Monday, June 13, 2011

Show #59 June 11, 2011

This one's for Ronnie... and my friend Paul!

Ronnie- The Rubinoos Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About
Tell Her I'm Ill- The Freshies The Very Best Of
She's Leaving- The Flashcubes Bright Lights
Color Eyes- L.A. Burgers L.A. Burgers
Reduced- Tot Rocket & the Twins Reduced 45
Out Of Reach (Dreams)- The Know I Like Girls 7"
Frustrated- The Knack Get the Knack
The Law- Art Yard Boston Underground (1979-1982)
^Lies- The Thompson Twins Quick Step And Side Kick
Pain- Durango 95 Lose Control
First In Line- The Romantics Romantics And Friends-Midwest Pop Explosion
Sudden Fun- Sudden Fun Sudden Fun E.P. 7"
The Answer- Was You Sloan The Double Cross
Make You Love Me- The Sugar Stems Sweet Sounds of the.....
*Lies- Silver Sun Disappear Here
*Lies- Neats 1981-84 The Ace of Hearts Years
*Lies- Pointed Sticks Lies 7"
*Lies- Spys Midnight Riders 45
Fall To Sorrow- The Rifles Great Escape
Strange Man, Changed Man- Bram Tchaikovsky Strange Man/Changed Man
I'm The One- Tweezers Already!
Basket Case- The Windbreakers Time Machine (1982-2002)
Hurts Like Love- Helmet Boy Helmet Boy
Yes Or No- The Locals You Never Have Fun Single
>Lies- The Knickerbockers Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era
Moonlight- Cherry Vanilla Venus D' Vinyl

^Power Pop Peak: #30 Billboard Hot 100 1/22/83
*SacroSet: Songs Called "Lies"

>Power Pop Prototype: 1965

I hadn't seen my friend Paul in about ten years so I was very happy to get a text from him a few weeks back asking if we were free for a visit in June. It worked out that I had already booked studio time
during his stay so, for the first time, this week's show has a co-host. I met Paul in 1986 at WMJX in Boston. It was my first job out of college and Paul had spent the last few years paying his radio dues in Connecticut and New Jersey.

I've written before about WERS, the Emerson radio station I worked at all four years of college, but I don't think I've mentioned WECB, the closed circuit station only heard in the three dorms at the time: 100 Beacon, Fensgate and Charlesgate. I wasn't sure I'd get a spot on broadcast station WERS as a freshman, so I also applied at WECB. I was on the air the second week of school and did my last shift that December when I started hosting Niteklub on WERS. WECB was formatted like a commercial radio station with clocks, record rotations, jock liners, etc. There was only one spot each hour where the DJ could play a song of their own choosing. The funny thing is that many of the DJ's on closed circuit WECB sounded more professional than their counterparts on broadcast station WERS. The difference was that WECB was trying to train students for work in commercial radio while WERS' block programming schedule (folk in the morning, jazz and reggae in the afternoon, R and B and punk/new wave at night, with everything from showtunes to klezmer music on the weekend) required musicologists with presentation a secondary consideration.

The morning folk hosts on WERS aspired to the NPR delivery (think SNL's "Schweddy Balls" sketch) while the R and B DJ's at night strove for a smooth, commercial sound. Hosts in the other dayparts were a toss up. Dead air, stammering, low talking, mispronounced titles/artist names, records played at the wrong speed- every college radio cliche, you'd hear them all. I was not a very good announcer myself back then and tended to get a little monotone. I only
The Master
remember receiving one compliment on my presentation: that I was the "Bob Newhart of college radio." (Thinking back on it, perhaps it wasn't a compliment yet little could they know, I LOVE Bob Newhart.)  On the other hand, I knew the music backwards and forwards and it was great hearing from people who loved my musical choices. In fact, my friend Janet once said she would look for my initials on record cover play sheets when picking songs for her own show.

Every semester there would be a few kids with natural announcing skills (which is a talent, like any other) who would fake their way through an audition to get on WERS. Then they'd find themselves saddled with a three hour weekly jazz show, playing music they knew nothing about for a finicky audience that wasn't shy about sharing their displeasure over the phone. I would often hear older students advise these kids to go upstairs and work at WECB, but few did and after a semester or so they would drift off, perhaps never returning to radio. (It's ironic that as WERS' programming has become more structured over the years, WECB is now Emerson's "underground" student run radio station, having survived several attempts by the administration to pull the plug. In its current incarnation, WECB is an internet only station, which according to Wikipedia is "in a modest studio within the WERS suite." I've listened to this WECB and unfortunately it sounds like a schizophrenic's iPod on "shuffle.")

Anyway, my friend Paul, like those WECB kids back in the day, is one of those people with the voice and skills who grew up wanting to be on the radio. While most children play with toys or sing in the shower, I imagine a young Paul doing weather and traffic breaks- perhaps with an Old Spice microphone shaped soap on a rope. Rather than waiting for college to get on the radio like I did, Paul got his first announcing job at age 15, working for WSUB in Groton, CT where they made submarines for the navy. Aside from taking up smoking to help lower his voice, he had the right idea about starting a career in broadcasting.

Paul and I came to the business from different directions, yet a few years into our careers we both realized what we really wanted was to be program directors. While we had to do on-air shifts as part of our early PD jobs (Paul because he sounded great, me purely for budgetary reasons) it was a huge relief when we finally got off the air and could focus exclusively on programming. Our paths have diverged over the years, but we both continue to work in the industry- Paul as a content/prep provider and myself in research. Like me, Paul is a true believer in the power of local radio.

Here's the link to stream this week's show, to download right click and "Save Target As:"

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