Frequency and Amplitude
Surveying the wrack and the rot of the NYC-area analog radioscape
A short dispatch, with audio: Heshy Tischler and the Proud Boys make rally plans on the air. “We have a lot in common.” (10/22)
Today’s dispatch is going to be a short one. We are reluctant to give obnoxious blowhard Heshy Tischler too much attention. Those of us who put this site together are grateful for our readers, and we don’t want to subject any of you to endless posts about unlistenable programming. We have already covered Tischler’s antics and his “Just Enough Heshy” show here and here. This new development, however, is worth reporting on, as a warning. Here’s what we hope is the last post for a while on Heshy Tischler…Read More.
October 19 Dispatch: Heshy’s War/Giuliani unravels “scandal of the Century”/Curtis Sliwa—Let us Now Diss Dead Rockstars/WABC’s “Back the Blue”campaign/NYT on AM radio/Tectonic event/Off the Hook/Morricone Island/Majestic Pirate Soul (with audio receipts galore)
Harold “Heshy” Tischler finally got a taste of the fame and attention he’s been working so hard to attain. Tischler’s role as an erstwhile leader of the raucous Boro Park protests that saw the burning of face masks got the host of Just Enough Heshy international press coverage. This was a step up from the attention Heshy got shutting down Department of Health outreach sessions…Read More.
Dick Alexander 10/15 Dispatch: Sunday Radio Days
I had always regarded Sunday as being a great radio day before the march of time took two of my favorite broadcasters away. However that being said, it’s still a good day. At noon on WFMU 91.1 FM The Glen Jones Radio Programme featuring X Ray Burns is still going and still titled thus after the passing of the hilarious X Ray Burns. Truth be told X Ray was the reason I listened to the show…Read More
October 6 Dispatch: Is this what we want to return to? “Oh Boy…” Hazmat suits, pop-up morgues—A Bronx scanner recording from the peak of the first wave
October 4 Dispatch: A weird week in an age of weird weeks. AM radio responds to Trump’s taxes and Covid/WNYC takes on voter disenfranchisement on Long Island/Quote of the week, and more…
Read about it here.
September 26 Dispatch: Crucial NPR coverage of our national predicament/a contested election?/Brian Lehrer hits 31-year mark at WNYC/the radio essay as art form/and a special guest dispatch from Portland, OR
September 23 Dispatch: Every day is Tuesday/Coltrane birthday broadcast/Too much Heshy/Giuliani goes QAnon/O’Reilly’s back
September 15 Dispatch: Hatemonger Hal/Radio and survival in a burning world
Hatemonger Hal Turner pops up on the AM band/Radio and survival in a burning world/American anxiety, bipartisan Sinophobia and the trade war/DX update/recommended radio history…Read more
INAUGURAL BULLETIN: September 2020
THE FM DIAL: Woke-hop, left factions, freeform, free jazz and more
A modest survey of some of the things found on the FM dial.
WNYC’s stellar, but underutilized, news department has been doing excellent coverage of the protests against police abuse and the violent antics of the NYPD (both topics on which WNYC has been historically weak).
WNYC-produced On the Media has been consistently great for at least the last few years. This show looks at the stories behind the headlines. On the Media has done some deep archaeology of toxic right-wing canards (Pizzagate/QAnon), and the way these things spread through the mediasphere. A recent segment tackled what alternatives to a policed society would look like, with a guest expounding actual anarchist concepts of community organization—content barely existing anywhere on the radio. (Even WBAI shamefully purged its anarchist program, Moorish Orthodox Radio Crusade years ago.)
CLASSIC ROCK: Nostalgia, or something like it, by Brendan Byrne
107.1 WWYZ, “The Boss”
To get a handle on the arbitrary abstraction known as “classic rock,” we dispatched Brendan Byrne to see what lurks between the beer commercials and the songs that sound like beer commercials—Ed.
Entering a bagel shop in deep Queens several mornings ago I was greeted by the blare of “Fat Bottomed Girls” at levels unconducive to communicating with staff through face mask. This was almost certainly not radio: there was no DJ connective tissue between Queen & the next solid gold classic, but it brought back, with an unProustian violence, the experience of every lunch counter and mom & pop retail joint I frequented in the aughts. Highly differentiated from bars (whose jukeboxes were often overridden by pissed-off bartenders with direct access to the stereo), this wasn’t music you were supposed to listen to, it was music meant to reassure you that you knew where you were.
AM RADIO—“We can’t let the other side even breathe”
But today, in order to create a totalitarian Lebensraum, it is no longer necessary to resort to extraordinary invasions with the motorized vehicles, tanks and stukas of lightning warfare, since one can use the ordinary penetration of the new media, the information blitz. The abundance of surrounding dangers was formerly posed by belligerent factions armed with explosives, missiles and gas. Now it can be created in our own living rooms, thanks to appropriation of the audio-visual enclosure. Shut up at home, huddled behind his alarm systems and reinforced doors, the citizen is still never safe from a televised [or radio-broadcast] aggression that composes, condenses, and reproduces at will cataclysms, assassinations and murder; which stereophonically installs the settings of distant disaster and foreign wars in peaceful homes….There is no more need for an armed body to attack civilians, so long as the latter have been properly trained to tum on their radios or plug in their television sets
—Paul Virilio, Popular Defense and Ecological Struggles, 1979
Paul Virilio could have been describing any of the contemporary media we consume, even the platforms that didn’t exist when he was writing. Virilio’s analysis also happens to be a spot-on description of the shock-and-awe format of much of AM radio, the nonstop descriptions of crime-ridden cities, shooters and looters armed and at the ready—a Deathwish view of the urban centers, where cops are handcuffed by anti-chokehold legislation and the Bronx is always burning.
LOCAL AND DX DISPATCH BY DICK ALEXANDER
Lately I haven’t been getting much sleep so I lie under the covers trawling the waves aided by my tiny radio, the Sony Walkman SRF 59. This is a small and inexpensive radio that is suited to DXing and radio listening in general. DXing is a radio culture term for long-distance listening, i.e. seeking out and listening to radio stations hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles away.
Many interesting pirate stations can be found on the radio. Most of these pop up in different frequencies, usually at the very low end of the FM dial. In Brooklyn, listeners can find pirate stations broadcasting in multiple languages including Russian, Yiddish, Kreyol, Spanish and English.
Some interesting programming can still be found on shortwave bands, though this requires wading through tons of Christian fundamentalists, open white supremacists (including nazis) and other assorted kooks. With the ascendancy of streaming radio over the last two decades…