I know, it’s hard to believe, when every station nowadays is easy listening, classic “rock” or the same limp noodle pop crap. But there was a time not too long ago when there was a real meaningful variety of shows and station formats here in town. I could start my day out with WPLJ and be listening to great 80s pop like Pat Benatar, Blondie, Duran Duran, Howard Jones, The English Beat, Madness, INXS, Crowded House.
After a while, I’d get bored of the cheesy synth drums and head over to the stalwart 102.7 WNEW, and listen to the rock of ages, (not just classic rock mind you). Sure, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Cream, Billy Joel and Jimi Hendrix were played every hour on the hour (I aint mad about that), but they’d also give their DJ’s some leeway, and they’d play newer or deeper stuff, like The Band, The Cult, Aerosmith, Guns N Roses, Cheap Trick, Joe Jackson, Gary Numan, Warren Zevon, Steely Dan.
Once I had my fill of all that white-boy rock I’d be looking to wiggle my skinny butt a little. A quick trip down the dial to KISS FM opened doors to James Brown, Barry White, Isaac Hayes, Earth Wind & Fire and of course Stevie Freaking Wonder!
If I was looking to get some blood pumping to my brain with some headbanging, I would tune into WSOU, a college radio from Seton Hall in Jersey. Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth, Venom, Motorhead, Prong, Type O Negative, Life of Agony, Sick of It All, Handsome Dick Manitoba (yes that was a real band, and a real guy).
In the early 90s, we got WAXQ (q1043), which for a long while was a rock alternative station, with a broad and rapidly evolving library of artists, driven by the grunge revolution. Faith No More, Jane’s Addiction, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots, Metallica, Fishbone, Rage Against The Machine, Bad Religion. All were welcome, and all had a home there.
But there was one station, one magical station, that I could turn on at any time, and just feel at home. WLIR. Later called WDRE. Alternative in the true sense, with a library of tunes that rarely repeated. From the B-52s to Siouxie & the Banshees, Joy Division to The Jam, The Icicle Works to Depeche Mode, Echo & The Bunnymen, Peter Murphy, Peter Gabriel, Elvis Costello. The list was seven miles long, and three miles deep. WLIR’s DJs were ALWAYS on the job, always ready to open up my palette to artists new and old, with a flow and chaotic consistency that could blow away my friends and I when we were a carload of young teens cruising Francis Lewis Blvd looking for trouble, and would slam us silent as college students, headed to a nighttime hangout on the sand in Long Beach, putting us in a strange, reverent mood.
I miss the time when radio programming was an adventure for the audience. I miss the time when I could hear new music, selected by a DJ who spoke my emotional language, went to the same concerts I did, read the same books I did, worshiped the same idols I did. I long for a time when music was something people talked about, when a new record really blew everyone’s mind. When music changed the way people felt, the way they perceived the world around them.
We love music at Valiant. It’s a big part of our days, and sometimes our late nights. Sure, the technology has changed quite a bit since my days of the radio, but the heart and soul remains the same and we want to share it with you. How are we going to do this? Technology, of course. Please check out some of our favorite songs on Spotify!
With these playlists, we’re working together, to bring back both those sounds, and that spirit of musical adventure. I cannot promise you’ll like all the songs. In fact, I can promise you WONT like many of them. But that’s kind of the point right? Tune in, think about what you’re listening to, form an opinion of it. Think about it. Don’t just let music be background noise. Don’t let the distractions of the inbox and the smell of the old coffee pot separate you from that overwhelmingly powerful thing that is your personal soundtrack.
Find some old tunes you forgot about. Find some new ones you love. Grow your personal playlist. And never go ANYWHERE without your theme music.