Cecil Portesque (AKA "The Duke of Dead Air") is the fictional host of the They Might Be Giants Podcast.
The fictional Cecil's real-life namesake was Sullivan County artist, musician and radio host Cecily Fortescue, who passed away in 2012 at age 82. Beginning in 1995, Cecily hosted a radio show called Afternoon Classics on New York radio station WJFF, where she was known as "The Queen of Dead Air". In 2020, John Flansburgh also became a WJFF DJ, hosting his weekly show Low Stakes.
Cecil Portesque hosted most episodes of the They Might Be Giants Podcast between 2005 and 2012. Fans have generally agreed that behind the pitch-shifted audio, John Linnell provided the voice for Cecil in Podcast 1A and John Flansburgh took up the role for the rest of the podcast, though the band has never acknowledged this (or referred to Cecil as a fictional character).
In 2021, after a long absence, Cecil appeared in a few They Might Be Giants emails to promote the band's new music and Mailchimp. According to Flans in a 2022 Tumblr post, Cecil had been recently spotted at the dump.
Cecil's Story (from dialasong.com)
Born in Raleigh, NC, and raised in Columbia County, NY, Cecil Portesque has They Might Be Giants in his blood...even though he admits he loves Weezer too. Like his arch-nemesis Bill O'Reilly, Cecil attended college but never matriculated. Even 'hippie' college Bard was too many rules for his free spirit to bear. Cecil ALWAYS listened to late night radio-starting with WABC's 'Good Guys' late at night-but the idea of being on the radio didn't cross his mind until he worked as an intern at a public radio station in the mid-80s during a fund drive. As his political awareness rose and his respect for the politically correct broadcasters fell, he figured he could do it, too! When someone at WBAI, New York, couldn't make the overnight slot, Cecil was ready to fill in. And so the career of the 'Duke of Dead Air' began!
Cecil spent most of the '80s and '90s lost in what he describes as the 'Bermuda triangle' of New York public radio. Stints behind the microphone at WBAI, WFMU and WFUV finally led to paying work as a consultant for Sirius, where he programs a variety of the alternative-music channels. Encouraged by longtime engineer and TMBG archivist Julian Dufy to return to the other side of the glass, Cecil brings back some of his late-night magic to They Might Be Giants podcast. Cecil says of his new gig: "TMBG's music is original and I love their energy. Working on these podcasts is a dream for me."
Cecil seems to sometimes have a speech impediment when it comes to saying They Might Be Giants song titles and a few other random things. Other times he can't keep his facts straight, though it is unknown whether these instances are intentional or not.
- "...They Might Be Giants Podcast is a copywritten feature of They Might Be Giants..." - Copywritten is the incorrect term, the proper word is "copyrighted", and the Idlewild workers who run TMBG's Myspace are apparently well aware of this and have tried informing the band.
- "And then from the album 'They Are Lost'..." - The album's correct title is They Got Lost.
- "...And then 'Summer is the Worst'..." - A minor mistake, but sounds like it may have been intentional; the correct title to this Michael Leviton song is "Summer's the Worst".
- "...We heard a little bit of the Gloria recordings that was featured in edited form on the 'Don't Let's Stop' EP..." - The EP's correct title, is, of course, Don't Let's Start, and the "edited form" in question, otherwise known as Untitled, actually appeared on the (She Was A) Hotel Detective EP.
- "You just heard ... 'Lollipop Time' from Corn Mo. 'I Hit My Head' ... and 'I'm Awake'..." - The correct titles of these songs, respectively, are "Lollipop," Unsupervised, I Hit My Head, and Am I Awake?.
- "You just heard ... 'Haunted Eye', 'Phone Cord', 'When the Sullivan Walks'..." - The correct titles of these songs are Haunted Floating Eye, Untangle The Phone Cord and Skullivan.
- "And now, a special treat from their 1985 demo cassette. Here's a song entitled, Weep Day." - The song Weep Day is not on the 1985 Demo Tape or the 1985 Promotional Demo Tape, so as far as we know, this is an incorrect statement.
- "...You just heard 'La Dolce Malcolm' ... 'Too + 3 Is One'..." - The title we've known the song as is La Dolce, but "La Dolce Malcolm" might've been the working title. The other song's correct title is Too + 3 R One.
- "Coming up...a live recording of 'Whispering in the Dark'..." - The song's correct title is Whistling In The Dark.
- "That was the Muckafurgason with 'You're A Liar', produced by John Flansburgh off their Muckafurgason album." - The song is 'Liar' by Muckafurgason (no article), found on their release "The Pink Album".
- "Sidewalk Whirlwind from Cast Your Pod To The Wind." - The proper title is Miniature Sidewalk Whirlwind, which never appeared on Cast Your Pod To The Wind.
- "I Blame You [...] from some compilation thing." - I Blame You was not on a compilation album at the time of this podcast, though it was later included on the non-US compilation John Henry & Factory Showroom.
- "Dig My Deal Pixies tribute" - The tribute album's actual title is "Dig For Fire".
- "Then you heard 'My Other Car Is A Boom Car'" - The song is actually titled My Other Phone Is A Boom Car.
- "Then 'Hell Hotel' from They Might Be Giants' very first demo recording in, 1985." The version of "Hell Hotel" on the podcast is not the version from the 1985 Demo Tape (and that tape wasn't their first, either).
- "We've got a commentary track, track from the Gigantic DVD it's called 'Messages Written'" - the track is actually called "Complete Paranoia" and is a bonus track from the Direct From Brooklyn DVD, not Gigantic.
- "Then 'Hiya Hi' off a 1985 They Might Be Giants demo cassette." "Hiya Hi" has never appeared on any known TMBG demo cassette.
- "You heard '(She Thinks She's) Edith Head' off the Long Tall Weekend album." This is actually a demo version of the song.
- "...'Become a Robot', from the earlier years..." The song played is actually "I Hope That I Get Old Before I Die".