Thursday, April 3, 2008

Best Radio Now

So, the best things I get to hear on radio regularly these days include Harry Shearer's LE SHOW (a melange of Shearer's many-voices sketches, commentary on political and social events, readings from trade publications and the foreign press, and musical selections, a few of the last either his own parodic compositions or his wife's performances of pop jazz...she's quite a good singer), the newly Peabody Award-winning WAIT, WAIT, DON'T TELL ME (a comedic news quiz featuring a repertory company of panelists...Roy Blount and Paula Poundstone often among the best), WHAD'YA KNOW? (another comedy quiz show, with a lot of audience participation and a fine jazz combo), and THE SOUND OF YOUNG AMERICA (less gratingly precious and certainly more prone to genuine wit than most public radio programs moving in that direction). These are audible online as well as on air in the Philadelphia area...among those resources only available on the web for a Philadelphian include the Pacifica Radio show COVER TO COVER: BOOKWAVES conducted by Richard Wolinsky occasionally in tandem with that gentleman of letters Richard Lupoff, and the raw interviews that were boiled down for Don Swaim's CBS Radio BOOK BEAT in the 1980s and early 1990s...a remarkable array of writers of most sorts active in those years.

Please feel free to let me know of particularly the odd or rare items I might've been overlooking.


Phillyradiogeek said...

My public radio listening has been extremely lax for at least a good year now, although I'm sure I would enjoy most of these programs (I know I would, as I've sampled most of them at one time or another).

I also haven't listened to Little Steven's Underground Garage for a long time either, but when I have, it's been extremely entertaining, and very unusual music for commercial radio. It airs in Philly Sunday nights 10pm-midnight on 102.9 FM, and is also available for on-demand streaming at

On the same Philly station, you can hear Saturday Morning 60s, a recreation of late 60s free-form radio hosted by local radio legend Michael Tearson (formerly of WMMR). The one drawback: it's on at the ungodly hours of Saturday 6am-8am, and to my knowledge, the show doesn't podcast or stream on-demand, it only streams live.

Once again on WMGK, I look forward to Breakfast with the Beatles, Sunday mornings 7-9am (not as convenient as its original time, 9-11am). Played on the program are extremely rare boots, alternate takes, obscure solo work, and exclusive interviews. The host, Andre Gardner, is very well-connected to the Beatle powers that be and seems to have an almost limitless supply of material you won't find at FYE.

This won't be your thing Todd, but if anyone has an affinity for R&B vocal harmony of the 50s, aka doo-wop, Street Corner Sunday airs 9pm-midnight on what used to be a great oldies station but is now a "classic hits" station (radio speak for post-Beatles/pre-90s Top 40) 98.1 FM. The program airs the last remnants of the true version of the oldies format (well, this show and Elvis and Friends on Sunday mornings 7am-10am).

I may have to sleep on it to remember any other programs worth mentioning. It's a shame; this used to be a GREAT radio town. No longer (with the exceptions I noted). Or perhaps I'll relay some satellite radio faves (I subscribe to XM, possibly soon to be XM/Sirius).

Todd Mason said...

Hey, Brian, never assume! I happen to love harmony vocals, very much including doo-wop. I even sing doo-wop, with varying degrees of success depending on the time of day and how many notes I'm missing in my various registers.

I think it would be rather strange to be a fan of the Weavers, the Beach Boys, Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, and Palestrina, as I am, and then turn and say No doo-wop.

Todd Mason said...

And thanks for the tips. I think I know Little Steven's show is syndicated, and I suspect BREAKFAST WITH THE BEATLES is, too.

Have you ever heard some of the gospel recordings, both commercial and "field" as released by Atlantic as well as Folkways and similar folks, recorded in the '50s and '60s? Church music of all sorts, after all, was a large part of where doo-wop sprung from.

Phillyradiogeek said...

Absolutely in regards to gospel. Practically every R&B/soul star has gospel in their background to some extent, and some have made bried returns to the format for an album or two.