Monday, August 18, 2008

Musical Notes by Bob Duskis: Radio, Radio part 1

I hope that by now most of you are familiar with our weekly internet radio program that we call Six Degrees Traveler. I host the broadcast which can be found on Apple i-tunes (under the "eclectic" and "electronica" categories on their "radio" section) and through Over the course of 162 episodes of the show, I have tried very hard to make it more than just another "Global Grooves" program and to instead embrace the spirit of the glory days of "genre-hopping/ free-form radio". I know it dates me as a relic but I can't help it, I pine for the good old days of progressive radio. You see, deep within the breast of this jaded record business survivor, beats the heart of a free-form radio disc jockey. In fact, in another lifetime, before I entered into the world of record label shenanigans, I was fortunate enough to work as a radio DJ at the end of FM radio's glorious format free days.

I caught the radio bug early, growing up on Long Island, New York listening to Alison Steele (, the late night DJ on WNEW FM. Allison called herself "the Night bird" and she would start every program by reading some cosmic poetry over a bed of spacey music. At the end of the poem she would drop her voice into a sensual purr and intone:

"Come, fly with me...Alison Steele, the Night bird on WNEW FM".

I can't imagine I was the only 11 year old male who was excited by more than just the music she played.

My path in life was further solidified by the fact that my high school actually had it's own 10 watt FM radio station, WKWZ Syosset. What an unbelievable opportunity to dip my toes into the waters of broadcasting! The station's faculty advisor was an amazingly cool, young teacher by the name of Fred Zodda. Fred was one of those influential figures that sometimes step into a young person's life and make a huge difference in how they see themselves and the world. (Big shout outs to all of the great teachers out there!) Somehow Fred knew how to focus and channel the creative energy of a bunch of raw, untrained teenagers, giving us enough rope to hang ourselves but always letting us know that he was there with a safety net if we fell flat on our faces (which we frequently did). I ventured down into that radio station as a terrified high school freshman and within a few years I was the station manager,hosting a weekly Saturday night music and talk program called "Flight Into the Night" (shades of Alison Steele).

Was I any good? Of course not! Did I learn a hellovalot? You bet. In fact, by the time I left high school, I was positive that working in radio was what I wanted to do with my life. Little did I know that the days of free-form radio were numbered and the clock of corporate bean counters was ticking away.

To be continued...

photos:Alison Steele
(The Nightbird)

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