Be Hear Now.
electric city turns up the
dial on local college radio - 09/15/05

They come from here - the Southside and the Westside and the Hill section of Scranton; the North End and the Heights and the Goose Island neighborhoods of Wilkes-Barre. They come from near here - Nanticoke and Honesdale and Dallas and Hazleton. They come from not so near - Philadelphia and New York and Newark and Baltimore and the many hamlets that sand Down the Shore. And they come from not even close - Miami and Moscow, Los Angeles and Kuala Lumpur and many points between.

They come by foot and by bike and by scooter, by train and by plane and by automobile. But wherever they come from, however they come, they've come with one purpose - to change the way we hear now.

They are the region's college radio DJs and they are here for your ears.

Yep, classes have kicked backed in 'round the region, and with that kick has come a brash new bumper crop of sound slingers. Fans first, aficionados second, obsessionists all, toting and knowing and plugging and throwing music new, old and almost always unexpected. A cadre of the medium's coolest, combing collective pasts and farming formidable futures so that we, the loyal listeners, can gasp in all the great good glory of radio.

We're talkin' 'bout auralists of such stellar caliber and irrepressible ilk that they make this place the place to be.

Be hear now.

electric city sat down and scanned the dial to find out what all the hot fuss was about. Sometimes we streamed, sometimes we beamed, and sometimes we positioned a portable AM/FM just so, and all the time we came up grasping for ever more airwaves. We just couldn't get enough of that funky stuff.

We heard the hip, we heard the happening, and we heard the strange and the beautiful and the simply beyond. And we heard it all broadcast from right here, in our very own front yard.

A Note:

Lest someone come to the conclusion that the ubiquity of the Internet and the prevalence of 24-hour news stations have rendered radio obsolete, bear in good mind the great good example of the United Radio Broadcasters of New Orleans.

After Katrina felled the city, the civic-minds of the air cast a radio-net over what remained. People looking for lost sons and daughters, missing mothers and fathers, even those just looking for a sense that there was and is still a community somewhere out there amid all the debris tuned in to one of several stations to find out where their city stood.

Or didn't.

It was a terrific example of the terrific impact radio can have on a city, on a state, and on a nation. The kinda example the great good women and men of this region's college radio stations will soon be setting themselves.

Radio on, soundslingers.

WUSR 99.5 University of Scranton

Royal Radio. Not because they're the kingliest (there's a whole lotta royalty out in these here monarchies), but because they're the Royals.

Hence, well-poised to pounce on the college radio crown.

USR's the grandpappy of 'em all, packing the most powerful punch and most prominent position on the dial - smack dab in the middle of the mish and the mash and the muddle, between the drek and the even drekker, where nothing but commercialists can oh-so usually afford to tread. Thing is, USR does it without the squawk and the huck and the jive of their blaring brethren, they do it with clever. And cool.

In multitudes. Similar in both scope and spirit to New York's revered and irreverent WBAI, Royal Radio covers the gamut. And then some. Especially over and through those restless, classless weekends. On Saturday alone, USR tweaks 12 - count 'em - 12 hours of the freest of free forms ever to follow function. Mystery Train with John (8 a.m.-10); On a Carousel with Tim O'Hearn (10-noon); Scranton vs. The World with Peter Hocking (noon-2); Grecian Formula with Roman Grecco (2-4); and Chaos Live! With The Other Guy (4-8) - an eminently squeezy combo of showy shows which brings beaming to an all-new high low end.

One knockabout block found us tripping from Plastic Ono-era Lennon through an Oasis of many Stones; another pegged ultra-hot Architecture in Helsinki to ultra-hotter Dungen, acts so scorchingly au courant that only the most indie of presses know their true heat.

When the fullest of full half-days ends though, it's really just the Beginning ... of the boombastic. We mean, of course, hip hop, the beats and the rhymes that propel the inner city nationists. Finesse (8-10) is up first, cold-clocking all the block-rocking from now and then with the kinda, well, finesse required from all-on, action-packing turntablists. On his steel heels is DJ Rock On (10-3), whose beatitudes echo on and on well into the break of dawn. It may only be a figurative get, but it's a get nonetheless.

There's more of course, Will Boogie and Represent with added urban; Mike & Neil and Stephanie and Hook taking the Alternative; Plain Sam and Larry Skoob slingin' the Blues; Leo Schott's Music of Ireland; John L's Sunday morning Polka Party; Jill and Christine's very loud Music of Champions; and, the best bright lightings of Brian and Ken's Baroque and Beyond, not to mention the many-sided soundings of the many-cited Sadko, who, in his off-air, may or may not be a Transylvanian-born professor of parapsychology.

All of which is to say that in a world of cool in every color, USR fields the spectrum.

WCLH 90.7 Wilkes University

The place where Loud lives. Cold. Hard. Loud. Coldest. Hardest. Loudest. When CLH says they "play the music no one else dares," there is nothing idle about the boast. They mean what they play and play it mean. On a real mean keen.

It's almost as if CLH wants to huff and puff and blow the whole town down. Twice.

Sure they mood swing: A little slip of College Media Journal Alt (Sonya on Sundays), a lotta hunk of hip-hop (Mo & Destro on Tuesdays, Wild Out Wednesdays, Cheeks on Thursdays, The Get Hype Girlz on Fridays, The Good Puerto Rican on Saturdays, Unit on Sundays), and, to add insight and equilibrium, the award-winning, in-the-knowing public affairs program Democracy Now! each and every weekday from 10-11 in the a.m.

Mostly though CLH is all about the volume, the most voluminous the better:
Friday Morning Quarterback monster rock staples such as Fear Factory, Iron Maiden, Taproot, Gwar, and, yes, Twisted Sister jar skulls with CMJ Crucial Metal maulers like Duskfall, Scar Symmetry, Opeth, Ion Dissonance, Magus, A Dozen Furies, Nuclear Assault, The Bled and all their brutal, bloody brothers in arms' sway.

It is mad. It is bad. And it is dangerous - too mad, bad and dangerous not to know. And it's enough to make your ears bleed for no more mercy.

WVMW aka XMFM 91.7 Marywood University

The true sound of now. When we hit these here hills we stumbled upon this little station that could and did; we haven't touched the tuner since.

It's everything that Philly's fabled XPN is, without the fogied break-downs on memory lane. Hot Hot Heat, Fall-Out Boy, New Pornographers; The's like Arcade Fire, Decemberists and Killers, this is pure pop for the very nowest of people. If USR's a little bit BAI with a whole lotta FUM thrown in for rad measure, XMFM's like the emo/indie equivalent of Santa Monica's fabled KCRW. It is that good.

And don't let the strong on current drown you. XMFM rivers an array of "awesome favorites" that run all the way back to the early '90s. Alice in Chains, an old Weezer, the odd Offspring, even a gold Green Day from long before the time they became NFL favorites. In other words, the kinda buoy that brings buoyancy to the buoyant.

And if that alone doesn't completely rock your boat, paddle into Thursday night's loudific World War Four, a solid iron anchor to the head for the head banger. Or, if you're less inclined to bruising and for and of the more reverential, attend Saturday night's Christian alt (alt Christian?) pipe in, which bears a strum and a hum even a natty Noah could luv.

XMFM proves one need not be urban to be urbane, that's there just as much with-it from within. Yeah, they need to get sited, but the station's temporary sitelessness (it's under construction) in no way prevents digging the incredible sceneliness. And if you dig it now (which you undoubtedly will), you'll doubly dig it when some streaming on demand transmits what the exemplary arsenal of nowness commands.

WRKC 88.5 King's College

More real royalty, this time from the princely Kings, in a principality all its own. RKC's scrappy, snappy and so slap-happy it hurts. Good.

This is the sound of breaking class, by the kids, for the kids, for the kid in everyone. And for the kid who gets kidding around.

RKC's got your Hardcore (Jessica on Mondays; Bob on Tuesdays, Jack & Chris, the self-proclaimed Kings of Hardcore, on Thursdays, Becca on Friday afternoons, Jim and Cathy in the cool of the eve); and RKC's got your Punk/Ska (James on Tuesday eves, Chris & Kurt's Bedtime For Everyone well into the wees, DJ Kulpy on Fridays, Matt & Tim's Big Show on late to way-late Sundays).

It's like an indie 7" cut-up bin all over again, a refreshingly relentless dose of nonstop CBGB matinees.

But punk-plus isn't the only hard street RKC walks. For back alley double-parkers they got Alt (The Death Rock Grrrl on Wednesdays, Sue, Mark & Loni, and Rich, The King of Canada, on Saturdays, Charles on Sundays), and for those who just take the whole intersection they got Hip Hop (The Dragon's Den, Dr. Evil's Laboratory and The King's Court w/Pete, Jess and DJ Decosmo on Wednesdays, Danny Mac on Thursdays, Knowledge & Little Guido, and then, Spence on Fridays). RKC gets a little bit Metal (Ed on Mondays, Bob on Saturdays), a little bit Country (Loring's Sunday Morning Country Harvest), a little bit Rave (Glenn on Mondays, Tech Nick's Sounds of the Underground on Thursdays), they even get a little bit sub Continental (Saturday Morning's Festival of India).

And they never once mention either Donny or Marie.

And if covering the wild world of music wasn't public service enough, RKC offers The Radio Home Visitor (RHV), a broadcast of news and other events for the blind, two hours every day from 10 a.m. until noon. It's is the nation's oldest daily broadcast for the blind, and RKC's been blasting the blessed thing for 25 years.

Now that's radio.

So, the next time you hear someone say they're bored, or they're tired, or they're sick of it all, remind 'em of the wonders located all around the dial, broadcast from all around the region, in every color of cool, then tell 'em to tune in and get with it. Otherwise they're gonna go without.