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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Wednesday, April 24, 2024

College radio more than the WSUM of its parts

Big recession going on, I hear, but I don't care: I'm balling to the tune of $6.50 an hour driving a delivery truck for downtown purveyors Capitol Centre Foods. When I was hired last summer, there was no better way to kill six hours a day pushing a Chevy S-10 down Langdon, delivering alfalfa to Statesider blondes. Lately, people seem to have an ungodly preference for cases of soda and leaden cans of tomatoes and I'm a little less keen on sliding around the ice and lugging these goods up how many flights of stairs these days, but hell, it beats being broke like some columnists I know.  




On any given workday, the mood I come home in depends on a couple of factors; namely, the kindness of customer-strangers and the quality of radio broadcast I get to enjoy. And let me tell ya, I was in a good mood two Sundays ago after I added WSUM to the presets (replacing 105.9, because man, that's no good anymore). The show was \5000"" with DJ Ryan Swan, who had been dedicating most of the afternoon to the ultra-indie brand of emo that wears thin fast. But imagine my headnod when, on a particularly long delivery to the eastside, DJ Swan let the pretensions go.  




In order, on a gloriously warm February day: Spoon, ""Anything You Want;"" The White Stripes, ""Fell in Love With a Girl;"" Weezer, ""The Good Life;"" Pavement, ""Spit On A Stranger"" and The Strokes, ""Barely Legal."" Absolutely amazing. ""Barely Legal"" was quickly yanked midbridge, DJ Swan apologetically explaining that the song contained one of the FCC's least favorite words. I felt touched to be in the presence of such vulnerability.  




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Unfortunately, ""5000"" was followed by something called ""Pants Optional Radio"" which I turned off after I realized it featured The Royal Crown Revue and a lot of yammering. 




I'm gushing a bit here, but WSUM deserves our props, even if you don't think they deserve our seg fees. For the first time since the early '80s, our fair university has a presence on the FM dial, thanks to the hard work of many throughout years of Internet-only broadcast, a joke when one considers how quickly any MP3 can be attained. As far as I'm concerned, WSUM was born last week but sounds like it's been well-established, barring the occasional swearing and the consequent awkward regret. 




Since then, I've made it a habit to check in with 91.7 on a regular basis, and I certainly don't claim to have it all down, but I've made some observations. I'm never up early enough to hear much of ""Jazz Wake Up,"" but I find it preferable to ""Good Morning America."" After dinner, should I check in, it seems to always be some kind of Aphex Twin, which I find distasteful. 




Saturday's ""American Roots Music"" was almost flawless: I woke up from a hard night of drinking, and there was Willie Nelson's ""Red Headed Stranger"" to greet me. Over the next two hours, the Roots crew was all over this country's music, grounded in early blues and developing to James Brown's ""The Payback"" and the psychedelic soul of Shuggie Otis, peppered with some informative PSAs. All it took was a quick e-mail of ""How 'bout some Hank Williams"" and, 20 minutes later, ""Honky Tonkin'."" Technology! 




And for all the heads out there, WSUM's got two dedicated hip-hop shows, squashed together in the wee hours of Sunday morning. ""Inside The Beltway Anthems"" was a pleasant surprise for a D.C.-core thug like myself. DJ Andy Fein (described by a guest as a thuggish Fred Savage) put on a pretty good program last week, spinning the likes of Five Deez and Planet Asia, peppered by tales of suburban cop harassment and a kitschy Otis Redding ""Stay In School"" spot. ""IDBA"" is followed at 1 a.m. by ""Beats, Rhymes and Hype,"" masterminded by emcees Matt Rodbard and Colin Finan, who play exactly as much Gangstarr as you would expect.  




And of course, there's much, much more available; check out the schedule. Despite the lack of commercials, there's often too much space between songs, in the form of vapid DJ banter, so let's keep that to a minimum, folks. Other than that, no complaints, just congratulations and encouragement to check it out.  

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