Opinion


Music Radio to Playlists 1

Since I stopped being on the radio, I have been keeping my ear to the ground and listening and watching the slow death of music radio. To me, music radio should be a place to hear all kinds of music and a venue to let the DJ educate the listener about all types of music, in the ways of the pioneer’s of FM radio DJ’s. The radio DJ of today in the majority of radio stations is a computer that has been programmed to play the music around the advertisements. It’s all done by some guy in another location who “knows” everything about what the listener wants to hear by studying charts and “data” of sales worldwide. But not what the market is like and what the demographics of the listening area is, so in other words taking local out of the local radio. We hear music that all sounds the same it “pre-programmed electronic Disco.” It’s time to give the control of the music selection back to the DJ!

WARNING – If pre-programmed electronic Disco is the kind of music you like then you might not want to read on, but I hope you do and you realize there are more kinds of music out there to listen too.

Let me impart some knowledge and history on you now – the FM radio signal, was invented in the 1930’s, but as a commercial medium it didn’t take off until the late 60’s. When rock radio stations began using FM to get away from the locked down format of the pop stations of the AM dial. The format used was loose and free, and the DJs programmed their music in a freeform style. This style was the birth of Freeform radio that was popular in the late 60s and the 70’s, but as the audience grew the radio station owners and advertisers realized that there was more money to be made in FM radio, then there was in AM.  So more and more structure was added to the format of the station thus tieing the hands of the DJ. Which eventually caused the replacing of a live person with the before mentioned computer, so that eventually FM music radio became sounding more like the pop formats of AM radio, with more commercials and less musical diversity, killing the Freeform format.

Freeform, or freeform radio, is a radio station programming format in which the disc jockey is given total control over what music to play, regardless of music genre or commercial interests.” – Wikipedia

When I started in radio in ‘86, the Freeform format had been dead for many years, but no one had told me, I programmed my shows the way I made mixtapes, come up with a “theme” or a set of songs and fill in around them during my show. Because of this, I got called into the office more than once for playing a “B” side or a song that had not been released from a new album or the big one…it didn’t follow the format of the station. Little did I know that I was following in the steps of the inventors of the early “FM” sound…the Freeform radio DJ.

It wasn’t till I had stopped working in radio and listening to the stations in other markets that were still letting the DJ do a modified “Freeform” format that I learned more about mixing the music in a way that took the listener on a musical journey.  The songs were laid out to tell a story or they followed a theme, and they didn’t just use the top music of the day.  They used those buried gems on “Side 2” or a cover of a past hit or a B side to lay out the musical journeys, and they didn’t just use the music of the format of the station to take these journeys. Since the late 90’s trying to find a station letting the DJ go out and build these musical journeys is getting harder and harder, but soon I realized that Playlists could be a conduit to supplying a Freeform musical journey to others.

Playlists

Since I can’t seem to get back on the radio to do a show in a Freeform type of format I have been starting to make 3 to 4-hour Playlists of the shows I would program.

Making a playlist for me is creating a piece of art, I start with a base of songs that I want to hear. One or two for the beginning of the list and then as I am listening to that I start adding music that blends and flows with the “base” songs that are going to be added or I might have a theme in mind or a story to tell through the music. Yes, my playlists will have a lot of the same artists as the “base” of all my playlists, but it’s what I put in the cracks between them that will take you on the musical journey.  My playlists are to listen to in the order they are laid out as though you are listening to a radio and not in shuffle mode

When it comes to music I have a broad taste, not just the Jam Band genre, like a lot of people think I do. I was brought up listening to all kinds of music, and I appreciate some more than others like most people. For certain songs, I might like a cover over the original version; for example, I like the Jerry Garcia’s Bands version of Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue,” so in my lists I try to use the best version that fits, not just the one that I like.

This week, there is a new site where I will start listing my playlists so that you will be able to play on Spotify, and Amazon Music. I am open to comments and suggestions for songs or bands you might like that I would like as well, I am open to hearing new stuff, but please keep all comments polite and on topic and no hate.

Just in case you are a radio programmer reading this and listing to my lists who is looking for a DJ who doesn’t stay in the format box and loves to interact with the listeners and take them on a Musical Journey every shift contact me, please.

So in the words of Dave Herman from when he started The Marconi Experiment at WMMR in Philadelphia on April 29, 1968:

“Arise my heart, and fill your voice with music. For he who shares not dawn with his song, is one of the sons of ever darkness.” – David Herman


What happened to the written letter 7

IMG_20180227_100126In the process of cleaning out my house, I came across a shoe box full of old letters that I had received from friends and family, and it got me thinking about actually sitting down and writing a letter.

While I was growing up, I would stay at my grandparents for a lot of overnight visits.  The early riser that my grandfather was, he would go downstairs to either make fresh bread, do research or to sit at the kitchen table to write letters to the family and friends.  He almost always woke me up on his walk to the kitchen so I would sit on the stairs and watch him write his letters.  Depending on who he was writing too he might have had some research that was going to be used to make his point all laid out on the table around him. Or a pile of news clippings he was going to send with the letter, I was always fascinated with his letter writing, so much so that I use to love writing letters.

His habit of letter writing rubbed off on me, and as I grew up, I became an avid letter writer.  When I became a teenager and moved to Bath, my letter writing became more prevalent, I would write to my friends in Fallsington or girls who went to the lake for the summer or off to college, or to friends of the family and of course family. I enjoyed putting thoughts and questions down on paper; it made things more personal between who I was writing to.  Dropping the letter into the mailbox and then the anticipation building of getting a letter back with I hoped the answers to the questions I had asked and then finding out what was going on in the person’s life.

How wonderful it is to be able to write someone a letter! To feel like conveying your thoughts to a person, to sit at your desk and pick up a pen, to put your thoughts into words like this is truly marvelous.”

 Haruki Murakami

The anticipation of having to wait for the next letter over at least a ten-day period (delivery to, writing back, delivery from).  The personalization of holding the piece of paper(s) that always made letter writing fun, compared to writing an email today, which always seems so impersonal to me.

It’s the impersonalization in today’s world of instant gratification that has replaced the written letter with social media, instant messaging, Snap Chat, Twitter, and email.  All of which typed quickly and in most cases short and just 140 characters max.

Gone are the days of taking the time to find the perfect pen to put word to paper, going out and selecting the perfectly weighted and colored paper to write your correspondence. To put that special pen to the hand-picked paper is what makes the letter a personal, heartfelt conversation between the recipients.  Don’t think I am still writing letters because I’m not; I can’t think of the last time I have put pen to paper and written a letter to anyone myself.

In my life, I have been trying to get away from the instant gratification communications of today and moving back to putting pen to paper for those communications that I would like to grow and build between friends and family.  Getting that feeling of really talking with people in a form that is more personal and more caring and loving.

My call to you all is dust off those old address books, find a piece of paper and a pen and write a letter….most people have a real physical address, not just an email address.


Writing issues 3

4487159833_2207b1dfa3_bWhen I was growing up my mother made me do creative writing all through summer vacation as well as writing journals on all our vacations while traveling, and that made writing for me a lot less fun, because it was more of a chore for a kid of 8 through 12, so I ended up fighting having to write anything for most of my early life in and out of school. Once I got out of school, and I moved on in my adult life, I started writing the odd story and article for the family newspaper here or there, but it just wasn’t that fun for me still.  In 2000 I started William’s Thoughts and Ideas, to be a site for me to put my day to day happenings on the web like the bofhcam journal, but that didn’t last too long since I got busy at work and totally forgot to write any entries for the day, week, month.  After looking at what I was writing when I did do a post I didn’t think my audience would really read it because it was just not exiting being a System Administrator at a civil engineering firm, so the site became more of a hey this is happening in my life or a look into my life as a kid and growing up, or a review of one thing or another and the yearly Christmas List, but there became times where I didn’t write much at all, I have gone for over six months to a year with out anything being written or posted.

Writing posts use to be pretty easy for me at the beginning of all this and looking back at those posts from about 2000 to 2012 I can see why..I never really said much in the way of substance, and my spelling and grammar were soooo bad, but in the past two or so years, it’s been tougher for me to write meaningful posts.  It’s not that I don’t have topics I want to write about, I have a huge list, and a few posts started, that I just can’t bring to a close, it’s just been hard for me to get my thoughts down on “paper”.  I don’t know if it’s because I am trying to be a better writer or because I get more distracted and less focused when I want to write or just not to have the will to write at all?

Getting distracted and not being focused is one of the issues when writing that happens and I know one thing I need to do is to find a better place and better way to write.  When I try to write in the living room with the television on I get caught up with what’s on and don’t write at all.  If I am at the Soul Full Cup, I am good till people start coming in to hang out and then I just put the computer away to chat and then seem to lose the will to pick up the writing again when everyone leaves.  I am also wondering if part of it is my work schedule now, working midnight to 9 am supposedly can mess up your rhythms and focus escpcially if you aren’t getting a good 6 to 8 hours sleep during the day.  Also with my job, working on the computer all the time, it’s tough for me to want to work on one to write on my non-work hours/days.

Writing about my family is one of the easiest kind of writing for me because it’s something I can pull right out of my head and memories and get it down on the page, but is this something other than my family want to read?  Same goes for the technical writings, and the reviews are these of any interest to anyone to read but me? It’s tough to know who is reading and what is being liked from my point of view.  Are people coming to my site at all or are they staying on Facebook and other social media sites and just clicking the Like button or skipping the writing altogether and scrolling by?  These questions also make writing difficult for me, because if no one is reading this stuff what’s the point.  I tell myself that I am not doing this to make money or to be famous (because I’m not),  I am doing this to have my life documented for future generations of my family to read and know about me and my part of the Bilancio family, but in the now, it’s for those of you who know me understand what’s going on and what I am doing in a fun way as well as imparting some knowledge to them.

Why did I write this and make a post out of it?  The take away from this post was to identify what my problems are with my writing and to get my mind back into a place that I hope will get a more even flow of posts posted and better writing.


The Great Concert Debate – The ticket just gets you into the door and the seat is optional!

So the debat I have seen on Facebook and on websites about this bad bad thing that is supposedly a horable thing happening at shows these days…no I am not talking about ticket prices or not being able to get tickets to that special venue (don’t get me started on that)…and I am talking about people standing up and dancing or watching the show at venues with seating.

Standing

Last night I saw Blues Traveler in Ithaca at the State Thearter and durng some songs people stood up to dance and of course than everyone behind them stood up to see the band play.  I had a few people around me yell out to sit down and even Marty complained about people standing up, I just said it’s partof going to a show of certain bands.

I have been going to shows now for more years than I want to count, and I can count on one hand the numbe of shows I went to that no one stood up, danced or to get a better view of the band.  And the reason they didn’t stand was because the venue was very small and intament or at a casino with a crowd of older people who were just there to say they saw the band. 🙂

Standing and dancing has been a thing at concerts since the dawn of time!

So why now is this a big thing?  Last night I heard more people yelling at others to sit down then any other show I have been to, aren’t we there to hear the music and enjoy the night with the band.  The ticket is just to get you into the door and that the seat is optional. Last night I wasn’t in the mood to stand and dance, but if I had I would have gotten up and danced for most of the show and had a good time.

After doing some reading into this non-issue and watching people last night, the people that complain the most about this seem to be in the age range of mid 30’s to 50…Genration X.  Is this generation so into themselves that they don’t want to enjoy themselves and complian the whole show or do they don’t want others to have a good time…one thing I did notice that these are the people who talk during the show or on their phones when the band is doing music they don’t like and bitch that the band isn’t playing their hit songs (this will be another post soon).

Since this is the year of me getting back on the concert trail I will be doing a lot of watching and trying to figure out this issue and why it’s a thing now.  If you are going to a show remember that yes you paid for a ticket, but so did the person in front or beside you that is standing and dancing, and it’s their right to stand and dance at the show just as much as you sitting and enjoying the show.

 


And you may ask yourself, well How did we get here? 1

To all my Facebook and online family and friends,

Today I break my political silence I have put on myself about talking about politics for just a short moment.

Yesterday the United States went to the polls and told the Government that we wanted changes. For those of you who are on the winning side congratulations, to those who lost, there is another chance in four years for you to institute another change.

Now I want to lay some ground rules for “today” the day after election day for those who voted for the winner; you get your chance to celebrate and wave your flag of victory till Sunday night 11:59 PM EST and I will also give you inauguration day to wave that flag, but for the next four years, no more bitching about the government and the things that happen or the bills and laws that don’t get passed or about the ones that do or on how the other side reacts to everything your side try’s to do, this is your winner and your win so you have to live with the consequences of your vote.

For those friends that picked the candidates that lost, you to have till Sunday night 11:59pm EST as well, to complain about the winning side or say you are moving to another country and to bitch and moan about the election, but after that it’s the time to start thinking about the future and how you are going to live in it for the next four years.

But the biggest thing you can all do is not get on Social Media and bitch and moan and put down the winning side and the winners, be a group of people that institute change in a peaceful and thoughtful way. Live up to that liberal label that you have been painted with for the past four years and especially the last year of this election cycle. Start at the local level right now! Get involved in the way your city, town, state is run. Help a campaign for a candidate that you think is worthy and will help your community for the better, then in two and half years help your side find a candidate that will be a good choice for the White House that will not only brining in the changes that you would like to see instituted but that will unite the country and bring bi-partisanship to the government and get things done without the fighting and all the crap that has been happening for the past sixteen years in our national government.

But everybody please stop the back stabbing, the name calling and the insulting of each other, we all live in the same country and we are all Americans and we are all friends and family, with different feelings and ideas and back grounds, but to survive in the future we have created, whether it’s a Zombie Apocalypse or a Financial Down turn or something else catastrophic that falls upon us as a nation; we need to work at working together to get the United States united as one nation and one people. Also stopping the hate and bigotry that has come into our lives in the past year and we need to remember that this country was founded and built by immigrants that came over from oppressed societies to help build a nation that wouldn’t oppress those that live here whether they were born here or came from another country or have a different religion or different ideas then our own. This is what had made America a great country the country of the free and the brave.

I am sure this post will get a few people upset and you know what I don’t care! I have kept quiet online about all politics and suffered through all the hate talk and all your opinions of our current President and those who were running on either side, so deal with this post and understand that this will probably be the last political post I do for a while.

So again congratulations to those on the “winning” side and to those who weren’t start now to be on it the next time.


A question that made me do a double take!

So an interesting thing happened to me at Soulful Cup when I went into get my morning large cup of Jamaican Me Crazy, I asked the Barista my usual “how are you doing and ready for the weekend” question, she gave me her answer and then turned and asked me “what radio stations I had worked for”. One of my coffee group had mentioned to her that I had worked in radio; it took me by surprise, because not many people below the age of 40 care or want to hear about it.

But it got me thinking of the kind of show I would love to do again. It would of course be based off of the Freeform format of the late 1960’s and 70’s.  The last true disc jockey that still does a freeform show, but on satellite radio is Jim Lad and his show is a great one.

The show would be 4 hours a night 5 days a week and it would have interviews and of course great music (Rock, Country, Folk, Jazz, etc.) from bands of yesterday and today…request welcome. I think for a small/medium market radio station this would be a great way to educate their “young” to 40 some things about music.  I know I write this article every few years but the theme and ideas for the show grows in my head and I have to get it put down so I remember and maybe a program manager with some guts will read this and get in touch to talk about a job.

I consider myself a historian of radio and I think it’s time for the small/medium sized radio stations to start swinging back to the start of FM radio, throw out the Automation machine, hire some good Disc Jockeys and some high school/collage kids to learn from the “old timers” you just hired so they can become the future of real radio.   There is so much good music and bands out in the world that aren’t getting air time because they don’t have a big music contract or they don’t play the current top 40 sound.  I am a big fan of the Blues Brothers and Ellwood Blues said it best back in 1978 when the album “Briefcase Full of Blues” (BTW this album appeared on my albums that influenced my life list) was released:

You know, so much of the music we hear today is all pre-programmed electronic disco; we never get a chance to hear master blues men practicing their craft anymore. By the year 2006, the music known today as the blues will exist only in the classical records department of your local library.

-Ellwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd)

And you know what 2006 has come and gone and that quote still holds true today, the music of 60’s through the 80’s really only exists in your local library and in people’s music listening device, it’s not getting played on the radio so that the youth of today can hear that there is music out there that isn’t rap or what I call the bubble gum music of top 40.  I use to love walking by my daughters door and hearing some classic rock coming through the door.

So if you’re a radio program director or you know a radio program director (drop them the link to this story) looking for a good show, from a disc jockey with a great voice, a great knowledge of music genres (except Classical Music) and radio drop me a line I would love to talk and see what we can do. This is a great way to educate your audience and community.


So Long, and Thanks for All the Tomato Pies

I mentioned in a post last week that I have decided to move to Corning in the Southern Tier of New York.

When I moved back to New Jersey in the late summer of 1991 to the open arms of my father’s family that I had left back in 1983 when we moved to Bath, NY, I considered the move a rebirth. Now after 26 years and the last few which were a tumultuous time for me, I feel this move back to the Bath area is me rising from the ashes of my old life and with that rising I need to believe in myself and love myself to become the new person I want to become.

I will miss a ton of the people I have made my friends and done things with throughout my time in New Jersey. The parties we had in the back yard on all the major summer holidays are something that I will never forget. The get together at Panera, Uno’s and other great places. The one friend that I spent the most time with and who came to my aid when the basement flooded almost every time it did, I will miss you the most John. John Martinetti was always there when I asked for help and you were always willing to go out and have a good time at a moments notice. I will miss you dude.

As I am getting settled in my new life I look back at the things I have achieved while I was in New Jersey, I helped LUG/IP become a non-profit group, I started the System Administrator Group – LOPSA-NJ and put together the East Coast System Administrator Conference, set up the Nextdoor for Colonial Heights Civic Association and a few things I am sure I forgot about.

The biggest things I will miss from New Jersey are all the great places to eat Chinese & Italian foods, burgers (not fast food burgers) and the other types of food I love to eat. Since I have been in Corning I have been struggling to find a good Chinese restaurant that has good food, low prices and delivers. In New Jersey I couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a good non-chain Chinese restaurant that fit the above criteria’s. So far I have found so so Chinese, but I am still looking and I will find it.

But the one thing I am missing the most is a Trenton style tomato pie.

In Trenton, the “tomato pie” is king, a thin-crust, chewy round pizza whose most defining characteristic is the unusual placement of the tomato sauce: it’s on top.

Malcolm Bedell – FromAway.com

trenton-tomato-pie

Trenton Tomato Pie – From Away

This was the food I missed the most when I first came to New York in ’83 now it is again. I will find a pizza joint that will make a good tomato pie or teach one to make a great tomato pie or I will have to get that pizza oven attachment for my Weber Charcoal grill.

This isn’t really the final goodbye my friends and family in New Jersey, it’s just a break from me, and I hope to see you soon in New Jersey and I want you to know my door is always open if you want to come to Corning (I don’t have a room you can stay in, but there is a bunch of nice places to stay in the area) and help me find that great Chinese restaurant or a great tasting tomato pie, or we can also go on a few vineyards tours or brewery tours or just go out to the lake and have a good time.

So in closing to the state of New Jersey and my friends I say:

So Long, and Thanks for All the Tomato Pies


Keep it local and help locally 1

Market Street from the Wegmans’ parking lot (yes I am to cheap to pay for parking) to the Soulful Cup coffee shop to drink coffee, look for a job, talk with the locals and regulars and watch them interact with each other.

On my way down the street I pass the Corning Art & Frame shop that has some great custom guitars in the front window, but what caught my attention so many times are the stickers that the owner (I am guessing the owner) has put on the door. Of course the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia and Gov’t Mule were the first stickers that caught my eye. But the one that made me stop and take a pictureytnd of the door was the “Your Turntable’s Not Dead” sticker from Thirdman Records. I am very big on vinyl records and the use of turntables so anything stating that says turntables is alive and well I will support it.

It’s the look and the feel of that door that makes you know that we are in a small town/city and a local resident owns the business. When was the last time you saw stickers like this on the door of a chain or box store. I have never been in the store because I am not in the need of art or frames, but if I need them I would go to this store before going to a chain store because of the music and technology he supports and how the store is decorated. People need to remember that the money spent in a locally owned store comes back to the community faster than any money spent in the chain stores.

When I go to new areas I like to go to the down town area and frequent the local stores and see what I can buy, of course I aim for the local comic book, antique’s or record stores as well as used book stores and of course the local restaurants and bars where I usually find great food and beer selections. If I am going to be in the area for a while like I will be in Corning I start to make friends with local owners because they are dedicated to the area and making the town and area they are in a better place. I try to help out if they are in need of technical help or if I can give them advice from my travels in the tri-state area, but the biggest help I give them is buying and supporting their place of business.

“I don’t believe there’s any problem in this country, no matter how tough it is, that Americans, when they roll up their sleeves, can’t completely ignore.”

― George CarlinBrain Droppings

I feel that no one should ignore problems in their area and they shouldn’t ignore the local businesses and should work with their local government and be part of the solution to make their community better. Reminder if you don’t vote in local or national elections you have no right to complain about what is going on in your community or nationally.


Why a person should visit and use the local library

I remember getting my first library card at the age of 10 at the Bucks County Library System Fallsington, Pa Branch. It was right up the street and easy to get to. Age ten was about the time that I really started reading other things then comic books and stuff for school. The library had the complete collection of the Hardy Boys novels. I read all of them one summer, usually 2 a day.

So do you have a library card? If not why? With the way the economy is these days the library is the place to go. I spend a few hours a weekend at book stores just browsing and taking it easy. I rarely buy many books though…I write down the names of books that look interesting and then go to the library and just check out the book. If they don’t have it I try for an inter library loan.

Tired of paying for movie rentals…guess what go to your local library and see what they have. They probably won’t have the most recent releases but they may have a few you haven’t seen yet from last year or a few months ago.

That library card also can get you on the Internet, most libraries have free Internet terminals for there library card holders. This service is also available to non residents for a slight fee. I always tell people who are traveling in the USA that if you are in a bind and have to get on the Internet to always check out the local library.

Remember that the library is a great place to do research on things as well as a quiet place to do work. When I need to get out and work on projects with very little distractions I go to the library. Some libraries are starting to add coffee shops so if you have one of those what more can you ask for. The coffee at libraries is usually cheaper then at the local coffee shop so another savings.

Also check out the events or meetings being held at your library you may find out there is a group meeting about your favorite hobby or computer operating system.

So lets run down why you should visit you local library and why you should have a library card:

  1. Free books to read
  2. A place to rent movies at no cost
  3. Free Internet if you are a resident of the area (small fee if you aren’t)
  4. Great place to do research and work

I have only listed a few of the benefits of the local library and each library is different. So go visit your local library and see what is available. Hey your taxes are funding it so it’s yours to use.


This is my off year but I feel I should discuss colonoscopys with you……

I haven’t written in a long time. I have been busy with work and the stuff around the house and with the dog. I was looking for information today on the big Internet on something and came across this great review on a Colonoscopy. I am required to get one every 2 years because colon cancer runs in my family on my mother’s side. , but this is my year off. I only go on even years. I had my first one in 1986 right after graduating from high school…like the next day. Back then they didn’t knock you out and it was not a pleasant experience so I vowed never to get another one. Well, when I turned 37 I decided it was time to
go again so I geared up for the unpleasantness of it, but now it’s like taking a nap and waking up and not knowing anything happened. The prep the day before is still a pain in the ass (no pun intended) but once you get through that and finally get into the surgical center it is a piece of cake. So for the PSA part of this post get out there and get a colonoscopy to make sure all is good with your colon and go read this review of this guys colonoscopy…it’s very simple these days and pain-free.