This week's program takes us to a place called "Badsville," once a fictional place in a Cramps album title, now apparently the real-life archive of Lux Interior and Ivy Rorschach. We also travel backwards in time to the calypso scene in Swinging (and pre-swinging) London, courtesy of Honest Jon's records, who are just tearing it up of late. Aside from a last-minute transcription error that had me crediting "A Spare Man" to someone named "Priscilla Brown," this was a pretty flawless show, in content and technique.
So I will talk about some other stuff.
The week-and-a-half leading up to this program had been a gauntlet, with dicey moments on-air followed by backstage drama. It got to the point where I was afraid to listen to the radio or to check my inbox. "What now" and "what next" were the two questions on my mind, seemingly throughout this dark passage.
I did manage to find a coping strategy Saturday morning--on the treadmill, naturally. There I was at the gym, sweating away to Spin Doctors or whatever the hell I was being subjected to,* trying to borrow trouble by imagining the next calamity. Finally, good sense triumphed, and I asked myself, "how bad could it [the next calamity] be? As bad as child sex trafficking?" No. No calamity at WRFI could possibly be as bad as child sex trafficking. And there you have it. I can't tell you how much easier this has made everything. Actually, I can: a LOT easier.
I'ma tell you another feel-good story. Yesterday, circumstances brought me face-to-face with one of those interns, often mentioned, seldom seen. I had to provide The Intern with technical assistance--the Host Who Has Interns was doing a "live remote" broadcast of a concert, and The Intern and I were staffing the studio, making sure everything went according to plan. The Intern is a bright young thing, a college sophomore who, we hope, will one day spin off from the Host and do a solo show.
Anyway, The Intern and I were talking about this and that when the conversation turned to the "kind of station" WRFI is. "You mean," said The Intern, eyes lighting up as if having just discovered evidence that Santa Claus is actually real, "you don't tell the deejays what to play?" Yes, Virginia, dat true. As wonderful as it is to explain that to someone, it is equally sad to be reminded that very few people The Intern's age have any conception that radio could be that way.
Common sense [and, if not that, station protocol] prevents me from talking about Ithaca's other two "independent" radio stations on the air, but I can do it here. When I moved here in 2003, I was disappointed to find that our two "college" radio stations were travesties of the concept as I understand it.
One station has a commercial license and calls itself "real rock radio," "real rock" meaning Aerosmith, Nickelback, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It is managed by business majors. I'll just stop there, before I get sick.**
The other station calls itself "the station for innovation," "innovation" apparently meaning a rotation heavily indebted to "modern rock," whatever ratio of Strokes / Vampire Weekend / Deerhunter / etc. that happens to be. [I might actually be giving it more credit than it deserves.] It is part of a "pre-professional" program (apparently "vocational" was voted down by the focus group) training people for "careers" in broadcasting.
In short, one of our stations is training ClearChannel management, the other ClearChannel "talent." This sort of thing is happening all over the country, with only a small handful of "free form" college stations--those that allow real people to do real things on air--left standing. Ithaca was ahead of the curve on this--both of our college stations went "corporate" in the late 1970s. So it has been a long time for us.
Last night, as The Intern and I were leaving, the "Alcance Latino" crew was setting up. That's a new, and excellent, Spanish-language program we are proud to offer. I was complimenting Gabriela, the program's anchor, lamely pointing out that I only understand bits and pieces of Spanish but that I thought they really hit last week's program out of the park. She mentioned to me that it had always been her dream to do radio when she lived in Mexico and never imagined that she would finally get to do it in Ithaca, of all places. I get misty just recalling it. Imagine "Alcance Latino" making it onto one of those other stations.
We are doing some incredible things, and every day we are on the air is a beautiful day. Reminding myself of this might actually be a more pleasant coping strategy.
BOMBAST playlist, 2013 April 27, 1500-1700:
- Mel Smith and the Night Riders: "Pretty Plaid Skirt (and Long Black Sox)" [Stag-O-Lee] / "Physical Evidence"
- Ulrich Schnauss: "I Take Comfort in Your Ignnorance" [Scripted Realities]
- Simian Mobile Disco: "Your Love / Run Theme Live" [Delicacies]
- The Mighty Terror: "Women Police in England" [Honest Jon's]
- Fujiya & Miyagi: "Your Silent Face" [Mojo Magazine]
- Linda Leigh and Treasure Tones: "My Guy" [Stag-O-Lee] / "Physical Evidence"
- Randweg: "Labster" [Funken]
- Rupert Nurse's Calypso Band: "Calypso Rhythm Dance" [Honest Jon's]
- Tom Tom Club: "Genius of Love" [Sire] / "Listening Parlour"
- West African Rhythm Brothers: "Ominira" [Honest Jon's]
- Dub Spencer & Trance Hill: "Smoke on the Water (Victor Rice Remix)" [Echo Beach]
- Springintgut: "Western Kyoto" [Pingipung]
- Golden Gunn: "A Couple of Blackbirds" [3Lobed]
- Public Image Ltd.: "Public Image" [Light in the Attic]
- Gregory Isaacs: "Plant Some Love (Angels Mix)" [Necessary Mayhem]
- Bill Carter and the Rovin' Gamblers: "Baby Brother" [Stag-O-Lee] / "Physical Evidence"
- King Timothy: "Football Calypso" [Honest Jon's]
- Homer Denison Jr.: "Chickie Run" [Stag-O-Lee] / "Physical Evidence"
- The Jesus and Mary Chain: "Never Understand" [Demon]
- Luv Jam: "We Play Mouse" [We Play House]
- Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five: "It's Nasty" [Sugar Hill]
- The Kuf-Linx: "Service with a Smile" [Stag-O-Lee] / "Physical Evidence"
- Ginger Johnson: "Mambo Contempo" [Honest Jon's]
- Fela Kuti and Africa 70: "Everything Scatter" [Knitting Factory Records]
- Betty McQuade: "Tongue-Tied" [Stag-O-Lee] / "Physical Evidence"
- Divinyls: "Boys in Town" [Chrysalis] / "Listening Parlour"
- Crush Sr.: "Sweet Cheetah" [Dutch East India Trading]
- Priscilla Bowman with Al Smith's Orchestra: "A Spare Man" [Stag-O-Lee] / "Physical Evidence"
*Why do Spin Doctors make me think of child sex trafficking? I don't know. "It is what it is."
**I've been reminded that the station in question does "community radio"-type stuff on weekends, with commercials.