Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Mark Germino - Rex Bob Lowenstein

Buy the record

Having read the entries so far, largely essays on the sadly diminished role of radio in any musical education, I thought it better to take a different tack. Back when radio was king, and truly the chart powerbroker, a time honoured approach to gain airplay was to reference the DJ, hopefully inducing it to be played by a presumably grateful and flattered jock. The list is endless, and I have not the space to reference them, but these guys have made a good start. Gradually, however, as the power of the usually sponsored playlist crept in, so too entered a wistfulness for the lost freedoms of those early pioneers. There were 2 songs that I always thought of a pair, the one referenced here, in 1987, and the better known one by Harry Chapin in 1974, W.O.L.D. (ee ee ee ee), and it is only as I researched this piece I realised they were a decade apart. Indeed, whilst the latter was a minor hit, the former virtually sank without trace, apart from in the U.K., where it was relentlessly played on Capital Radio, then the biggest commercial radio station in the country. Mark Germino was more a songwriter, in Nashville, than a singer, with a fairly short lived  recording career, bookended by this song, the above version and an electric version in 1991, which I find to have dated way more than the original. Neither seem available in download.

I shamelessly identify with each of these mythical  guys, Rex Bob and WOLD jockey, both true to the spirit and ethos of their cause, fighting increasingly pyrrhic victories all the way down the schedules. My childhood ambition was to be on the radio, preferably late at night, playing what ever I fancied. My choices here over these past weeks should perhaps please you I never made it. John Peel was the obvious template, but the UK has been blessed with a number of excellent and interested in music presenters over the years, if not also overburdened with facile grinning idiots . I would include Johnny Walker and Bob Harris as 2 who certainly influenced my listening, with tastes less obviously discordant to the moving ever onward from any mainstream Peel, both being unashamed afficionados of what I guess might now be labelled as americana. I have never realised my ambition and it has never gone away. Hey ho.

So what is the future for radio? Will "streamers" such as Spotify render the need for a curated selection redundant? I hope not, but would agree the conventional format has weaker and weaker legs. The only radio I ever listen to now is in the car, and is largely news and speech based, so called Talk Radio, (but at least it is the esteemed BBC Radio 4.) But there seems to be some sign of life wriggling on the sidelines, in the format of podcasting and internet radio, largely taking away any necessity to tune in at the required time, and allowing the listener to pick and choose when and what to listen to, with, rather than the randomness of pick a song any song, but through the ability and reliability of knowing and trusting a "brand" to point your listening diversions up the alleyway of your appeal. Radio is dead, long live radio??

P.S. Clearly and by the way, should any media moguls be looking for a man just like me for their major network, I can be contacted easily enough here......;-)

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