Dick Alexander 10/15 Dispatch: Sunday Radio Days

Cassettes, wave of the future. From an old Dave Berg “Lighter Side of” in Mad, 1968.

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, he had an encyclopedic knowledge of the most unlikely subjects coupled with an acerbic wit, while we certainly didn’t agree with his politics or his gun-loving ways, listening to the show was like being a fly on the wall at a New Jersey tavern where two fifty-something hard partying head bangers who had known each other since childhood sparred, bantered, and regaled us with endless tales of their crazy youth in between sets of Jones MOR “only a hundred songs exist” musical choices. On the occasional Sundays when one of them didn’t show up, the other would have to carry the load as it were and the show would generally be an un-interesting sprawl. Like a brilliant band they were greater than the sum of their parts.

But the show must go on and Glen Jones, a seasoned broadcaster himself, initially struggled without X Ray to make the solo format work but he has figured it out and righted the ship, and while he is still tethered to the same old songs, his monologues make for an entertaining listening experience. I love his crazy egotistical ranting and ravings which he bursts into every now and then…“ I am The  Last Man Standing…an  American original…the Franchise…The last of the DJ Cowboys…and lately he has a new custom which he calls “The Two O’ Clock Toast” where he and his wife toast all and sundry including their heroes and a long list of friends of the show, he then suddenly morphs into Burgess Meredith’s The Penguin and comes out with a sequence of whoops and hollers “Wa Ha Ha Ha Ha, Wooooh. It pays to drink the finest!” he exclaims, as he downs a jigger of Scotch.

Often on Sunday evening I listen to Max Schmid and his Golden Age of Radio show, WBAI 99.5 FM (8 p.m.). Max has been at WBAI for many a year and is one of their finest broadcasters, his Golden Age show generally features old time radio plays of which it seems he has an endless supply.  Many of these are from an era before television when radio was the only game in town, often featuring the crème de la crème of Old Hollywood talent. These plays are often brilliantly executed crime dramas with great sound effects and well-heeled plots. Don’t be surprised to be listening in on Bogey and Bacall where the excellent writing and audio magic spurs your imagination to conjure up a shadowy underworld of gangsters, molls and hard boiled detectives hot on their heels.

After Max Schmid, switch over to the AM band and check out Le Show with the very talented Mr. Harry ShearerWNYC 820 AM (10 p.m.). Harry is well known to many in one guise or another, among other things he co-created and starred in Spinal Tap and he provides the voice for many characters on The Simpsons. Another feather in his cap, Le Show is a roundup of the political and other happenings of the week. If the AM dial is generally an ash can of right wing crack pots, lies, propaganda and couched and not-so-well-couched hate speech, Harry’s show is the foil for all this. With his entertaining delivery and comedic talent he is well suited to calling out the hypocrisy of the politicians, polluters, propagandists, corporate crims, big tech and the religious freaks. Keep an ear out for The Weekly Apologies segment “a copyrighted feature of the broadcast,” as he reminds us each week, to which he has recently made an addendum— “Facebook Apology of The Week” where he calls out Angel Faced Zuckerbug’s latest cold blooded skullduggery and the inevitable follow up, “we’re sorry, we’re so sorry.”

Interspersed with all of this are his amusing topical tunes of which Harry is the crooner and you have an hour’s worth of excellent radio.

In the past I didn’t have to touch that dial because following Le Show was Joe Frank. But as  alluded to earlier Joe is another of my favorite broadcasters that is no longer with us. WNYC kept his show running for some time after he passed but alas it is no longer on the air. He was one of the most talented and unique broadcasters to ever grace the airwaves, spinning the most insane, surreal outrageous yarns over wickedly hypnotic beats, with an equally atmospheric and hypnotic voice he would draw you in and have you riding the edge of whatever wave he was surfing at that particular moment in time. If you have never heard Joe then I highly recommend checking him out, one of his finest pieces, “ Eye in the Sky ” is available here: https://www.joefrank.com/shop/eye-in-the-sky/

On the DX front, Zoomer Radio out of Toronto, Canada AM 740 is a station I sometimes find myself listening to in the evenings, it’s format is light entertainment, oldies and such but it has some interesting hosts including the whispering Ziggy with her seductive style and you can also catch more golden age radio plays there, weekday evenings at 10pm. On Sunday at 11 on Zoomer is Richard Syrett and his weekly tall tales Conspiracy Show. Syrett has a mild manner and a pleasant demeanor, while some of the subjects covered would have to be seen to believed, and it being radio I can’t see them so I don’t believe them, his broadcast chops, Canadian brogue and depending on the particular topic at hand make listening in worthwhile at least some of the time…

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Published by Frequency and Amplitude, an NYC Radio Roundup

Surveying what's left of the analog NYC-area radioscape.

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