Friday, March 27, 2015

Overheard at the Counter: Alternative Radio

Verble: Years ago, in the 80s in this small city I was living in, while I was winding down the last few years making my second wife miserable enough to finally divorce me, there wasn't much really going on for me in my life.  Then I found this radio station.  It was fantastic, it was a true independent radio station, and it gave me that same excitement I'd had as a kid, with my old radio trying all night to dial in radio stations - looking for Rock Around the Clock and That's All Right Mama.

The Barista: Rock Around the Clock?

Verble: Yes, Rock Around the Clock.

The Barista: My God, how old ARE you?

Verble: Old enough to remember when children were chained up in the public square for asking questions like that.   Anyway, on this station you could hear Hank Thompson and then Motorhead, then The Replacements followed by Tito Puente.  They'd have dance then calypso then outlaw country, some Grandmaster Flash. They'd even through in some conjunto and polka. Late at night they'd go World, basically playing nothing in English all night long.   Sometimes they would even, in between songs, run old radio spots, some announcements from WW2, 50s radio commercials, even entire episodes of The Shadow.   Best song I ever heard on there was something from someone called Bongos Bass and Bob, "Thorazine Shuffle."  Never heard that song again and still can't find it today.

The Barista:  Sounds like your own personal musical nirvana.

Verble:  Yeah.   Station lasted only about two months.   One day I turned it on and it had been bought out by Top 40.   The instant I heard Starship's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" I knew that alternative radio was dead, dead, dead.

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