Radio Days — Certain Damage

This series of posts covers my long, beloved history interacting with the medium of radio, including the music that flowed through the airwaves.

During my college radio days, we were always hungry to hear as much new music as possible. This was a different time, mind you, before practically every last new track was available with a little artful browser manipulation and a click or two. Our main source was the steady procession of albums toted in U.S.P.S. down from the mail room of the Communication Arts Center. There were gaps in the incoming collection, though. Likely attributable to the modest size of our media market, we weren’t serviced by some of the smaller labels. We often weren’t sent advanced singles either, so we’d see other stations getting a jump on us.

So it was a boon to us when CMJ, the trade publication that focused on college radio, sent out their Certain Damage CDs. They regular gave us access to material that wasn’t otherwise making its way to our scruffy broadcast outlet in the middle of America’s Dairyland. Assemblages of the roughly a dozen and a half new tracks deemed especially worthy by the overseers of our guiding periodical, the CDs were like getting a mix tape from a friend with shrewd, wide-ranging taste who just happened to have ins at all the record labels. In retrospect, the selections were likely dictated, at least somewhat, by music executives ponying up dollars for exposure, but it didn’t feel that way at the time. It was another way to boost our understanding of what was current and exciting. When looking to provide a jolt of the inspiringly unexpected to a radio show, randomly picking a cut from the latest Certain Damage was a pretty good strategy.

Previous entries in this series can be found by clicking on the “Radio Days” tag.

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