Saturday, May 20, 2017

Cleaning out the Archives!

 I am cleaning out the archives again so I have several eBay auctions going on concurrently. All radio and music related of course. You chart-watchers will be very interested in this one. I am off-loading a set of the Joel Whitburn Billboard books. The man has his own Wikipedia article and he deserves it. Regardless, it's on eBay now so my hoarding can soon become your boarding.

Bubbling under the Billboard Hot 100: 1959-2004 LINK

Pop Hits 1940-1954: Singles & Albums LINK

Top Country Singles, 1944 to 2001: Billboard's Country LINK

 Christmas in the Charts, 1920-2004 LINK

Pop Memories, 1890-1954 : The History of American Popular Music  LINK

Top Pop Singles: 1955-2002 LINK

 I also put up a big collection of 78 RPM paper sleeves LINK


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Pedo Radio

You can't make this stuff up. If you haven't heard the story, I can give you the short version. Paul Lotsof, the owner of 97.7 KAVV (Cave-FM) in Benson, AZ has been broadcasting a PSA for 2 years with the theme of hiding child porn, and proposing shorter sentences for child pornographers. Just to complete the stereotype let me also note that KAVV is a country music station. You don't need the audio, the transcript is from an alternate universe. More here and here.
"Nearly every day, somebody gets arrested for violating Arizona's child pornography law. Arizona's child pornography law is the most stringent in the nation in that it prescribes a mandatory 10-year prison sentence for each photo that you have of a naked juvenile in a sexually-suggestive pose. That means that if you're caught with six such pictures of somebody under the age of 18, you go to prison for 60 years... If you have such material, you can save yourselves and your family a ton of grief and save the taxpayers a lot of money by never storing such pictures on the hard drive of your computer. Always use an external drive and hide it where nobody will ever find it. Likewise, never keep paper pictures, tapes or films of naked juveniles where anybody else can find them.""
So what kind of town is Benson, AZ? It lies in South East Arizona, and sports a population of only about 4,700. It's in the desert plains so it's dry, hot and rarely rains. People stay in doors a lot in Cochise County.  To their credit, the town isn't tone-deaf on the issue. Sheriff Mark Dannels opened an investigation to determine if the PSA is illegal enough to file charges. However, he did wait almost two years to do that. But Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre decided that Lotsof was protected by the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment safeguarding free speech.  This seems doubtful since incitement to comit a crime is usually a crime in and of itself. FYI: hiding evidence is a crime.

It was only after KPHO-TV 5 (CBS) ran a story on the problem and contacted Lotsof that the wheels of justice began to turn. More here. Paul Lotsof defended himself poorly in the interview.
"Please take notice that the PSA in question does not condone child pornography in any way; it merely points out that the penalties for possession of child pornography are draconian, to the extent that the real victims are the people serving these incredibly long sentences. The suggestion that anyone in possession of such material be warned to get rid of it or take steps to avoid prosecution serves to emphasize that the penalty provisions of the law – calling for 10 years’ imprisonment per image – are so extreme that the greater harm is in the enforcement of the law. The PSA does provide factual information and that information is perfectly accurate and important."
Lotsof clearly thinks he's trying to accomplish something. But I doubt he's actually is. I recall that it was pornographer Larry Flynt that won a notable first amendment victory in 1988. Free speech advances can come from unexpected quarters. But tt is one thing to be a First Amendment crusader, or a incarceration reform crusader... but Mr. Lotsof has written a few editorials on his own website, and he cannot seem to explicate himself even in his own forum.
“Judging by the posts on Facebook and other web sites it is clear that a lot of people have managed to misunderstand what I said in my one minute announcement. Many people seem to think that I have expressed the opinion that child abuse is fine and dandy. I never said that. These same people think I said that production of child pornography is fine and dandy. I never said that. Others think that I believe that dissemination of child pornography is fine and dandy. I never said that. Still others think that I’m telling people to break the law. I never said that. Some conclude that I must be a pedophile. I am not a pedophile and I don’t have any child pornography in my possession and have a hard time understanding why anyone would want it. But I do understand that there are some folks out there who do like this material and I feel some sympathy for their plight.”
I don't think anyone cries tears over the plight of pedophiles except Mr. Lotsof. Nonetheless after his advertisers revolted he stopped running the PSA.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Little Lord Fauntleroy Bandy

Even the great Jerry Blavat called John Bandy an influence.  But before Bandy was in the Philadelphia area, he was a DJ in DC. In the book Divided Soul, by David Ritz, is a single reference to a certain leganday Washington D.C. area DJ:
"Among the black kids back in the neighborhood, the fifties in D.C. was an age of hot curlers, outrageous conks, and do rags.  The crowd was greasing up and straightening out their hair. It was a time when Little Lord Fauntleroy Bandy ruled the airwaves at WUST..."
In the fifties radio was about showman ship ans shtick. The Lord Fauntleroy shtick was genius. On 1120 WUST-AM, a 250 watt daytimer he needed it. He hammed it up and wore tailored suits with a waist coat and an ascot.  He brought hours of the hippest R&B to DC airwaves. As the Lord Fauntleroy Bandy, he spoke in a fake British accent on air. The accent was perfect, so perfect many people thought that he was white. But even off air Bandy didn't sound like he was from the Mid-Atlantic, he and his family were from Jamaica. Jet Magazine relished linking the dapper John Bandy to various singers and starlets. In 1954 it was Beauty Shop owner Meta Cardoza, before that TV singer June Gaskins. More here.

In 1960 Bob Klein hired Bandy at WDAS-FM in Philadelphia, where he became the assistant general manager. Multiple sources describe Bandy as adlib "rapping" over records at WDAS, which would be one of the earliest references to rapping in a hip-hop context. One of those sources was his fellow WDAS DJ and rapper,  Jocko Henderson. "The Lord of Rhyme bringin' the sound from out of the ground to your part of town!"

By 1963, Bandy was appointed a WDAS corporate vice president by station CEO Max M. Leon. Bandy later had a short-lived stint hosting TV talk show on Channel 5, WNEW-TV. It debuted in February of 1971 and lasted eight episodes. He didn't really need the job, he'd married Gulf Oil heiress Roberta Pew in 1976. The book Voice Over by William Barlow claims he retired to a country estate in Bryn Mawr, outside Philadelphia. In retirement they funded a number of civic projects and organizations. Bandy died in the late 1990s.

I have often wondered if he or Sir Walter Raleigh (John Christian) on WAMO in Pittsburgh (and later WEEP) picked up the faux-British shtick first. Christian, who started out at WILY-AM, also liberally applied a British accent, and wore a English butler suit with tails and a monocle. Christian first hit the air in about 1955 so they were active more or less concurrently. But I suspect either may have gotten it from Lord Buckley in one way or another. Buckley was actually British, but his lordship too was self-enobled. Buckley claims he got his shtick from another DC area hipster... Cab Calloway.

Friday, May 05, 2017

London Underground Circuit Maps

The image above is by Yuri Suzuki, who is also the designer of this radio circuit. Yes, it’s a working radio. Some naysayers have claimed the copper is all shorted together but Suzuki cleverly isolated the paths necessary to rectify an AM signal. It was been installed at the Design Museum in London in 2012 so it may be heard as well. Harry Beck would be proud. More here.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Radio Free Zimbabwe

I first heard the three words Radio Free Zimbabwe as the title of an album by the band Okapi Guitars. Ironically they are an Australian, not African Afropop group. Their lead singer Paul Mbenna is from Tanzania, not Zimbabwe. So let us examine the relevance of Radio Free Zimbabwe, and perhaps why a Tanzanian ex-patriot living abroad in Australia might make a reference to an underground broadcaster living under an authoritarian regime.

In the Republic of Zimbabwe there is exactly one state broadcaster: ZBC. It operates two television stations and 6 radio stations: National FM, Power FM, Radio 3, Radio Zimbabwe, Spot FM, and SW 24/7 which operates only on shortwave. In 2000 a court ruling ended the monopoly of state-only broadcasting. It repealed a law that prohibited the private ownership of radio transmitters and created a framework for the state to allocate frequencies.

But the victory did not allow the plaintiff to being broadcasting. Capital FM was instructed to wait for the government to draft new laws to regulate this new media. Capital FM jumped the gun and began broadcasting six days later. They were promptly shut down by police and their equipment was seized. The Mugabe regime did act quickly and draft a law by April 2001. But it too forbid the private ownership of transmitters. Only the state owned company, TransMedia was permitted to do so. Nonetheless, the new licensing entity BAZ (Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe) began receiving applications. The ZBC rejected them all. Effectively only the state can broadcast legally in Zimbabwe. It is also illegal to act as a journalist without a permit from the (MIC) Media and Information Commission.

In 2004 the first BAZ chairman, Nhlanhla Masuku was quoted as saying:  "Who do we issue licenses,when people have not applied." This media-vacuum created a need for independent communications that is fulfilled largely by pirate broadcasters and shortwave operating outside Zimbabwe. The owners of Capital Radio moved to the UK and began broadcasting as SWAR (Shortwave Radio Africa) on 6145Khz. Except for correspondents, all of it's staff were in the London.  The U.S. Government funds a similar service on Shortwave and AM Studio 7, which has a repeater in Botswana.

There are numerous other pirate broadcasters. VOP, (Voice of People) broadcasts on 610 kHz in English, Shona and Ndebele since about mid 2000. Their offices were bombed in 2002. In 2005 they were shut down by the police and 3 reporters were arrested. VOP continues to record programs, but now from South Africa. These are broadcast on Radio Netherlands. A community group named Radio Dialogue operates (ZCR) Zimbabwe Community Radio broadcasting from the United Arab Emirates and South Africa. The book Public Broadcasting in Africa Series: Zimbabwe covers this in excellent detail .My go-to text on this topic Broadcasting in Africa by Sydney Head is out of date such that it still listed Zimbabwe under Rhodesia. But the book details a long tradition of radio going back to 1932.

But in 2008 the Mugabe regime began jamming even those few independent shortwave frequencies. And whenever anti-Mugabe sentiments sneak onto the state-owned broadcasters... there are reprisals. Gerry Jackson, the founder of SWAR was fired from Radio 3 in 1997 for insubordination. He had aired live phone calls from people being beaten by police during food riots in the city of Harare. The government of Zimbabwe has forbidden six SWAR staff from ever returning to Zimbabwe. In a speech to Parliament Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa stated "They would be welcomed back... Welcomed back to our prisons."  [LINK] In 2014 SW Radio Africa shot down due to funding issues. [LINK]  Gerry Jackson wrote
“It is with regret that SW Radio Africa announces that it is closing down. We recently stopped our shortwave transmissions but have continued to provide broadcasts via our website and other formats, but these too will cease. We’d like to thank the organisations and individuals who have supported us for the past 13 years and the contributors to our programs who have given so willingly of their time and expertise. In particular we’d like to thank our listeners, who have shared their lives, hopes and dreams and helped us to tell the story of Zimbabwe’s sad decline to the world. We hope that one day Zimbabwe finally has a government who understands that its sole responsibility is to ensure a safe, healthy, prosperous life for every man, woman and child in the country.
When the colonialist Ian Smith regime of Rhodesia was collapsing in the 1970s they cracked down on dissent. Radio broadcasting was restricted, and even individual songs were banned. The Smith government even stopped making shortwave radios to limit access. So the end of the story is that there is no Radio Free Zimbabwe, because Zimbabwe is not free. But President Robert Mugabe is 93 years old. In February 2016, Mugabe said he had no plans for retirement and would remain in power "until God says 'come'."