Programmer of the Month: Art O’Sullivan

The Golden Road’s Art O’Sullivan moved to Santa Cruz to attend UCSC as an alternative academic experience, but the ocean, redwoods and counterculture kept him here. Upon first listening to KZSC, Art was drawn to the alternative music, talk and special format programming.

He started programming The Golden Road on June 18, 1997 as a 30th anniversary celebration of the Monterey International Pop Festival–the same festival that made stars of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Ravi Shankar and Otis Redding. Art’s musical taste ranges from A to Z (The Association to Frank Zappa); he loves The Grateful Dead, classic rock (Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Dire Straits), blues (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, early Fleetwood Mac), hard rock (Midnight Oil, The Who), and punk rock (The Clash, forever). He likes to feature upbeat and melodic songs, live performances, and long jams on The Golden Road, every Wednesday from 3 to 6 pm this summer. He also appreciates jazz, folk, Celtic, African, Brazilian and Caribbean styles.

As a writer, an editor, and an animal rights advocate, Art has written PSAs for KZSC about animal welfare, and other issues close to his heart. Art has also contributed to the Metro alternative newspaper, covering topics such as The Grateful Dead archives, the 10th anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s passing, animal welfare, cats, and the invasion of Iraq. Art was on the air, programming a show called Earwax during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Art’s columns, criticism and commentary in Metro Santa Cruz won an award from the California Newspaper Publishers Association and he was voted the third Best Writer in Santa Cruz by Metro readers in 2005. He’s traveled extensively, making friends on four continents–Art is pretty sure the world is round, and “Love that’s real will not fade away.”

– Abraham

Photo: Hypnotica Studios Infinite

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Truly “old skool” college radio.

On September 8th, Harvard University turns 380! So it is rather fitting that such a venerable institution would also have 8 decades of broadcasting under its belt. In 1940, the Harvard Crimson Network, WHCN, was one of America’s first college radio stations. In 1943 there was a change of call letters to, WHRV (Harvard Radio Voice). Then, on February 1st of 1951, WHRB was born. But it was not until 1957 that the Harvard Radio Broadcasting Company Incorporated acquired a commercial FM license at 107.1 (which was moved over to 95.3 a few years later).

With such a long history, it is no surprise that WHRB has some historic programs. Hillbilly at Harvard is a country music show that started all the way back in 1948!

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Then there is, Sunday Night at the Opera, which has been on the airwaves for over 50 years now. And it sure shows when you see the size of the station’s classical music collection; truly extensive and probably one of the largest of its kind among college radio stations.

Since 1994 WHRB has been in the basement of Pennypacker Hall, just a minute walk from the heart of Harvard Square. The hall was built in 1927 and Harvard acquired it in 1958. My guess is that the station has one of the most unusual lay outs in all of college radio. There is a small maze of corners to turn and short hallways to walk down, leading to unlabeled doorways. Behind most of these doors are rooms containing the separate parts of WHRB’s music library.

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WHRB publishes its schedule three times a year, and it has to be the most densely packed and well detailed program guide of any college radio station in the nation. We are talking the really fine print. Plus, each Winter and Spring feature “orgies” in which concentrated blocks of air time are devoted to a whole host of composers, artists, genres, subjects, concepts etc. It’s a tradition that is the stuff of legend. Back in 1943, as the story goes, an undergrad was so happy to have passed some rather difficult exams, he went ahead and played all 9 of Beethoven’s symphonies in a row. So, as a nod to this legend, the “orgy periods” are timed to coincide with major exams because the station actually gets short staffed with all the students out taking tests. Because, I have to guess, that graduating from Harvard is even harder than getting into Harvard.

Many thanks to Robby Erikson for showing me around the station.

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Above the door to the station

The 88 point ones…

A quick wiki count of all the radio stations in the USA that broadcast at eighty-eight point one FM, and you’ll come up with nearly three hundred. No doubt it’s a diverse bunch. Some are religious, some broadcast from inside native American reservations and some are college radio stations.

Recently, it was my great pleasure to visit MIT’s, 88.1, WMBR. Originally, there was an AM station, WMIT, broadcasting within the footprint of the campus way back in 1946. WMIT was replaced by, WTBS (Technology Broadcasting System) in April of 1961. Then, in the late 1970s, the station was approached by media mogul Ted Turner. You see Ted wanted to call his new TV station, the Turner Broadcasting System. Long story short, after some negotiations, since you can’t sell call letters, donations were made which went right into some greatly needed upgrades. Thus, “Walker Memorial Basement Radio” was born. Said basement has three studios, AND contains, what has to be, one of the largest music libraries in all of college radio, with more than 100,000 LPs and a similar number of CDs in their library! But, it hasn’t just been prerecorded material going out of the air waves all the time. For many years the station has opened its doors to hundreds of bands for live broadcasts. In fact, WMBR’s show, Pipeline! is celebrating 25 years of live & local rock music programming with a series of 13 shows, featuring 80 acts in all, in 5 different venues over the course of 5 weekends, Sept. 12th through Oct. 12th, 2016.

Cheers to WMBR and to the General Manager, Jon Beaulieu. It was great to hang out for a bit & talk college radio.

  • Above WMBR’s door

  • Jon Beaulieu, WMBR’s General Manager

  • One of three studios at WMBR

  • Part of WMBR’s 100,000-strong LP library

 

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Radio from a parallel universe.

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Sometimes a hole in your memory banks can really mess with you. It can be an unsettling feeling. Such was the case for yours truly on a long-overdue trip back East to see family. Turns out that, my hometown high school has a radio station! I was stoked and assumed that the radio station (and TV station) were added on when the school was totally renovated in 2012. Ah, but here’s where it starts to feel like I’ve entered the Twilight Zone… there was a radio station at my old high school in 1974! Two years before I graduated, and I can’t even tickle an inkling from the cranium??? It’s a bit embarrassing for a radio fanatic to admit; with 17 years of radio under my belt with KZSC. But I guess you just have to chalk it down to the fact that teenagers are easily distracted. There was a lot of stuff that just wasn’t on my radar. Regardless of my lack of recollection, it was great to stop in at WRPS 88.3 FM, see the air room, check out the class room and meet with the great staff working at the station. And, it should be noted, KZSC & WRPS have some things in common… each of them is non-commercial, they both have 1974 in their histories, each has a mission to teach radio to students and they share a great number on the dial, 88.

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Wakin on a Pretty Day with Kurt Vile

Kurt Vile is almost a little too “hip” to be extremely outgoing during a performance, but that’s why we love him, right? To quote one of my new friends from Alabama whom I met at Bonnaroo Music Festival, “Kurt seemed more jazzed at the Ween show than during his own performance”. (Ween is an alternative rock band with a huge cult following and they performed after Kurt Vile’s set.) Seeing Kurt Vile and the Violators was a complete contrast to when a musician “creates energy for the crowd”. It was more like a casual conversation, the interaction between the crowd and the musician became one of an intimate setting, even though Vile was performing in front of hundreds if not thousands of people. I enjoyed seeing a musician who didn’t need to work so hard to interact with the crowd in such an “energetic way”. He went on stage, sang beautifully, and didn’t perform with an over exaggerated stage presence. He was actually quite shy, but in a way that made you feel like you could relate with him. It was like he was saying “hey, I know what it’s like to not want to act in an extroverted way, and I know that’s not your personality”. That’s exactly it, Kurt Vile doesn’t act like he has an outgoing stage personality when he knows he just doesn’t have that type of attitude.

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The reason I can shed some light on Kurt Vile’s personality is because I was actually able to meet him inside the press tent at the festival before his show came on. He answered questions in a timid, introverted manner. He walked about the press tent with a cool, mellow look to his face, with his curly long locks hanging down the graphic on his t-shirt. When I asked him to do a station ID for KZSC, he looked at me and said in his soft, cool voice, “Hey KZSC Santa Cruz, this is Kurt Vile, Sup’” (Shortened for What’s Up, I assume) . It was magnificent, simple, and he didn’t need anymore words to make the station ID perfect for KZSC.

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During the performance of Kurt Vile and the Violators they played a number of hits off his new album B’lieve I’m Goin Down, including “Pretty Pimpin’” and “All in a Daze Work”, as well as a few others. They also delved into some older songs of Vile’s, including “Wakin’ on a Pretty Day”, which is from his album Wakin on a Pretty Daze. Kurt Vile sang in a slow, mellow, dreamy voice. He played guitar while his band supported him with beach-like rhythms that made you feel as though you were hanging out on his couch in Los Angeles on a sunny afternoon. (Which it was reported that he wanted his records to sound relaxed, like he recorded them sitting on his couch in his house.) His melodies were intricately presented, and his voice made you feel comfortable. He made the audience feel at ease and wanting to dance, and sway, because of his personality, his brevity of speech, and his way of maneuvering the stage in a relaxed manner.

I recommend going to see Kurt Vile and the Violators on August 11th in Santa Cruz, at The Catalyst! If you want a good time, and if you want to feel like you’re on some mellow vacation in a small beach town in California. (Which you probably are on vacation if you are in Santa Cruz at this time.) Go enjoy the show and see what Kurt Vile is all about!

Bonaroo Arch by flickr user Shannon McGee

Ready for the Heat at Bonnaroo Music Festival?

I’m a California, specifically Bay Area person, that hasn’t had much real experience with the hot, humid weather of the South. I also haven’t had to fight off the intense heat while pushing my way through crowds, working to get the best location for photos of some of my favorite bands. But I’m an avid music lover, as many other DJs are at KZSC Radio Station, and I’m getting ready to take on the beating sun in Tennessee.

Bonnaroo Music Festival is held annually at the Great Stage Park in Manchester, at the historic location of “The Farm”, about an hour South East of Nashville. The festival had its debut in 2002, and has featured many greats such as Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, The Beach Boys, Kanye West,  James Brown, and Bob Dylan. Located in such a quintessential landmark such as the farm, and a host to many musicians and bands from a variety of genres, no wonder the festival was labeled one of the “50 moments that changed Rock & Roll” by Rolling Stone Magazine. I am excited to represent KZSC at a large-scale event such as this one, and I hope you can follow my check-ins during the weekend!

As the event has an annual influx of 85,000 campers per year, and approximately “700 acres of Tennessee nature”, I can’t promise I will be able to report to you from the blog, as the internet will be spotty. But I can promise a full report as soon as I reach “connection”, and make sure to check out the updates on the KZSC Instagram and Twitter page, as I’ll be posting more frequently from there.

Check out my updates specifically on: Tame Impala, LCD Soundsystem, J.Cole, The Internet, and many others.

Have a great Summer and hope to get your feedback about my updates on Bonnaroo Music Festival.

See you soon!

 

Sydney Fishman

DJ Syd the Kyd