Recently in Radio Category

a mania for pennsylvania

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I think the show went really well! Here's the playlist. It was so much fun to put together.

I had found a web page with "fascinating facts about the 50 states" and had compiled a couple of facts about each state for the talksets. But then I discovered a couple of incorrect "facts" on the website, which made me afraid to use the rest. So I only mentioned facts that I knew for sure. Georg had said that I should just make stuff up -- "the first yak colony in the US was in New Hampshire!" -- which would have been funny but I didn't have time to invent 50 fake facts.

I did have a time problem. I plan the timing of these shows with a Google spreadsheet -- the left column has the time of each song and then at the top is a formula that adds up all the times. Thing is, I always copy the spreadsheet from the previous theme show. And this one was twice as long as normal and had 87 songs in it. The set being added up by the formula wasn't big enough, it didn't include the last couple of songs. You could say I was using a faulty algorithm.

I noticed that the times in my spreadsheet and in iTunes didn't quite match. iTunes is always off by a few minutes because the tracks always have a few seconds of silence at the end. So the songs are always a bit shorter than the tracks. But this was more, it was off by a few minutes too much. If the times had been off by an hour, I would have known what the problem was. With just a few minutes discrepancy, I couldn't get it. I thought maybe I had an extra song in there somewhere and spent a long time last night comparing the flowsheet with iTunes, trying to find the discrepancy. I never figured out that the problem was the formula until the last 10 minutes of the show, when I looked at the flowsheet and realized that I had about 14 minutes of music to go. Eek!

It wasn't actually that hard to fix. I had two songs planned for Hawaii, and I simply dropped one, and stopped the last instrumental before it was over. Ended up running about 30 seconds long. That would be a serious problem on a pro station, but no big deal for college radio and Ross (the next dj) was really really nice about it. And now I know to adjust the formula for next time.

songs of the 50 states

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human-flag.jpgAlmost done preparing for the Fourth of July show tomorrow and I'm really happy with how it's coming together. Four hours celebrating the United States, with at least one song for every state, plus DC. I'm going to play them in order of statehood, starting with Delaware and ending with Hawaii.

At this point my flowsheet is a couple of minutes short but that's easily fixed. I just need to choose longer versions of a couple of songs. Or I could choose a shorter version of one song and then add another. Either way, I'll work it out.

Some states were super easy -- New York, Texas, California -- and some were really hard. The most difficult states were Minnesota and, to my surprise, Maryland. Indiana was surprisingly easy. Partly because Hoagy Carmichael was from Indiana and wrote several songs about it.

I was a bit lenient with what I considered a state song. Had to be, in order to find songs for all 50 states that were more or less in format. I tried to find songs that named the state in the title and were specifically about the state. But if all I could find was a song about a place in the state, that was fine. "Meet Me in St. Louis" for example. Or a song that mentioned the state just for the rhyme scheme, and kinda could have been set anywhere. That wasn't as good as a song genuinely about the state, but I wouldn't reject it if that was all I had.

The format is a bit loose too. Lots of Western Swing when we get around to the western states, some straight up country, and a few songs that are newer (also a couple that are older!) than I would normally play. Whatever, I think it comes together well and people won't mind hearing a newer song in the mix.

I think it's going to be fun! The show will start at noon tomorrow (eastern time) and end at 4 pm.

A few people have asked me what song I picked for their home state, and I got a couple of requests too. If anyone reading this has a request, let me know today (Saturday) and I can probably still work it in. Tomorrow I'll have the whole thing prepped and it will be too late to make changes.

life goes to a party

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I think the Benny Goodman show went well, if I do say so myself! No technical glitches, no "land the plane" moments where I lost track of what I was saying, and (thank the flying spaghetti monster) no EAS alerts.

I played 8 tracks from the CD of old radio shows, the one that had gotten lost in the mail and the otrcat.com guy zipped the whole thing for me and sent me a download link. I'm so grateful to him for doing that. Having those songs really made the show. Here's the playlist.

Now I feel like I could sleep for a week. I didn't do anything physically strenuous, but I've been going all day long. And staying up late the past few nights -- I would get so wrapped up in what I was doing that I'd lose track of time, and then when I finally lay down the gears I'd be thinking so much that I wouldn't be able to sleep. I even missed almost the entire war movie weekend on TCM. Finally I can relax. No more theme shows until the 4th of July!

After the show we went to Big Orange and picked out a new fridge. The old one is horribly inefficient -- the ice dispenser is broken and cold air leaks out, and when it gets hot the sides are always covered with condensation. We picked out the fridge we want, and it's on sale, and we found out that NC is doing a Cash for Clunkers appliance rebate starting on 6/1. So we'll buy it then.

let up and light up

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I mentioned a couple of days ago that I've been listening to a lot of old Benny Goodman radio shows. Many of these shows were sponsored by Camel cigarettes, and contain promotional messages from the sponsor. It's very strange to hear a radio ad for cigarettes. Cigarette ads on TV were banned when I was a wee toddler and I don't remember ever seeing one, though I do remember people talking about the fact that they were no longer allowed.

WXDU Programming just told me that's it's OK for me to play an old ad for a product that still exists, if I present it as an artifact rather than a commercial. Which is great news, because I have some really interesting old ads which I've always wanted to work into a show. Like for instance, spots during the Kraft Music Hall which tell housewives how to use Kraft Macaroni and Cheese to stretch their ration points. Or the following:

Someday I'd like to do a radio show of all wacky old ads. Two hours is probably too much, though I think I could easily fill an hour if they ever bring the Sunday Night Mystery Show back.

who knows where or when

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Listening to the Benny Goodman radio shows non stop. My favorites are the "Madhattan Room" shows from late 1937. They had a show in a hotel ballroom which was broadcast on the radio. Apparently lots of hotels did this in the 30s. Put their dance band on the radio I mean.

Anyway the Madhattan Room shows are the best for my purposes because, well first of all the line-up is really good. Krupa, Wilson and Hampton are all around at this point. And the shows have an informal feeling that I really enjoy. In a couple of years Goodman's show would be the Camel Caravan, which was much more structured. Guest stars, inane patter, comedy routines, the "killer diller of the week," etc. I guess they wanted all bandleaders to be wisecracking showmen with funny hats and catch-phrases, and the fact that Goodman wasn't very good at that is irrelevant. (Camel Caravan is also problematic for my purposes because the show was sponsored by Camel cigarettes and they name-check the brand constantly.)

But in the Madhattan Room shows, it sounds like you're just listening in on a regular gig. Which is kind of accurate, actually. A concert for dancers in a hotel ballroom would have been a swing orchestra's bread and butter. Most bands would have been at shows like this every night. The best part is hearing what the orchestra sounded like in front of an audience. When they get the crowd fired up the audience starts to cheer, and you can hear the band respond with greater energy, which gets the crowd going even more. They feed off each other. It feels so different from a staged program, with the audience sitting down & applauding on cue. Just a completely different energy.

The quiet numbers are also interesting because you can hear the audience talking amongst themselves, and/or interacting with the band. I just heard one, a show from November 1937, where the Trio (Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa and Teddy Wilson) play "Where or When," and the audience starts to sing along, and it's just beautiful. Magical. For just a moment I felt like I was there too.

it's my turn to say dammit

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In preparing for the Benny Goodman show this Sunday, I ordered from my favorite old-time radio show catalog. I bought a CD of Goodman's radio shows, plus a bunch of other stuff because there's always a bunch of things I want from that site and he has free shipping over a certain amount.

I placed the order on the 16th, plenty of time to prep for the show. He shipped on the 17th, and the past few days I've been wondering why the heck it hasn't arrived yet. This evening when they weren't there again, I checked to see if there was a tracking number -- and discovered that part of my address had been omitted from the shipping label. It was correct on the receipt, but wrong on the "your order has shipped" email. The package arrived in Durham on the 19th and had been returned for insufficient address. It's now in transit on its way back to the sender.

Dammit! There are 73 old shows on that CD. I have to listen to as many of them as possible, figure out which songs I want to use in the show, and clip them out in Audacity. By Sunday at noon. If he resends the CD with the correct address tomorrow, I'll get it Friday or Saturday. Which is not nearly enough time.

I wrote to him and asked if there's any way I can receive that one CD electronically. Even just part of it would be a huge help. We'll see what he says.

gee, we voted for james g. blaine

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Here's a gem I found while looking for state songs. I decided not to play it in the 4th of July show because it's satirical, and the show is about celebrating the 50 states, not mocking them. But the song is so funny that I have to share it.

It's called "Over On the Jersey Side" and it's about the fact that New Yorkers wouldn't be caught dead in New Jersey. I think it's hilarious that this particular snobbery is so old. It's kind of the funniest thing about the song. This recording is by Billy Murray and my guess is it's from early 1909 because there's a joke about Taft having just become President.

It's fiendishly catchy, or maybe I've just listened to too many of these really old recordings and my standards are warped. But I find myself humming this song all the time. "Jersey, Jersey! I wonder who invented poor old Jersey?" I have to mention here that I don't share the general prejudice against New Jersey. I grew up in Delaware and my memory of New Jersey was the beautiful South Jersey countryside. If you hear "New Jersey" and all you think of is the Newark Airport, you really aren't being fair to the Garden State. That said, I'm a sucker for a good old-timey comedy song, and this is a great one.

Warning, the song contains an offensive, though somewhat archaic, ethnic slur in the first verse. If I were going to play it on the air I'd try to remove that part in Audacity, but since I'm just linking to it I think a warning will suffice.

Over On the Jersey Side by Billy Murray

choo choo choo to idaho

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I should be reading my Benny Goodman biography, which finally arrived yesterday, since the Goodman tribute show is in a week and a half. So what am I doing? Planning the 4th of July show instead, of course!

Every year I do a special show of all patriotic songs for Independence Day. Like the Christmas show, I look forward to it for months. I even have a list in my phone so that if I ever hear a good patriotic song on satellite radio, I can write it down before I forget. If the 4th falls in the middle of the week, so my show is nowhere near it, I'll sub for someone on Independence Day itself so I can do my show.

For years I've wanted to do a show with a song for every state. This year the 4th is on a Sunday, so it seems like the perfect time to do it. Thing is, two hours isn't enough. I play about 35 songs in a typical show. No problem! The DJ before me agreed to take the week off and give me his time, so I could do a four hour show. That will be perfect: enough time for multiple songs for a few states. Actually, the DJ after me also agreed to, so I get to pick which show I want to usurp. I could be greedy, grab them both and do a 6 hour show, but that would be crazy.

Anyway, I've been having a blast tracking down state songs. To make things easier for myself, I am allowing songs for a place within a state. For instance a song about New Orleans is okay, even if the word "Louisiana" isn't in the lyrics. On the other hand, I'm giving preference to songs that are actually about the state, rather than say a love song that happens to have the state name in it.

Some states provide an embarrassment of riches -- Texas, California, New York -- while others have been difficult. Lots of searching on iTunes and in the online catalogs of Tin Pan Alley composers. Georg found a web page for me with old timey (public domain) songs for every state, which helped a lot. And I have a complete list! I just found songs for the last stragglers -- New Hampshire and Nebraska -- a couple of days ago. There are a few changes I'll probably want to make. For instance, the Nebraska song is a really short (maybe a minute) excerpt in a medley. And I'm not sure about the Minnesota and Maryland songs. (Maryland was surprisingly difficult!) But at least I have something for every state.

that ever graced the screen

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Had so much fun doing today's all Oscar winners radio show. It turned out to be more work than I was expecting, but so worth it. Most of the prep involved getting the movies from Netflix and ripping the songs -- or in some cases, discovering that the movie version of the song sounded awful, and then choosing another version. When I didn't go with the movie version I tried to play one that was as similar as possible (ideally recorded in the same year) so it would sound similar. The only one that was completely different was "Call Me Irresponsible." It was sung by Jackie Gleason in the movie, and he's supposed to be drunk, and it makes sense within the movie, but as a song it's not something you would want to listen to on purpose. So I played Bobby Darin's version.

I did play a couple of songs that hadn't won: first, I started the show with two songs about Hollywood, "Hooray for Hollywood" and "Hollywood Party." Which I have to say, I've had "Hollywood Party" stuck in my head for days. It's a silly little song from a silly little movie, and fiendishly catchy. You can tell it's from a pre-code movie because it includes the line "Bring along your girl, go home with somebody else's; forget about your girl, she's going to do all right!"

Besides that, I also played "Blues in the Night," which didn't win and probably should have, resulting in some controversy. And under the talksets I mostly played instrumental versions of songs that were nominated & didn't win.

At the last minute, this morning I stumbled onto a CD of old movie commercials, which I had never gotten around to listening to and didn't even remember I owned. Popped it in the computer and it turns out they weren't short commercials, they were 15 minute promotional radio programs about the movies. And there was one for The Gay Divorcee, the source of the first winner, "The Continental." And it took me about 5 minutes to make a one-minute clip that I used to introduce "The Continental." It was great! It actually included the line "The Gay Divorcee is surely the gayest picture ever to grace the screen." Best of all, the show had been one minute short, I was thinking I was just going to have to pad it with a couple of extra long talksets or something. And so this fabulous little clip finished off the show perfectly. It was like the cherry on top.

The most interesting thing for me about hearing all those Oscar winning songs together, was the variable quality. It ranged from songs for the ages, songs that I believe people will still be listening to in a hundred years -- "Over the Rainbow," "It Might as Well Be Spring," -- to songs that should have been allowed to die a merciful death long ago -- "Love is a Many Splendored Thing" for example. (In truth that was the only song I played that I consider genuinely bad. Then again, I stopped at 1965 because 1966's winner was "Born Free.")

I guess it's for a few reasons: first of all, Oscar winning songs are all new, and it's hard to tell in the moment which songs are going to hold up in future years. Well, I think professional songwriters are probably better at judging that, but the entire Academy votes on Best Song. Also, the Academy has its own reasons for rewarding a song, which don't always line up with what I would consider the best song in a year. It is puzzling sometimes though, how they made the choice. For instance, the very first Best Song, "The Continental." The same movie included "Night and Day," which in my opinion is clearly the far better song, and wasn't even nominated. How did they decide which song was worthy of recognition? I have no idea.

Or another example, the year that "Love is a Many Splendored Thing" won, the nominees included "Something's Gotta Give,"Love Is the Tender Trap" and "Unchained Melody." Looking back their choice seems almost perverse. I'm sure it seemed like a good idea at the time.

I did a trivia contest during the program, which was also fun! I tried to come up with questions that went along with the flow of the show. The tricky part was that as the show went on, the songs I was playing answered the questions. I had to discard a couple of questions because I couldn't ask them all at the very beginning. Anyway I think it came together well, and though not all of them got answered, I did get winners for about half. Here are the questions:

1. We're about to hear a song from a movie, which begins with the fanfare played under the studio logo. Listen to the fanfare and name the studio.
(obviously you can't answer this one just from reading this. It was Warner Brothers, the song was "Hooray for Hollywood" from the movie Hollywood Hotel. The rest of the answers will be behind a cut.)
2. The singer who performs an Oscar-winning song in the movie doesn't share in the award, even though a memorable performance can have a lot to do with the song winning. What singer gave the most performances that resulted in a Best Original Song win?
3. At first the award was called "Best Song" and the only rule was that it appeared in a movie in the previous year. "Sweet Leilani" (which I had just played before asking this question) was a radio hit for Bing Crosby in 1935, and then they put it in a movie two years later and it won the Oscar. Now the award is called Best Original Song & the song must be written specifically for the movie. Why was the rule changed?
4. Who is the only Oscar to win an Oscar?
5. What happens to an Oscar statuette when its winner dies?
6. Last year "Jai Ho" from Slumdog Millionaire won best song. That was only the 3rd time the Best Song was not in English. What was the first?
7. For decades there was no rule, but by tradition only one song was nominated per movie. What as the first movie to get more than 1 Best Song nomination?
8. Who was the first woman to win Best Song? Either composer or lyricist.

worst of the best

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I've got almost all the prep done for the Oscar Sunday show. It's all planned out, which versions of all the songs, now it's just a matter of getting the movies from Netflix and ripping the songs from them.

It's going to be a pretty good show I think, both for edumacational merit and for entertainment value. Because the songs that win Oscars tend to be good. Pure pop; I usually play a mix of pop and jazz, and this show will be all pop. All good songs though, with a few notable exceptions. I can't decide which song will be the worst: "Gigi" or "Love is a Many Splendored Thing."

Well, that's not totally honest. "Love is a Many Splendored Thing" is a truly, deeply bad song. It's definitely the worst, and may be a contender for worst song I've ever played on my show. I'm just super bummed about "Gigi" because I had gotten it confused with "Mimi," the Maurice Chevalier song from Love Me Tonight. I think my confusion came about because Maurice Chevalier is also in Gigi. Even though I knew they weren't the same song, and every time I thought about it consciously I'd remember no, that isn't the song. Still everytime I saw "Gigi" on my flowsheet, in my mind I'd hear Chevalier singing "My left shoe's on my right foot, my right shoe's on my left..." and I'd feel happy.

So when I got on Youtube and heard the actual song "Gigi" it was a major disappointment. If the song has any rhythm I can't hear it over Louis Jourdan shouting the lyrics, Broadway-actor-forced-to-sing style. And the song is six and a half minutes long, with no obvious place to cut. In a lot of movie songs, especially the early ones, they sing the song, then they do a dance number, then they sing all or part of the song again. So it's easy to cut an 8 or 10 minute song down to a manageable length. Not "Gigi."

I think what I'm going to do is use the instrumental version that plays under the opening credits, and talk over it. I was trying to avoid doing that, using any the winning songs for talkset background music I mean. But I think it will work better than playing the vocal version. And this way I'll have time to play a fun little song at the beginning of the show called "Hollywood Party." It didn't win any awards, but it is from a movie (surprisingly enough, called Hollywood Party) and it's kind of the perfect song for the Oscars.

hooray for hollywood

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I decided to go ahead and do a special show for Oscar Sunday. And now that I've started planning it, I'm getting excited! I'm going to play 30 years of Best Song winners, starting with the very first, "The Continental" in 1934 and going through to "The Shadow of Your Smile" in 1965.

I already have almost all the songs I need. Though there are a few that I want to play the version from the movie, so I'll be getting a lot of Netflix in the next ten days. (Audio Hijack Pro, how I love you.) I'm trying to play the movie version wherever possible, and if not -- sometimes the movie version is really long and full of tap dancing, or is just a bad version of the song, or what have you -- then a hit version that was recorded in the same year, so at least it sounds similar.

I was concerned that I'd end up playing the same singers over and over again, but that ended up happening much less than I expected. Frank Sinatra four times, Bing Crosby three times (that was a surprise, I thought there would be much more Bing), and several singers twice: Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Bob Hope and Doris Day.

Anyway I think the show is going to be fun!

love is the darndest thing

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Georg and I will be cohosting Divaville Lounge today, with "Love is the Darndest Thing," two hours of songs about the lighter side of love. Songs like "Never Trust a Woman," "That's the Kind of Guy I Dream Of (You Should See the Kind That I Get)," "Down With Love" and "Brother Beware." If you're happily attached, you'll be grateful the person you're with isn't like the people in these songs. And if you're safe, sane and single, well I've got a song called "Safe Sane and Single" so there will be plenty for you. Either way, if you've had your fill of syrupy romance, check it out! 2-4pm, 88.7fm or listen online at wxdu.org.

snowy white snow and jingle bells

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Georg drove me over to the station this afternoon. The roads were starting to clear, though still icy in spots especially in shade. Still, we made it over without incident. Super early too, as we had left enough time to push the car out of a ditch if necessary.

I played a little over an hour of songs about snow, which was a lot of fun. Here's the playlist. Several of the songs I played are associated with Christmas, although they never mention the holiday. Like "Let It Snow" or "Marshmallow World." The songs are about cold weather, and it's kind of a shame that no one ever plays them after Christmas. I did play one song that explicitly says Christmas: "Snowy White Snow and Jingle Bells." I couldn't resist, I love that song so much.

I had all the snow songs on one CD, which totally felt like cheating -- just sitting there letting the CD play out, and hitting "advance" if there was a gap between tracks -- but it was a good thing because one of the CD players was broken and the computing guy came in during my show to fix it. Doing my show with only 2 CD players is hard enough, add someone working on the CD player at the same time and it would have been ridiculous.

On the way home we had to take the long way around -- head up Hillsborough Rd away from town, go to Sparger and double back -- because during the afternoon some idiot had lost control and driven into a telephone pole. The wires were down and Cole Mill was completely blocked. The road wasn't that bad; they must have been driving really fast to hit the pole that hard. Thanks a lot, idiot.

self-promotion

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I'm terrible at self-promotion. So bad that when the station asked specialty DJs to contact them about promotional flyers -- in full color, which they are going to hang, no effort required on our part -- I didn't respond. Because they're going to hang the flyers on campus, and I thought they should focus on shows that would appeal more to students.

Well programming contacted me & asked me to do a flyer, so I did. I think it turned out pretty good!
Divaville Lounge Flyer

I almost bought a new font, but good sense prevailed and I realized the retro fonts I already have are still perfectly good. I still kind of wish I had bought it. Mmm, new font.

recapping the recap

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I think the show today went well! Surprisingly so considering how ill-prepared I was. All I did beforehand was make a list of all the theme shows & events from 2009, then made sure I had all the CDRs I'd made for those shows in my case. During the show today I just pulled up the flowsheets for all those shows, and picked out the songs I wanted to play. These were the theme shows I covered this afternoon:

  • January: memorial tribute to Eartha Kitt
  • January: interview with Sammy Davis impersonator
  • January: "Latin a la Lounge" all Latin music
  • February: memorial tribute to Blossom Dearie
  • February: birthday tribute to Harold Arlen
  • April: "Jungle Madness" all lounge/exotica
  • May: birthday tribute to Bing Crosby
  • May: Memorial Day
  • June: birthday tribute to Richard Rodgers
  • August: memorial tribute to Les Paul
  • September: birthday tribute to Mel Torme
  • October: "Let's Misbehave" all sweet dance band music
  • November: birthday tribute to Hoagy Carmichael
  • November: birthday tribute to Billy Strayhorn

The only themes I skipped today were the July 4th and Christmas shows, which I do every year. Ahh! I just remembered that I was going to promote 2010 and mention all the great theme shows I have planned for the upcoming year, and I totally forgot. Dang.

It's going to be a good year too, with theme shows for Valentine's Day, July 4, Halloween, and Christmas, plus birthday tributes to Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, Dinah Washington, George Gershwin and Frank Sinatra. Plus I'm working on an interview with a lady who attended Duke in the 1940s and sang with Perry Como in the Duke Chapel. I hope that works out!

4 hour show tomorrow

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Due to a last minute scheduling issue (namely, the DJ before me is stuck out of town) I will be doing a four hour Divaville Lounge tomorrow. Noon to 4 pm. I may be a bit loopy by the end so who knows what will happen. 88.7 fm if you're local, http://wxdu.org if you're not.

billy strayhorn

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Just finished a tribute show all about Billy Strayhorn. (As usual, I forgot to mention it earlier today. Doh. At least I posted on Facebook.) It was a bit of a challenge to pull together, both due to issues I've written about already and some computer problems I've been having in the past week (the Mac with all the music on it suddenly decided to stop accepting CDs). Still, I think the show came together pretty well, and I don't think my frazzled feeling was apparent on the air. At least I hope not.

Strayhorn was a really interesting person and I highly recommend the book Lush Life by David Hajdu. Very well written, I felt like he did a great job of describing a complex person with sympathy.

Now I am so very, very glad that my marathon radio month (2 tribute shows a week apart!) is over. I haven't figured out yet what I'm going to do about Christmas -- usually I do an extra-long Christmas music show, but this year Christmas comes late in the week so my last show before the holiday is five days before. Maybe I'll just do the regular 2 hour show and not make a big deal about it this year. I think I'm not going to schedule any theme shows in January either. I'm always glad to do them, but there's so much research and planning and pressure to choose the right songs and say the right things, especially when it's a tribute to a person, that it ends up a bit exhausting. I need a couple of months off, to just have fun and play music in my show.

I've been looking at the 2010 calendar and there are some fun shows coming up next year -- Valentine's Day is on a Sunday, as is Halloween, also the birthdays of Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman and George Gershwin. Thankfully none of those are in January.

Really tonight I should work on the Divaville Lounge show website. I had been keeping it on an old version of Movable Type -- the only site still running on that old version -- because I used a special plugin to manage the dates. It would display "today's show," "last week's show," "next week's show" and the 6 upcoming shows -- in other words, it would display shows starting with tomorrow (the day after one viewed the page, that is) and ending 6 weeks in the future. And the home page rebuilt itself every night, so the relative dates were always correct. It was set up exactly the way I wanted.

Well, a couple of weeks ago my host upgraded my server and now this old version of MT doesn't work anymore. I couldn't add shows or edit the ones that were already there. And that essential plugin doesn't work with the new Movable Type. So I have to write my own code to handle all those relative dates. Kind of frustrating, I can't possibly be the only person who was using that plugin. I've got "today's show" and "all shows in the future" (which I can live with instead of the 6 upcoming shows, if I have to). Have not yet been able to get "last week's show" and "next week's show" to display. So I ought to work on that tonight. Probably won't.

research is fun

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Continuing work on the Hoagy Carmichael and Billy Strayhorn tribute shows. Usually I would only work on one show at a time, because usually I would only do one a month at most. Carmichael and Strayhorn, how dare you have birthdays exactly one week apart? They're happening on the Sunday before and after Thanksgiving, and I don't expect to have much time during Thanksgiving week, so they both have to be completely planned out before the 22nd.

I finished the Carmichael book (which was written in an insufferable style -- he used the word peripatetic twice in the first 20 pages! but chock full of good information), watched a terrible movie about him, and ordered a box set that sounds terrific. I can't wait for it to arrive. It has lots of early recordings, some of which are rare. I also put the movie To Have and Have Not in my queue because I want to play that clip of him chatting with and playing for Lauren Bacall.

I'm about halfway through the Billy Strayhorn bio, which is fantastic. I had no idea Strayhorn was such an interesting person. (It's called Lush Life and I highly recommend it.) I also ordered another book, Something to Live For, that was sort of a musical biography, and I'm embarrassed to admit that it's too technical for me. I don't even read music, and I just can't follow it. I got it used from Amazon Marketplace and based on a sticker on the jacket, I think it was used as a textbook in a music theory class at NYU.

Something to Live For was still worth it (especially at used prices) for the appendices: one lists every song Strayhorn ever wrote or cowrote, and how they were copyrighted. Another lists every song Strayhorn ever arranged that he didn't write, and when it was first recorded. It's invaluable information for preparing this show. It's been a challenge because first of all, Strayhorn's impact is harder to get at. It's easy to find a list of every song Hoagy Carmichael ever wrote. Much harder with Billy Strayhorn, who didn't get songwriting credit for many of the songs he wrote, and influenced many other songs with his arrangements. Secondly, Strayhorn is much more jazz than what I normally play. I normally don't play instrumentals at all, just under talksets, and most of Strayhorn's work was instrumental. So it will be a departure from my normal shows. I hope the listeners won't mind.

music catching up

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This afternoon was my show, which I think sounded fine on the air, but was much more stressful than usual. It's always fast paced because the songs are all so short. And I was kind of tired & was doing everything more slowly than usual. I knew I was feeling out of it when I couldn't find a CD on the shelf and then realized I was looking for When Love Goes Wrong under H! What's that about?

Then late in the show I got a comment about the distinction between hot jazz & sweet bands, and I decided it would be good to play a hot and sweet version of the same song. Which I probably should have done during the sweet band show two weeks ago, but better late than never! Unfortunately I was dawdling about picking out the songs, then suddenly realized I had 20 seconds before the current song ended, nothing cued up and no idea what I was going to play next. Holy crap! I managed to get something into the CD player with only a brief moment dead air, I would guess less than a second. (Then again, a full second of dead air is a really long time. I'll have to listen to the archive and see how it sounds.) I don't know if anyone even noticed but it really threw me off. It's hard to recover from that kind of blind screaming panic. It stressed me out so much that I took a nap when I got home.

After dinner I started working on planning the two tribute shows I have scheduled for November: Hoagy Carmichael and Billy Strayhorn. They both have birthdays on Sundays, only a week apart, and Thanksgiving in between! So I need to have both shows completely planned out in advance. Tonight I got the songs pretty much picked out for the Carmichael show and got started on sequencing. I ordered one CD for each show and put a couple of movies in my netflix queue. (I use Audio Hijack Pro and Audacity to extract songs from movies, turn them into audio files, then burn them to CD. It's been really helpful for these theme shows when I sometimes want to play songs from movies that are hard to find on CD.)

The best news is that the library has good bios of both Carmichael and Strayhorn. If it's not too rainy I'll go check them out tomorrow. I also ordered a book about Strayhorn's music. Probably overkill, but Amazon Marketplace had a used copy for $5.50 including shipping which I just couldn't pass up. So I think I'm in pretty good shape, at least I've made a good start.

his noodly appendage

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Had a fun show this afternoon. Which, as usual, I forgot to mention in advance. I played a few back requests which had been made in previous shows, but I hadn't been able to fill at the time. The best one was the most interesting request I've ever gotten: for songs about the Flying Spaghetti Monster. That one totally stumped me when it came in a couple of weeks ago. I thought it over, did some searching and managed to put together a whole set of Flying Spaghetti Monster music:

  • "Flying Home" Charlie Barnet Orchestra
  • "Come Fly With Me" Frank Sinatra
  • "Cock-a-Doodle, I'm Off My Noodle" Harry Reser and the Six Jumping Jacks
  • "Spaghetti Rag" the Light Crust Doughboys
  • "That's Amore" Dean Martin
  • "One Meatball" Bing Crosby & the Andrews Sisters
  • "Meatballs" Ken Nordine
  • "C is for Cookie" Cookie Monster
  • "Someone to Watch Over Me" George Gershwin

"Cock-a-Doodle, I'm Off My Noodle" was the most fun discovery, a hilarious novelty song from the 1920s. The most hilarious part was that iTunes music store euphemized the title as "C**k-a-Doodle, I'm Off My Noodle." No, I'm not kidding. Thank you iTunes, for protecting me from such dangerous language.

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