Media’s Cock Roach

Living in Trump’s dystopian nation (if you haven’t ingested the Kool-Aid), sometimes you can forget that this American life sometimes delivers treats, too.

Last week, it was #InternationalClashDay. This afternoon, while listening to Maine Calling, hosted by Maine media vet, Jennifer Rooks, I found out it’s #WorldRadioDay. Hot damn! I love radio, so why not celebrate the hell out of the day? The verdict of Rooks and her guests was that radio’s still going strong and will continue to survive.

I grew up when you could still hear rock and roll on the AM dial. Now it’s the domain of conservative talk dirges and hosts positing an alternative version of America vastly different than the one I grew up in. Wanna’ make America great again? Flush Rush from the airwaves and play some music!

Happy families listen to the radio.

When I’m home and working, I stream music via several dial-based stations that I can’t pick up in Maine. This is one of the wonders of the internet and technology in my opinion. Here are my top four.

  • KEXP (Seattle, Washington)
  • WMFU (East Orange, New Jersey)
  • WMBR (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
  • WMPG (Portland, ME)

I can pull in WMPG’s signal on my stereo receiver and of course, in my car. I am a fan of their weekday afternoon “rock blocks,” especially Wednesday’s Radio Junk Drawer, with David Pence. More and more, I’m apt to be streaming KEXP most afternoons that aren’t Wednesday.

Both WMBR and WFMU archive all their shows (as does WMPG), and I have certain shows on their program schedule that I’ll seek out and listen after they’ve been broadcast.

One of Rooks’ guests (I think it was Paul Jacobs) called radio, a “cock roach media.” I loved this descriptor.

If you know anything about cockroaches, you know that they’re damned hard to exterminate. There’s a long-running meme that cock roaches would be able to withstand a nuclear blast. I guess that makes them the ideal mascot for our age, especially given our “supreme leader’s” itchy trigger finger.

I found a couple of articles online referencing “cock roach media,” here and here.

One of the points made towards the end of the show cited a study that apparently indicates that radio listeners are happier with radio than they are with Zuckerberg’s invention. I can see why that would be. Radio is easy, and if you avoid Rush Limbaugh, most broadcast radio brings enjoyment. If it doesn’t, you can simply visit another spot on the dial. The study I found, done in the UK, is somewhat dated. I’m guessing the results wouldn’t be much different if done today, in the U.S. But I might be wrong.

I’ll just keep on listening to the radio,radio.

Rattled by the Rush

I try not to get too nostalgic for the past. Lately, though, I’ve been thinking of a time—back before Google, and their quest to turn our brains into a hunk of Swiss cheese. Was it a better time? I don’t know. There were certainly positives. Oh, I know—thou shalt not speak evil of any technology! And believe it or not, there was life and a social scene before Facebook—arguably a richer one.

A reminder of that time came the other morning, listening to WMBR’s “Boomerang” program, sliding back into some 90s post-punk that I know and love. Erik Morrison is a DJ who once a week (on Tuesday mornings) spends an hour time-traveling back to the days before MP3 players,iTunes, and nearly everyone who is under the age of 25, walking around with earbuds jammed in their ears, oblivious to the world around them. Track lists mattered and artists cared about things like the sequence of 10 or more songs, crafted to fit alongside each other on an album. Granted, we’d transitioned from tapes to CDs, but indie rock still meant independent of corporate control. Obviously, that’s long gone and we’re not in Kansas (or Columbia, Missouri) anymore. Continue reading

Music by Year

Another 12 months have passed. I recapped my reading during that period on Tuesday with my list of books. As I mentioned in that post, 2014 was a decent year for me as a writer with a new book, and host of bylined articles for a variety of publications.

When I’m writing, I like to listen to music—not always—but more often than not. What I enjoy listening to remains eclectic. I’m not sure I could assign a category to all of it. However, I’ve stayed true to a musical genre that I first latched onto following leaving behind theological structures that weren’t working for me. This was back in 1984. Then, my radio oasis was a commercial station in Chicago, WXRT, that played a pretty wide selection of music and bands. I first heard Husker Dü on their station, along with fellow Minneapolis rockers, the Replacements. Their late-night Friday night program, “The Big Beat,” opened me up to all kinds of new music with dissident elements, including Billy Bragg. Continue reading

If 6 Was 9

Most mornings, I’m up and at my laptop working at 5:00 am. Being a notoriously light sleeper, I find the best time to work for me, and when my energy is at its peak, is between then and around 2:00 or 3:00 pm. So, in order to leverage my strengths, that’s how I usually structure my days, at least when I don’t have outside responsibilities or appointments that prevent me from doing so. That’s how I roll as a free agent.

When I’m working, I enjoy listening to music, usually on headphones or through ear buds. It’s a habit I’ve developed so I don’t disturb Miss Mary when she’s down below, working in her office area, before she’s out and about making sales calls.

My music sources of choice are usually radio stations (rather than music services like Pandora, although I’m not averse to Pandora) that also stream their content. One of my favorites is WMBR, which is the MIT campus radio station. I think I’ve come to appreciate WMBR more than prior defaults like WFMU and KEXP, is that their early morning Breakfast of Champions and Late Risers Club slots during the weekday provide a mix of punk, post-punk, and current indie pop and rock that jives with my eclectic tastes and the desire to stay as current with the rock genre as I can now that I’m post-50 and no longer young.

The Jimi Hendrix-Hamburg, Germany, 1967.

The Jimi Hendrix-Hamburg, Germany, 1967.

Continue reading

Fridays Are For Music

The JBE loves music. Aspects of the JBE brand are embedded with and influenced by many DIY aspects inherent in music from both the punk and post-punk eras of rock music history.

I still listen to “what’s new” via streaming audio, most often, KEXP, based in Seattle, WMBR (based at MIT), especially Saturday’s James Dean Death Car Experience, and WFMU, one of America’s last free-form radio stations, what’s become an oddity in this age of corporate media consolidation. Continue reading