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Podcast: The College Years: A Family Affair


The College Years is a look deep into the vaults of The Sound of Young America. Take a journey with us every week as we post a new program or two from our salad days.

"Hoaxpert" Alex Boese of joins Jesse and Jordan, talking mostly about PT Barnum. Jesse's brothers also call up seeking advice and telling jokes. Also, learn how to use a CB radio.

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CSUMB: Get it together.


People are often suprised to hear from me that The Sound of Young America was on college radio just two years or so ago. The station that brought the show in from the cold was KUSP in Santa Cruz. KUSP is a vibrant local station with a commitment to the Monterey Bay Area, with great national and local programming -- and exciting new stuff like The Sound of Young America. Basically, it's the kind of station you'd love to have where you live (and maybe you do) -- high-quality, with lots of great programming that reflects both high quality standards and local tastes.

Until a few years ago, KUSP was the sole NPR news outlet in the Monterey Bay Area. Its main competition on the left hand side of the dial (besides my old college station, KZSC) was a community station called KAZU. KAZU was exactly the kind of fun, crazy community radio station you'd expect to find in Santa Cruz, but its craziness got the best of it and it ended up in a tough financial spot. In order to keep the station local, the license was sold to California State University Monterey Bay, a brand new CSU school which promised to maintain the station's commitment to localism.

They didn't. The new GM swept through the station and switched the format to what amounted to an NPR satellite repeater, broadcasting almost exclusively network content with only the barest of local staffs to keep the lights on. There was much protest in Santa Cruz, not least from KUSP, who correctly pointed out that there was no public benefit to KAZU running the same NPR news shows as KUSP had been running for 20 years, at exactly the same times. Suddenly KUSP and KAZU were splitting the NPR listeners of the Monterey Bay down the middle, which slammed revenues for both stations.

Over the past three or four years, KUSP (and increasingly station folks at KAZU) have worked tirelessly to fix the situation, with the goal of having stations that complimented each other, rather than competing. KUSP has also worked hard at improving their commitment to being distinctively Santa Cruz -- picking up The Sound of Young America from college radio a couple years ago was an example of their efforts in that regard.

Over the past year, KUSP and General Manager Terry Green put together two offers for KAZU, which has lost money consistently through the years CSUMB has owned it. KUSP offered either to buy KAZU from the university, or enter into a joint operation agreement with the school. Both of these solutions would make it possible for the stations to program cooperatively and
not competitively. For listeners, it would have meant that they would have more choices in programming, rather than the same network choices at the same time on different stations.

Yesterday, CSUMB rejected both plans. I see this as a huge setback for public radio on the Central Coast, and since that's still the spiritual home of The Sound of Young America, it feels like a kick in the gut to me.

It means increased costs for both stations, increased competition for donors and volunteers, and reduced program choice for listeners. It is a lose-lose. Public comment at the hearing was universally in favor of the merger, including supporters of both KUSP and KAZU.

This situation, not just in the Central Coast, but across the country, is completely untenable. There is no public service value in running the same program on two stations at the same time. It's long been the case in San Francisco, where I grew up, and it's often the case here in Los Angeles, where I now live.

For a public radio insider, I'm about as much of a public radio outsider as I could possibly be. I still think of myself first and foremost as a listener. And this situation, around the country, is bullshit.

Luckily, there is some hope. Both PRI and NPR have launched new morning news programs ("The Bryant Park Project" and "The Takeaway") which have bright futures. Podcasting and HD channels mean that there is new programming and talent on the way. But only if local stations are willing to accept the burden of a little bit of risk. If they follow the model they've followed for the last 20 years -- rely blindly on Morning Edition and All Things Considered -- they're not going to be long for this media landscape.

Human Giant Season Two is Coming!


TSOYA Pals Human Giant have a second season of comedy hurtling towards your television. You can already download episode one of season two in iTunes, or for free using Amazon Unbox, though for the latter you'll need a special player (wtf, amazon?).

Hard to imagine that it was only ten months ago that the HG fellas first visited The Sound. Or that it was only a few years ago when we first saw HG director Jason Woliner's brilliant and hilarious Dick Cheney's Alive!.

Kudos to you, Human Giants! You are a delight to us all!

Kenna & the Neptunes on Letterman


This song's a jam, but my question is this: did they just add the Neptunes to Kenna's regular band? Because Pharrell is definitely playing the drums, and Chad is definitely on the keys. But there is also another guy playing keys, and another guy playing drums. Now: Chad can really play keys and Pharrell can really play drums. I don't think it's a trick. But I guess the regular drummer and keyboard player were like, "Oh hell naw, I'm not gonna NOT be on Letterman!"

Anyway, here's my interview with Kenna from a few months ago. I just re-ran it on the radio, and got a lot of emails about it.

Awesome AWK Interview


Thanks to MFer Jimbovaquero who pointed the way to this awesome interview with our man Andrew WK. Nicest guy in rock & roll, and he has a pretty deep knowledge of the genre, too.

Here he is talking about meeting Lee Perry (video of same above):

I met him in Texas last spring, in Austin, when I was doing interviews for DirecTV, and performers were performing and I was interviewing them before and after. So they gave me a list, and it was very exciting, everyone from Rickie Lee Jones to Iggy Pop. And Lee Perry was on there, and somehow I just felt that that was going to be the interview that would be really special. I was very excited to meet him. As we were getting ready for the interview, people were telling me he's very eccentric, so don't be offended if anything strange happens. I had such a hard time believing that considering all the joy people got from his music. But when he came in, I kind of understood what people were saying in the sense that, he's just a very different human being. To the point where I could see some people thinking he is not a human being. But he is just a very advanced human being. He's further down the road, like Tom Smith is. And those who are not down there and don't give him the benefit of the doubt that he could be that far, they just assume that he's different, so he must be crazy. But if you give him the benefit of the doubt that he's further along than you, then all the sudden he's like a God. And he really blew my mind. Because it was all so new to me, I felt a little embarrassed that I didn't know all there is to know about him, and I didn't have all those facts. There were a lot of people around that knew a lot more about him than me. But I just kind of went with that, and figured, if I'm going to get into him, now is as good a time as ever. And I decided I wanted to do another interview with him again on my own, and so we did that in New York a few months later. And he was just as nice, and very exciting and inspiring.

Let it be said that Andrew WK, himself, is a VERY ADVANCED human being.

And what's this? I hidden discussion of The New Sincerity?

MARC MASTERS: Their music straddles the line between humor and sincerity, which I think your music does as well.

ANDREW W.K.: I've never liked the idea that something has to be either/or, that it has to be binary - that either it has to be a complete joke, and they're totally aware of what they're doing, or that it's the dumbest, worst music ever heard. Can't it be both those things and many more? And don't I get to decide what it is? There's so much that comes from the observer that it doesn't really matter what the person who made it says it is, or what the majority of people say it is. That's what Lee Perry is so good at, looking at things the way he wants to look at them, and having the courage to follow that instinct.


Podcast: Joel Hodgson, Frank Conniff and J. Elvis Weinstein of Cinematic Titanic and Mystery Science Theater 3000

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Joel Hodgson, Frank Conniff and J. Elvis Weinstein are 3/5ths of Cinematic Titanic. The series of DVDs and digital downloads combines old, terrible films with comic commentary. If the description sounds familiar, you might be thinking of the long-running cult comedy classic Mystery Science Theater 3000, of which Hodgson was the original host. We talk with Joel, Frank and J. Elvis about their careers in comedy, why they got the band back together, and more. We even delve into their relationship with Rifftrax, a similar outfit run by some other MST3K expats.

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If you enjoyed this show, try these ones:
Science Fiction with Ronald Moore, Mike Nelson and Steve Eley
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March 20th: Wear a sweater for Mr. Rogers

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Speedy Delivery: March 20th is a day to celebrate the birthday of Fred Rogers, both in Pittsburgh and around the country, by wearing a favorite sweater.

I think you will agree that Mr. Rogers is a man who exemplified everything that's wonderful and important about mass communication. He was a man who lived his life to honor the wonder and beauty of childhood, and to usher children into adolescence with a sense of grace, compassion and morality.

MaxFunster Davey Rothbart of Found Magazine had the chance to spend some time with Mr. Rogers as a child, and he made this amazing piece about the experience for This American Life. I must have listened to it half a dozen times by now, and I cry every time, as I think about the love in that man's heart.

The legacy of Mr. Rogers makes me proud to work in public broadcasting.

Jack McBrayer + Maria Carey = "Touch My Body"


Hey! There's Jack McBrayer, celebrity actor and all-around CLASS ACT! With Mariah Carey, SAME and SAME!

Fred Simmons on Conan


Word on the street is that The Foot-Fist Way is the funniest thing since ever. Or maybe since Wet Hot American Summer. We'll see... the people behind it are making a TV series for HBO and they cast Andy Daly, so they've certainly got that going for them.

Kasper Hauser Facebook Page


Yeah, I'm on a fucking Facebook page TEAR.

You know who's a big Kasper Hauser fan? Ben Karlin, former Executive Producer and Head Writer of The Daily Show and co-creator of The Colbert Report, that's who. HE TOLD ME HIMSELF.

Kasper Hauser on Facebook: Become a Fan!

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