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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The First DANA & CARL Shows: We're Your Friends For Now # 1

We had to start somewhere.

Somewhere around December of 1991, a notice appeared in The Syracuse New Times: the community radio station WNMA was soliciting proposals from potential programmers interested in doing their own radio shows. I saw the notice, and so did my friend Dana Bonn. And I think it was New Year's Eve, when Dana was among the guests at a small party at my house, when he said: "So. You wanna do a radio show?"

Yeah. Yeah, I did wanna do a radio show.

On January 15th, 1992, Dana and I went down to the WNMA studio on Trinity Place in Syracuse, and we pitched our idea for a radio show. The specifics of the pitch are lost to the caverns of faulty memories, but I betcha it was something along the lines of providing a forum for two record-collectin' music fanatics to play great stuff not otherwise heard on the radio. The pitch probably also included the idea of doing a series of theme shows--a British Invasion show, a soul/jazz/R & B show, a '70s punk show, a pure pop show--and a vow to play local music whenever possible. WNMA's Lee Spinks and Greg...damn, I can't remember Greg's last name. But Lee and Greg were receptive to the pitch, and wanted to know what the show would be called. I don't think we'd thought as far ahead as to think of a title for the show. I blurted out, "We're your friends...for now!"

Good enough.

I didn't even bring any records with me--I thought we were just going in for a meeting, fercryinoutloud--but we made due with a few records Dana had with him, and some random LPs that were in the studio. During the demo, Lee Spinks told me I needed to speak more. I can say with some conviction that I've corrected that particular problem (and then some). Lee and Greg liked something in what they heard. Maybe they were desperate for programming, or maybe we had...a spark, a glimmer, some vision of a brighter light on the radioEither way, that demo show went on the air that very night.

We're Your Friends For Now ran for just over five months, ending when WNMA pulled its own plug in June of '92. Subsequently, Dana and I were among the founding members of Syracuse Community Radio, and we continued to do sporadic, low-key radio projects for SCR throughout the '90s: Radio Peace, which was a series of shows we recorded on cassette at Dana's house for playback in local businesses, and even--no, really!--on the air in Moscow and Siberia, via SCR's partnership with Russia's Radio Vox; We're Your Mates For Now!, a few short shows recorded for playback in between races at a Guiness round-the-clock marathon in England; and Radiovision, a horrifyingly inept cable TV special. At the end of 1998, SCR began broadcasting on WXXE-FM, and a new Dana & Carl show called This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio was among WXXE's inaugural offerings. As WXXE's signal faded to static, TIRnRR became a webcast show, settling in eventually at www.westcottradio.org. In 2017, TIRnRR will return to terrestrial airwaves on the new Spark Syracuse 93.5 WSPJ-FM. Somehow, some way, this ghost of WNMA, this vague, ill-defined notion that began as an oddity called We're Your Friends For Now is still here.

Tomorrow night is January 15th, 2017, 25 years to the day since Dana and I trudged our way into WNMA and asked if we could put on a show. We'll celebrate with a special 25 YEARS OF DANA & CARL special on TIRnRR (9 to Midnight Eastern, exclusively at www.westcottradio.org). But it all started right here, with a very tentative audition show by two guys who didn't really know what they were doing, but were dead set on doing it. This week, I listened to that first show again, for the first time in many, many years. It sounds awkward, amateur; the rhythm isn't quite there, the spark isn't quite bright enough...and yet it sounds exactly like what it is: the birth of This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl.

Dana's looking into digitizing this long-unheard artifact, and making it available for anyone interested in hearing it. If and when that comes to pass, I offer this personal guarantee: you will be disappointed by it. But it's an important document in our weird history, and I hope you do get a chance to hear it. Here, for the first time anywhere, is the printed playlist from the very first Dana & Carl show, We're Your Friends For Now # 1. It may not seem like much now; but this was the start of what rock 'n' roll radio would sound like on Monday nights (and now on Sunday nights) in Syracuse each week. A spark ignites. A light begins to glow...and grow.

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We're Your Friends For Now # 1: 1/15/92 [The Demo Show]

GASHEAD: Why Do You Treat Me Like A Tramp
FLOYD DIXON: Hey Bartender
FLOYD DIXON: Two Piano Blues
AL "TNT" BRAGGS: So Used To Having You Around
OSCAR PERRY: I Found True Love
PHIL OCHS: I Ain't Marching Anymore
THE OHIO EXPRESS: Yummy, Yummy, Yummy
WILLIE ALEXANDER & THE BOOM BOOM BAND: You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling
MARVIN GAYE: I Heard It Through The Grapevine
BOB DYLAN: Mr. Tambourine Man
THE LEMON PIPERS: Green Tambourine
JEAN SHEPARD: Two Whoops And A Holler
MERLE TRAVIS: Merle's Boogie Woogie
BUCK OWENS: You're For Me
FARON YOUNG: Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young
JOHN FRED & HIS PLAYBOY BAND: Judy In Disguise (With Glasses)
THE ANIMALS: House Of The Rising Sun
THE BYRDS: So You Want To Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star