Bicycles & College Radio in Cleveland

Riding the trails and filling the air waves.

Telethon show on 45’s

One of four cabinets with 45's.

Yesterday was my telethon show and in honor of this being WRUW-FM’s 45th year, I pulled and played all 7″ 45’s.  The picture to the left shows but one of the cabinets of 45 rpm goodness.

I want to thank Avril, Lisa, Michael, Vickie, Deborah and everyone else who made a pledge to my show.  There is still time, and as an added bonus, I am matching the first $250 that is pledged toward ‘Vinyl is not just a maintenance free siding option’ (#36).   Right now my total is $170.

You can pledge on line by going here or by calling 216-368-2208.  If you call, tell them you are pledging toward show #36, so I will know what I need to match.


Some funny guys that got played on this weeks show

Funny take on the early days of the USA.

Stan Freeberg does history.

Allan Sherman hates the Bealtes

Listen to the show archive and hear a little of what these cardboard jackets contained.

So, how did I get here?

Out in one of the bike racks on the campus that I work at (Case Western Reserve University) sits a red Ross road bike.  It is U-locked to the bike rack and it has been there for months. It has a sticker and is registered with the campus security folks, in case it ever gets stolen.

Here is the thing that I can’t figure out.  It is damaged. Not the kind of damage that an evil doer could do to a bike that is locked up and stationary.  That damage might look like a wheel that has been stomped on and kicked with a stout boot.

No, it was in a very very bad front end collision.

Bad enough that the arc of the front wheel crosses the down tube frame member. The bike could not have been ridden to this location. Heck, it would have been a pain to walk it to this spot.

If the collision happened while it was being ridden to this resting place, well the person in the saddle would have been taken to the emergency room.  Now the location is not that far from the old ER entrance for the Case University Medical Center.  But that would imply that the rider got them self there.

Is that possible?

Later this month I am going to get the number off the registration sticker and ask the campus security folks for the name of the owner. I don’t think they will give it to me, but if they do, I will send an email and try to get the answer.


So I played a few old local tracks last week.

One of the tracks I played was ‘Sometime I’d Rather be Alone’ by the Terrible Parade.  That band was an early Alan Grandy outfit, with Paul Strachan (from my high school!) on drums! I have loved this song from the first time I heard over two decades ago.  If you are a fan of Alan’s various outfits thoughout the years, there is a compilation out now.  You can check that out here:

EP by the Terrible Parade

Oh William, the pain the pain!

So this political season, unlike a few years ago, we are not being constantly reminded that we live in a ‘post 9-11’ era.  While I am glad to not be hearing that refrain over and over and over, I recently stumbled on a question, which is ‘post 9-11’.

I need to know if the Geneva Convention does or does not apply in the USA.  Is torture something that is on the table?  Before you start thinking crazy thoughts, I am not planning on trying to get one of our local squirrels to tell me where all the nuts are hidden.

No this is something far worse.  I have some great co-workers and earlier today I discovered how to torture a classical music lover and a jazz aficionado.  Nine words that can cause a trembling,  the flight part of the ‘fight or flight ‘response to kick in and a general feeling of dread.

Vinyl is not just a maintenance free siding option.

I loaned one of them a USB drive with my first couple of shows on it, since they had said they wanted to give the show a listen, but can’t tune in while it is going out live. They took it home over the weekend and did play one of the shows.

The reviews were not good.  Oh, they thought I was fine, but there was some questioning about my musical taste.  In short, the opinion was, my taste in music is, well (lets add a little non-calorie sweeter) bad.

I can accept that, given their view from the intersection of Classical Causeway and Jazz Junction.

When I think about music, my criteria for what gets played are pretty relaxed.  For instance, I am not a fan of death metal.  If the cover art screams death metal I just don’t pull it to preview.  If something gets past that initial impression, it goes into the bin and gets carried to the one of the listening stations and the needle gets dropped on the tracks.

My ears perk up when they hear something fun or interesting.  Maybe not the best track ever cut, but a track that has something tasty carved into the platter.

Those disks get put back into the bin, which is now my musical salad bowl, and they get tossed together and let me make a show.

When the clock reaches high noon on Wednesday, the show is over and I am smiling.

The wheel in the groove goes round and round?

So what is it that brings music, specifically vinyl music, and bike riding together?  Well for some folks the answer to that question would be, umm, nothing.   Well within my mind there is something that brings them together and that is the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath.

How you may ask?

Well, the route I ride home from work takes me on city streets and then onto the Towpath Trail, from its current northern terminus next to ALCOA on Harvard Avenue, at mile five.  The portion down to Rockside Road, which is about five miles, is paved.  The bike tires on pavement have a certain sound.  It is basically a quiet buzz.  After mile ten the trail surface changes to packed limestone.

The sound of the bicycle tires on the limestone surface sounds just like the needle in the groove, as it interacts with the dust and materials hiding there.  Almost every ride home last year I would think that the paved portion was a CD and the limestone was a vinyl LP.  I would sometimes think of if as going back in time musically.

That sound kept going around and around in my mind, leading me to think about all of the albums sadly sitting in the WRUW record library. So sprang the inspiration to search through and share some analog encoded gems and maybe a few clunkers to boot.

Back in my day we used to have to listen to college radio in the snow going up hill

I went to a planning meeting for my 30 year high school reunion this past week.  At one point I had a brief discussion about music, prompted by a stack of vinyl LPs that were sitting out on a table.  The stack contained artists like Ian Hunter, Styx and Earth Wind and Fire.  I made the comment that the pile didn’t have any of the stuff I listened to back then.

The question was posed, what did you listen to?  Well all I could come up with was REM, XTC and the Buzzcocks.

There were so many more bands that I listened to, that pop into my head every once and awhile and then, sometimes they end up as one of the songs played on the show.  Chatty Chatty by Toots and the Maytals is but one example.  I used to own that LP, along with a few Bob Marley disks and the other reggae thing from a few weeks ago, Juice.

I never had a large record collection, since I had to earn the money for anything I might want to buy.  Delivering the Cleveland Press, pumping gas at a Sohio Station and doing landscaping.  There was effort for each dollar that came in, so I would agonize over spending it.  Would I really like more than one song on the disk?  What else did I need that money for? (hint – guitars and amplifiers were expensive and what if my ’72 Skylark needed a repair)

Cheap 90 minute cassettes and the Cuyahoga County Public Library came in handy for getting things to listen to and deciding if there was enough there for me to want to own it.

The biggest trick was finding out about bands and getting to hear them on the radio.  Cleveland has a long and sad history of never keeping a good alternative commercial station around for very long.  There was one for about 3 weeks when I was in high school (92.3  WRQC) that quickly shifted to becoming 92Q with contemporary hits.  The next real effort for that format was WENZ the END, many years later. That left, college radio stations.

The Cleveland area is a goldmine of college radio stations going back many decades.  Right now, with the broadcast power that many of them have, it is not too hard to pick them up in and around town.  That was not the case back in the 1980’s.

Back in those days WRUW was a mere 1000 watts (since 2002 it has been 15,000 watts) and living in the fringes of Cuyahoga County, meant having to really work to tune the station in and even more work to make out the music from all the static.

The music landscape is so different today, with YouTube always at the ready and internet radio options prepared to dish out just about any style you can think of, getting to the music has almost become the easy part.  The trick is coming up with a way to sort through the pile.  I think that is why I decided to limit the show to just vinyl, which means if I was to just use the WRUW library, my LP search would have less than 100,000 results.

Let’s see, at 30 minutes per week….

WRUW logo

Devil’s Wielding Scimitars close out show # five

So, here is what I played today on the show:

  • Toots and the Maytals, Chatty Chatty from Just Like That
  • Tomorrow, The Incredible Journey of Timothy Chase from Tomorrow
  • Godley and Crème, I Pity Inanimate Objects from Freeze Frame
  • Beatles, Baby You’re a Rich Man from Magical Mystery Tour
  • Girls, Pedestrian Walk from Girls
  • Girls at our Best!, Pleasure from Pleasure
  • Get Smart!, Because of Green from Action Reaction
  • Devil’s Wielding Simitars, Devil’s Disease from Curious Soul
As I was putting it together, I was thinking about what other things I would want to play, if the doors to the ‘digital’ world were open.  There are so many things up on the internet and as is often the case, some things spring up and others fade away like the tide.  So what gems exist out there right now?

How about a digital re-issue of their album Ugly Roses which is something I had never seen or heard before just now.

Devil’s Wielding Scimitars Ugly Roses

Or how about lead singer Suzy Callahan’s song Personal Watermelon on Youtube:

Personal Watermelon

If you’d like to take a listen to show, ‘hear it here’ , from the WRUW archive.

Some bike parts left the building – Yeah!

Over the past five years I have been doing a lot of stuff with bikes.  Buying, riding, fixing, selling and to mu dismay having a bunch sitting around the basement and the garage.  I haven’t really wanted things hanging around unused, but I was not sure how I wanted to move them along.  A lot of it cost me something, maybe a few dollars or maybe a little more, but some of it was found or free.

I was not interested in selling any of it.  The stuff that I sold in past years was simply a way to pay for needed or wanted bicycle related items.  Well, I have a new bike and a few older ones that meet all of the cycling needs that I have.   I have a nice set of lights and some cycling specific cloths, so I am covered there.   That means I never have to deal with the listing, the waiting and the haggling dance again.  Well, at least when it comes to bikes or bike parts.

Well, I was put in touch with a really great couple from out in Chesterland who fix up bikes and give them to clients at a social service agency where one of them works.  The agency is in Lake County, where there is no bus service on the weekend.

As we were loading the 30 wheels, boxes and two bikes into and onto the car, they told me how they started this project.   A few years back, when the weekend bus service was being eliminated, there was a client who had a food service job that was 5 miles away from her home.  It was winter time, and she said, if she had a bike she could ride to work.   They felt, if she was willing to ride a bike in the middle of winter, they would get her a bike.

Anyone who has a car and can just hop in and drive to work or any other place you wish to go, may not grasp the difference a bike can make for someone.  Think of how long it would take you to walk a mile.  Now imagine the same route on a bike.

Last year they refurbished and provided 29 people with free bikes.  Transportation.  Self-sufficiency. Freedom.

Getting ready for show # three

So I carved out about 30 minutes of my lunch today to browse and preview some music for tomorrow. The big question is, what did I stumble upon?

Well while walking across campus, a tune that I played way back in my WCSB days (yes college was that long ago) sprang into my head.  I think it is because of all of the political ad spending and the announcement earlier in the day, or was it yesterday, that Obama is going to embrace the Super PAC just like everyone else.  (Perhaps it is Mr. Colbert’s fault.) Don’t want to talk politics, but the picture of all of that money, on both sides, flowing and sloshing about made it pretty clear that cash is king.

That lead my thoughts to the song Money God by the band Big Pig which will be the kick-off track of the show. Interesting facts from that source of all knowledge, outside of movies and TV which is best served by IMDB.COM (I Am Dumb) wikipedia:

Bonk went Gold in Australia, they had a track chart in the US and music from the album was used on Miami Vice and even better, the opening music from the classic Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

Big Pigs album with the song Money God

Big Pig BONK