If it sounds like I'm getting romantic about this, it's because I deeply love radio. There's nothing like driving along in your car on a dark night or a sunny afternoon, listening to your buddy the DJ chattering away, knowing a great song is about to spin up. My wife, also a lover of radio, and I have gone on lots of road trips just to get out, get some air, and listen in to a favorite show.
And Jewish radio is stronger now than it's been in a long time. There are community radio stations hosting Jewish programming all over the country. See this blog's left column for the ones I know about. There's probably one near you. And if there isn't, many of them broadcast live via the internet or podcast their shows.
Washington Jewish Radio. I've recently run across two fantastic shows that are worth calling attention to. The first is Washington Jewish Radio, which is a 2 hour show that broadcasts every Sunday (10am?) and airs on 4 stations. WKHZ/1590 - Ocean City, MD; WCTN/950 Potomac, Washington DC; WYRE/810 Annapolis, Baltimore; and WEMD/1460 Easton, MD. The show is co-hosted by the father and son team of Larry and Ben Shor. As Ben described it to me in an recent email....
"We try to have a diverse mix of US and Israeli music as well as a weekly comedy feature. My Co-Host and Father is Larry Shor, who is the owner of one of the largest Independently owned collections of vintage and modern Jewish Music In the USA. He was also the host of a show called "The Jewish Music Hall" which aired in DC for over 25 years. We are both DC natives, In fact, I am a 6th Generation Washingtonian! Larry is 53 and Is the Mid-Atlantic regional sales manager for Globex Kosher Foods, in Brooklyn. I am 19 and a student At The University of Maryland, College Park."I've listened to a number of there recent shows, and am a big fan. Partly because of the music mix. Larry is deeply knowledgeable about the history of Jewish music and spins a range of liturgical, comedy, Yiddish pop, and Israeli music recorded over the last 100 years. He digs deep in the bins to present some great stuff. Ben has a good ear for new Jewish music and has already turned me on to a new band (Hello Sid). The other reason I love the show is the patter. Larry has a classic radio voice, pacing, and patter. This is the kind of voice that I want to hear on a road trip, getting me through the miles. I've got a stack of their shows queued up on my iPod just waiting for my next trip. For more info or downloadable podcasts, hit the Washington Jewish Radio website or their facebook fan page.
Radio 613's Semitic Soul. The second show I've gotten excited about is Radio 613's Semitic Soul. Coming down from the college town of Kingston, Ontario, Canada....
Radio613 is a collective and radio broadcast dedicated to Jewish politics, culture, and religious life. Diasporic tones find auditory homes through featured interviews, music, readings, discussion, and documentaries. Each week radio613 presents Jewish perspectives on religious/spiritual thought and practice, race and racism, gender and feminisms, anti-semitism, identity politics, colonialism and resistance… and more! Tune in on Mondays from 5-6pm on CFRC 101.9fm in Kingston (www.cfrc.ca)This is classic freeform college radio. The Semitic Soul set list focuses on great contemporary Jewish and related music, with an emphasis on hot instrumental music of all kinds. Their recent shows have include Teruah favorites Enrico Fink and the Sherele Jazz Band Innovators (Italian and Mexican klezmer jazz bands, respectively), Balkan horn band Boban Markovic and Israeli pop band Balkan Beat Box. They've also opened my ears to arab musicians including Arab Summit and Ali Hassan Kuban. And that's just in one recent show. I have a fantasy of getting these guys down to Ann Arbor to DJ a killer party.
Semitic Soul is the musical branch of the radio613 collective. DJ Grenadier presents a weekly set of Klezmer/Roma/Balkan/Arab dance and soul music. Tune in on Thursdays from 10-11pm on CFRC 101.9fm in Kingston (www.cfrc.ca)
For more information or to download their recent shows, check out the Radio 613 website.