WGBW, the microwatt radio station of my alma mater UWGB played "black music" from 4 p.m. friday to late on saturday. it kicked off with pancho playing the "urban" sounds of his native nyc. philly expat "the fat cat" played old school r&b late and gave the "brothers out in four corners" (green bay's prison) a channel to the outside world by reading their mailed-in dedications on-air. mehdi managed to get himself on every indie label's mailing list and played hour-long mixes of club sounds all saturday morning. the mysterious "bus" mixed in the art-dance-rock-funk of the b-52's, talking heads, etc., with his hip hop when there wasn't a saturday afternoon b-ball game on. and rounding it off on sat night was tom brown with chicago flavored soul.
for those 24 or so hours i could forget i was going to school in the middle of nowhere; a small consolation for not living "out there it was all happening". yet the music and the community that developed around that 24+ hours of music had such a deep influence on me that i have sought out college/community/local radio stations in every other place i have lived.
it led me to KCRW when it really was a small station in the basement of santa monica college; when i would play congolese soukous to provide a deliciously incongruent soundtrack to my saturday afternoon cruises around la and oc.
it later led me san francisco's KPOO (flava, baby!) and to donald lacy's richard pryor-inspired political humor, to polo moquuz, "ghetto radio" and sunday morning gospel music.
all this came back to me yesterday as i was listening to afrika bambaata's tuesday night show "true school" on harlem's WHCR. he plays the same hip hop, funk, electro, and soul that i first heard on WGBW. it took me back all those years to when i first landed in this country and would sit glued to my radio every weekend to experience the musical world that existed beyond the snowy fields that surrounded me.