I’ve been doing folk radio since a year or so out of Lehigh in the mid 70’s. I started at WSAN when Mike Stoner asked me to take over his slot on this fairly hip FM station, back when FM was taking chances, playing underground music, ten minute cuts with sophisticated DJ’s making social commentary. It was an exciting time to be doing radio, even though I was doing only a couple of hours a week under the wing of the great Dave Fox, the Lehigh Valley’s first and best counterculture radio figure.
It was still spinning records and the ‘feel’ of radio was a very present thing, cueing up the cut on the turntable, backing up enough to hear the start of the tune fade to silence, and then releasing the disc. It was a very tactile experience and I revelled in doing it right, often in key with the proceeding song. It was very satisfying and very similar to my live band experience, segueing from one dance tune to another with no space in between.
I eventually hooked up with WMUH out of Muhlenberg College and its community broadcasters group, the strong group of folks who took over from the students when they were off campus. It was a strange arrangement. The college was dedicated to using the station to teach the students radio skills, so they had priority status for the school year. It was often embarassing to listen to. But, in order to maintain the radio license, the station had to broadcast year ’round. That’s where the community staff came in. It was a motley group of intelligent musically attuned folks that had special ears for punk, folk, alternative, international and more. We all had a home amongst the cacaphony of commercial radio, and we loved it.
I did a Friday afternoon show called Hep Cat’s Holiday, from a Cats and the Fiddle tune, which I started the show with every week. It was a mix of folk, roots rock (before the term was invented), swing, blues, etc. and it was the first opportunity to play Godfrey’s players on the radio in the Lehigh Valley. It was a foot in the door and I was committed to doing it. When I had school gigs, I had several good folks who understood my format and could adapt their styles to the show. Jim Mertz, John Furphy and Truman Ingelsbe really had my back while I was trying to support my young family and promote Godfrey’s at the same time. Blood brothers, indeed.
It was still record album based, with two turntables, left and right, along with cart machines for the PSA’s. It was comfortable to go left to right to left, etc. Agian, it was nice to have the ‘feel’ of spinning records, enjoying the large graphic formats.
Out of the Lehigh Valley Broadcasters, the WMUH community folks, there began a search to create an independant station, apart from the confines of the college situation. It was the impetus to form WDIY, and the group met monthly at Godfrey’s to persue that end. It happened in 1984.
I was asked to do a similar program to Hep Cat’s Holiday, so I put together a similar show called All Reet Street, garnered from a Cab Calloway song ‘Are You All Reet?’. It was a Saturday morning/afternoon (11 am til 1 pm) mix of folk, swing, contemporary songwriters, vintage roots and blues. It was, once again, a chance to promote Godfrey’s acts and their music in the Lehigh Valley.
There was a cross over when I was doing the Friday show on MUH and the Saturday show on DIY, so I was stretched pretty thin, along with my school gigs and booking Godfrey’s and tending to my young family. But, it was a good and noble time.
When the millenium rolled around, I was put to the test when my wife Kim got the opportunity to become a UU minister after her Moravian studies in CT. This meant uprooting all that I had been working on in this community, and I accepted the new challenge. This meant leaving the Godfrey’s community of 25 years, my performance connections, my radio shows. Everything. But it was a no-brainer for me. My family and my dedication to my wife’s career path and our marriage was the obvious choice. So I packed it in for CT.
In CT, I did enjoy the chance to become a professional performer, not a booker and radio DJ, and pursue being solely a player. Having witnessed many friends and Godfrey’s performers, I wanted to be just a player. No radio, no booking. I enjoyed being a stealth musician, taking people by surprise at open mikes, etc.
When my wife kicked me out of her life, I moved back to PA with my tail behind my legs. I began to regather my self as a performer, and, eventually, as a folk radio programmer. Mike Space and Dina Hall had held down the new Live from Godfrey Daniels format and I was hesitant to step in. But Mike prevailed on me to do one show a month. And then came the sudden, unfortunate death of Mike a year ago, so I stepped up to be a regular programmer with Dina. I also had agreed to do one show a month for the Sunday Folk show. So, I was back firmly in the saddle.
Now I am riding the flow of LFGD shows and SF shows, each interesting unto themselves. The Sunday Folk show remains open to excursions into blues, roots, etc. like my old shows, while the LFGD gives me the chance to produce vintage material from the archives of Godfrey’s. Special moments that bring new ears into the club for special times. Radio still is an artistic part of my life when time disappears and I feel I make a difference in this world. Pretty basic stuff.
I appreciate sharing my radio slots with Dina Hall who appropriately focuses on LFGD recent shows and Tom and Pat DeWolfe who feature other parts of the broad spectrum of folk music.