This series of posts covers my long, beloved history interacting with the medium of radio, including the music that flowed through the airwaves.
When I showed up at my college radio station, the music was still predominantly played off of vinyl records. There was a CD player mounted in the booth and a few stray discs stacked haphazardly on a shelf, but the bulk of the library, including every new release, was still on larger, black circles that locked a needle into a groove. And those albums were of course housed in jackets, providing all sorts of surface area for the station’s music director to paste information that might be of use to on-air personnel as they sorted through these mysterious offerings from obscure bands, hoping to find an irresistible new favorite.
Perhaps no method was more useful than taking the smart, compact, enthusiastic reviews printed in CMJ, the trade publication that served college radio, and taping them right to the front of the album. Always hungry for more information about the artists I was playing, I used to pore over those reviews, giving them more studious attention than the homework that I set aside to spend my hours filling up the airwaves. Even now, I long for music reviews with the same cadence as those CMJ pieces, artfully mixing act history, recording context, descriptions of sound shifts, and usually capping off with a listing of the four or five strongest cuts. They made for fine introductions.
Previous entries in this series can be found by clicking on the “Radio Days” tag.