An independent station,
With jazz and conversation…
– Donald Fagen, The Nightfly
Music for your late night from the radio booth.
“The Nightfly” by Donald Fagen was far from the first (or the last) song about radio and disc jockeys, but more than any other song it captured the feel of being a late night DJ spinning jazzy tunes while waiting for callers to ring in with political commentary and crackpot theories, right down to the coffee-and-cigarette fueled solitude and even the advertising jingles.
But as noted above, Fagen was far from the only one to reminisce nostalgic (or not to nostalgic) about such things….
What do you remember about radio when growing up? Discovering new bands and taping favorites with a cheap Maxell or TDK tape? Hearing talk radio and all the politics conspiracy theories? Just listening to a baseball game while grilling out? Leave a comment and tell your story.
Posted on October 21, 2016, in ♫ ♪ ♫ and tagged 80s, Donald Fagen, music, radio, Rocktober. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.
“Nightfly” is a fantastic cut! Never heard it before.
Liked “DJ Saved My Life” too.
Great selection all around.
My inchoate fragments of radio memories don’t coalesce into a particular story. Radio wasn’t a big part of my childhood, as far as I can remember, unless I was riding in someone’s car and it happened to be playing. I probably got all my Steely Dan first from somebody’s radio.
All the stations started with K, so the stations identifiers sort of exploded at you. If it were the station in Fagen’s song it would “Right here on K-J-A-Z . . . K-Jazz! Bringing you the best in late night grooving . . .”
I thought the K was universal so it surprised me when I went East and found out stations started with W. (I drove across the country with three other guys listening not to local radio but endless loops of a John Prine cassette.)
beyond childhood, it was a liberal environment so I had a lot of NPR running in my ears at my folks’ house. I remember “All Things Considered” which actually had a great jingle.
But when it wasn’t running NPR or PBS, the same station (operated out of a college) was big on jazz and classical, so by then I was into the radio more, especially for the jazz, with amateurish DJs but great selections of hard jazz, mostly post-bop. It was a local jazz rennaisance.
Then, same station, one of the crew that introduced me to Zappa, got a late night show. He had encyclopedic music knowledge and played unusual but good music from many different genres. He had a basso profundo voice and did a nice job of DJing. (I don’t know if he got paid or not.) Then another buddy in that group slipped into his show with his own stealth, underground “show within a show,” playing more good music that was even more off the beaten track (he was also encyclopedic, but leaning more in the rock-a-billy and other pre-hippy rock direction). His lead in song was the Beatle’s “Across the Universe.”
Management found out and he was booted out of the other guy’s show.
Then it moves into adulthood, and radio was in another country and language. Basically, lousy radio selection–just not a radio culture. Then I realized the radio riches I had left behind, with at least a channel for just about any genre you could want. So, belatedly I appreciated that the radio world of the States is vibrant–lot of stuff out there, and a whole way of talking, presenting yourself, presenting sound, pacing things.
Meanwhile,the offerings have been so sparse for me radio-wise that it became reason I had to start building up my music collection for commutes.
Then I used Youtube to find out which CDs were worth buying. Then on your recommendation I started a blog where I ended up posting a lot of the same Youtubes. And where the views per hour bars look like the top of a minion’s head, on busy days!
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