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Thursday, September 30, 2010

This Weekend: The Melody Legacy Rears Two Heads

As far as the Modern Rock scene in New Brunswick, NJ is concerned, nothing casts a larger shadow than The Melody Bar, the legendary 1982-2000 watering hole and dance emporium about which much has been written, both on these pages and on many others.

Over the past four years, eight successful Melody Bar reunions have been held - four of the Classic Era type, and four all-eras reunions. And after a while, it seems reasonable to suspect that someone, somewhere would notice that this sort of thing tends to generate a crowd.

Well, actually, it has been for a while at The Corner Tavern, where Drew and Iron Mike hold court every Saturday night, entertaining ever-increasing crowds. They've been pulling in their Modern Rock aficionado crowd the old-fashioned way, by building it up one minion at a time. Normally, summertime brings a hiatus for New Brunswick club crowds, but not for these guys; the Corner Tavern Saturday Night crowd kept on a-comin', and they kept the Corner hopping all summer long.

But as if that weren't enough, another couple of old familiar faces have decided to poke in to the New Brunswick scene; Pete Santiago has managed to convince Matt Pinfield that there's life in the old town yet, and so they'll both be spinning at A Doll's Place this Saturday night as well.

I repeat: Pinfield. New Brunswick. Saturday. Got it?

Both will be spinning tracks from all eras, and both will be trotting out new tracks amongst the classics. (And I've been invited to spin at both of them. Go ahead, fight over me, people...)

Will one pull a crowd from the other? Will the more convenient-to-the-campus Corner Tavern location keep the regulars there? Will Doll's Place actually move the tables off the dance floor? Will people keep back 500 feet? Will Melody regulars show up en masse and overflow the 1500 feet from A Doll's Place to the Corner Tavern? Will everyone get confused and just party at the train station? Will you get a WRXP bumper sticker? Will you get an Altrok 90.5 HD2 bumper sticker? Will Matt show up? Will I show up? (Don't worry, Stiffy will show up.)

And what about...Naomi?

You'll have to show up to find out - cast your vote by putting your boots on the ground:

MeloDrama at The Corner Tavern
Featuring Drew and Iron Mike
Saturday, 9PM

Melody Redux at A Doll's Place
Featuring Matt Pinfield and Pete Santiago
Saturday, 10pm

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Phoenix Arises, Let There Be Dancing

On Saturday October 2nd the one and only Matt Pinfield will be reviving the Spirit of the Melody at Doll's Place in New Brunswick, across from the hospital on the other side of the tracks. The evening starts officially at 10 pm and it is assured to be an amazing evening of the best music from our glorious past and today. For those of you who miss the Melody and want to relive it once again, this is the place you'll want to be.

Unlike the Melody Reunion event in February, this will be more like a new music night. Although Matt is sure to break out a few Melody classics, there will be plenty of great new music just like back in the day. You know Matt will have a lot of great stuff for us to hear.

I've heard rumors that this could become a regular event if successful, so a strong show of support could help make that happen, which means you need to be there! And how great would that be? Imagine, being able to have the Melody back in our lives, with the same cool people and lots of great new music every month? It's almost too much to think about.

Matt Pinfield was the person largely responsible for what the Melody became, the coolest place to hear the best alternative music. We were so fortunate to have had that in our lives--that place and that music changed a lot of lives.

I know I'll be there, boots and all. I hope you'll join me for a wild night of fun on the dance floor.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Why Kids TV Rules: Ting Tings on Yo Gabba Gabba

Apparently I didn't get the memo last April when Yo Gabba Gabba posted this (unembeddable) video to YouTube, but you've gotta hand it to The Ting Tings for pulling out a lovely choice of cover...

(Where oh where are you, Clare Grogan?)

Heads Up - New Tracks Premiering Friday On FM...

So if you're interested in (subject to change) Fran Healy, Best Coast, Clinic, Ben Folds (with Nick Hornby), Frankie Rose & The Outs, Ghostland Observatory, Grandchildren, Jenny [Lewis] & Johnny, Julius C, Klaxons, Mark Ronson, Meridene, Mother/Father, OMD (w/ Aretha Franklin (!)) and Pete Yorn... may want to tune in to The Altrok Radio FM Showcase on Friday at 11pm at 90.5 The Night. I'm just sayin'.

Or, y'know, prepare yourself by tuning in to us at Altrok 90.5 HD2 - you won't hear the new stuff (yet) but you'll hear all the new stuff we added last week...and the week before that...and back to about 1985...

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Is That Thunder, Or Did Lightning Strike The Hit House?

Nothing is ever final in radio. Today's most diverse commercial rock radio station in New York City is Rock 101.9, WRXP. Its frequency sits on the ashes of WPIX-FM, already mentioned on these pages as a legendarily diverse rock radio station. It only required a few decades lying fallow in the swamps of mediocrity before a new (and not entirely displeasing) rock station found its way there.

It is with some finality, however, that I view the announcement that, at 3PM on September 15, Hit 106 - the format whose abrupt displacement of G-Rock, itself carrying the distant echo of the legendary FM106.3, enraged radio fans throughout the Jersey Shore - will itself be displaced by Thunder 106. Country music once again gets a signal at the Jersey Shore.

The hit format itself moves over to B-98.5, WKMK-FM 98.5 in Ocean Acres, which is unlikely to radiate much further north than Long Branch; it will not be a competitor in Monmouth County. If it can follow in the steps of the original B-98.5 that occupied that frequency years ago, it's got a shot at being a solid, locally focused hit radio outlet, providing a strong format for Long Beach Island. It'll own its market.

Matt Knight, Hit106's outgoing Program Director, led B-98.5 years ago, but he won't be back; Hit106's faceplant appears to herald the end of Matt's tenure at Press Broadcasting. That's a shame; Matt's leadership had little to do with the station's fortunes, which had a lot more to do with the owners' decision to compete in an already saturated hit radio market. The decision to jettison alternative rock for hit radio within thirty days of a high-powered signal in New York City doing the same thing will rank with Decca Records' rejection of the Beatles on lists of legendarily bad business decisions for years to come. We have the benefit of hindsight now, though this website had the foresight to warn that this was a bad idea when it was executed.

Country, actually, was probably the right idea for the station years ago. Had the station switched to country in 2002 when the then-dominant country station in the area (Y-107 in Long Branch) gave it up, they'd have had a far better time launching the new identity than they did trying to launch Hit106 in the face of an enraged and vocal audience. Back in 2002, Press' flaccid support of Alternative Rock after the purchase of G-Rock had pretty much ensured that a format change would have been met with little more than a cynical yawn.

Tune in sometime around 2015, by which time Thunder's ratings will guarantee that they show in the New York City ratings book, some New York signal will switch to country, Thunder will collapse, and Press will flip through the list of discarded formats used on WPIX-FM (known prior to its legendary rock format as "the format of the month station) and throw a new format on the frequencies. And it will be unlistenable.

We can only hope that Press and its heavily leveraged brethren, who value money over good radio, will go bankrupt soon enough for radio signals to once again fall to a price that's affordable enough for people who actually want to do radio to buy them. Radio run by broadcasters is always better than radio run by accountants.

In the meantime, we here at will continue our little experiment at Altrok 90.5 HD2, hoping you can join in the fun. Heck, maybe that'll be the format Press tries in 2015...but we're listener supported and we don't play commercials, so...Press? Good luck with that.
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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.)