04 June 2013

I'm Back: Left of the Dial

Just flew in from the Pacific, and, boy, are my arms tired. Bah-dum.

Big adventures! Made the newspapers even. Had to call in the Coast Guard. Even a true cliff hanger. I'll fill you in about it later.

Driving in Hawaii, the first thing I did when I picked up my rental car (after consulting the map) was tune the FM dial to the left side and scroll around. My kids asked why I did this, and I realized that's what I always do—in fact, what I've always done. (They'd noticed. They know my music.) I've lived my radio life exclusively below 92.1. That's where you find college stations, independent non-commercial stations, jazz, classical, and NPR. This is probably news to precisely none of my U.S. readers.

Upon reflection, I can trace large chunks of my life by the stations I listened to at the time. For example, WXYC, the UNC student-run station, started when I was in Chapel Hill.

When I graduated from Carolina, I had no money to move to Kentucky, so I sold all my record albums (several hundreds) to finance it. Only in recent years—and thanks to the internets and a real job—have I been able to replenish my stock.

I didn't even have an FM radio (or a TV for that matter) during my time in grad schools in Louisville and Philly.

In NYC in 1985, I discovered WFMU by accident one Sunday afternoon—literally my first weekend in town—as it faded in on my then future wife's tuner. On the low end of the dial, I managed to pick up Bill Kelly's Teenage Wasteland as he read a story about Bat Boy from the now-defunct Weekly World News. (Apparently, the paper's still on-line here.) Rrrreaalll Rock 'n' Roll! The station which was then in East Orange, NJ, notoriously faded in and out in large parts of Manhattan. It was associated with the now-also-defunct Upsala College. Once I got my own office, I listened to it on those lonely all-nighters at the firm practicing law. Probably helped me maintain my sanity.

Another joy of living on the left of the dial is finding a great station out on the highway that plays interesting music, even if it's not your favorite. If you're ever driving through Western North Carolina, which I do quite often, and in need of an aural companion, one such station is WNCW 88.7 out of tiny Isothermal College in Spindale, NC, is a terrific broadcast station with a powerful signal.

Here, in the ATL, we've got a couple of decent stations affiliated with Georgia State (WRAS) and Georgia Tech (WREK). UGA (WUOG) has a station that cross-fades, unfortunately, in my area with a Christian (all-too-common here in the Bible Belt) station.

All by way of saying I found a cool free-form station in Hawaii: KTUH. It's student-run at UH-Manoa where Wisdomie will be enrolled this fall. Check it out.

What's your favorite station? (And let me hear from you folks in the UK and Australia. Where can I tune in to your coolest stations on-line?)


"sweet Georgia breezes..."


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I come from the other side of the tracks.

I used to listen to DC "album oriented rock" stations, and some in New Haven, but once I had a stereo, and then a cassette deck, that was the bomb.

Randal Graves said...

He's here all week people. Enjoy the SPAM.

Plenty o' Bill Peters' Metal on Metal show growing up on WUJC (hell, the only station that would actually play Obituary, plus recordings of live area shows), but lest the Duchess punch me in the skull, now I must say WCSB (which does have plenty of metalized radio action.)

Prunella Vulgaris said...

WCSB does rule muchly. and you can listen online to archived shows!