Tag Archives: BJ Leiderman

The Guardian: The loss of rural radio leaves US communities with “another cultural and informational gap”

(Source: The Guardian via BJ Leiderman and Kris Partridge)

America’s rural radio stations are vanishing – and taking the country’s soul with them

When I arrive at the radio station, Mark Lucke is standing in the doorway, looking out at the spitting, winter rain. He’s slim and stoic, with sad, almost haunted, eyes. The first thing he asks is if I’d like to see “the dungeon”. Who wouldn’t?

Lucke pulls on a Steeler’s jacket and a baseball cap over brown hair that falls halfway down his back, and leads me across the five-acre yard. Out here, 90 miles east of Tucson, the desert is a long sweep of brush the color of beach sand. Lucke seems to slip through the rainy day like a ghost.

The radio station, whose call letters are KHIL, has long been the daily soundtrack for this frontier town (population 3,500) that prides itself on its cowboy culture and quiet pace of life. But six decades after the founding of the station, the property is in foreclosure, with utility disconnect notices coming nearly every month.

Small-town radio is fizzling nationwide, as stations struggle to attract advertisement dollars. And as station owners are forced to sell, media conglomerates snap up rural frequencies for rock-bottom prices, for the sole purpose of relocating them to urban areas. In a more affluent market, they can be flipped for a higher price. With limited frequencies available, larger broadcasters purchase as many as possible – especially those higher on the dial – in a race not dissimilar to a real estate grab.[…]

Click here to read the full article at The Guardian.

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Lunch with a friend (and a hearty side of enabling)

That’s BJ on the left and me on the right at our favorite burrito joint.

A few weeks ago, I had lunch with my good friend, BJ Leiderman.  If you ever listen to public radio programming, especially NPR, you’ve probably heard BJ’s name.

BJ is a musician, singer, and composer, and has written the bulk of the theme music you hear on National Public Radio (NPR). His music is hard to get out of your head. Every time I listen to NPR shows like Marketplace, Morning Edition, Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, Car Talk, or Science Friday, I hear BJ’s catchy tunes.

Moreover, BJ is an awesome fellow.  But it’s dangerous hanging with him because he’s also…well, an enabler, when it comes to sound gear.

Often, when we hang out, I walk away from the meet-up with a new app, a new song in my head, or the sudden need for a new piece of kit.

Friday was a prime example.  You may notice that I’m wearing headphones in the photo at the top of the page. Here’s how this played out…

BJ asked if I had seen one of his latest animated music videos–one that is was featured on his new album, “BJ.”  Instead of simply showing the video to me on his phone and/or playing the music through his iPhone’s speaker, BJ ran to his car and came back with a set of Bose Quiet Comfort 35 Noise-Cancelling headphones, then handed me his phone with the video queued up.

We were in a crowded, noisy restaurant during the lunch hour, but when I put on the headphones, all ambient sounds were instantly and utterly squelched. As his video played, it sounded like I was sitting in a recording studio listening to monitors. Absolutely phenomenal.

The headphone’s noise-cancelling technology is so good, in fact, I could barely hear my own voice as I spoke.

The audio fidelity was spot-on, too––there’s a nice balance from bass to treble.  Though I’m sure your audio player’s EQ could customize this.

I walk around all of the time with a cheap pair of in-ear headphones in my pocket for use with my phone, radios, or simply to decrease ambient noise while I’m trying to work or sleep.

Here’s the video BJ shared, by the way:

Click here to view on YouTube.

BJ, being the cool and compassionate character he is, had this fun song animated by young adult artists with autism at Exceptional Minds Animation Studios in LA, with the support of Howard Hoffman. 

In real life, his dog Maizey is a sweetheart, and certainly BJ’s fuzzy brown soulmate.

You can check out BJ’s album on his website, and if you like it, there are a number of ways you can purchase both digital and physical copies. Click here to buy a copy.

And BJ, if you’re reading this––thanks a lot for spending $300 of my hard-earned cash on headphones.

And I get accused of enabling––?  Karma, I guess.

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NY Times: “Recalling the Imperfect Radio and TV Reception of the Past”

TV-Analog-Noise-SnowMany thanks to my dear friend, BJ Leiderman, for sharing this brilliant piece by Dana Jennings in the NY Times.

I’m only including a few quotes from this piece (below), so please visit this link to read the full article about the adventures, charm and nostalgia of analog TV and radio:

by Dana Jennings

I miss the television snows of yesteryear. And I don’t mean easy nostalgia for the inevitable reruns of “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

I’m talking real television snow, a longing for static, ghost images and the picture endlessly rolling and flip-flopping. While we’re at it, I ache for well-used vinyl crackling like bacon sizzling in a skillet … and the eerie whistles and wheezes from terrestrial radio.

This eccentric pining for the primitive electric hiss and sputter of my 1960s childhood is an honest reaction to our modern culture’s unhealthy addiction to (apparent) perfection. We want it all, we want it now, and we want it sublime.

We not only demand our television, radio and music in unblemished HD on whatever device we choose, but also our weddings, children, houses and bodies. And in our heedless embrace of digital cosmetic surgery, we’ve forgotten that it’s the flaw that makes a thing all the sweeter — like the bruise on a peach.[…]

[Like TV, my] radio needed the human touch, too. As I listened to Boston Red Sox night games, I’d grip the radio like a vise, its hot, orange guts stinging my hand; my skin would lobster up, but I didn’t care, because I could hear the game better. (That radio, a yellowing white Sylvania, also hummed constantly, kind of like the ringing in your ears hours after a Metallica concert.)

Then there was the utter delight of reeling in a far-away station late at night: from Montreal, from Wheeling, from Nashville. Even more bewitching were the otherworldly soundscapes to be found between station stops: eeps and boops, trills and squeals, shrill dronings from the ether that maybe signaled an alien invasion, or first contact with another galaxy.[…]

Read the full article on the NY Times…

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