Monday, July 20, 2009

Fireside Chat | Radio Roofscape . 1

One of the sweetest surprises since Roofscape's launch on June 1 has been Radio Roofscape. We never imagined what an important part of the magazine it would become, or how quickly. RR adds listeners daily from around the world - Indonesia, Bangkok, Germany, Nashville. London - gets props whenever we program (and at other times too), brings readers to the magazine and adds followers on Twitter.

Radio Roofscape has but one mission - to help you get your party on and shake that thang. Whatever it takes - R&B, jazz, rock, house, hip-hop, soul, reggae, blues, gospel, classical and more are all in the mix. Unlike almost all radio stations we freely mix together many different forms of music and even step out beyond music. We've definitely got the broad flapping American ear, as Thoreau put it.

To accommodate these many styles, we mix in discrete sets of music. A set can be a single track or maybe up to 20 tunes, the average probably being 6 to 8 cuts. Each set features a particular style of music and/or has the focus of a special theme.

For example - one set near the top of our current playlist is Girls Night Out. Miley leads off with G.N.O., the inspiration for the set, and the party continues with Joni Mitchel, Neil Young, Christina Aquilera, The Cheetah Girls, Pet Shop Boys, Prince, Donna Summer, until Gwen Stefani's Harajuku Girls takes us out.

The next set includes some modern classical cats - Phillip Glass, John Cage, Roger Zahab and Anoushka Shankar. Where else are you going to get that? Now I know this may sound like the recipe for a train wreck but, as Mark Twain quipped (quite aptly) of Richard Wagner's music - It's not as bad as it sounds.

Now, of course, you can't always be up, so sometimes we take things down tempo and chill out or even go spoken word. Another set further on features Kenneth Patchen, Robert Frost, Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs - reading 103rd Street Boys from Junkie. Definitely not Radio Disney. But it is fun.

Some of the tracks also have videos which stream right on the page. The video window, however, stays at the top of the page, so you may have to scroll back up from the current position in the playlist. The videos are fun because you can really learn the Hoedown Throwdown or bust some moves, get your church on and Stomp all at the same time with Kirk Franklin.

Some sets are inspired by our listeners and/or guest DJ's. We met country singer Mandy Barnett via Twitter and I immediately programmed her gorgeous tune The Whispering Wind. Later Dan Duran - a serious jazz cat, although I think he just graduated middle school - was hanging out and we built a country set together off her song (songs are programmed backwards), then we swung into a jazz thing with Louis Armstrong doing St. James Infirmary as the pivot.

So that gives you an idea of what we're doing Up on the Roof with our funky little ten watt worldwide transmitter. We can't sign off, however, without thanking our wonderful hosts who hekp make this all happen - I don't know how you did it, but you guys are brilliant.

We love you all madly. As Duke used to say closing his shows.

Image ... Wind Chimes. The South End, Boston.