Thursday, June 15, 2006


Now this is pretty cool: click on this link to go to, and then pop in the call letters of a radio station - any radio station you can think of in the U.S. - and you'll find out what song that station is playing right now (!!), as well as it's Top 10 or Top 100. F'rinstance, Z100's current top 10 - at this exact moment, as I write this, June 15 2006 at 1:19 pm, is:

1. Fort Minor, “Where’d You Go”
2. Shakira, “Hips Don’t Lie”
3. Nick Lachey, “What’s Left of Me”
4. Panic! At the Disco, “I Write Sins Not Tragedies”
5. Cassie, “Me & U”
6. Nelly Furtado, “Promiscuous”
7. Ashley Parker Angel, “Let U Go”
8. Chamillionaire, “Ridin'”
9. The Fray, “Over My Head”
10. Rihanna, “Unfaithful”

Compare and contrast to the always-tasteful WFUV, which seems to be having an Elvis C./Allen T. moment:

1. Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint, “River In Reverse”
2. Mason Jennings, “Be Here Now”
3. Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint, “Tears”
4. Alejandro Escovedo, “Arizona”
5. Bruce Springsteen, “Jacob’s Ladder”
6. Paul Simon, “Outrageous”
7. Beth Orton, “Heartland Truckstop”
8. Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris, “This Is Us”
9. Josh Ritter, “Wolves”
10. Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint, “On The Way Down”

And then compare and contrast to the the crazy, lovable and irascible folks at 'FMU!

1. Andy Williams, "Can't Get Used to Losing You"
2. Celtic Frost, "Progeny"
3. Queen, "Liar"
4. Outkast, "Pink & Blue"
5. Led Zeppelin, "Out On The Tiles"
6. Nortec Collective, "Olvidela Compa"
7. The Flirtations, "Nothing But A Heartache"
8. Manu Dibango, "Ceddo End Title"
9. VHS or Beta, "Solid Gold"
10. Boom Bap Project, "Sho Shot"


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

John Batchelor: To Love, Hate, or Both?

Maybe I should turn my blog into a NY Radio Message Board fanpage. I'm greatly enjoying the current discussions about The Dumbing Down Of Radio and Broadway Bill Lee's Challenge and various thoughts about the non-viability of HD Radio. (Although "enjoying" might not be the right word - sometimes - OK, often - the topics can be depressing. But this is the kind of stuff that intrigues me... am I weird?)

Meanwhile, the Board inspired me to write about one of my favorite radio shows - The John Batchelor Show, which airs on 770 WABC every weeknight from 10 PM to 1 AM. (The next few paragraphs of this post were originally written for the Board.) I am a regular listener partially because there's nothing else interesting on the radio at that time of night - sometimes I'm in the mood for Lionel, often I'm not - and because I'm almost always in the car at that time, driving home to Harrington Park on my never-ending commute. And the weirdness of John's show is appropriate for my usual frame of mind at that time of night ("Well? How Did I Get Here?")

I have a love/hate relationship with this show, but - I do listen to it quite a bit, and will sorely miss it if it disappears. I find John's broadcast odd, yet compelling. There's no other place on the radio - hell, in the media in general - that maintains that we're-still-in-the-middle-of-9/11 vibe that John's show has. (I mean, the show still signs off with Kate Smith singing "God Bless America"!) While I do not share John's relentless trust in and love of the wisdom of his regulars (Malcolm Hoenlein? John Loftus? Who are these mooks?), there's something both frightening yet endearingly cheesy about the show - very old-fashioned, as if Walter Winchell had come back to life, dropped the gossip, and went full-hog on international paranoia.

John's doomy music beds (cribbed from movie soundtracks) go on faaaaar too long; John is cluelessly in love with his own voice and with his fave big words, foreign capitols and pet phrases ("news cycle"... "why don't you give us a timeline"... etc.) - he parrots stuff designed to make him sound like he has insider information, but he comes off more like an excited, naive, and right-wing amateur, if not an Inspector Clouseau.

Yet I find his flamboyant voice and paranoid tone fun and reassuring to listen to as I'm dropping off to sleep. It's an Art Bell-like pleasure; voices like that are a reminder of the weird old America we live in.

And I also think he may be doing a service by keeping 9/11 alive, and by relentlessly bringing up the dangers of the big scary ol' world, because it IS scary and big, and much of it is up to no good, in terms of the eternal vigilance this society needs to (possibly) survive into this century...

Monday, June 12, 2006

David Hinckley writes...

Here's another example of why David Hinckley rules; a lively Monday-morning column that sums up the of-the-moment NY Radio News, relying (as well he should) on the always-happening New York Radio Message Board. Today he writes about the unseemly firing of KTU's Broadway Bill Lee, not to mention "The Conversation", a three-week series about New York City on 820 WNYC-AM that kicks off tonight at 8. I'll be listening...

(In case you're wondering, I am gently dipping my toe back into the waters of producing this darn blog. Posts for the time being are pretty much going to be short and linking to other pages... but that's... OK.)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Lee Abrams speaks

He is one of the most notorius figures in modern radio history. He created the radio format known as AOR (album-oriented rock) back in the early '70s, which sort of decimated the era of the individualist/free-form radio jock, helping to create "cookie-cutter" radio from coast-to-coast.

Anyways, here's a pretty cool interview with Lee Abrams, who's now at XM. It's a good round-up of the state of terrestrial radio vs. satellite (of course he favors one side over the other)...