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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

WOXY Coming Back? may again benefit from the appearance of a white knight - this time, one who might know a thing or two about making sure the station makes money. According to posts on their blog pages, a wily entrepeneur has suggested a path to a re-emergence...which you'll hear more about as it develops.

Good for them!

The Pretenders: On The Tube And Reissued

It's gonna take a while to get to the meat of this, so bear with me...

Firstly, digital television. There's such a thing. You might even be watching it on your cable system - if the number of channels you get is now measured in the hundreds, you're doing digital television. But what you might not know is that digital television is also free over the air, just like TV used to be - and if you get a TV with a digital tuner (or just a digital tuner box that plugs into the back of your regular TV) you can get more TV than you used to with the same old rabbit-ears-and-loop combo that used to bring you staticy, snowy television back in the old days, with one big difference: no static and no snow (though if the signal's too weak, no television, either.)

There's two big things digital television can do for you. One that you've probably heard a lot about is HDTV - sharper, clearer pictures and hysterically better multichannel sound than standard TV. The other thing - the one that hasn't gotten as much press - is that a digital TV broadcaster can actually put out more than one program at the same time. ABC and NBC stations are now broadcasting their main station, plus one devoted entirely to news and public affairs, plus one for the weather. PBS stations run up to five side channels. Independent channels can do the same thing...

...which brings us to The Tube. It's a TV channel that plays music videos, promotional spots that emphasize that they play music videos, and pretty much nothing else - it's in the midst of those same halcyon days we remember early in MTV's history, when they didn't have any advertisers yet. Founded a few years back by Les Garland, who was one of the folks in the room that cooked up MTV, The Tube had a hard time signing up cable systems until they realized that they could just piggyback on local stations' digital signals and get on cable systems that way. In New York, they're on WPIX-DT, and identified as channel 11.2.; they're on channel 17.2 in Philadelphia.

And so, an admission: I'm watching The Tube the same way I used to watch MTV, and by that I mean I'm probably cursing at it more than I'm praising it. But that's still a damn sight better than I can say for MTV's current incarnation, because you can at least actually see the music videos that the record companies are still making, and that's good. The Raconteurs' "Steady As She Goes" clip is good for a chuckle, Franz Ferdinand's "This Fire" is dazzling, and Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" is twisted, as appropriate. And somehow, Don Henley's "The Boys Of Summer" shows no sign of becoming dated.

Amongst the wheat (still like the B-52's "Love Shack" video) and the chaff (Robert Plant made that many solo videos?) are clips from the original incarnation of The Pretenders. And damned if they didn't look like they were having a good time. (They weren't, of course, and they soon enough traveled down a course of self-decay that would leave two of the founding members dead, and the band's name simply a shell for whatever Chrissy Hynde's doing lately.)

Still, when they were good, they were very good indeed, and I got to thinking "boy, it's probably time for one of those heavily-enhanced reissues of those first two albums..."

...and Rhino Records was reading my mind; they're putting reissues of "The Pretenders" and "Pretenders II" next week. Original tracks, outtakes, BBC sessions and live recordings.

And, I'll bet, lots more play on The Tube. Walked right into their trap, I did.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Altrok Music Update #131

This week, our Grinders (the stuff we play heavily) include music from:
  • Shiny Toy Guns
  • The Hold Steady
  • The Church
  • Michael Franti & Spearhead
  • Shut Your Eyes And You'll Burst Into Flames
  • Something For Rockets

Plus we've got newly-added music:
  • The Bound Stems - Refuse the Refuse
  • Colourfast - Walk
  • Evangelicals - Here Comes Trouble
  • Favourite Sons - Hang On Girl
  • The Features - Wooden Heart
  • Head Like A Kite - Noisy At The Circus
  • IMA Robot - Cool Cool Universe
  • Jihad Jerry And The Evildoers - Danger
  • Milburn - Cheshire Cat Smile
  • The Oohlas - Gone
  • The Receiver - In Tunnels
  • The Sharp Ease - Hands
  • Takka Takka - We Feel Safer At Night
  • Teitur - Thief About To Break In
  • Tigers Can Bite You - Rough Stuff
  • TV On The Radio - Blues From Down Here

Our Featured Classics:
  • Elvis Costello - Party Party
  • Killing Joke - Kings And Queens
  • Max Q - Way Of The World (12'' Mix)
  • Morphine - Super Sex
  • Ned's Atomic Dustbin - Kill Your Television
  • Jonathan Richman - Government Center
  • Siouxsie And The Banshees - Dazzle
  • Soup Dragons - Divine Thing
  • Swinging Pistons - I Love The Sound Of Machines

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Altrok Music Update #130

This week, our Grinders (the stuff we play heavily) include music from:

  • Sonic Youth
  • Sunnyvale Noise Sub-Element
  • The Black Keys
  • Camera Obscura
  • Robyn Hitchcock
  • The Go! Team

Plus we've got newly-added music:

  • Bromheads Jacket - Lions On The Prowl
  • The Changes - Water Of The Gods
  • The Church - Block
  • French Kicks - So Far We Are
  • Lilys - A Diana's Diana
  • Mezzanine Owls - Lightbulb
  • Milburn - Send In The Boys
  • Mundy - To You I Bestow [Live]
  • The Pipettes - Dirty Mind
  • The Radio Dept. - Pet Grief
  • Shut Your Eyes And You'll Burst Into Flames - Drop The Decade
  • Something For Rockets - The Line
Our Featured Classics:

  • The B-52's - Planet Claire
  • Bjork - Isobel
  • Blur - Song 2
  • The Chameleons - Up The Down Escalator
  • Marshall Crenshaw - Someday Someway
  • Del Amitri - Sticks And Stones, Girl
  • Made For TV - So Afraid Of The Russians
  • Prodigy - Out Of Space
  • Sex Pistols - Pretty Vacant
  • The Smiths - How Soon Is Now?

Get The Message: Electronic Best-Of...

One interesting footnote from the post-postpunk arena of the nineties was the emergence of the occasional "alternative supergroup". Most of them, it appeared, featured Johnny Marr, who it seems never met a footnote he didn't like (despite his generally spot-on guitar work.)

Electronic (Marr's collaboration with New Order's Bernard Sumner) was just such an undertaking, but it did generate its share of fine music. Turns out just about all ot it is about to become available on a best-of release coming soon.

And so, as with all of these sorts of things, there's a way to listen to it before it comes

Don't say we've never gotten you anything...

Monday, September 11, 2006

Altrok Music Update #129

This week, our Grinders (the stuff we play heavily) include music from:
  • Assembly Now
  • The Rogers Sisters
  • The Rakes
  • The Lemonheads
  • The New York Dolls
  • The Thermals

Plus we've got newly-added music:
  • Asobi Seksu - Pink Cloud Tracing Paper
  • The Black Keys - Your Touch
  • The Blakes - Don't Bother Me
  • Brakes - Sometimes Always (with The Pipettes)
  • Broadcast - Still Feels Like Tears
  • The Church - Unified Field
  • The Damnwells - Accidental Man
  • Duels - Things
  • Robyn Hitchcock - Adventure Rocket Ship
  • The Hold Steady - Chips Ahoy!
  • Lilys - Black Carpet Magic
  • New Young Pony Club - The Get Go
  • The Rapture - Get Myself Into It

Our Featured Classics:
  • Dramarama - Anything, Anything (I'll Give You)
  • Eat - Fatman
  • The Fall - No Bulbs
  • Game Theory - I've Tried Subtlety
  • Garbage - Vow (Torn Apart)
  • The Jim Carroll Band - People Who Died
  • Joy Division - She's Lost Control
  • Ministry - All Day

Thursday, September 07, 2006

So, Who Wants To See Jason Forrest And About In Central NJ, hm?

I've stumbled into a potentially happy situation in my duties as Altrok Radio's programmer, and that's this: occasionally, bands I really really like (and, as you might suspect, support) contact me to see whether they can book a show in the area.

And so it's happened with Jason Forrest, who's touring with a new band lineup, as well as with labelmates About (which, in addition to Rutger, its driving force, also features Marg from Gram and Seedling.)

Turns out they'll all be around toward the end of October, and so I got to wondering - are there any other New Jersey-area iconoclasts who'd be willing to brave the trip to Asbury Park (the most likely venue for such a show) and ensure that the trip is worth their while? Use the Feedback link to let me know...

The last time I had this sort of opportunity was in 2003 and 2004, when Seedling and Persil, respectively, came 'round, and John Peel actually plugged both shows on his broadcast (here's one clip.) Honestly, it's one of the things I'm most proud of...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

WOXY: That's Why We Have Experiments

Midway through last week, buried amongst the radio headlines, was one that made my heart sink, again:, the heritage alternative station that strove for a new life online, seeking a world beyond terrestrial radio, will cease to operate as of September 15.

When their decision finally came - and it's clear that it's a decision they reached only as an inevitability, not because they thought they could make more money some other way, as so many of the other alternative station demise stories tend to run - they stayed true to their roots and their philosophy, and told their listeners what was happening and why.

Ultimately, they were running a short-staffed operation that couldn't make enough money to sustain that staff's undivided dedication to the project. They tried advertising and met with limited success, then tried direct listener support with the same level of limited success. Problem was, the limited success they achieved was too limited.

But with that said, it's important to step back and think about all those loopy sepia-toned films from the turn of the 20th century of inventors trying, and failing, to get their airplane designs off the ground. Remember, a whole lot of 'em crashed, and some of 'em burned, before someone finally got the design right.

It's my opinion that there's space for a success in this realm, but that WOXY, admirably restraining themselves from subjecting their listeners to the annoyance of advertising, couldn't piece together the right approach before (and this is really the issue) time and money ran out.

Leaving, as it did back in 2004, a bunch of people who are even less happy with the state of the music and radio industries than before...
Please Look At Our Advertisers (Or The Website Gets It)
Congratulations, you've found the hidden text.
Welcome to, also available at and Here's where the remaining listeners of several fine radio stations have retreated, regrouped, and built a replacement strong enough to stand on its own. It builds on the independent legacy of New Jersey's FM106.3, New York's WPIX and WLIR, Oklahoma's 105.3 The Spy, the pre-buyout mindset of KROQ, WBCN and WHFS and of every other alternative station that was destroyed at a moment's notice - not because they weren't making money, but because there was bigger money to be found elsewhere.
We've stood by as truly independent alternative rock radio died. Sure, something called "alternative" took its place, but we know for sure that anything that "tests well" with soccer moms just ain't alternative. (Even if some of us happen to be soccer moms.) So we've taken matters into our own hands.
This really is independent alternative rock radio, visible here at and audible at our web radio station. It has the classic music that fired our passions back in the day - or that we maybe only heard about from our elders - but it's mostly made of the new music that does precisely the same for us now. We're paying attention to scenes all over the world, watching the energy build, and waiting to see what it creates. Wherever it happens, we'll make sure you can hear about it here. We've been slowly building all this since 2001, and now that you've noticed us, we're glad you're here.
Of course, it's only here because you want it to be here, and it can only stay if you help it along - especially by checking out our advertisers (they support us) and by listening (the more that listen, the more visible we are.) Please use the "feedback" link above to let us know whether it works for you, and what you want it to be as the future unfolds. (And if you need help hearing it, let us know that, too.)