Monday, March 08, 2004

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One of the simple pleasures I've discovered here in Ann Arbor is college radio. Of course I'd heard of college radio as an institution, that herald of indie music, plumbed by the big labels for the next break-through musical act. But at Caltech, the student-run radion station was more known for its technical innovation (web-requested mp3s broadcast over the air) and being a platform for interhouse mockery (Lloyd sucks!) than for playing new and exotic music.

So I come to Ann Arbor, and discover true college radio. At 88.3 on my Grundig Yacht Boy 400PE, WCBN broadcasts a mix of programming ranging from hip hop to jazz, to big band, to classical. By far my favorite programming happens on Sunday afternoons. From 2 to 3 PM, Radiozilla plays a mix of eclectic modern pieces (Shonen Knife, stuff I've never heard of) and popular oldies (tracks to the tune of the In The Mood For Love soundtrack, but different) from all over East and Southeast Asia. There are old playlists online that give a feel for what they play: if you feel totally lost reading through them, you've discovered what makes the show so great—it's an experience in sharing and discovering new music. I've been disappointed that I can't seem to find current playlists, but I guess that's a reason to stay glued to the radio on Sunday afternoons. Not that it's a pain: the hosts are great people. In fact, one of my earliest memories of looking into UMich was poring over Cindy's Asian record collection and being utterfly dumbfounded by such an extensive and eclectic mix. I was not the least bit surprised to find out that she was also an Exotica list subscriber (I wonder if the list is still around...).

After Radiozilla is Sounds of the Subcontinent, a two hour long show featuring music of Southeastern Asia: mostly India, Sri Lanka. Ann Arbor has a sizable Indian student population, it's too bad there's no Naz8 Cinemas in the area; at least the music is getting some popular exposure.

Of course, you don't have to listen to WCBN just for the Asian music. Just yesterday, they played one of DJ Dangermouse's cuts from the controversial Grey Album. WCBN is not just available in Ann Arbor, but also streams over the internet.

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