Friday, March 17, 2006

What to listen to this weekend (a best-of)

OK, I've been lax lately. (More like gone.) Getting my Sirius radio broke and my car broken into/iPod stolen - is God telling me something? Anyway, I will be back - I promise - better than ever, but first let me propose to you a weekend full of wonderful radio listening, as I present a specially-chosen best-of my weekend radio recommendations... enjoy - and Happy St. Patricks Day!
  • Tomorrow (Saturday) at 1:30 PM, tune into WQXR 96.3, grab a comfortable (preferably plush) seat, and take in Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky's Mazeppa as part of the 75th Anniversary season (!!) of the longest-running classical music radio series in the world - The Metropolitan Opera's International Radio Broadcast. Tomorrow's show features conductor Valery Gergiev leading a cast featuring Olga Guryakova as Maria, Larissa Diadkova as Lyubov, Oleg Balashov as Andrei, Nikolai Putlin as Mazeppa, and Paata Burchuladze as Kotschubey in this kick-ass adaptation of Pushkin’s tragic poem Poltava. And don't miss the Opera Quiz during the second intermission!
  • Straight from the horse's mouth... and then from the donkey's! Saturday at 2:50 pm on C-SPAN Radio, take a break from Mazeppa to listen to President George W. Bush's Weekly Radio Address... which is then immediately followed up by a response by a representative of the Democratic Party. C-SPAN Radio can be heard on both XM and Sirius satellite radio, and can also be heard on the Internet via RealAudio or Windows Media Player.
  • Bob Edwards, the erudite and calm-voiced former host of NPR's "Morning Edition" (who was rudely pushed out of the gig in 2004 for sounding "too old", and was dissed for being not willing to "embarass himself" enough in Sarah Vowell's 1995 book Radio On), can now be heard again - unembarrassed as ever - on the airwaves of WNYC-FM 93.9 tomorrow (Saturday) at 4 PM. (It's actually his regular XM Weekend show that's being brought to terrestrial radio via PRI.)
  • As I've mentioned before, you can indulge in the glorious sound of classic pop on AM Radio every Saturday Night by tuning in Saturday Night Oldies with Mark Simone on 770 WABC between 6-10 pm (Dan Ingram's guest spot a couple of weekends ago was awesome)... or if you crave more of a pre-WWII vibe, don't miss Danny Stiles' incredible Big Band Sounds show on WNYC-AM 820 AM between 8 and 10pm.
  • More Saturday night nostalgia (and I'm not even gonna mention A Prairie Home Companion* here!): Do you remember the deejay Paco? I do. From the early, classic days of WKTU? No? Then you weren't living in the NY metropolitan area in 1978-1980. 'Cause back then, 'KTU was a MONSTER. KTU was IT. (Yo.) It ruled New York's airwaves, because it played DISCO DISCO DISCO nonstop. Anyway: if you miss that era (and I do, said the blog writer semi-embarrassedly), you'll be delighted to hear the legendary Paco - a very cool dj with a kind, fatherly, and still-heavily-Spanish-accented voice - bringing it all home every Saturday night on WNEW 102.7 between 7 and 10 pm. Tomorrow, he's going to be doing his warm-hearted and nostalgic show from the POSH Ultra Lounge in the Garden City Hotel in Long Island (disco's home turf). Whoop whoop!
  • I've found WABC 770's Sunday morning program Religion On the Line, which is the station's longest-running show (!) and can be heard between 7 and 10 am every Sunday, to be thoughtful, gentle and reassuring... that's probably because it's hosted by two pleasantly-voiced religious guys who get along incredibly well, Father Paul Keenan (Director of the NY Archdiocese's Radio Ministry) and Rabbi Joseph Potasnik.
  • Tomorrow (Sunday) at 10AM on WNYC-FM 93.9, you can hear On The Media, the consistently excellent NPR show on the weekly goings-on of news media; then, right after OTM, you'll not want to miss the always-witty and fun Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me - the closest thing to an old-school radio quiz show you'll currently find on the air - in its new-ish timeslot of Sundays from 11am-noon. You can count on this weekend's broadcast to have a mention or three of Jessica Simpson's "snubbing" of George W. (I wonder if the President will address this dis in his Presidential Radio Address?) This show can also be heard, in a more timely fashion, Saturday at 1 PM on the AM side of WNYC - 820 AM.
  • Although they don't play nearly as much classic salsa as they used to (and too much reggaetron!), Polito Vega's Sunday afternoon institution, Salsa con Polito, still plays much great stuff - the kind of intoxicating stuff you hear booming out from the streets on New York City weekends - between 12 Noon and 8pm on La Mega 97.9. (Click here for a cool article about the history of Latin music on American radio.)
  • Sunday at Noon: Arthur's back! After leaving WOR in a huff in 1996 after the station hired right-wing "hate-mongerer" Bob Grant - who had himself just been fired from WABC - Arthur Frommer returned three weeks ago to WOR 710 for his weekly program The Travel Show, which airs from 12-2pm. This return has surely happened because Grant recently has been let go from the station, leaving the coast clear for Arthur's comeback. Frommer's show is low-key yet wonderful, full of sane and smart travel advice, with a nice Sunday in New York vibe, featuring more than a few amazing travel bargains... making me think more of the abundance of life, and of how I forget there's a lot of great opportunities out there, opportunities to live a reasonably good and adventurous and occasionally relaxing life, opportunities I've ignored year after year... but not anymore, if I listen to Arthur closely enough!
  • Speaking of the abundance of life: in the second hour of Arthur's show, during his commercial breaks, start tuning over to nearby WABC 770 to catch The Dave Ramsey Show, which can be heard every Sunday between 1 and 4 pm. It took me a little while to get used to, but I now think that Dave's show is a great companion of Arthur's, in that it can help you afford the nirvana-like vacations Arthur presents. Dave spreads an encouraging but no-nonsense gospel of fiscal responsibility, and talks to caller after caller about resolving credit card debt and getting on with life in an adult manner... maybe with a bit of a red-state vibe, but hey... that's OK sometimes too. It's like DA without all the meetings!
  • The classic This American Life now airs Sundays from 4-5pm; this week's theme is "Superpowers". Dry, articulate humor rules! (This show can also be heard on the AM side on Saturday at 11 AM.)
  • Now, I can't tell you much about the other new-time-slotted WNYC-FM program, The No Show, hosted by Steve Post (which now can be heard Sundays from 6-7pm). Why? Because I haven't heard it yet, sorry. (I don't know this weekend's topic either.) But WNYC's website intriguingly states that " was during overnights on WBAI during the 1970’s that Post’s acid wit, droll presentation and dead-of-night, anti-establishment tirades earned him a strong cult following amongst New York radio aficionados." Sounds very cool. I will listen and report back... soon!

* speaking of APHC, click here for a preview of the new Robert Altman movie... cool!

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