Thursday, June 28, 2007

What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?

In the old days (two weeks ago), I got 14 minutes a day with broadcast radio, during the drive to and from the ferry. For the northeastern liberal who favors the AAA format, there were generally two or three choices: WAMC, the regional public radio station, which at those times is playing Morning Edition with some regional news thrown in (or, if I caught the later ferry, I got the regional forecast by Mike Landin out of SUNY Albany’s Earth & Atmospheric Sciences Department; it’s like driving with a scientist), and there was...

Make that one choice.

NOW...hoo-boy! There’s 107.1 — “The Peak” — out of White Plains, playing, you know, rock, but not classic rock and not “world class” rock (update: I'm wrong, it IS "world class rock.") There’s WFUV, Fordham University’s folksy AAA station, interrupted occasionally by actual Fordham University sporting events, which, I mean please, really, who cares (and my sister went to Fordham, but still). Also interrupted occasionally by Steely Dan and/or Steve Miller, puh-extra-leeeze. And then there's WNYC, New York's public radio station.

It's possible that nothing strikes closer to the upstate/downstate, Hudson Valley/Manhattan vibe than the NYC/AMC dichotomy. (Then again, it's possible that the economic differences between Jamestown and Scarsdale come close.) To illustrate the difference between WNYC and WAMC, let me try this. Take Alan Chartock on the one hand, and Soterios Johnson on the other. It's like Bugs Bunny versus Felix Unger. Jimmy Cagney versus Ralph Fiennes. Woody Guthrie versus Frank Sinatra, but also, ALSO, Frank Sinatra versus Bing Crosby. Oat bran versus pudding. Soil/marble. Wood floors/tile floors. WHAT MORE DO I HAVE TO SAY?


8 comments:

wcs said...

What is "world class rock" anyway ? How is it different from national class rock ? Is there state class rock ?

Do people in places other than the US (say, for example, Britain) understand when their rock is world class or only UK class ?

I used to live in a medium sized western city (known for being ultra liberal. You know, the one with the cable cars) that desperately wanted everything within its borders to be "world class." Its hotels, its restaurants, its transit system.

I got news : the world ain't that classy a place. What's next ? Solar System class rock ?

Rant over.

Bill Braine said...

Rock taxonomy is a growing field. You've got your Classic Rock, your Best New Rock, your World Class Rock, Active Rock, Album Oriented Rock, Alternative Rock, Modern Rock, and you think I'm kidding, BUT.

And then of course there's Igneous, Sedimentary, Metamorphic.

Susan said...

So that's how you spell Soterios? Huh.

claudia said...

i actually heard steve earle "home to houston" on that rhinebeck station yesterday.

psmealey said...

Seems to me that World Class Rock would have to have a fair representation of rock from other than Anglophone countries. So what do you get? The Scorpions, Kraftwerk, Rammstein, Bettie Serveert, Gluecifer, A-ha and ABBA? Didn't Stereolab have a French member?

evenfurtherupstate said...

When I lived in the Metro-NYC area I thought the radio options sucked. I'm just not into hip-hop and I simply don't speak Spanish (other than the few phrases I remember from my HS Spanish classes and what I've been able to glean from my 2 year old son's obsession with Dora the Explorer) and there were literally no rock stations at all -- world class or otherwise. As a result I listened only to WFUV -- I don't think I ever heard them play Steve Miller, and hey, what's wrong with Steely Dan? Whatever happened to 101.5, WPDH, the home of rock 'n' roll? I think they'd now fit into the "Classic Rock" genre, but in the early 80s, it was just rock. I guess if they haven't changed the playlist in 20+ years, that makes them sedimentary rock -- or do I mean to say "sedentary" rock?

LetterB said...

Dude, Mike Landin is the bomb.

Bill Braine said...

WPDH might be forgiven their occasional forays into Rush and an overload of Zeppelin, but they can never, ever be forgiven for airing the morning DJ who sounds like he woke up with a mouthful of dog vomit and then rushed into work without brushing his teeth. I swear, this guy's voice makes me gag, like, you know when you have a phlegm bubble in the back of your throat and you clear your throat and it sorta hangs on an extra minute and you sound a little like Harvey Fierstein and a little like Kermit the frog? That's how this guy sounds, only like it's not his phlegm.

And what's wrong with Steely Dan? Why, nothing, really. Steely Dan is just fine. I may not seek out those metallic-sounding vocals, but I know they're lauded for their precision and tightly cohering harmonics. I guess there's just no accounting for k taste. Oh, by the way, goat balls.