Remember when your parents would say, “I remember when I was a kid…” you would just role your eyes and think to yourself, “Shut up old people. Geez.” Well, I sound like such an old fuck when I say shit like, “I remember when I was a kid…” which I find hilarious. So much has changed when since I was a kid but honestly, I can say that when I was a kid, the radio was one of my closest friends. Back then, radio had heart, radio had soul, and radio had personality.
I remember when I was a kid (here we go) growing up in New Orleans, WRNO was the fucking shit. That was the radio station to listen to if you were a rock n’ roller. None of that B-97 FM pop bullshit. WRNO was the place where you could hear it all. Led Zeppelin, Boston, AC/DC, Judas Priest, you name it. If it kicked ass, WRNO played it. My favorite DJ was this guy who I always called Warren Withya because he would always say, “WRNO, this is Warren with ya!” Warren was the fucking coolest. He was the night time DJ and Warren brought the good shit… literally.
Every Friday night I would call in to Warren’s show and he would literally talk to me for 30 minutes or more sometimes. Warren was my big brother of sorts and he always turned me onto some cool shit. I remember one time we were talking about Iron Maiden and I asked if he could play some. Warren literally carried Maiden albums into the studio with him and played them. Through Warren and through WRNO I found so many great bands and songs that would mold me and set the path towards a destination that I am still traveling to this day.
Radio was powerful. Radio was fun. Even after moving to Atlanta while still in high school, 96 Rock was the shit. The Bladerunner. He was my favorite DJ. A total clown on the air and much like Warren back in New Orleans had a soft spot for the heavier things. He played great stuff and it was always fun to listen to his show. I can still remember calling in to make a request and waiting with my tape recorder on pause ready to record my played back request and song. It was exciting but then something happened.
Since those days, radio has become a soulless computer pushing out music paid for by the highest bidder. Back then, DJs were goofy looking, dorky music fanatics, just like you and I and now, they just seem to be fake breasted, spray tanned button pushers who show up at shitty suburban bars to give away tickets to Lynyrd Skynyrd concerts.
While this is pretty much the state of radio in the middle of the dial, just head to the left of the dial and you still find some heart, soul, and hell, even some passion in the radio. Here in Atlanta we are lucky enough to have WREK where we get great shows like Stonehenge and Psych Out! where young people who have a feverish, infectious love for rock n’ roll haul their own records from home in plastic crates and play them for any and everyone who is willing to turn in.
All this machinery making modern music can still be open hearted. I guess Geddy was right. Even though it may no longer be at the center of the dial where all the action is, the spirit of radio can still be found at the left of the dial on your local college radio stations and hell, even on the internet where people have chosen to capture that spirit and take the power into their own hands to spread the word of music that isn’t paid for by the highest bidder. The spirit of radio is still out there… you just have to look a little harder for it and when you find it, don’t let it go.