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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Sonics

posted by on October 28 at 11:00 AM

In case you haven't heard, The Sonics are playing this Friday at the Paramount Theatre. KEXP DJ and all-around great guy Greg Vandy conducted an interview last week with the archetypal Northwest garage rockers, who haven't played a show (in Seattle - ed.) since 1972. The interview doesn't happen until about halfway through his (October 22) show, but Vandy always puts together excellent episodes of The Roadhouse (Wednesdays, 6-9 pm), and this particular show is dedicated to Northwest garage bands from the 60s. Getting to the beginning of this interview is half the fun.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Rodriguez Live on WDET Oct. 10

posted by on October 9 at 1:35 PM

Rodriguez will folk you up.

Live performances this decade by Sixto Rodriguez, the cult folk-rock figure from Detroit, are very rare. So it might behoove lovers of trenchant lyrics and raw, mind-bending folkadelia to tune in to Detroit public radio station WDET Friday at 8:25 am Pacific and check out how the creator of the classic Cold Fact LP (reissued in August by Seattle’s Light in the Attic Records) is holding up in the new millennium. A tight band consisting of Jim Diamond (Dirtbombs, White Stripes), Matthew Smith (the Go), Bobby Emmett (the Sights) and Dave Shettler (the Sights) 
will back Rodriguez for this on-air action.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Just Like the White Winged Yawn

posted by on September 29 at 11:14 AM

A Moment of Drive-By Synchronization that Spun the Earth

Dove1.jpgDriving North past the bus stop on Rainier Ave. under the I-90 overpass, I saw a man yawning. He was seated, waiting for the bus. It was one of those all consuming yawns. He was a hefty Asian chef with silver slicked back hair. His head was tilted back, eyes were closed, and his apron was still on.

Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen was playing on the radio in my car. “Just like the white winged dove sings a song, sounds like she’s singing / Ooo baby... ooo, said ooo.

As I drove by the bus stop, the man’s yawn coincided exactly with the end of the song’s fourth of fifth verse. Stevie sings a long “oooooaaaaaaahhh”. The timing of the yawn perfectly matched the singing and the mouth movement of the “oooooaaaaaaahhh”. The guy couldn’t have tried to match it any more perfectly.

A hemisphere of realization came over me and I knew I was alive. Too much alignment was there for the instant to have occurred by chance.

Seven that’s: That song on that radio station, during that part, driving by that well lit bus stop? That man sitting there, happening to yawn at that moment, with identical mouth movements and duration to the singing of that of the part in the song?

It may have only lasted for three seconds, but it cracked me on the head.

Sometimes the littlest things have the largest resonance.

It may have only lasted for three seconds, but for those three seconds, it spun the earth.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mauricio Kagel (1931-2008)

posted by on September 21 at 2:38 PM

One of the last great composers of Europe's post World War II avant-garde died last week. He joins a list of brave pioneers: Nono, Berio, Ligeti, Stockhausen...

Mauricio Kagel in a pimp cap

Mauricio Kagel was a trickster, inventor, and filmmaker always attuned to the theatrical elements of music making. He not only understood that all performance is theater, but in his films and scores Kagel magnified tiny, interstitial musical elements into grand gestures (e.g., the madhouse cackling in the Improvisation ajoutée for organist and two assistants).

Unlike Kagel's better-known peers and colleagues including Pierre Boulez-who back in 1954 told him to ditch Buenos Aires and come to Europe-Kagel remains comparatively unknown in the U.S. Many of his works require custom-made instruments or unusual (and thus in America impractical) configurations. The duo Zwei Akte calls for a harpist and reed virtuoso equipped with sopranino (not soprano), alto, and baritone saxophones.

Kagel helped pioneer electronic music; by having performers record custom-made tapes to perform Transición II (1958-59), he helped establish the tape recorder as a musical instrument and legitimate component of chamber music. Kagel also fashioned outsize and at times prankish musical schemes. His hefty Exotica for "extra-European instruments" remains gorgeously difficult listening while Tactil deploys long throbbing tines and louche guitar strums in a sideways homage to Jobim & company.

By the late 1970s, Kagel had consolidated his avant garde tactics with more traditional techniques, and masterfully so; in the sheaf of pieces from 1981's Sankt-Bach Passion to Auftakte, sechshändig of 1996 and after, Kagel commingles the new and the old seamlessly.

To listen, UbuWeb is an excellent place to start and check The Avant Garde Project too.

Tonight on Flotation Device, I'll air Transición II and several other works in tribute to Kagel along with Annea Lockwood's World Rhythms, perhaps the first piece to layer unprocessed field recordings live.

Catch the on-line stream or tune in to KBCS 91.3 FM from 10 pm to midnight.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Alex Ruder: Newish Blood at KEXP

posted by on September 18 at 2:49 PM

Photo by Herman Moore

This week’s Data Breaker focuses on disc jockey Alex Ruder and KEXP’s Decibel-scented Audioasis show, which happens Sat. Sept. 20 at 6 pm. Please check it out—the radio program, I mean, but I wouldn’t object to you reading the column, either.

You can glean more about the music Ruder’s into by tuning in to KEXP 90.3FM tonight at 9, as he subs for DJ Riz. Ruder’s aesthetics range far and deep, and I can’t think of any one else at the station I’d rather hear fill those legendary shoes than young Alex (translation: his tastes closely mirror mine).

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday Morning Going Up

posted by on September 14 at 7:57 PM

What a way to wake up: I arose at 11:10 am to Little Sister’s single “Stanga,” an obscure classic that Sly Stone wrote and produced for um, his little sister, Vet, and which is actually one of his best efforts. Props to the KEXP show Preachin’ the Blues host Johnny Horn, whose set from 11 am-noon was all killer; I need to make a point of catching more of his program every week.

I was mildly hung over from the Stranger’s Genius Award party Saturday night, but this low-key, high-friction funk nugget efficiently brushed away the brain cobwebs and alleviated the pain. Mr. Horn, I want to thank you fa lettin me be mice elf agin.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

James Pants Live on KEXP Sept. 12

posted by on September 11 at 11:18 AM

Stones Throw recording artist James Pants will be performing live at noon in KEXP’s studios as a prelude to Saturday night’s Stranger Genius Awards at the Moore Theatre (it’s free!). The Spokane-based electro/hiphop producer/DJ/remixer is an old-school renovator who knows how to put smiles on faces and bodies on dance floors. See you there.

James Pants on XLR8R TV

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Klaus to the Edge, Ja

posted by on August 26 at 2:56 PM


A friend in Costa Mesa, California recently tipped me off to Klaus to the Edge, a program on WestAddRadio in San Francisco that focuses on krautrock, prog, and heavy psych. Hosts AC and Allan (of the wonderful Aquarius Records) mix intriguing obscurities with sweet cuts by well-known cult acts. They also have a blog. The programmers’ knowledge runs deep and wide. You might like a lot of what they spin.

Klaus to the Edge airs live every third Wednesday 9-11 pm at 93.7FM and at Tune in, burn on, and flop out.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Bug in My Ear

posted by on August 11 at 11:27 AM

Part of my reacclimation process upon returning to Seattle involves heavy exposure to KEXP. I don’t know exactly why yet, but if the last few days are indicative, I’m finding it easier to deal with John Richards’ show now than I had done during my previous years here (2002-2007). Maybe I’m just damned glad to be back in Seatown and everything’s taking on a rosier glow.

Whatever the case, I was pleasantly surprised this morning to hear Richards play the Bug’s “Skeng”at 8:50 in the bloody morning. Nothing like some menacing, punishing dancehall/dubstep to get the blood flowing properly in the A.M.

John: Please continue to spin extreme cuts like “Skeng” [see video below] in prime time. Because, when you get right down to it, your show should be all about pleasing Dave Segal.

The Bug—featuring Warrior Queen and led by mad bass commando Kevin Martin—play the Decibel Festival Sun. Sept. 28. Start looking for a chest protector now.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hollow Earth Radio Will Re-Broadcast Last Week's Live Matmos Performance

posted by on July 14 at 12:25 PM


If you missed it, Matmos, Wobbly, J Lesser came by the Hollow Earth Radio studio on a fine sunny Sunday a week ago and played two amazing sets with a funny and revealing interview in the middle a day prior to their packed show at Seattle's The Triple Door.

This was mostly electronic music improvisation at it's finest starting off with a wonderful interpretation of Robert Ashley's "The Backyard". The textures were thick and pleasant, with bits of humor, guitar, percussion and more...

We will be re-airing their performance this Wednesday evening, July 16th at 9 pm PST and again on Thursday July 17th at 10 am PST in place of 'Canned Fruit'; a weekly show of adventurous listening spanning the entire century of recordings, the entire globe and all genres, focusing on the timeless, funny, and cutting edge.

Hollow Earth Radio is live streaming internet radio from Seattle that sounds great no matter where in the world you may be. You can listen by going to and click "listen now" and choose your preferred player.

Read Eric Grandy's review of the Triple Door show here.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Jug, Not Juggalo

posted by on May 9 at 11:45 AM


Do You Want to be in a Jug Band?

KEXP’s Greg Vandy is looking for people to be in a Roadhouse Jug Band that will perform on the air. So if you play jug, string bass, mouth harp, washboard, tissue paper & comb, or some other homemade instrument such as the cereal box, get in on the action.

To apply, send an e-mail by May 31st to jugband(at) with your name, phone number, preferred jug band instrument(s), and why you think you would be a good for the band. And attach or link to an audio sample of you playing this jug band instrument.

Selected applicants will audition live on Vandy’s KEXP Roadhouse Show (Wednesdays from 6PM to 9PM) in June. Homemade instruments are not necessary.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Tonight on Flotation Device

posted by on May 4 at 4:35 PM

An audio companion to The Score this week: Music from the Analog America compilation out on (noise|order), a hilarious sonic treasure trove of found answering machine cassettes. I'll air the Fellini-esque Prayer For One Galiola by sound voyager Arsenije Jovanovic (pictured below); some fidgety, twittering guitar strumming from Marc Manning's A Skeleton, Soon and Then Forever; and a track or two from the new Aphonia Recordings compilation [ mm viii : #i ].

Arsenije Jovanovic

Also in the mix: Frank Rothkamm, electronic music pioneer (and Dr. Who sound guru) Daphne Oram, Pea Soup, a lovely feedback piece by Nicolas Collins, and Catherine Christer Hennix, who was a student of the legendary La Monte Young in the 1970s.

Catch the on-line stream or tune in to KBCS 91.3 FM from 10 pm to midnight.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

2008 Free Yr Radio Concert Series

posted by on April 22 at 1:42 PM

Eric already mentioned this show in his earlier No Age post, but here's the official press release about the Toyota/Urban Outfitters sponsored Free Yr Radio Concert Series:

After celebrating the launch of the second year of the Free Yr Radio campaign at the South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, TX, in March, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (TMS) announced today details about this year's Free Yr Radio program--including some of the bands slated to perform in the upcoming concert series as well as this year's partner radio stations. Created in 2007 by Toyota Yaris and Urban Outfitters, the Free Yr Radio campaign equips its partner independent radio stations with tools to increase exposure and listener support through various promotional activities--including the free station-hosted concerts.

This year's concert series will consist of 10 shows, from May through October. Each concert will be hosted by a partner independent radio station. Although each show is free, concert-goers must present an invite upon entry. Invites can be printed at prior to each concert.

Seattle's installment (being hosted by, of course, KEXP) is July 23 with live music from No Age and Mudhoney. More details to be announced soon.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Rolling Stones Radio

posted by on April 3 at 3:15 PM

Jack-FM, the DJ-free station that seems to play whatever the fuck it wants, will be STONES-FM this Friday, April 4, "in honor of rock n' roll hall of famers the Rolling Stones. The band will take over the airwaves in a special broadcast event in four cities across the country."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

KMTT DJ Leaves the Station After Being Punished for Playing Uncensored Joe Jackson Song

posted by on March 27 at 12:51 PM

It happened about a week ago, but should you have missed it, here's the letter the Mountain's former Sunday Brunch host, Drew Dundon, posted in his blog after abruptly leaving the station:

Dear Joe Q,

On Sunday, March 16th, I played a song with everybody's favorite expletive included in the lyrics (by accident of course - and thanks Joe Jackson!), in doing so I signed my own pink slip. In corporate radio the F word ranks higher on the "Protect the People" scale than exposed nipple flesh simply because of it's audio nature. As a result of my infraction I was asked to submit to a pre programmed show; instead I chose to leave.

I understand the station's position as government fines for this kind of issue are just ridiculous - if the FCC put as much energy into keeping diversity alive as they do into policing for swear words we'd all be much better off.

Sunday Brunch was a true labor of love for me and a great pleasure to put together live each week. I want to thank all my listeners for tuning into the program and the Mountain for allowing me the freedom to host such a unique show over the years.

Music programming and broadcasting are in my blood and one of these days I'll get back at it, either in radio or elsewhere, but first I'm going to sleep in late for a few Sundays and make sure to enjoy the experience!

Check back here again soon and I'll let you know what's next. In the mean time I'll devote some web space to reviewing and recommending music here on this page.

Thanks again, see you soon,

Monday, March 24, 2008

Hollow Earth Radio Needs a New House

posted by on March 24 at 11:59 AM

A message from the dear folks at Hollow Earth:

Hollow Earth Radio has to move! Our landlord is selling our house, and we have to move by May 1st.

Currently, our setup is this: We live in a two story home with a basement. The radio is in the basement and feels separate from our living space. This works out well for us. We like that the radio is in the same building as our home, but If you know of a public venue that doesn't have a living space attached, we would be open to this too.

Our budget is up to $1400 a month for home/radio. If it is a home, we are open to having a roommate(s) who don't mind people coming in and out of the house all the time to volunteer possibly late into the night.

We are really sad we have to move, but hopefully this will place us in an even more ideal situation! Please HELP! We have to move fast on this.

If you know of any good places (they are looking for something between Ballard and Capitol Hill), you can shoot them an email at

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Changes Over at KNDD. Or, Radio Hates Seattle.

posted by on March 13 at 11:54 AM


If you listen to 107.7 the End with any sort of regularity, you've probably noticed the staff change that recently went down over there. Earlier this week both Jim Keller and DJ No Name were let go from the station, and five-year long evening host harms was pulled from his 6-10 slot to move over as the station's new Programming Director. He's always been working behind the scenes during the day and, he says, while he'd prefer to keep doing evenings and is sad to let the shift go, he understands that his new position will require a lot more work and there just isn't time to do both. He'll stay on-air, though, doing the New Music show and his podcast.

So what's left at 107.7 the End? Adam Corolla is still on mornings--being blasted in live from LA. Radio Impulse has replaced No Names 10 am-2pm show. Radio Impulse, says the stations website, is "interactive radio that puts you in control of the airwaves. You can text, im, e-mail or voicemail your requests directly to RADIO IMPULSE, vote for the Song Of The Hour, and interact with The End and other listeners." (So some dude in Montana can control what we end up hearing in Seattle.) Church of Lazlo is still on from 2-6 pm, and it's also aired 3-8 pm on 96.5 the Buzz in Kansas City. Jordin Silver is now doing evenings, and then Loveline follows, which is on many other radio stations all over the country.

According to the website, Chris Travis is still hosting the End's two-hour weekly local show every Sunday from 7-9 pm. So at least we have that. (I contacted him to confirm, but have yet to hear back.) UPDATE: Chris Travis is indeed still hosting the local show. (He also confirmed that he's at SXSW and he saw one of my favorite bands, Meneguar, last night along with Eric Grandy, and he thought they were fucking awesome. Damn, I'm jealous.)

Why does Seattle have such a hard time keeping radio stations and their programming IN SEATTLE?

Friday, February 29, 2008

Yo La Tengo Takes Requests

posted by on February 29 at 3:31 PM

WFMU, the realest (coolest, awesomest, sweetest, tightest) radio station in the country, is doing their annual fund-drive right now. They only have one a year because they are fucking REAL, hear me?

Anyhow, part of their fund-drive tradition is an in-studio performance from Yo La Tengo, but not just any in-studio--Yo La is taking requests:

We've been blessed with the annual ritual since 1996: each WFMU marathon our good New Jersey neighbors (give or take a New Yorker or two) Yo La Tengo have graciously dragged their gear down to our studios and helped us raise cash by attempting to play requested covers for real live pledgers. Any request. Were they ever afraid of falling on their faces by not knowing the chords to "Rock the Boat" or "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet"? Hell no.

I think Line Out should choose a song to submit. Since I was planning to pledge anyway, I'll just act as your superdelegate.

Which song should Yo La Tengo play for Line Out?

Of course, feel free to throw superior suggestions in the comments. Poll closes Sunday at 5, when the show starts.

UPDATE: I added Justin Timberlake's "My Love" to the poll because I decided I would really like them to play that.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Running on Empty

posted by on February 25 at 10:23 AM

KEXP is doing their pledge drive this week, and it occurs to me that if some hypothetical person doesn't happen to like the KEXP-simulcasting-in-New-York deal, now would be the best, if not only time to call them up and explain exactly why KEXP isn't getting any of their hypothetical money this time around. The next pledge drive would probably be too late. Hypothetically.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I am Not a Motherfucking Morning Person

posted by on February 14 at 10:41 AM

As of yesterday, I have to wake up at 8 in the motherfucking morning. This is a challenge for me, because I usually roll out of bed at ten and accomplish exactly nothing until one or two in the afternoon. I am a night person, and yesterday I think I fell asleep before ten p.m.

I had a day job over ten years ago, and I hated every minute of the mornings: the crowded public transportation, the pained expressions on my fellow commuters' faces, the long lines at coffee shops: All of it was bad.

The worst part of waking up on the north side of noon, though is Morning Motherfucking Radio. I hate it. I don't understand why most radio stations think that the morning is an ideal time to put on the DJs who talk the most. I don't want to hear it. I can barely comprehend lyrics before eleven in the morning.

That's why I've been listening to Rainydawg Radio. It's not perfect--what radio station is?--but I like that the morning hosts sound as groggy and discombobulated as I do. I also like that I have no idea what the next song will be. The first thing that I heard this morning, during an instrumental show, was Lightning Bolt, playing "Two Towers:"

Good! Morning!

Now if only Rainydawg could get some space on the radio dial, as I can't take my laptop into the shower. Hm. Where could the University of Washington find a frequency on the radio?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Confidential to John Richards

posted by on February 13 at 1:01 PM

Today's Morning Faithful newsletter, in its entirety:


Day 2 of the NYC announcement....which means that I've pretty much talked to every press person in Seattle and beyond. Crazy! The response has mostly been really positive, but its interesting overall how much the focus of what KEXP is doing steers towards what I am doing or who I am. It’s actually unfortunate when that happens since what KEXP is doing is so ground breaking[sic], true to its mission, and so centered on bringing great music to people. I get it though; personality is a bit more interesting. For the most part though, the people who really listen to the show and support the station "get" what KEXP has done, is doing, and will do in the future. It’s awesome and I wouldn't change a thing. Thanks for the support Morning Faithful!

A few observations I’d like to share with you all that I really haven’t before because I've always shared pretty much everything with you and need to clear my head. The first is about being "known" or "fame" or whatever. I mean this in the least cocky way, but in my life I've gained more notoriety during the last few years and it has had a major impact on everything. I'm not totally at ease with the attention, but I’ve become more comfortable with all of it partially because of the good nature of most of the people who approach, call, or email me. But a few of the downfalls that come with being a public figure include having some people decide who you are, what you are about, and taking a lot of liberty with the facts. What you also don't hear much about are the numerous stalkers and/or crazy people out there and the multiple times we’ve had to involve the police. We've even had to take legal action in a couple of situations. This was not enjoyable for me or my family...obviously. One time a person approached my son while he was walking around with my friend who was watching him. This person was scary, screaming my son’s name, and wearing a KEXP sticker on his forehead. This caused them to have to run into a nearby business to get away. Yes I know-WTF? I’m not sharing this so that people will feel sorry for me, but I think it helps people to know what kind of world you step into when you become this public figure.

I understand that this happens because I am myself on the air. I get that. I share my life. I share my world. I take a risk. I want people to know WHO is bringing them music. But no one signs up for that kind of attention. I’m sure you agree.
It’s also interesting to see people get down on me for other things. Luckily, most of what I hear is insanely great. I talk about my kid too much on the air, I play too much of this, too less[sic] of that...there are a million little things that I could add here. That being said, you have to program a show and not let those things get to you right? Some days this is easier said than done. All of our DJ’s[sic] face this and some may talk about it or not. You want to serve the public, yet some of the public doesn’t like what you’re serving. You have to remember to keep focused and know that you’re on the air for a reason. But think about why it would affect you. You do your job. You give it your best. Imagine 10 people comment to you that you did a great job, but one person tells you that you're terrible and that you’ve done a terrible job. Which comment will you go home with in your head? It’s natural for some to be negative- I accept that, but people don't realize that people in the public eye also have feelings. I do. I'm an emotional person. I'm working on it. In a perfect world, yes I would suck it up every time, but I’m only human. Again, 99% of the feedback is AWESOME.

I had a co-worker come by the other day and say that whenever anyone asks them if they know me, a lot of times they'll also ask "he's a dick right?" or say things like "he must be totally arrogant". He responded that "No, actually he's a good guy and one you could go have a beer with". It's true...and I love beer. I’m not saying that I don’t have my bad days. Anyone else who gets up totally early, (like at 3:45am) while raising a 3 year old knows first hand that your disposition isn’t always going to be the brightest. But for the most part I always aim to treat people with respect and kindness and if I really like them, they’ll also get a TON of sarcasm. Some people really don't want for you to be a good person; they NEED for you to be a terrible person. I think that it might stem from the fact that I have one of the best jobs in the world or maybe it's more that some people aren't the happiest with their own life...or maybe just simply most assume that if a person is a public figure that they probably suck. I can't blame them, it’s not like I don't say "Who is that actor? He's TERRIBLE, I hate that guy" or "Why on earth is this guy a newscaster? Look at his hair". It’s as if they're not really human. The difference is that I don't take the time to communicate my opinion to them or write a blog about it. Technology allows us to say what we want, send what we want, and never really have to back it up with fact. I'm okay with the fact that it’s a way for people to vent. However, when it’s just not true or it’s directed at parts of my life that they know absolutely nothing about, that's when I get frustrated. The benefit of the doubt will always go to the negative. How on earth could you assume the positive? That guy sucks!!!

What some people don't know about me or what they choose to not want to know about me are a number of things. One is that I work hard. I always have. I work 12 hours a day pretty much no matter what. I'm not bragging or complaining. I like to work. I worked hard for KCMU without being paid at all and once I was paid, it wasn't enough to live on. I’ve worked for the station for over 12 years now, most of which were spent on credit cards, loans, and a very patient wife. I like to multitask and try new things. If I don't have many things going on at once, I go crazy. I have a record label that I've never made a dime on but I love it. It’s fun to work with bands and get music out there. I’ve even volunteered my time to help manage a band (The Blakes) through a time in their career when they needed help. I was criticized by some people for that. Yet the band did the right thing and signed to a great local label, went on to work with my friend who does manage them day to day and I never made a penny. It would have been okay if I had, according to all the rules I work under and agree to as set forth by the station. I've worked with a guy named Gary Gersh for years. At one point while being paid and at another point while not being paid as he was building his company. Why? Because Gary signed bands like Nirvana and Sonic Youth and I've learned more from him in 6 or 7 years than I have with most people I’ve spent a larger amount of time with. He is one of the few pure and true people in the music business and he serves as a great example to learn by.

Be a good person. No matter what.

Another thing some people don’t know about me or assume is that if I do have the best job in the world, surely it must have been handed to me or "I'm lucky". It is true that I am lucky. I'm lucky that a place like KEXP exists and I'm very proud of the fact that it exists partly because of my hard work which started with the station back in about 1995 as a volunteer, then as a part time DJ, then as a full time DJ, then as an actual employee, and then onto a leadership role where I helped come up with ideas such as the non-profit benefit shows at High Dive, the 500 club, the Kid’s Dance Party and then ensuring that those ideas were actualized. I think that some people just assume that I showed up one day, was given the shift, and that I get to go home as soon as the show is done at 10am. This is not true. Ask my wife. I'm bad at a LOT of things. I can't cook, I can't do math, I really never could speak a foreign language. But what I can do really well is a radio show which I get to program, as well as raise money for the station where I do this radio show because I love it here so much AND I believe in its mission and need to exist. In return, the station has supported me, as have the members.

As for spending time in NYC, I can't wait. Not just because it'll be nice to experience that part of the world. Not just because we can make the show even better through our ties with one of the few other stations that exist like ours, but also because the people here at KEXP believe in this partnership with WNYE and believe in the good that this decision will bring for those here in Seattle as well as for KEXP listeners everywhere.

I love Seattle. It will always be my home. Unfortunately, Seattle does not offer the best opportunities in the fashion industry. My wife is in the fashion industry. She has lived here since she was born. When I met her 10 years ago, she was moving to NYC. She changed her plans to move to NYC 10 years ago FOR ME. Not for the radio DJ that everyone knows now, but for me, John Richards...with a bad haircut, bad credit, a job that didn't actually pay money, but a total and complete belief in what I was and what I was doing.

Believe in good people. No matter what.

She now gets to go over there and live part of her dream that she has put on hold for a decade. We're not tied to there forever. We're not leaving our hometown for good. She finally gets to live her dream and I will see my family less for chunks of time in order for that to happen because my base is here. Does that freak me out? Yes and no. I don't want to leave KEXP, but more than anything on Earth I also don't want to hold back the woman I love. I am very lucky that many factors have come together around the same time in order for me to say to my wife, "Now its my turn to let you realize your dreams and ambitions". All of this can happen because the station and YOU believe in me, my work and the station's vision and values. Will this anger people, sure; Why should I get to live my dream? Why should Tiffany get to live hers? That's one of [the] things wrong with the world. We should all get to live our dream. BUT I firmly believe if you work as hard as you can at something that you really love (this includes relationships), that you will indeed get your dream. OR you can choose to sit on the sidelines and bitch about anyone who actually does go for it and in a way that they can honestly look at themselves in the mirror each night and agree that they've done their best.

I just want to finish this with a few last words (and now I feel like Tom Cruise in "Jerry Maguire" writing his late night manifesto). The fact that a guy who moved to Seattle from Spokane in 1993 and didn't have a dime, a job, or any connections at all could someday help build a station like this and then have a show that has had some serious impact on the world is beyond a dream come true. Completely beyond.

I have a wife who supports me who is amazing beyond words. Our son is the coolest, most beautiful being on earth. I shared with all of you my experiences of his birth. I also shared with you the loss of both of my parents after long battles with cancer, as well as the loss of my Father in law who passed away in his sleep a few years ago. The Morning Faithful helped me get through it. Me...A DJ...on a radio station. You’ve helped me and I hope that I help you every morning with music and by being honest and myself. We’ve been through it together and we will continue to be there for each other here, there, and everywhere. The Morning Show and the Faithful will remain the same. It may be a difficult concept for some to get. I get it. Many of you get it and its all the more reason why I may be the luckiest person on earth.

By now most of you have probably stopped reading this or maybe you didn’t need to hear any of this because you already know all of it or maybe you just like listening to the music and don’t really need a manifesto sent to you. Any which way, it’s a healthy exercise to write and get out what’s on your mind. I felt I might as well send it out the people I love.

I swear I’m not crazy. Well, mostly.

I’m going home now. See you tomorrow.

Monday, February 11, 2008

About Local (Seattle) Music, John Said:

posted by on February 11 at 3:31 PM

Earlier, I asked DJ John Richards if the new KEXP partnership with Radio New York would mean less coverage of Seattle music.

He said:

KEXP plays more local music than anyone in town ever has or ever will.

The Morning Show absolutely will not turn its back on Seattle bands just because it's on the air in New York. In fact, the Morning Show in New York will be a huge benefit to Seattle bands because they will be able to reach many more listeners.

The second anyone hears less from the Seattle music scene is the second I quit doing a radio show. Why on earth would KEXP stop doing supporting local music? That's what it's been doing successfully for 30 years?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Tonight on Flotation Device

posted by on February 10 at 10:23 AM

Music by underrated electronic music pioneers Josef Anton Riedl and Alwin Nikolais, the first person to buy a Moog synthesizer. Also on deck: Leticia Casteneda, who served up a superb set at the Wooden Octopus Skull PFest in 2006, acousmatic music by Darren Copeland, and the League of Automatic Music Composers, perhaps the first group to make music with networked computers.

Nico Muhly

Also in the mix: two Seattle sound artists - Byron Au Yong and some fine field recordings from China by Jason Kopec, who performs this coming Tuesday at the Chapel Performance Space - as well as work by Annea Lockwood ("Delta Run," a haunting end-of-life portrait of the sculptor Walter Wincha), John Adams, Nico Muhly (pictured above), and much more...

Catch the on-line stream or tune in to KBCS 91.3 FM from 10 pm to midnight.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings on KEXP @ 4:30pm

posted by on December 11 at 4:08 PM


Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings are going to be on KEXP at 4:30 (before the in-store at 6pm at Silver Platter Queen Anne). I was at the taping for this a few hours ago, and you're in for a treat. It was a sit-down show at The Triple Door, and was thus lacking in the dancing department (in the audience anyway), but it was nice to just sit and marvel at Sharon Jones and the band instead of splitting attention between the music and dancing like on Saturday night. Sharon Jones is a great performer, and her energy should come across on the recording (loved the cover of Janet Jackson's "What Have You Done For Me Lately?"). Whether you tune in or not, don't miss the in-store, which should provide more of a party atmosphere, with (hopefully) a packed house dancing in the aisles.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Megan Seling can be heard on the End sometimes...

posted by on November 30 at 11:05 AM

...but get this: Martha Stewart's people want Seling to be a guest on Martha Stewart Living Radio to talk about this article.

Here's the email Megan got yesterday from a producer:

Hey Megan,

I'd like to invite you to join us on "Morning Living" on Martha Stewart Living Radio. We'd love to talk about your efforts (as detailed in "The Long Winter") to cook all 106 recipes in Martha's Holiday Cookies magazine. Are you available during any early morning hours (like, pre-8am PST) in mid-December? I assume we'd have to conduct the interview by phone, but if you plan on visiting NYC in the near future, let me know.

Here's a brief description of our show:

Martha Stewart's Morning Living
Monday - Friday 7 am - 11 am ET (LIVE)
"Morning Living," hosted by Kim Fernandez with Betsy Karetnick, kicks off Martha Stewart Living Radio programming every weekday morning with the nation's most noted chefs, gardeners, designers, celebrity interviews and expert advice on living well.

Recent Guests: Alice Waters, David Chang, Michael Hebberoy, Alfred Portale, Govind Armstrong, Cynthia Rowley, Mario Batali, Paul Prudhomme, Barbara Kafka, Jane and Michael Stern, Preston Bailey, Andre Soltner, Lidia Bastianich, Patricia Volk, Michael Lomonaco, Gael Green, Grant Achatz

Thank you and I hope you can join us soon!

I realize this isn't about music per se. But maybe they'll play that Velvet Teen song.

Friday, October 5, 2007

An Open Letter to KISS 106.1

posted by on October 5 at 3:55 PM

Dear KISS 106.1,

I propose that the song "Hot in Herre" by Nelly should, like white shoes, not be played after Labor Day (or whenever we get the last day of warm weather in September, whichever comes later). Playing it now, in October, just as 9 months of cold is starting to settle in on Seattle, is simply cruel. It's not going to be getting hot in herre (sic) for a very long time. We should be layering, not taking our clothes off. Please, please try to keep this gem in your rotation only between the months of, say, May and September. Thank you.

Eric Grandy

PS. Ballet has new menus.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

I Have To Admit...

posted by on September 29 at 9:53 AM

that every once in awhile I'm impressed with some of the music that NPR drags up for it's quarter-to-the-hour cultural spotlights.

Take this report on a ccapella vocal group from the University Of Pennsylvania that mixes modern pop songs with hindi musical standards. It's surprisingly good.

The interview is a little earnest, and the pop songs they use are a bit suspect, (The Police? Sting's Desert Rose? Ugh.), but the idea holds up on its own and is pretty enertaining.

The link has audio samples to check out.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

On the Radio

posted by on September 23 at 3:43 PM

In the score this week, I wrote about DIY surround sound by The Flaming Lips, Ron Fein, and Phil Kline. Tonight on Flotation Device, I'll air Fein's magnificent plunderphonic collage for multiple boomboxes, Purple Mountains Majesty.

Jorge Antunes

Also in the mix: two pioneers of electronic music - Mario Davidovsky and Brazilian composer Jorge Antunes (pictured above) - as well as Caroline Wilkins, local electronicists Cardboard, and Jeph Jerman, who goes low-tech with vinyl, playing LPs with the spikes of a prickly pear.

Catch the on-line stream or tune in to KBCS 91.3 FM from 10 pm to midnight.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Oh NO!

posted by on August 9 at 10:19 AM

The KUOW morning show, with Steve Sher, is doing a show on Seattle Hip Hop right now. He's trying to tie all the local club unrest with the local Hip Hop scene.

God he's a fucking dork wad.

Friday, July 13, 2007

KEXP Teaches Me A Lesson, Rubs It In

posted by on July 13 at 4:21 PM

Yesterday I posted about the unhealthy relationship I was developing with KUBE, “Seattle’s #1 Hit Music Station,” which plays the same eleven songs over and over and over until they are eating your brain while you sleep.

Today I turned away from KUBE (thanks to another goddamn song built around a whiny "R&B"-style vocal hook; maybe it was Akon or T-Pain or Neyo or whatever douchebag is making slimy love to his vocoder these days) and landed on KEXP. At first I thought the song playing was another wispy indie-guitar trifle but then the guitar riff opened up over some sunny hip-hop beats, and some guy with an appealingly raspy voice starting rapping about trigonometry? Calculus? Some math thing, and all these great weird instrumental hooks started falling in place and by the second chorus I realized this one track had more substance than 1,001 KUBE jams.

To rub it in, the KEXP mystery jam was followed—seamlessly and gorgeously—by the muffled electro-beats and weeping-whale noises of TV on the Radio's "I Was a Lover"....

Forgive me, KEXP; I'll never stray again.

(At least not until Ciara has a new single or KEXP's Saturday morning political reporter mumbles his 10,000th "uh.." of the hour...)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

KUBE = Crack

posted by on July 12 at 10:45 AM


I don't drive much, but when I do, I listen to the radio, and lately my station of choice has been KUBE 93, "Seattle's #1 Hit Music Station."

For those who don't know, KUBE plays the same dozen songs over and over and over and over and over, and much of my tuning in has been motivated by curiousity: If I turn on KUBE, will I really hear "Party Like a Rockstar" within five minutes? Yes!

Unfortunately, "Party Like a Rockstar" is one of the KUBE standards that I hate, but there are plenty more I've learned to love, or at least tolerate. That spicy Ciara song about how sometimes she wishes she didn't like a boy, or gave head like a boy, or something? Love it! (Especially the sizzurpy male underscore vocal.) Sean Kingston's "Beautiful Girls" (ably dissected by Michaelangelo Matos here)? Love it! That mercilessly repeated T-Pain song with "I got money in the BANK!" whined R&B-style? It's okay, mostly because its hook reminds me of a far superior Prince song ("Incense & Candles") that I can sing over the T-Pain track.

The brazen repetitiveness is kind of soothing, and it's nice to know that so many other citizens are being stalked by the same songs I am. Still, some KUBE mysteries remain: Why are they still playing "California Love" and "Ridin' Dirty" so frequently? How long does any one track stay in the merciless-repeat cycle? And what they hell is Ciara talking about???

Thank you for your help and commiseration.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

"You Party?"

posted by on July 7 at 10:47 AM


When I drive, I listen to the radio. Sometimes I scan. Sometimes, the scan lands on a bad song or a song not fitting the mood.

I just pulled up to a stoplight, with the windows down, cranking Sarah Mclachlan. A truck pulled up next to me with its windows down. There were two men in the truck, big men. With cowboy hats on. Maybe in town for the Kenny Chesney show at Qwest field.

They looked at me dismissively. Like, “That’s all you got, boy?” One of them spat. A perfect stream of spit, manly, succinct and dominant, that told me I was the lesser male.

I hit scan, in attempt to redeem, hoping it would land on some sort of Metallica.

It landed on Pink’s “Get This Party Started.”

The man spat again, and was disgusted. I turned it up. He scoffed.

I felt like I had to say something. So I asked him, “You party? Cause I can squat thrust 835 pounds.”

He said nothing, and looked away, somewhat confused. The light turned green. We pulled off. I had won. I tried to spit, but it blew back through the window and landed all over my face. Hopefully, he didn’t see.

Friday, June 1, 2007

The Score (supplemental)

posted by on June 1 at 4:04 PM

In The Score this week, I tout Bartok's lone opera, Bluebeard's Castle. I went last night and enjoyed the lyrical power of mezzo-soprano Sally Burgess and bass-baritone Charles Robert Austin. The Symphony played with superb ferocity, though they sometimes overpowered the singers. When mouths move, voices should be heard.

I suspect the Monolith-like rotating stands that line the stage and house the Chihuly sculptures make it hard for Schwarz & Co. to hear. It was a moving concert nonetheless; catch Saturday's performance if you can.

György Ligeti

My only wish for the Seattle Symphony's Central Europe Music Festival: Bridging the 48th Parallel? More bold orchestral music.

One of the great composers of orchestral music in the 20th century, György Ligeti (depicted above), is not represented (though Joshua Roman reprises Ligeti's Cello Sonata this coming Saturday afternoon). I was hoping for Lontano or Ligeti’s big hit from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, the implacably eerie Atmosphères. Nor do any of the fiercer moderns such as Ana-Maria Avram, Iancu Dumitrescu, or Violeta Dinescu appear.

I'll remedy that this Sunday on Flotation Device with music by Ligeti, Avram, Dumitrescu, and much more. Any requests for Zoltán Pongrácz?

Catch the on-line stream or tune in to KBCS 91.3 FM from 10 pm to midnight.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Takin' Over

posted by on May 21 at 3:50 PM

My waiter was watching this video on his laptop at lunch today, clearly audible over the usual Kiss 106.1:

Saturday, April 21, 2007

On the Radio: Stockhausen

posted by on April 21 at 5:49 PM

This Sunday night on Flotation Device: Stockhausen's Telemusik which I described several weeks ago in an I'd Love to Turn You On to: column as a masterly metamorphosis of ethnographic recordings from Japan, the southern Sahara, Bali, the Amazon basin, and elsewhere. Telemusik vibrates with fizzing sine waves, vocodered voices, and audible electromagnetic fields.

Karlheinz Stockhausen

Also in the mix: Wolfgang Rihm, Yann Novak, New Zealand composer Judith Exley, German electroacoustic composer Dirk Reith, 1950s electronic music by Toru Takemitsu, and "Oamtanlt," one of the randomized control trials by Martin Bland. And more....

Catch the on-line stream or tune in to KBCS 91.3 FM from 10 pm to midnight.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Dubstep Finds a Home on KBCS

posted by on February 23 at 7:37 PM

DJ Struggle: The bass pressure is ON.

On Feb. 24, DJ Struggle and the Milkman debut the first Seattle-area radio show dedicated to the emerging electronic-music genre dubstep. The program, which I think is called The Dubstep Invasion, will air Saturdays 1-3 am at 91.3FM and will stream at

Here’s an interview with key dubstep producer Kode9 to which Struggle links on his MySpace. It may resonate with you later when you become obsessed with this music.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

On the Radio

posted by on February 18 at 8:49 PM

Tonight on Floatation Device: Music reviewed in The Score this week, including Luigi Nono (yes, I'm on a Nono binge), quintetAvant, and Stravinsky.

Igor Stravinsky

Also in the mix: Glenn Kotche, Quiet American, Toshio Hosokawa, Anthony Braxton, Shulamit Ran, and a trio with Andrea Neumann, who performed last night at the Seattle Improvised Music Festival.

Catch the on-line stream or tune in to KBCS 91.3 FM from 10 pm to midnight.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Various on KEXP Today

posted by on February 16 at 2:24 PM

The verbally vague fellows of Various Productions will be getting all mysterious on KEXP today at 4:30 pm, before they perform tomorrow night at Chop Suey with Scientific American and NDCV. In this week's Data Breaker, Dave Segal says:

Various daub the air in muted midnight blues and cloistral purples. The rhythms lurch around sympathetic bass throbs and hauntingly beautiful melodies that allude to both gothic dungeons and verdant fields, aided by an array of capable male and female vocalists.

Ill be tuning in and turning up.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

On the Radio

posted by on February 11 at 5:51 PM

Tonight on Floatation Device: Terre Thaemlitz, Luigi Nono, some dubbed-out Sun Ra, and Laeticia Castaneda (who was stunning at the last Wooden Octopus fest) as well as acousmatic music by Bernard Fort and Olga Neuwirth's tribute to William S. Burroughs, Nova/Minraud.

Sun Ra Luigi Nono

Catch the on-line stream or tune in to KBCS 91.3 FM from 10 pm to midnight.

Afterwards at midnight catch the final show of Iain Edgewater's long-running Prisms. Over two lengthy runs (May 2000-December 2003 and August 2004-February 2007), Edgewater aired an astonishing variety of contemporary classical music heard nowhere else on Seattle radio. He will be missed.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Random Encounters with Young DJs

posted by on January 28 at 8:13 PM


Within the span of an hour at Friday night’s Subtle/Truckasaurus/Pigeon John show at Neumo’s, I had inspirational conversations with two young area radio DJs. What are the odds?

The first occurred with Gavin Dahl of Olympia's KAOS, who used to host the Yes Yes Y’all show on KBCS. He now handles three shows: Breakfast Special (music, news, Mondays 6-9 am); Movements (electronic, hiphop, funk, ska, Wednesdays 3-5 pm); Digital Crossroads (media tech activist talk show, Fridays 12-1 pm). Dahl rapped in my ear at a rapid rate about wanting to boost awareness throughout the nation of local hiphop artists. He emanated a selfless, overpowering zeal to promote Seattle’s scene. Dude seemed utterly sincere and bursting with energy and good intentions.

The second jaw-wagging session was with Alex Ruder, an intern at KEXP who also ran the electronic-oriented Something for Your Mind show for two years and then a morning variety program on UW’s Rainy Dawg until June 2005. He’s been at KEXP for a year and a half and is itching to get airtime. Meanwhile, he’s written hundreds of CD reviews for internal use among programmers. Chatting with him revealed a young man with impeccable musical taste and the sort of passion and curiosity essential for quality DJing. Ruder expressed a burning desire to fill local airwaves with more hiphop and electronic music, even if it has to be done during the graveyard shift. I have the highest expectations for Ruder; it would be nice if KEXP eventually gave him a shot on the mic.

Both of these youthful talents give one hope for the future of local radio.