Radio Daze

It's funny how an ordinary object from your past can cause you to reminisce and conjure up memories long thought forgotten. Imagine the stories coming out of a silenced radio….

A simple black plastic box about the size of an average paperback book, the gold paint highlights the upraised letters across the bottom- ADMIRAL Super 7. Next to the name sits a familiar crown logo. A simple brass carrying handle bends backward, allowing it to set at a 45 degree angle for easy access. The AM station numbers array themselves in a half-starburst pattern, emanating from the large gold tuning knob. That this radio was a product of the Cold War era is revealed by the "CD" markings at the top and bottom of the frequency spectrum. Remember CONELRAD, the Civil Defense network we were instructed to turn to if the "big one" came? The knurled gold on-off/volume knob hovers on the left side, equidistant from the station sunburst, as if the Earth were orbiting the Sun. Dad's radio, despite its Spartan elegance was an entrée into another world when I was a boy.

The Super 7 seemed to always be in use- from Dad's listening to the Milwaukee Braves' baseball games on the back stoop to the morning news on WHBY as he prepared his coffee before work.

When I couldn't sleep, Dad would sometimes let me listen to his radio. I'd tweak the tuning knob and be whisked away to exotic places (at least for a 13 year old boy in northeastern Wisconsin.) Late at night, the powerful signals of the country's megawatt AM stations would be captured by the Super 7's tuner- KMOX in St. Louis; WOWO in Fort Wayne, Indiana; WLS in Chicago; KOMA in Oklahoma City; and my favorite, WABC in New York. I would delight in catching the opening of disc jockey Jay Reynolds' shift from midnight to five. WABC had a distinctive sound, but nothing to me was as memorable as hearing Jay's "drop," one of those short sound bites they play now and then on any radio station with the DJ's name and call letters. WABC was big on reverb, a sound trick that made everything sound as stereophonic as possible in the days before FM Stereo was the norm. And they used that electronic synthesizer sounding voice, you know, the way robots used to sound in old sci-fi movies? I thought that was so cool. To this day, each time I hear the intro to Three Dog Night's "Just an Old-Fashioned Love Song," I wait to hear the drop of "Jay Reynolds, WABC."

After Dad died, I was sorry for years that I hadn't talked Mom out of his radio to keep as a memento. Somewhere along the way, the old Admiral bit the dust; Mom's not sure any more if she sold it off in a rummage sale or junked it when it quit working. And when I finally asked about it, it was too late.

The last few years, I've been on a quest to find an Admiral Super 7 and with the advent of the internet, I was able to renew my acquaintance with the old warhorse. It took a while, but through a popular auction site, I scored a nifty little copy for the exorbitant sum of $9.99 plus shipping. I was even able to get it in Dad's color- basic black. This was a rather important detail as I'd seen photos of the same model in white, gray, and even a day-glo orange. Imposters!

On my bookshelf today is my very own Admiral Super 7, looking …

Radio Static

Static in the radio announcement,
music cutting over the words, she tries to hear in the broadcast,
as she fumbles with the button to fine tune,
slight bits of words on relationships, finding love, making it last.

Frustrated at the fuzz and sound,
falling in between, music, she struggles to listen, to take in more clear.
The sounds of guitars and the piano,
still echoing in her ear.

She sighs in dismay,
guessing today is not her day,
and maybe the broadcast, would not be enough to find love, make it last.
She picks up a book and walks away.

The pages wet, blurred text,
clouding the visions of love before her eyes.
A romance novel, that was mistakenly left out in the rain,
she tried to retrieve,
yet this seemed to just be the way, her life would play,
caught beneath rain and cloudy skies.

She picks up her pad of paper, the tools to draw and write.
Today the day at least shines for her, she walks along, alone outside,
stopping to watch the ducklings along the water,
one falling far behind the others, seemed it couldn't keep up,
no matter how hard it tried.

She sits upon a park bench, starts to see clouds swirling above,
covering up the blue sky,
sighs, "what is love?"

Taking shelter from a heavy downpour, she stands beneath a large oak tree,
someone else found his way there today.
He smiles pleasantly at her,
"turned out to be a beautiful day"

The clouds separate, the sun showing slightly in between,
a rainbow reflecting above the lake, the cloudy vision, beauty before her eyes.
He continues on, strumming his guitar,
the music, making the day seem so clear, it echoes in her ear,
caught beneath the rain and cloudy skies.
Just static in the radio broadcast, she smiles, and sighs.


Video Has Not Killed the Radio Star

This past Tuesday, April 5th, Death Cab For Cutie performed the first ever live music video for their new single “You Are A Tourist.” According to, the video was directed by Tim Nackashi, who is known for his epic directing of Ok Go’s treadmill video, and was choreographed and scripted, but only shot ONCE…live for the entire world to see on the bands website. This is truly an amazing feat, as some of the dancing and all of the playing was surely a challenge for everyone involved. Nevertheless, this amazing band pulled it off, successfully pushing the envelope in the music industry.

Perhaps the most impressive feat related to the video was the band flawless playing and emotion. It takes the viewer a moment to process what they’re seeing. The product is NOT one that took many takes and hours and hours of editing to create a glimpse into how the members function as a band. Instead, it is a live representation of the band’s natural emotion, cooperation, and . Death Cab has truly offered an opportunistic idea for bands trying to prove themselves…after all, when we watch a music video, we are typically given a manufactured performance.

Hopefully the new trend will catch on, and bands will begin offering live, authentic performances as their music videos. If not, Death Cab has surely (yet again) made their mark in the music business. To see the video, go here.



How Digital Killed the Radio and Video Stars

I have been a professional music producer and songwriter for about 10 years now. To some heavyweight music business moguls my very opinion might not mean a thing considering my infancy to such a high-profile, multi-billion dollar industry. But I must say, given the material results proven against the music industry as far as plummeting record sales, and numerous reports of heavy pirating, this business is fighting for its life as many musicians and artists are turning to the the independent route to market their products.

One thing that has particularly stood out to me are these "360 deals" now being offered by all of the major labels still breathing. These 360 deals require artists to now sign their record deals with the addition of granting the record companies percentages of ALL outside ventures and/or deals you may acquire outside of your contract such as: movies, commercials, endorsements, etc. Now I know some of you may be thinking that this sounds familiar as artists have been taken for money and financially "raped" for years by their execs but this was never a required holding in standard industry practices.

Digital sales are up as actual in-store purchases are becoming less and less common. But even the digital world of sales faces a huge battle of their own when it comes to piracy. Piracy is nothing new to the entertainment industry in general, ranging from software to video games and movies. Back in 2001, the famous battle of the P2P file-sharing network Napster, against the music industry shocked the world. Eventually, both parties settled and became friends allowing Napster to run legally, splitting monetary profits with the record companies. Now, though that battle was settled, it seemed like thousands of P2P file-sharing networks were created overnight. In fact, so many forms of piracy were now created that it became impossible to track and fight every "lawbreaker". This to me, is the main reason for seeing the music industry fall from it's grace of happy and devout followers and record buyers.

Though, there is still a huge market for touring and other ways of making money in the industry, the main source of income has always been record sales. The industry has been forced to forget about it's roots and join the race of evolution and technology. If you still feel artists and musicians alike should be supported, by all means, we need you. Continue buying albums and supporting your favorite artists but don't force us into having to sell our souls and give up both our monetary rights and personal integrity for your gain!


No-Risk Ways to Combat Sleep Deprivation: Talk Radio to a New Mattress

Sleep deprivation is one of the biggest problems facing individuals and even the country today. According to, more than 25% of all Americans occasionally do not get enough sleep, and 10% suffer from insomnia.

I'm not a doctor, but I do know from experience what it means to suffer from sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation means a day of irritability, forgetfulness, lethargy and inability to focus. Sleep deprivation means not having enough energy for your kids. Sleep deprivation can cause you to turn to coffee or other artificial energy enhancers, further compounding the problem as they can also lead to sleep deprivation.

Sleep deprivation is a vicious cycle. You don't sleep deeply and/or you don't sleep enough. You toss and turn and then it becomes even harder to sleep.

Through the years, I've learned certain techniques and behaviors to combat sleep deprivation. Some of these may be conventional sleep deprivation fighting techniques, but others are ones that I discovered after years of combating it.

Get a better mattress. The number one reason for sleep deprivation and the easiest way to combat sleep deprivation is to get a better and more comfortable mattress. After almost five years of suffering with it, my wife and I went shopping for a new mattress and it's made a lot of difference. My advice is to shop at a bedding store, with mattress experts who can really educate you as to the pros and cons of the mattress itself and why some carry different price tags than others. Think about it. A mattress is where you will hopefully spend a THIRD of your life! Do not skimp and buy the highest quality mattress available! This doesn't necessarily mean a mattress that is the most expensive, but a mattress that feels the most comfortable and has a reputation for lasting and being durable.

Limit your caffeine intake and avoid caffeine after 3:00PM. Caffeine will stay in your system for quite a while and it's important to get it completely out before falling asleep. Next to getting a better mattress, limiting your caffeine is probably the second most important thing you can do.

Don't force yourself to sleep. If you aren't tired, do not stress out about and lie on your mattress in a dark room staring at the ceiling. Instead, do something that will relax you. Many will advise you to not watch television, but in my experience, a funny, lighthearted show can really help me to zone out.

I'll put this tactfully, but if you are married or have a significant other next to you, the, uh, occasional "happy ending" can help zone you out and combat sleep deprivation (and perhaps deprivation of other things as well!). Whatever is keeping you up and stressed will soon be forgotten!

Avoid alcohol. Alcohol turns into sugar in your bloodstream and will keep you awake, or at least keep your body fighting off the sugar all night. Not as bad as caffeine, perhaps, but still an issue.

Talk radio. The mindless blather coming from stations, like WFAN sports talk in New York, can help block out more important issues. What is sports talk for, after all, but escapism? And many opposing fans would claim that the New York sports they talk all day is the leading cure for sleep deprivation!

Music. Maybe not the Foo Fighters, but put on a Fleetwood Mac or Alicia Keys CD and it can be soothing. I'm not sure Stevie Nicks or Alicia Keys would like to be recommended as a sleep deprivation cure, but my job is to report my experiences here.…