Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Driving to the 585

*This post is brought to you in part due to the mighty Fybush. Without his driving directions I'd probably be lost and looking for a hotel in Irondequoit.

Back in upstate New York again. This time I drove essentially straight west from the Boston area.  As you may have heard the weather was terrible. The so-called blizzard of 2010 only dropped 6 inches where I was, but the high winds maintained white-out conditions for 15 hours or more. I stopped a lot, and listened to the radio the whole way thorough. It's that semester break between Xmas and New Years day.  It's when everybody breaks schedule, and everybody else is on vacation. you never know what you'll hear. 
On the drive up, I caught little of interest.  I heard Kayak Jack on WNTI who is one off the worst DJs I've ever heard on any station in all my travels. But on the upside I also caught the Antique Phonograph Music Xmas Special on WFMU.  That was truly amazing.I've emailed the host and hope to interview him in the near future. There isn't a lot of shellac let out there in radioland.

The first station I caught was 91.3 WUNH.  They were running a funk program at the time.Their online schedule is inscrutable.. so I have no idea of the program name or the host. Inexplicably I was still getting them well down I-495... well outside their normal range. Of course there was the ubiquitous WUMB. I heard them both on the mother-ship 91.9, but also on 91.7 WNEF. I know it's also on 1170 WFPB-AM but I'm not going near the cape after a blizzard. I listened to WUML, the under-rated UMass/Lowell station, but the kids were all gone so they were airing some medical program about seasonal affective disorder. I also caught bits of what gets called the Jazz Juggernaut on 88.1 WMBR, they have a set of jazz shows that run Mondays from 2:00 starting with Research & Development, then the Jazz Volcano at 4:00, news break at 6:00 followed by Sound Principles until 8:00PM.  It's six solid hours of far out jazz. You can't beat it.
On the way out of Mass I kept tuning into different WFCR repeaters trying to listen to a program on Solitary Confinement and one on the citizens of he Louisiana coast after the oil spill.  It was some really great radio: good editing, good music, good ambiance.. but I never caught the program name. They have 5 repeaters
plus WNNZ-AM on 640. In Springfield I could also hear 91.7 WHUS and some random metal show. I'd also like to say now for the record that WAMU has too many affiliates. Their top of the hour ID takes almost 9 minutes. I caught WSKB 88.9 briefly who had a great country oldies program. I kept getting it intermittently on the hillsides approaching the border.
Heading over the border into New York state I caught 88.3 WVCR who was running a really good oldies mix. Up in Syracuse WAER was rocking some Cannonball Adderly while 90.7 WRVD was doing something a tad more twangy. WRVD of course is a simulcast of 89.9 WRVO, Fingerlakes Public Radio.  I'll also admit I was sucked into a few minutes of 96.9 WOUR as they were spinning the long versions of songs... some of which were incidentally mentioned on the best of "Fresh Air." Terry re-ran interviews with Brian May of Queen and  Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. Thankfully the classic rock was readily accessible on the dial.
As I headed west I caught the Moth Radio Hour on WEOS which was also on WRVO though it was now far behind me. The Moth is only about a year old now, but what a strange hipster spoken-word sort of gig it is. There are a number of lesser known PRX programs like this that are really worthwhile.As I got to Rochester I tuned into WITR who was spinning Free Blood, a band I once interviewed and still truly dig.
Just today I spent a little time at 1370 WXXI-AM which is also the shared facilities for 88.5 WRUR, Classical 91.5 WXXI, 90.1 WITH in Ithaca, 90.3 WXXY.. and the TV side of course.  Their studios are some of the nicest I've ever been in. I had the opportunity to meet up with none other than the mighty Fybush himself and talk a little shop. If you don't read his North East RadioWatch —you should.