Category Archives: radio

Lost Hits of the New Wave #29

“Bop ‘Til You Drop” by Rick Springfield

There was a time when Rick Springfield was cool, we may all want desperately to want to forget it, but it’s true. Memory is a tricky thing. We may want to remember Rick Springfield as bubble gum pop, but there was a time he was considered not only rock, but even a little tiny bit new wave. I heard “Jessie’s Girl” for the first time on WMMR, and follow-ups “Affair of the Heart,” and the two videos featured here, all on WYSP during their new music hour.

Rick Springfield was impossibly huge in the early 1980s, between his music career, appearances on “General Hospital,” and even a feature film Hard to Hold, before vanishing into semi-obscurity.

The truth is that he had been around a long time before his ‘overnight success,’ was a minor pop idol and even had his own Saturday morning cartoon in the 1970s. And after, he was the original “Forever Knight,” the original “Human Target,” and released what I think his best album, Tao.

I fully agree with my online friend DJ Marilyn Thomas, “Bop ‘Til You Drop” is a New Wave song, no matter what you say, you selective memory music heathens.

And then there’s this one…

“Human Touch” by Rick Springfield

Rocker trying desperately to be new wave in a music video, trying to capitalize on the odd music video fashions of the time, pretending it’s the future, and looking uncomfortable the whole time – check. For a long time, this was what music videos looked like. At least it’s not…

“You Got Lucky” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Wow, the future looked kinda bleak in the early 1980s…

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Satellite Radio Reshuffling

A couple weeks ago one of my favorite satellite radio channels, Book Radio, disappeared, replaced with something called Rural Radio.

Here’s the official word from SiriusXM Radio: “As of July 15, SiriusXM Book Radio is no longer available on SiriusXM, but our commitment to books and authors remains high across many channels. Classic radio theater and stories continue on RadioClassics (SiriusXM channel 82), and audiobooks air on our “Late Night Read” show at night on SiriusXM Stars (SiriusXM channel 106).”

I would much rather have had a 24/7 channel dedicated to audiobooks, but at least something of what once was still exists in some form. Of course, that’s not the only worry I have had of late about satellite radio.

Those of you who know me, or are regular readers here, know that I am a huge Coast to Coast AM fan. Or at least a huge fan of some of the show’s content and some of its hosts. Due to ClearChannel and SiriusXM parting ways, C2CAM will be leaving satellite some time in August. Despite my problems with its content, it is, along with Opie & Anthony and Radio Classics, among others, one of the major reasons I subscribed to satellite radio to begin with.

My worries are over. This week, Art Bell, the original host of Coast, and innovator of that now much-copied radio format, has announced his return from retirement. Not only that, he will be returning to the microphone on SiriusXM Indie Talk Channel 104. Outside of C2CAM actually returning to its glory days, original programming, and hosts, this is a win-win situation for me. The show begins September 16th.

I’m happy, and I won’t miss George Noory falling asleep, doing crossword puzzles, or just not paying attention to a guest on air at all.

Let Coast Be Coast

We’ve talked about my radio habits and obsession here before. Up until I got satellite radio, I still enjoyed exploring the AM dial in the middle of the night. Some time in the late nineties I discovered Art Bell and Coast to Coast AM.

This was more than a year before Art finally came to Philadelphia, syndicated on 1210 AM. I remember an intriguing and heated discussion about UFOs and alien abductions. I also remember that night getting out of my warm bed to log on the computer at around three in the morning to see the artist’s rendering of the aliens, you know, a visual to go with the audio. Yeah, I was hooked, and have been for close to fifteen years.

Mostly I was delighted to find talk radio that was not about politics. I could hear that nonsense anywhere and any time. I like different in my talk radio. It’s probably why I have been attracted to things like Howard Stern, Opie and Anthony, Dr. Ruth, Dr. Drew, radio dramas, audiobooks, and Joe Frank. Coast to Coast AM was definitely different.

I was overjoyed when the program found its Philly home and was a faithful listener almost every night. My insomnia proved helpful in that endeavor. Night after night I listened to a myriad of guests and topics, always in the realm of the paranormal. That was Coast’s forte. If you wanted intelligent (and sometimes not so) discussion about ufology, cryptozoology, mythology, pseudoscience, conspiracy theories or anything involving the odd or surreal, Coast to Coast AM was for you.

There’s a lot that can said about the host Art Bell. Surrounded by rumor and conspiracy himself, he was and is a consummate radio professional. No matter the insanity or unlikeliness of the guest or caller, he was always fair, entertaining, and at the top of his game. There are few talk radio hosts as sharp and composed as Art Bell.

Due to personal issues, Art has had to retire from radio and the show several times – the final time was in the late 2000s. He has been replaced the last time by George Noory. George is quite talented himself, but every time I hear an old Art show, it becomes quite obvious how inferior the replacement is to the original host. He never challenges guests or listeners, is often uninformed, and frequently seems inattentive or not even listening to guests and callers.

Noory also seems to have a problem with open lines. He doesn’t do it that often. Anyone who knows talk radio knows that it’s not about the host, it’s about the callers. Art knew this, and his regular technique was to not screen callers as is usually done – he just put them on the air. Often open lines was the best part of the old Coast to Coast AM. Since George has come in board, there also seems a shift in topic, more toward politics, and current events. I’m not happy with that at all.

The two biggest nights of the year on Coast to Coast AM are New Year’s Eve and Halloween. On New Year’s Eve they take psychic predictions for the upcoming year, and on Halloween, the show becomes ‘Ghost to Ghost’ as callers tell ghost stories. I love Ghost to Ghost. However, it too has gone downhill in recent years. Noury screens the calls, taking away the spontaneity, as well as the need to think on his feet, I suppose.

This year, last night, Noory even cut short the program by taking up the first hour with news, and an interview with a security expert. Seriously? Real Coast to Coast topics are rare enough recently, and now you’re truncating the best show of the year??

It’s no wonder that other radio programs similar to the original Coast to Coast AM, like Ground Zero with Clyde Lewis and A View from Space, are growing in popularity and Coast is falling. Politics and current events can be heard anywhere on the dial, the topics that made Coast great can not. I want my show back.

Please! Let Coast be Coast!

Dick Clark 1929-2012

We have lost another legend today. Media mogul, television entertainer, TV producer, game show host, disc jockey, and just all around nice guy Dick Clark passed away in surgery today after suffering a massive heart attack. America’s oldest teenager has passed away.

I never missed “American Bandstand,” from before I can remember to probably past my college days when it ended, I watched every week. I was a music addict, took my radio everywhere, and in a pre-internet world, “American Bandstand” was the place where the current artists, the new acts, and the about-to-happen phenoms appeared. Everyone was on “Bandstand,” and everyone was interviewed, if only briefly, by Dick Clark. If you made it to the show, you knew you had made it.

Now “Bandstand” was a gigantic part of his career, it wasn’t everything the man had going on. He was a prolific television producer, creating shows like the “Pyramid” game shows, “TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes,” “The American Music Awards” and “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” the last of which has become an American tradition. For decades Clark braved the cold to watch the ball drop, and more recently, after his stroke, America tuned in to see him just make an appearance, just to see how he was. Yeah, we, as a nation, cared how this man was doing. That says a lot.

Clark created and produced numerous TV programs including various game shows, talk shows and even prime time drams. He owned a chain of restaurants and theatresHe was also a disc jockey here in Philadelphia before “Bandstand” came along, which was also born in Philly. As I said, we have lost a legend today, Dick Clark will be missed.

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Lost Hits of the New Wave #12

“Living on the Borderline” by Smash Palace

In our last two entries in this series, I talked about Quincy and Lulu Temple. Let’s consider this part three.

Smash Palace was the final edition of this band, and rumor has it they are still around from time to time.

“Living on the Borderline” was released in 1985 and I heard it out in clubs, and on other college radio stations in the area.

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Don’t Call Dr. Beat, or Anyone Else

At this point, I have about five dozen games downloaded for free from the PlayStation Store. I wish I knew about this option before I ever went to the real bricks and mortar store to buy games, or had friends lend me games. As it stands, I haven’t touched any of the purchases or lenders in months – I’m just playing free downloads. Burnout CRASH! is just one of them.

Burnout CRASH! is a racing game that is apparently part of Criterion Games’ Burnout videogame series. I liked it immediately because it had old music (“Crash” by the Primitives circa 1988) for this old man, and that’s a plus. The tunage was powered by Autolog, some kind of online gaming thing. They wanted me to buy into it, but I passed – I’m spoiled by all this free downloaded games.

At first glance, Burnout CRASH! appears to be what I like most about Smash Cars and the GTA games (and what I really wanted to like about Incredible Hulk) – smashing stuff. There is however a whole lotta introduction and directions. With so many rules, all the fun was being sucked out of this game more and more. Now I know I’ve complained about lack of directions before, but for a game where the point is to break stuff, it just seemed like far too much. Most infuriating of all was the voice of the stereotype west coast radio DJ constantly asking, “What are you waiting for?” That pissed me off.

The game itself is simple despite multiple unending instructions. You crash into an intersection with your car, and then blow up repeatedly, trying to cause as much collateral damage as possible. Sounds simple, right? Maybe I’m just not playing it right.

Just when I was convinced I couldn’t be annoyed much more, I hear the song “Dr. Beat” by the Miami Sound Machine from the dark disco days before they let Gloria Estefan take more control. It’s one of those songs that made folks hate disco. It made me hate disco. The tune plays whenever an ambulance comes onto the screen – which is a lot.

Take that, couple it with five to ten minutes of introduction, along with five to ten minutes of tallying my score, and I’m just angry. Why can’t the game just let me break stuff in peace? And you know what even makes me more angry? I can play this game. I can operate the controller on this one. Too bad I’m not playing it any more. As of now, it becomes one of The Rejected. It made me too mad.

Lost Hits of the New Wave #10

“Turn the Other Way Around” by Quincy

You know all that 1970s movies and television about teenagers in high school just hanging out? You know how every kid represented a stereotype or a character type? There was always the one geeky kid who was carrying a radio or sometimes even an early boombox whose entire life revolved around that radio? Yeah, that was me circa 1979-1980 and later unfortunately. It’s true, I was almost “Angie Baby.”

I used to play this game with my friends, where they would turn the dial from one end of the FM band to the other, stopping at each broadcasting station, and if it was music, I would have to, and usually could name the song title, the artist, and sometimes the album. So yeah, there was a time when I was a vast storehouse of useless knowledge for not just comics, but also pop music.

That running from band end to band end made me discover a whole new world before 92.5 FM (at the time WIFI, a top 40 outlet), – college radio. One of the first new bands I heard on these buried treasure radio stations playing music I had never heard before was local band Quincy.

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The End of an Era

Yesterday WYSP-FM changed their format and call letters to all sports and WIP-FM. I’m not a big sports fan other than Wings lacrosse and sometimes the Philadelphia Eagles or Dallas Cowboys (you know where to send the hate mail), I think it’s unfair for me to ask why we need another sports station in Philly, but there it is, ya know? It’s not the first time WYSP has changed formats, but never so drastic a change before.

I grew up with WYSP, from when I first became aware of FM radio in the mid-seventies to when I fell away from terrestrial radio a few years back and discovered the more eclectic satellite radio. In the radio wasteland of Philadelphia, WYSP was always the cooler, hipper choice when compared to direct rival WMMR and distant competitor WIOQ. I envisioned stoned ex-hippies at the former and future NPR listeners at the latter, whereas WYSP listeners seemed like either myself, or folks I wanted to hang out with. WYSP always had the new, newer and newest music and trends.

WYSP was originally the FM version of AM pop/rock station WIBG, and its call letters stood for “Your Station in Philadelphia.” It started rocking in the early 1970s and quickly became WMMR’s biggest competition. As I mentioned, WYSP always seemed to have newer music and harder rock than WMMR. Those that listened could usually tell the difference with hearing a DJ or a station ID. WYSP was the first place I heard DEVO, Adam and the Ants, the Sex Pistols, Joan Armatrading, and even Rick Springfield.

When WYSP had news, it was cool news, same with the talk. I remember the Source days with Cyndy Drue, the Dr. Demento show and the Comedy Hour on Sunday nights. I remember the engineer who did the dead-on Mr. Rogers imitation and recorded versions of “Cat Scratch Fever” and “Iron Man.” I remember Ask Anita. I remember listening to “Innerview” with Jim Ladd, as he talked with Roger Waters about what “The Wall” was really about, and when he interviewed Ray Manzarek telling apocryphal tales of the late Jim Morrison. I remember learning of John Lennon’s death from WYSP.

I remember the Howard Stern years, along with the Opie and Anthony years. I remember the two weeks after 9/11 when WYSP was all talk, taking calls from listeners twenty-four hours a day and letting them vent, grieve or just talk. This is not as sad as that, but it like losing a lifetime friend. Even if I haven’t seen you in a while, you were a friend. I will miss you, WYSP, and so will all of Philadelphia and the surrounding area. Goodbye, old friend…

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Potato Patch Animals

Eddie Fisher 1928-2010

Eddie Fisher passed away yesterday from complications of hip surgery.  He was 82. 

Fisher was a singer and actor on radio and television, but he was probably better known for what he did in his personal life.  Fisher married five times.  Among his wives were Elizabeth Taylor, Connie Stevens and Debbie Reynolds.  Actress Carrie Fisher is his daughter from that last marriage. 

His recording career was huge and he ruled the charts until some guy named Elvis Presley came along.  He will be missed. 

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