I live in the greater Los Angeles area, a market where one might reasonably assume (especially if you live elsewhere) that there would be a bounty of good over-the-airwaves radio available to anyone with an A.M. or F.M. dial. But if you did assume that, especially lately, you would be wrong. The recent demise of the influential Indie 103.1, which still exists online in an automated version, having given up its frequency to yet another ranchera music station; the loss of mediocre F.M.-talk station KLSX to a top-40 format; even the emergence of yet another ‘brand-name” format (The Sound at 100.3, kinda like 93.1 Jack F.M. only sleepy instead of snarky); none of these recent wrinkles have exactly added shine and panache or even a modicum of interest to a market dominated by conservative talk and deadly KIIS-FM-inspired hit formats. In my car I usually defer to sports talk radio these days, especially now that baseball season is, thank God, nigh and the local boneheads can rest a beat or two in between breathless NFL draft and Kobe Bryant updates. (My favorites? Dan Patrick and Petros Papadakis, one half of the Petros and Money team—I can do without his partner.)
But lately I’m like everyone else, living in relative musical isolation with my iPod and Pandora, where I already have my own radio stations built around Rush, Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys, Italian composer Piero Piccioni, and all the various artists who fit in with those three distinctive musical voices. I like the control of my musical diet, and speaking as an ex-disc jockey and music director myself, I like the fact that I don’t have to listen to all the mindless yammering in between songs. Even so, I do yearn occasionally for the human touch, the sense that what I’m hearing is unified by a strong musical sensibility-- not my own-- that is also susceptible to the kind of quirks which usually get ironed out of computer-generated play lists based on demographics and assumed taste. That’s why I’m glad for the presence of friend and fellow Fountains of Wayne fanatic Dicey Reilly, whose weekly slot Friday evenings from 5:00 to 7:00 on Long Beach City College radio station KCTY is a real oasis in a land of radio mediocrity.
Dicey is someone I’ve known for over 15 years whose musical tastes and pop culture acumen are as unimpeachable as they are unapproachable. I don’t know anyone whose breadth of knowledge about pop music matches or surpasses his—I’ve always felt that he could have been (and still could be) a Tarantino-era music supervisor for the movies on the order of a Randall Poster or Karyn Rachtman. Luckily for listeners, he brings that knowledge and spirit to the air every week, for an all-too-brief window, on his Shake and Pop radio show, and all we have to do is get to a computer. (KCTY streams all their programming, including Dicey’s two hours.) Tonight, for example, he’ll be packing a ton into those 120 minutes. How’s this for eclectic? Salutes to Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, the Oscars (!), African-American History Month (Part 2: The Soul years), Punks Who Love the Beatles and a “Remembering Socks the Cat” music block. Thankfully, if you’re not in the Los Angeles area the Internet can magically connect you to Dicey’s playhouse—you don’t have to be one of us who puts up with wildfires and insane traffic gridlock to enjoy what he has to offer. I invite you to check out Dicey’s show and make it a habit—it just might cheer you up about the state of human-programmed-and-executed rock radio all over again.