Thursday, December 20, 2012

News and Reviews 2012

I've been blogging Arcane Radio Trivia since April of 2005. As of this date, that works out to more than  1,900 posts. It's a time-consuming hobby.  2012 has been a good year for this radio man. I was interviewed by a French audiophile magazine, Discuts. I've digitized dozens of acetates. Two of my cranky letters to Radio World were published. I read several dozen books. I learned a lot more HTML. A year has passed. So the time have come to reflect and review.  It's a good time to look at my previous top 10s, and "Best Of" lists.You can see previous years lists at the links below:
Best Posts: 
My favorites are never my readers favorites. I was recently got name-checked at the Society of Lathe Trolls (which is an honor and a privilege) for one of my weekly acetate rips. I really liked my post about Alan Freed and the artist genuinely known as Moondog. I also liked the post on WKDU vs. WPWT vs. WEXP, because it was a bit of Philly radio history. I also posted a much more detailed history of broadcasts from trains because I got called out on a technicality. I also had the pleasure and honor of blogging my own grandfather's radio history in two segments, here and here.

Most Popular Posts:
I had an unexpected bump from Reddit this year which had a bit of a long tail as other sites recycled their content including my link. It totally rearranged what posts were popular, and continues to feed me a river of web traffic. So that Reddit link and it's after effects produced over 100,000 hits, over half of which happened within about 24 hours beginning on June 27th. It was re-blogged by several sites including "Did You Know?" a Tumbler site, the Straight Dope message board, Josh Withers, and several others. It led to increased hits on related pages and a generally higher level since. This redefined "popular" for my blog. My average daily hits since then are up 5k. This all because of a post I wrote on peter Tripp in 2009.

Best Music Blogs
I still read Built on a Weak Spot, more often than I read the Newspaper.  I'd also like to note that  Aversion Online was a rock solid resource until writer Andrew went on hiatus. I hope for his triumphant return. I think every new CD/vinyl and download I bought in the last few years was because of these two blogs.

Best Radio Station:
This year I'm picking the College of Staten Island radio station 88.9 WSIA. Hurricane Sandy dealt a harsh  blow to the whole Metropolitan New York area. Worst hit were probably Hoboken and Staten Island. WSIA is the only radio station local to Staten Island, and they like most took some damage.  Their  transmitter site took severe damage in the storm, but their campus opened it's doors to the beleaguered residents of Staten Island.  We all hope for their swift return. Also laudable is WCPR the Cable & webcast station at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken.Other stations, including WFMU took a hit as well but they are in a much better position fiscally to recover.

Best Radio Show:
Tin Pan Alley on WDVR. What an odd little program this is. Host Barbara Zentner plays pop music from 1920s through the 1950s with an ear for oddities and a mind for themes and lost causes. She truly has made a format of all the record I always toss after buying a lot wholesale. Somehow she ties it all together like some kind of mad crate-digging anthropologist. More here.

Best Record Store:
Willimantic Records was so good that I bought their T-shirt. They have vinyl, classic punk, used CDs, a nice book section, xylophones, shirts, magazines, and of course... 78s. You can't beat that.

Best Zine
It's more of a weekly than a zine, but this year I have to give it to the New Miami Times for their high brow writing on voter suppression, mosquito borne diseases, Art & Vinyl and a feature on the zombie apocalypse. It sounds like fiction but you should have heard the AM band down there light up when that dude ate that other dude's face. It made great reading while trapped in a Pinecrest hotel room. they are a sister publication to the Village Voice and a fine read.

Top 10 Records of 2012
1. Pile - Dripping
2. Metz - Metz
3. Killing Joke - MMXII
4. Staer - Staer 
5. Teenanger - Frights
6. Future of the Left - The Plot Against Common Sense
7. Crocodiles - Endless Flowers
8. Gay Witch Abortion - Opportunistic Smoke Screen Behavior
9. Fast Citizens - Gather
10. Thy Art Is Murder - Hate

Honorable mentions: Tendril - Smear, Sky:lark - 2012 demos, Father John Misty – Fear Fun, Desaparecidos - Marikkkopa 7-inch, Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel, Deftones - Koi No Yokan, Anchor 3 - Whir, The Soupcans – Good Feelings,Various Artists - The Reverb Conspiracy,  The Algorithm - Polymorphic Code
, Ruiner - Whores, Hawks - Rub, Noxious Foxes - Leggings, Converge: All We Love We Leave Behind, Old Man Gloom - No.


  1. I have a suggestion that would probably fit "arcane" radio history -- and if you've already done this, please give me the link to it:

    During the early history of a Crosley-owned AM station, WJW in Ohio, the owner got permission to increase the power, which had unusual effects on the surrounding area.

    Most or all people:
    -- received WJW broadcasts whenever they turned on the faucets (water + metal?);
    -- those with porches that had metal railings and (hollow) posts claimed that they could sit outside on summer nights and listen to the radio coming from everywhere and nowhere.

    Some people's physical make-up + metal caused unusual reactions:
    -- some people's tooth fillings received broadcasts that reverberated inside their bodies (sounds like that Gilligan's Island episode);
    -- some women couldn't wear certain metal earrings (and probably metal jewelry in general);
    -- some people would begin to receive radio broadcasts whenever they lay down on the bed to go to sleep (metal box springs), and would have to suffer until the station signed off for the evening.

    This would be about the time in the station's history that WJW began receiving fan letters from Europe regarding their nighttime sign-off program (which I think was called "Moon River"), because their signal would bounce over the ocean after sunset.

    Years ago, there was a site that quoted personal accounts as well as documented the WJW history of this strange period, but I have not been able to find it again -- my guess is that it's long gone. If I remember correctly, the site also mentioned there was a book in progress, but I haven't been able to find anything on that, either.

    I've asked people from Ohio, but they'd never heard of this situation before.

    If this topic isn't interesting to you, but you know somewhere on the Web that has the personal recollections and/or substantial documentation, could you direct me to it? I'd really appreciate it.

  2. I forgot to add:
    There was some theorizing on the site which considered the geography, lack of tall buildings, lack of excessive electrical interference, and other things (climate?) that could allow these things to happen on such a wide scale to so many people -- there are isolated incidents of people receiving radio broadcasts on tooth fillings, etc.

    As far as I know, it didn't happen here in New York City (and there were powerful NY AM stations at that time).

    I'm relying on memory, so I don't remember everything that was covered on the site. I hope that was enough to help you in case you want to research it.

  3. I wrote about that back in 2005:

    The short version is that any rectifier will do. It's just a diode.

  4. He's probably thinking of WLW in Cincinnati and not WJW in Cleveland. WLW had increased power to 500,000 watts and later was restricted to 50,000 watts in the late 30s.

    Great blog. I don't always get to read all of it, but I have perused some really interesting posts here. Keep up the good work.