Talkin’ Baseball

Quick, name as many songs as you can about baseball.  You have ten seconds.  Time’s up!  How many did you come up with?  If you have a copy of the CD Baseball’s Greatest Hits, you could probably rattle off a couple dozen (and that’s without including “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”).

Songs about baseball are about as old as baseball itself, and there are new songs being written about baseball today.  The Baseball Project is a band that’s been around since the mid-2000s.  You might have heard of some of its members: Peter Buck, Mike Mills (both formerly R.E.M.), Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows), Steve Wynn (formerly Dream Syndicate) and Linda Pitmon.  They’ve just released their third CD with songs about baseball.  A few days ago, I heard the song “They Played Baseball” and dug it.  It’s hard to go wrong with lyrics like “John Rocker was a dumbass” and its Dylan-esque vibe.

I should probably remind you that it’s time to adjust your radios to hear your favorite team play.  Yankees fans can hear the games on 660 AM or 101.9 FM WFAN.  Mets fans will need to tune into 710 AM WOR.

Online Alternatives

With the reemergence of alternative radio in Chicago on 101.1 FM (WKQX), this has left some wondering when will New York get its alt-rock radio station back.  Cumulus already yanked our chain once when they (temporarily) put the WRXP call letters on 94.7 FM, then turned it into country formatted NASH-FM.  101.9 FM turned into sports talk in November 2012, and since that time, many listeners have turned to online stations and other oases for modern rock fans.  Here’s a look at some of the options out there:

The Alternate Side (also available on WFUV 90.7 HD3 and WNYE 91.5) – Curated by the folks at WFUV, it’s one of the few. non-jukebox HD radio stations on the air.  In addition to broadcasting on HD radio and streaming 24/7, they broadcast on WNYE weekday mornings on the main WFUV signal each weeknight at 10pm.

ALTROK (also available on WBJB 90.5 HD2) – New and classic modern rock for the Jersey Shore, picking up where the old 106.3 FM WHTG left off.

Flashback Alternatives – New and classic modern rock, streaming online.

Intensely Modern - Alternative music from the 1990s to today.  Don’t forget to say “hello” to Bruce. :-D

RadioIO New Rock 1019 - Well, this looks familiar!  When WRXP left the airwaves (for the second time) in 2012, they turned into an online only radio station.  Here is where they currently reside.

WLIR.FM - Anyone familiar with 92.7 WLIR will already know what this station is about.  Classic alternative from the 1980s right up to the present day, and familiar voices that made history on the original WLIR/WDRE.

Have I left out your favorite station?  Please post it in the comments.

The Importance of Radio Announcers

This post came to me in a dream.  Let’s see how it works out.

There was a time when the announcer, or DJ, was one of the major components that drew listeners to a music radio station.  Sure, the music itself was a part of that, but the DJ, the human element, the person who told you about the music you heard, was glue that held everything together. This was something that Casey Kasem figured out long ago.  He knew that he was playing many of the same songs every week on American Top 40, but it was the stories about the songs he told that kept listeners coming back.  Fans of Musicradio 77 WABC remember the many witticisms of Dan Ingram.  So what if the station played Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” 1 for the umpteenth time, Dan would say something good in a minute or so.  This was all well and good for the 1960s and 1970s.

At the beginning of the 1980s, many held Scott Shannon in the same regard as Dan Ingram.  Shannon was a forerunner to the “morning zoo” format, a feature that would be copied across the country that same decade.  As a “zookeeper, ” he surrounded himself with entertaining characters that kept the morning show moving along, in and out of the music playlist. 2   This kind of entertaining talk was restricted to mornings, leaving the rest of the day for more music and less chatter.  Fast forward a few decades to today 2014, and we still hear this “more music” mantra.

Earlier this month, Scott Shannon retired from WPLJ.  By no means is he retiring from radio, as he has indicated that he will return to radio in some capacity in the near future.  It could be satellite, could be terrestrial, and he will continue to handle his duties on his True Oldies Channel… but where will tomorrow’s human voices come from?  If anywhere?  And who will talk about them over the 21st century equivalent of the water cooler?

Shannon was one of the last big personalities from the 1980s.  Since that time, station programmers have been going by this more music plus less talk formula, but where has the human element gone?  Will someone step up become the future Scott Shannon?  Or has that future been written off?

Do we really want a computerized display, a la Spotify or Pandora, flashing facts about the song currently playing?  Or would we rather hear someone telling us stories, and make a real connection with the human audience?  I know which one I would want.

Footnotes:

1. A song I continue to despise to this day.

2. Shannon’s morning zoo sounded very similar to what Don Imus was doing at the time, at least to me, so I didn’t find Shannon’s show much of a draw.

Another End of an Era

Absolute Radio branded cushion
Absolute Radio branded cushion (Photo credit: Abi Skipp)

A post in the WLIR Facbook group reminded me that ten years ago today, January 9th, WLIR signed off 92.7 FM.  It was a rather sad day, knowing that new music wouldn’t be heard on 92.7 anymore.

After that happened, I’ve found a number of radio stations online that seemed to fill the void, like Absolute Radio.  However, I’ve recently found out that Absolute Radio is no longer making their stream available outside the UK:

The firm said in a statement: “We do care about our [international] listeners, of course, but we are a broadcaster funded entirely by UK advertising derived from UK listening. It is, therefore, very unfortunately, not economically viable for us to continue to meet the cost of providing non-UK streams”.

Even before 2004, Absolute Radio was streaming their audio for the entire world.  Back then, they were called Virgin Radio.  I remember streaming the station in the late 1990s, before streaming music was as common as it is today.  After being able to stream this station for many, many years, it saddens me that I won’t be able to stream it anymore.  It was great while it lasted, but now it’s time to stream something else.

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I write things down, and you sometimes read them.

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