Saturday, September 30, 2006


Airtran dropped me off last night around 2:00 AM. The only thing still open was Wawa so I got myself a toasted hoagie and unpacked. It was another good trip to Tejas. I hit my regular music shopping meccas.

Half Price Books (who really need to dust)
CD World (who really needs to replace their blown headphones..)
CD Source (who always is amazing)

I bought so much crap:

  • Critters Buggin' - host
  • White Stripes - Elefant
  • Bright Eyes - Latting off the Happiness
  • Since by Man - Pictures from the Hotel Apocalypse
  • Fireworks - off the air
  • Black Merda - The folks from Mother's mixer
  • Reverend Horton Heat - The Full custom Gospel sounds of
  • Pearlene - Murder Blues and Prayer
  • Hank Snow - Wanderin' On
  • Sister Rosette Tharpe - Gospel 1938 - 1943

All that and I returned home to find that my membership in has paid off again. In one month of membership I've paid $7 in fees and so far I've gotten 8 CDs. That's not even averaging $1.00 each!!!!! To me this is the best thing for music geeks since ebay.

Regular posting will resume on Monday. I need to do laundry and crap right now.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


An actual vacation. I will be on vacation this week, returning late Friday 9/29/06. I will have zero internet access for those days. I may post a couple entries ahead of time, but really I have some record reviews to complete bags to pack and an airport to get to.

I am starting a MySpace page in relation to my radio writing etc.
If you communicate on that medium, you can find me here:

Monday, September 25, 2006

Radio The 5th Estate

Judith Waller was called Chicago's “First Lady of Radio” You've probably neer heard of her, but she was one of the innovators that combined educational programming and broadcasting. She believed that the new medium should offer more that entertainment. You can also put an asterisk on this as the root idea behind public radio. It all starts here.
She believed that broadcasting had nealy unlimited potential as an educational medium. She developed network programs including the U. of Chicago Roundtable, American Medical Association (AMA) programs, the National Congress of Parents and Teachers series and others. She published a book Radio, the Fifth Estate, in 1946. It's widely considered to be the most thorough text on the broadcast practices of radio's golden age.

We start at a newspaper, the Chicago Daily News, who hired Waller in April 1922 to put its newly licensed radio station WMAQ on the air. This station evolved quickly from a two hour per day schedule with two-person staff into heritage powerhouse wel all know. WMAQ was the home of Amos 'n' Andy and the first station to broadcast a complete home season of a professional baseball team the Chicago Cubs. You can call that the birth of Sports Radio too while you're at it.

NBC purchased WMAQ in November 1931 and Ms. Waller became the director of public affairs programming for the NBC. She held the office for 26 years.

She was born before the last turn of the century, in 1889, and was of the earliest women in radio. Her book: Radio, the Fifth Estate, becomes doubly interesting when you realize that many of the techniques and practices she describes she had, invented herself. In that sense it's autobiographical.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Independant music on the radio

It's common knowledge that major label music gets more radio airplay than the indies.
But why? Is it because independant music is less accesible or is it because of the cocaine and cash delivered by regional record label reps in record sleeves to Program Directors.

The American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) -- a group that represents more than 100 indie labels and counts representatives of TVT, Roadrunner, Tommy Boy, Beggars Group, Thirsty Ear, Bar-None and Lookout Records as members of its Board Of Directors sent a letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin asking for an investigation to determine if major record labels have an unfair advantage at radio over indie labels.

The letter praises the anti-payola efforts of a certain New York Attorney general and by connection gives them some praise too. Of course the FCC tried their best to do nothing but that's probably because the bush administration got booku dollars from Clear channel. it could be a coincidence of course like the coke and cash.

The A2IM called out the recent settlements by BMG and Warner bros "as mere slaps on the wrists in comparison to the financial harm caused nationally and states, " and it really was. To pay out a few hundred thousand while raking in billions is like be losing a quarter in the change machine.

They argue that it's vital that we ensure that the vast diversity of American music has a fair opportunity to access the public airwaves. I'm not sure how vital it is, but I certainly would listen to more radio if its programming was less stale. maybe other people would too. With the hooplah over Jack's deep catalog approach is any indication, maybe they are right.

They also make another bold and interesting statment

"One of the most serious allegations facing the broadcast industry is that radio stations engaged in business activities that made it virtually impossible for songs released by independent labels to be considered for airplay within existing formats. Independent music is booming-innovative programmers highlight songs released on independent labels on satellite radio, non-commercial stations and webcasts. Well over half of the releases cited in January's Village Voice Critics Poll were released by independent labels. The marketplace is responding, as independent labels now make up over 27 percent of sales in the American music market. Yet, somehow, music released by independents is virtually absent from the commercial airwaves."

I've confirmed these numbers independantly. indie music makes up almost 30% of sales and yet comprises under 10% of radio airplay. This does not worry me. Ultimately that kind of bullishly ignorant programming will burn the asses of the Programmers at radio. If they wont play what people want, people wont listen. They will go elsewhere for their media and ultimatley it will shrink the radio market. It will decrase it's sales relevance and undermine it's long-held dominance. They are shooting themselves in the kneecaps. The number of music media options is increasing steadily. If radio refuses to stay relevant, it's their own fault when they fold.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Murder onthe Radio

No, not DJs killing each other (though that has happened too I hear) It was the first broadcast murder trial. It had to happen, but this one was lost to antiquity and many people assume that this was a television first. The station was 1420 WHIS-AM.

It was in 1931 that WHIS-AM became the first American radio station to ever broadcast a murder trial direct from the courtroom. In the Spring of 1929 got permission to go on air. It was a sharing time Station WRBX-AM in Roanoke, but they made the best of it. Starting with 100 watts they signed on at 6:00 PM June 27, 1929 broadcasting from a tower atop the West Virginian Hotel in Bluefield.

The accused was one Minnie Stull. She was accused of murdering her three-year-old stepchild by scalding it to death in a wash tub of boiling water. Such a heinous crime had aroused the public greatly. At this time, the Mercer County Courthouse in Princeton was under construction, and Minnie's trial was to be held in the near by American Legion building.

As the room was too small to permit spectators, Judge Dillard suggested to Jim Shott that perhaps loudspeakers could be rigged up so folks on the outside could hear the proceedings. It was agreed upon and several carbon microphones were acquired. These were placed in shoeboxes prepared with cotton batting to reduce outside noise. The boxes were actually passed from judge to witnesses to attorneys.

Minnie was convicted and given a death sentence, but the case was appealed on the grounds that broadcasting the proceedings had made a "circus" of the trial. The trial would hant them for decades.

Shortly after changing frequency from 1420 to 1410 WHIS bought out WRBX the Roanoke station with whom it shared time. In 1933 the FCC again decided to change their digs and they moved up the dial to 1240. At the same time they incrased their power to 500 watts.

Then ironicly in 1935 WHIS-AM experienced their seecond first. Kid Canfield a lecturer on the evils of gambling dropped dead at the microphone live on air. He had just been introduced by host Mel Barnett. His death was attributed to Mic-fright.

It happened to them again in 1939 Mr. O. C. Young was recording the pianist Bob Longworth. He finished recording, and stood to leave the studio. As Longworth opened the soundproof door to leave, he dropped dead. He never even hear the playback!

Its unrelated, but breifly in 1948 WHIS-FM was the world's most powerful commercial FM station. Also owned by WHIS-AM, it had an ERP of 186,000 watts! But at the time FM was not yet popular and it died a premature death. but WHIS-AM 1440 lives on, they currently simulcast on WTZE.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

W-A-C-O broadcasting from Waco Texas

WACO is the only radio station in the world with call letters identical to the name of the town in which it broadcasts.

When you think about it, only a handful of American towns could even support this call-to-town connection. The town would need to have a name beginning with a K or a W and consist of only four (or fewer) letters. They also must be on the correct side of the Missisippi in order to get the corresponding K or W assignment or else have been grandfathers decades ago. The list is short. The following is a list of all possibilities:

Way OH, Wawa PA, Keel MS, Kola MS, Kegg CA, Kewa WA, Kaka AZ, Keys OK, Kusa OK, and Keo AR. What kills me is that some of these are actually still available calls! Of course this only makes Waco and WACO more unique.

The first radio station in Waco was WJAD, it was founded by radio pinoeer Frank P. Jackson in 1922. He applied for and got a permit to broadcast with a power of 15 watts. He only broadcast three hours a day.

In January, 1923, he got permission to incrase his power to 150 watts on 850 AM. In the fall of 1924, he was granted permission to increase power to 500 watts power. Jackson offered prizes for the listeners reporting reception of the broadcast at the farthest distance from Waco . The farthest response was Wyoming . Telegrams poured in from every State in the nation. WJAD was reaching out there with 500 watts.

The archives at radio station WACO, successor to WJAD, are full of yellowed fan mail from North Dakota, Michigan, Mexico, the South Sea Islands, Illinois, New York, Indiana, Arkansas, Nebraska, Denver, California, Florida, and virtually everywhere else. The cards and letters came from radio listeners who picked up WJAD out of Waco .

In 1928, Jackson again upped his power from 500 to 1,000 watts, and he moved his studio to the Amicable Life Building. He was beginning to sell radio time, but it still was largely a one-man station. that ended in 1929 when Orville Bullington and J. M. Gilliam became partners with Jackson . In December they changed the call letters to WACO , buying out Jackson 's interest. Still the station did not become a full-time station with 17 hours of daily programs until November, 1934.

Today the WJAD calls live on in Leesburg, Georgia on a rock outlet. WACO is still in Waco and still a country station though it hasn't been on the AM dial in some time.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Radio Re-Elects mobster

Yeah. If you had to guess now where this would happen you'd probably say new Jersey right. Well wrong. It was Providence. The Station was WHJJ-AM, and the mobster was Buddy Cianci. Early on, Cianci was a prosecutor in the office of the Rhode Island Attorney General. He parlayed that mob-busting administrations good repuation into a well respected and successful run at becoming mayor of Providence. He was elected in 1974. He was active and charismatic leading to a common joke during his tenure as mayor that Cianci would attend the opening of an envelope. Cianci was revered by many residents of Providence and credited with the revitalizing of the city's economy . Then he had to resigned from office in 1984 after pleading no contest to assaulting a man with a lit cigarette, an ashtray and a fireplace log...

I would normaly assume a man was unelectable after that.

Cianci spent the next few years as a radio talk show host on Providence radio station 920 WHJJ-AM. By all reports this was a fantastic show and perhaps his true calling above politics. He was described as hyper-articulate even by his detractors and his encyclopedic inside knowledge of Rhode Island politics made him flat out dangerous to any inneffectual politico that he didn't like. Joseph R. Paolino Jr. served as mayor between Buddy's two terms and spent that durration being jabbed daily by Cianci. He predicted recently that Buddy will return to radio and when asked about how this will effect the current administation he said: “They’ll wish that Thomas Edison never invented the radio.”

The program kept Cianci in the public eye, and it kept him politically involved. It made his second run at Mayor possible, and his win inevitable.

Cianci was indicted in April 2001 on federal criminal charges of racketeering, conspiracy, extortion, witness tampering, and mail fraud. Several other Providence city officials were also indicted. Much of the trial was focused around a video tape showing top Cianci aide Frank A. Corrente involved in bribery. Cianci was acquitted of 11 of 12 charges, including bribery, extortion, and mail fraud. He was however, found guilty of a single charge of conspiracy and was sentenced to serve five years in federal prison. So he'll be back on air probably in late 2007.

Providence Journal reporter Mike Stanton wrote a biography of Cianci titled The Prince of Providence.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Greaseman Returns!

The Greaseman has had many opportunities to celebrate his return. This because he's been fired a ot. I cant' state catagorically that he's moved more than any other Morning Show Host in history... let's just say he gets points for persistence. As a self-described "god-fearing, truck-driving redneck" it kind of fits in.

The Graseman first met strong resistance to his fictional persona at WRC-AM 980. Actually Doug Tracht was asked by management in 1974 to drop the cahracter or leave. He left. It was not his first departure, no, it was already his fifth. He'd already been through WICB, WTKO-AM, WENE-AM, and WAXC-AM.

The Greaseman found a new life bitching about the plow drivers at WPOP in Hartford Connecticut. Things went pretty well, running smoothly for over a year. Then WPOP went all news and The Greaseman was back in the box. Two months later he was back at the mic this time in Jacksonville, FL on WAPE. He might have stayed there but the opportunity to fill the "Howard Stern void" in Washington D.C. DC 101 had been #1 in the ratings with Stern until his 1982 firing. The Greaseman could not resist the challenge. And he succeeded. WWDC stayed #1. He didnt' stay #1 forever, but he stayed popular enough to manage a mock presidential run in 1984 against Regan. (wene image from binghamton His stay lasted a decade and then he felt the need to spread his reach further. The Greaseman wanted more. In 1993 he left DC/101 to launch a syndicated radio show with the Infinity Broadcasting Corporation. Actually that kind of pissed off Stern especially after the WWDC thing. teh show tanked. It died in Atlanta, Los Angeles and then New York. Infinity tried to push it in smaller markets but the writing was on the wall. Syndication was not working for the lovable greaseball. And he didn't undertand why! Why dont the same sexist jokes and politically incorrect schtick work in syndication? Nobody knows greasman. Nobody knows.

He was rescued from obscurity by a very wise WARW who knew that the Greasemans mojo works in dirty DC. Who gives a damn if they dont get it in Atlanta, they dont need it to. In 2001 after a little time off he decided to make a more ginger attempt at syndication. This time it took. He's now on air at WARW, WGOP-AM, and WMET-AM. .. all D.C. stations I might add.

Friday, September 15, 2006

San Jose Travel Missive

San Jose radio is pale beside Monterey. Pioneer High School station 89.3 KMTG was running commercial hip-hop as was 90.5 KSJS. KSCU never seemed to come in clearly and KPFA was running talk in the afternoon. I mean Democracy Now is an interesting program but I was looking for tunes. Maybe it was the wrong time of day. I'd heard that 96.1 KSQQ was kind of eclectic Portuguese music but that too was talk while I was in town.

I caught KFOG (simulcasting on KFFG) and I can see why KPIG has been slowly gaining on them since the addition of KPYG to the market. The K-FOG playlist is very safe, mixing only the most popular classic rock tracks with the most centrist Triple A cuts. Of course neither is progressive compared to a station like KCMP.

The infamously eclectic 89.7 KFJC sounded like they were having technical problems, then I realized what I was hearing ten synthesizer keys held down at once and a woman holding a flat note over it. They followed that up with a cassette tape from 1980 of two biology students banging trash can lids together. When I checked back an hour later it was someone beating two sticks together and shouting random nouns. I can say ... as least they are original, and they plug local shows between sets of noisy crap.

I ate at a Chinese restaurant with ducks hanging in the window. I couldn't read the menu and they couldn't under stand me. Food arrived spontaneously at my table anyway. Someone in the kitchen made a safe bet I assume. It was some of the best chicken I've ear had and I don't even know what the dish was called.

I had been wondering why one metro would have three Asian AM outlets: KVVN-AM, KSJX-AM and KYAA-AM. Now I know they have an Asian population that rivals that of Seattle. Entire plazas are lit with signs in mandarin and similar-looking characters. Might be a book store, might be a bakery. I can't tell from the road.

On the drive back I caught a blues show on KKUP that ran a long set of Slim Harpo and Lighting Hopkins. The Route 101 traffic near Route 880 was thick and the friendly music was welcome. 101 thins out to two easy lanes after Watsonville giving me a little time to look at the country. The grass on the hills was yellow, but all the fields were green. I'm out of here tomorrow morning and I think I have one more chance to hit that foggy and chilly Marina beach. I kind of wish I packed a coat.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Monterey Travel Missive #3

I was too dismissive of 1410 KRML-AM yesterday. I've spent more time listening to them than any other local station at this point. While KKUP may hav esome stand out programs, it really is reggae all damn day, KRML-AM is varied but in an intelligent programmed way. I also noticed that they also offer cable radio (a medium I thought was extinct) on Comcast at 93.7. That pipes their signal loud and clear into 90,000 homes. They also claim to be the only radio station broadcasting jazz 24 hours a day. While that claim is somewhat spurious, they are still a great jazz station. They also were featured in the 1971 Clint Eastwood flick Play Misty for Me, for whatever that's worth.

While I'm on the Jazz tip, I finally caught a music show that held my attention on 88.9 KUSP. I'd written them off as a NPR talk outlet until I caught this one show today around noon. The program Cintinental drift was truly inspired. It was a mix of old and new blues, jazz and even funk. But it was kind of tied together in an organic way. Leon Red Bone, 30 s blues, the meters and Jimmy Smith aren;'t normally in the same program... but hey can be. It's beginning to make sense that Monterey is the home of the Monterey Jazz Festival.

I got into Recycled Records today and picked up a copy of an older Bakomono record. I paid $8.00 and just realized I could have bought it used online for 3 cents + shipping... This is why small record stores are going out of buisness. But it's a good band, and a long out of print record, it was worth the 8 clams.

Today I ate lunch at El Torito and sat in the bar overlooking Monterey Bay. The food was largely unimpressive but the view was great. I sat a a table smaller than half a newspaper and overlooked the incoming waves. The Pacific was very active and would shake the building at times as it rushed over and under the rock that Monterey sits upon. It is very striking how much more active the Pacific is than the Atlantic. I was warned many times by many locals about the tourists that get swept out to sea right off th ebeach because they didn't know how violent and powerful El Océano Pacífico is. The salsa was good and used excellent tomatos which made me remember harvesting them, and made me hungry for good vegetables.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Montery Travel Missive #2

The Juniper trees by Sloat Ave. are massive and gnarled like overly muscular arms cranked from steroids. ...and the Hickory Trees have left shells all the way to Hawthorne. It was a strange thing to fixate on after a walk through Cannery Row, but it's what I remember now. I also recall vividly that the street signs were carved out of wood. I walked to the aquarium to check out the otters, and at first saw none. Then I noticed one fat sea otter lying on a rock facing away from me. It did nothing cute like the ones on TV. It's just looked fat and somewhat bored.

KNRY-AM turns out to have a studio on the row. The rest was dull tourist shops and restaurants that smelled like wine and fish. (I like neither) I met two men who used to have a show on KNRY-AM who were very funny and charming and knew just where to get a good sandwich. We went to a local joint called Randy's (10th street & church?) It's only open for lunch 11:30 -1:30 Monday thru Friday. I had the Jaws2 hoagie which had turkey, ham, salami, bologna, provolone mayo and was on a soft sesame roll. Truly a sandwich to be reckoned with. I ate that sandwich in the park and then got a ride in a Ferrari at about 90 mph in that little tunnel before Lighthouse St. Fun people out here.

I bought a couple books at Bookbuyers used books on the same street. We were only going 35 when we passed it, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to read the sign. Tremendously knowledgeable and engaging bibliophiles in there. Next door is recycled records, a viny shop, which sadly was closed for a dinner break when I finally happened by.

In related Monterrey News, I noticed that Melanie Walker, former morning show host of KAZU has reappeared as MD of KCMP in Minneapolis replacing Thorn. We she here I would have coughed her show, in liu I spent some time listening to a Tropical show on KKUP, their first break from the reggae. It was a set of Venezuelan harp rock. Host Cristina Boyd presided over a st of music like nothing I have ever heard before. It began with recognizable Afro-cuban jazz and ended with surreal call-and-response music with the call consisting of Hammond B3 Organ and the response being the same line etched in harp picking. The program is called Amenidades Latino Americans and only airs every other week.

I also discovered 1410 KRML-AM which runs all jazz and blues but leaning nostalgia across both. It's much less fruity than the two standards outlets KIDD-AM and KABL-AM running zero show tunes and zero Streisand. It was a relaxing discovery this evening.

More record reviews...

Another batch of reviews is up on Stranded in stereo.(please excuse the delay)

Meth and goats - S/T
Ultradolphins - Why are you laughing?
Black Angels –Passover
Linfinity – A Manual for Free Living
Murder By Death – In Bocca Al Lupo

Monday, September 11, 2006

Salinas Travel Missive

The radio programming today (and the TV) is the worst I have seen in my life: worse than Xmas, worse than the Macy's Parade... worse than election Night. All channels, all stations are talking about 9/11. Even NPR was guilty. Yes, even Garrison Keilor was roped into it. [for shame!] The 5 year anniversary is inescapable.

Every station was fixated on two people reading a long list of names and the George W. Bush trying to look humble for ten minutes. The hype was unbearable. Only Randy Rhodes had anything intelligent to say . If you don't like the way things are, blame the party in power. It's not that complicated.

What does this gratuitous grief, serve at the Grand Guignol?
It's hype. I was a promoter and I know hype. It's hype to distract you from one story and to fixate you on another. Yes forget all that and please watch the following patriotic montage:

The purpose to coax some guilty patriotism out of the ignorant masses with the idea that it makes you more likely to vote Republican in 60 days. anyway, political railing aside...

Marina is foggy every day apparently. No one mentioned that to me before I booked the trip. I am on East Coast Time in my brain and woke at 5:3o AM which is actually late for work on EST. I had breakfast because I was hungry, then at 8:30 when I could begin thinking about going to work... I was hungry for lunch... I am so messed up. It was 55 degrees until the fog finally rolled back around noon. Then it jumped up to 85 in 3o minutes. Apparently 10 miles up Route 1 in either direction and the fog goes away. bizarre.

So anyway the politics sent me scanning down the dial for anything that wasn't about Bush, Towers or self flagellation. I found KKUP actually playing music. For years I've assumed KKUP was wildly eclectic with their lefty logo and reputation but no. they seem in practice to be a 24 hr Reggae station. Oh well. "The People's Radio" apparently was meant mostly for Jamaican people.

I spent some time listening to 700 KMBX-AM expecting a Regional Mexican station but instead found an eclectic mix of mid 70s Spanish pop; I think. It had lots of keyboards and reverb. It's Jose-AM, a deep catalog Spanish format, I think it's an Entravision experiment: Adult Hits En Espanol! 600 KIDD-AM continued to play a kind of fruity mix of Nostalgia skewing away from big band and toward Broadway show tunes. I couldn't stomach most of it. 1460 is KABL-AM but they skew Soft AC which is even worse.

RECOMMENDED: I got a ruben at Mecca, a German Deli and it was so strong tasting I am still wrangling with the idea of what a ruben is and what it can be. Read about it here
NOT RECOMMENDED: Also hit the Steinbeck Museum. It was aimed at 9 year old and I was kind of let down. FYI: if you do go with the kids, Do not park on the street. You wont be able to back out for 17 hours. Park in the municipal lot and pay the dude.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Monterey Travel Missive #1

I landed at Monterey Peninsula Airport airport yesterday, and after accidentally driving into the high security lot behind the air traffic control tower I eventually found my way down to Rte 1. I drove past Sand city which as far as I can tell is a big beach and Home Depot... possibly a Berkley art project representing the two halves of the male brain. I got a cheap hotel in Marina in walking distance of the beach and got used to the idea. I heard some fantastic radio already. On the AM band I caught the last half of Radio Ranch, a program on 1240 KNRY-AM.

Host J.P. Mick Vernon reads cowboy poetry by himself and others in between obscure and not-so-obscure country oldies tunes. It is a totally unparalleled program in all of radio land. He told a story about a young girl riding colts and developing a preference for a very old mare, then played some Dale Evans ...and it totally worked. He was included in the 2005 Nevada County Poetry Anthology and is also the author of The Lyrical Lawman Rides, a book of original cowboy poetry.

90.3 KAZU used to be a local scene powerhouse, with a morning show that often beat out Nic at KCRW in local polls. But Melanie was ousted from that slot when management decided that Monterey needed a third NPR news outlet in the market... I often wonder if she picked up a show somewhere down the road. This afternoon they were running something that ran simultaneously on 88.9 KUSP. They seemed impotent and dull.

Still in market are 88.1 KZSC the U. or Santa Cruz and 91.9 KSPB at Robert Louis Stevenson H.S. I am sure I'll check those out during the week ahead.

I drove up the road a bit and bought some supplies for the traveling I'll be doing over the week. two boxes of low-cal snack bars, an apple, a 6 pack of water, a six pack of Dew, a bag of bagels etc. Across the way on reservation road I found a consignment shoppe of called Del Monte Bargains. It was run by some middle-aged Slavic woman, possibly Russian with corn rows. Her accent was thick, and it made her explaining too viscous. I bought 4 books, supposedly at a dollar each but she took about 3.50 when I turned out my pockets:

Burma Road by Nicol Smith
The Fall by Samuel R. Delany (ironically a Philly Local)
A Winter Walk by Tolbert McCarroll
Solomons House by the Cowell College History Workshop... some kind of hippie college let the class of 1970 print a book. It's spectacularly fragmented so far.

I had brought A movable feast with me. I like reading Hemingway when I travel, as he reminds me why it is good to do so. But I think it may go back in the duffel. I have so many options now.

Friday, September 08, 2006

More Travel & More News

I will be traveling 9/10 thru 9/16 posting may be erratic.
I've been researching more about the WQAQ fandango and found some interesting facts.
1. Quinnipiac only bought their AM outlet in 1996. NERW Archive here
"Small Connecticut AM signal has been sold. WXCT 1220 in Hamden, a suburb of New Haven, is being sold by Milstar Broadcasting to Quinnipiac College in Hamden... WXCT has a long and colorful history, including stints as WDEE, WCDQ, WOMN ..., WSCR, and WNNR...and just about every format in the book, including multiple tries at top 40, country, and oldies. Most recently, WXCT has been a Spanish-language broadcaster. An educated guess is that WXCT will become WQAQ-AM, simulcasting Quinnipiac's WQAQ-FM 88.3."
Oh how things have changed...

2. As recently as 2003 Southwestern Bell Mobile Systems was trying to improve that tower, not tear it down:

Telegraph Stamps

These are the precursor to QSL stamps etc. These are most often encountered by mistaken and beuddled postal stamp collectors.

Telegraph stamps are service fee stamps that prove payment for delivery of a telegraphic message. They are first cousins of postage stamps, which prepay a very similar service: delivery of a message through the postal system.

Initially postage or revenue stamps were used to indicate payment of the government telegraphy fee. (Yes a telegraph tax. why not, Syria taxed urination in Roman times... ) Over time, many governments began to issue separate telegraph stamps.

Sending a prepaid telegram was quite similar to posting a letter. The telegraph stamp was applied to a telegraph form containing the message to be sent and dropped into a telegraph collection box. Couriers emptied the boxes and took the forms to the servicing telegraph office from which the message was sent. At the receiving end, messengers delivered the telegram to the recipient. Literature on telegraph stamps is rare nd is limited to a few specialized catalogs listing telegraph stamps by their respective country of origin.

Stephen Hiscocks, an amazingly dedicated nerd compiled a book of them in 1982 called Telegraph and Telephone Stamps of the World.. It's a little hard to find as it was self-published...

But as Telegraph wires came down and wireless stations came up the telegraph stamp started to seem so quaint, and eventually they expired.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Hey Kids! Surprise! We took down your tower!

I guess he would rather have then start a lacrosse club... Here I am sticking my nose into current events but this one is just so damn odd.

WQAQ, Connecticut college station and one of a handful of remaining Class D licenses was shut down recently. The station went silent this summer on May 1, 2006. (as they often do) with the intention of returning in the fall. But this year they returned and found that
Quinnipiac University President, John. L. Lahey decided to have their transmitting tower torn down over the summer months. SURPRISE!

Their reasoning?
"The decision to remove the tower seems to have been an executive decision by Quinnipiac University President, John. L. Lahey. (picture left) "The University removed the tower, which primarily served as a Cingular cell tower, because it was an unsightly eyesore right in the center of campus..." In my experience Universities just airbrush towers out of promo photos. No real reason to tear them down. This appears to have been personal.

The decision appears to have been made without consultation of advisors, faculty, or student affairs staff. If they do not get back on the air by April 30, 2007 they forefit their license. Quinnipiac also owns WQUN-AM which airs canned adult standards and runs carries Red Sox games and some University Sports. There is no student involvement in that station.

It's a shame that some stations get to grow under the capable hands of devoted staff like WVPH/RLC (who is currently raising money for a new tower) and some stations langish with Class D licenses without even the basic necessisty of a protected contour. Why do some grow and some wither? It's a question I've been asked and a question I've asked others.

I remember Colin helms fomer EIC of CMJ asking me Why WPUR shut down in 1998. (They were a cable station at Purchase college) I didn't have a good answer for him then. It's the collapse of a large support network that is organic and delicate. Why that support network collapses I dont know. Sometimes it's assasinated. Other times it dies of natural causes. Let see if this one pulls through.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Hawiian Music on the main land

Once, long ago, Hawiian music was more popular in america than classical, rock or blues. hard to imagine slide guitar and ukelele in the top ten but it was so. It was a breif abberation in the late 40s that defies any explaination so far as I can tell.

Today you dont hear much of it outside Hawaii.

Last year 104.7 KAPU-LP decided that they wanted to play hawaiian music 24/7. If they were in hawii this would make perfect sense. But they're in Watonville, CA. So in response a group of residents in Watsonville, CA filed their own informal objection to the license grant for KAPU-LP, Watsonville. (apparently they wanted yet more spanish outlets in the Monterey market?)

They claim that licensee “Ohana de Watsonville” made a verbal commitment that the station’s programming would serve the city’s Hispanic community. Watsonville is about 80% Hispanic. (and less than 1% Hawaiian). But the FCC does not render judgments over programming and its renewal was granted post haste.

Interestingly enough "Kapu" is a hawiian word meaning "forbidden." In it's most common usage on road signs it means "no trespassing." To me, this story has foreshadowing....

At they continue to brag that they are the only all-Hawaiian station anywhere on the American mainland. Probably the entire continent... actualy I'd bet it's the only one off the island period.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

WDZ was number three

Everybody argues on who was the first. The first license, the first broadcast, the first Fm , the first 24 hour operation, the first to run ads the first to whatever... WDZ stands up and proudly states that they are number three. (Who's going to argue with that?)

WDZ is also known as Illinois' first commercial radio station. It began broadcasting from Tuscola, Illinois as experimental station 9JR. But this thrist oldest over all is somewhat lesser known. [And to be specific I do mean licensed station.] They went live on March 17, 1921 with a schedule grain market reports for the agricultural community running twice an hour ...between long stretches of dead air. Anecdotally it has been reported that there were a total of two receivers in the area to actually hear the original broadcast on 883 AM. Their slogan was "The Buckle of the Corn Belt."

The original station broadcast from an antenna that was a simple wire strung between a couple of buildings in Tuscola. The station changed frequency to 1080 AM as power output was reduced to 10-watts in 1923. It was a slow year. By that date there were only three radio stations on the air in America. These were KDKA in Pittsburgh and WGY in Schenectady, New Jersey. I think that WDZ got him more often with legislated license changes than any of them.

In1927 the station was given a full time licence to broadcast at 100-watts. But thenThe Radio Act of 1927 changed to licence of WDZ to broadcast only during the daytime at 1070 kc. Then in 1936 the power changed to 250-watts, and the frequency to 1020am. With only three other staitons it seems like their vbing singled out...

By 1941, WDZ had a fairly stable homw 1050 AM home but still was broadcasting mostly Agricultural news but thankfully more continiously than twice an hour. they began to add entertainment programming drawing performers from the southern hot beds of blues and country music. Today they run a dull Urban AC format:

further history here:

Sunday, September 03, 2006


it's been a prolific month for me online. Those of you that enjoy my radio ranting are welcome to read further unrelated ranting elsewhere at your leisure. I am as opinionated about music as radio and politics; meus vocabulary est ignotus, vereor is.

My last batch of reviews is up on Stranded in stereo.
(please excuse the delay)

We are Scientists - With Love and Squalor
Ike Reilly –Junkie Faithful
Killing Joke -Hosannas from the Basement of Hell
(...and more impending)

and a concert review at Kochalkaholic

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Vote for Net Neutrality

If you enjoy reading this blog, or any other blog or usee any online service except those of large multinational corporations you should be concerned. I am certain by now some of you have heard the term "Net Neutraility." You probably also are now familiar with the various descriptions of the "two-tier" system. If you cant guess... I would be in the bottom tier.

Please go here:

These kind folks have done the hard work of determining your Senators current position on Net Neutraility. Maybe you dont need to do anything, maybe your senator already has decided the free exchange of ideas is more important than the big fat check they might have written him/her in the fall. Click the link, then Click your state.

Or maybe not, maybe their on the fence or maybe they've already cached the check. Click the link and find out.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The last AM dayshare

I read that 1450 WVON-AM in chicago LMA'd 1690 WRLL-AM. It went without notice in most rags but it was also the end of the only AM share-time in Chicago. WVON who's stick is actually in Cicero, IL has signed off at 1:00 PM every day so that WCEV can use the frequency until 10:00 pm. This arrangement has been going on for decades and will only end this September.

In this LMA deal WVON brings its Urban talk programming to Chicago 24/7. Clear Channel owns the stick but WVON has an option to buy the expanded-band signal outright after five years. its a pretty good deal really. WRLL-AM drops their flagging oldies format WCEV presumably takes over the 1450 stick and WVON goes full-time.

But it leaves us with only one remaining AM share-time: KWLC/KDEC on 1240 in Decorah, Iowa. It's a particularly odd deal. The commercial station KDEC shares the channel with Luther College’s KWLC. The college kids get overnights the weekdnds. KDEC gets everything else. But KDEC runs an Adult Standards format
and KWLC runs an eclectic mix of even more eclectic block programs.

KWLC was founded 1926 , and inaugerated with a spirited reading of the Gettysburg Address. It is said to be the oldest continually operating radio station in Iowa. They began their share time agreement in the great depression as a money saving manuver which was very common then. They rode out the hard times where many others were not savvy enough to survive. But then they did something that the others did not. They stuck with the share time deal. While other broadcasters moved frequency, changed city of license or bought out their partner trying to provide full service, KWLC sat there quietly doing it's own thing. ...And now, they are the last of their kind.