't dig rhyming. I say, look, Frank, get Snoopy Sneakers out and Snoopy Sneakers will interview Peter Poet. We try to get a groove on."

Cosby's radio show hasn't completely broken with the past. His sound effects man is Gene Twombley, who once created Fibber McGee's closet and Jack Benny's footsteps.

Twombly has come up with a car for the Brown Hornet that goes "hippety-hey, hippety-hey"--Cosby's verbal description--in forward and sounds like a jackhammer in reverse.

Cosby, wearing chinos, a wheat colored turtleneck sweater and a sports jacket, recently completed 25 one-night stands on college campuses around the country.

The staus of "I Spy" is still up in the air for next season.

"I hear rumors that it may be canceled and we may have to go back to work," Cosby said.

Work for Cosby also includes $30 million in record sales, a $12 million five-picture deal with Warner Bros.-7 Arts, and his own televison special on March 18 on NBC.

"I do my standup and I shout the lyrics to one song," he said. "I dance and shout it at the same time, showing my great coordination. And I mailed it to my football coach who once said I couldn't chew gum and walk at the same time."

©1968, The Associated Press.

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