Thursday, June 28, 2018

College radio

“College radio can still be heard in the cacophony”: The Economist reports on college radio in the age of streaming.

Some years ago, I wrote an obituary for my university’s radio station. The station remains on the air, but in 2004 the programming changed. No more classical music, jazz, indie rock, “world music,” country, folk, bluegrass, blues, or hip-hop. No more (highly coveted) free-form shows on Saturday nights. Everything disappeared, along with the station’s deep record library, replaced by a bland, commercially oriented Hit Mix. (There’s also a rhyming name for the Hit Mix.)

Here are playlists from two of my free-form shows, made of my records and the station’s records, as preserved on cassettes. (Late 1980s?)

Jackie Wilson, “Reet Petite” : Clifton Chenier, “I’m the Zydeco Man” : Taj Mahal, “Texas Woman Blues” : Rickie Lee Jones, “Easy Money” : Canned Heat, “Skat” : Little Richard, “Get Rich Quick” : The Rolling Stones, “Time Is on My Side” : The Isley Brothers, “Shout” : The Gun Club, “Preaching the Blues” : X, “The World’s a Mess; It’s in My Kiss” : Joni Mitchell, “You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio” : Elvis Costello, “My Funny Valentine”

Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper, “Elvis Is Everywhere” : Tom Waits, “Hang On St. Christopher” : George Clinton, “R & B Skeletons in the Closet” : James Brown, “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” (Parts One and Two) : Johnny Burnette, “Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee” : Elvis Presley, “Don’t Be Cruel” : Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Africa ’70, “Shuffering and Shmiling” : Talking Heads, “I Zimbra” : Augustus Pablo, “Pablo in Dub” : Ladysmith Black Mambazo, “Hello My Baby” : The Specials, “Monkey Man”

Talk about another lifetime! What was I, an assistant professor wanting to make good, doing on the radio? I did draw some lines: when a caller requested Lou Reed’s “Heroin” — with a dedication, no less — I politely declined.

[Stefan, did you call and request Elvis Costello?]

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