WSPN, The Listening Alternative..

I was a college DJ at WSPN, the Skidmore College radio station in Saratoga Springs, NY. The station had always been closed during the summer but in 1981, Steve Rosenbaum, the ambitious student general Manager, decided to keep the station open. He did this by allowing people from the town to do shows. I auditioned and I really bombed. But they did offer me a show on Saturday mornings from 3 am-6 am. Somehow my parents allowed that and the upshot was, I had A LOT of time to practice.

 

My show was followed by the Polka Daddy show, and on a few occasions, I had to fill in for Polka Daddy as Polka Derick. As you may know, Polka songs are usually less than 2 minutes long, and since I did not know the material (what can I say?), and it was all vinyl, it was grueling. After a summer of that, I got a much better time slot, I absolutely loved it and did it for about 3 years.

 

After high school, I went to a trade school for radio and television. I continued my show there. Below are some of my playlists from 1985. I’d still listen to any of this quite happily. 

Collective joy: Record Club hits 100

Flashback to 2007 from Bryan Waterman’s Blog: I’ve spent a lot of time over the last seven or eight years thinking about the history of friendship. Writing a book about a friendship circle — a group that even named itself the “Friendly Club” — took me into an extensive (and still growing), multidisciplinary body of literature that explains why and how the category of “friendship” emerged to supplement familial and governmental relationships, how friendship has depended on varying philosophical underpinnings (some basing friendship on likeness, some on difference), and how it relates to various historical transformations, from the emergence of commercial culture to the spread of participatory, democratic politics. Continue reading at The Great Whats It..

Dancing in the Streets
Let NYC Dance

Cover Art from 2005-2006

Here are a few CD inserts from 2005-2006. They were folded in half with one side serving as the cover and the other side the image opposite the disk. Separate backs were made with the track listings.  

Changing Formats

Somehow, we used to find time to make cover art for Record Club, and back then, we used to meet every month! We’d burn CDs and take turns making covers. The illustration here of the vintage tech stops just short of showing a CD burner.

The photo of sexy Carole Singleton, since it is not square, must have gone out with an email. I have lost track!

Our first virtual Record Club

So good to be able to see everyone and somehow do club. There was a learning curve to share audio but we got through it. Here we are showing off our profiles. 

 

We did two more virtual clubs since and it was great. Not the same level of communion as being in the same room together, but a balm nonetheless. 

 

One thing really cool about it is people can join from anywhere in the world, so long as they are awake 🙂 

Record Club New York, two years in

STUDIO RECORDING

Burn, Baby, Burn: 'Book Club' Evolves
August 4 - 10, 1999
By Sarah Schmidt

Nine friends are sitting around on foam cushions in an East Village studio, eating takeout, drinking imported beer, and talking about recent trips abroad, the merits of various BBQ locations, and cookie recipes. When someone puts in a DJ Krush CD, though, the conversation stops.

 

That’s the point of the whole evening: the friends are part of a music club. Based on the format of a book club, meetings are held once a month to play and discuss recent discoveries, old favorites, and obscure tunes that aren’t getting too much radio airtime these days. The club, anachronistically referred to by its members as “record club,” formed in March 1998 after thirtysomething friends Dan Carlson, a hospital administrator, and Meg Malloy, a gallery director, were talking about how much fun they used to have as teenagers going over to friends’ houses and listening to everyone’s new 45s.

“I was thinking about a book club I belonged to and I said, ‘You know, I really wish I was in a record club instead,”‘ says Malloy. Then Carlson realized the Hewlett Packard CD writer he had purchased to back up text archives could also be used to copy music. They corralled a few interested friends, and now the club’s seven regular members, together with frequent guests, meet every month at one another’s apartments.

Everyone brings two selections; during the first “round” each song gets played once while everyone listens without commenting. After the chooser reveals the title and the artist, the song is played once more and everyone gets to respond freely. Then there’s the “lightning round,” when each song gets played once more. At the end of the evening, Carlson gathers up all of the CDs and goes home and makes two compilation CDs for each of the members. Everyone chips in five bucks for the blank discs and receives about 150 minutes of what Carlson describes as “good radio concentrate.”

CD writers, or “burners,” were developed about six years ago as a way of storing large quantities of data—up to 650 megabytes per disc—cheaply onto CDs. Carlson got his Sure Store 6020ES in 1997 for about $700, but similar hardware can now be had for $250. Copying requires a few simple steps on a PC or Macintosh program and takes about two-thirds of the actual playing time (a three-minute song takes two minutes to copy).

“I don’t think record club ever really would have come together if I didn’t already have the CD burner,” Carlson says, “but it’s worked out great. It kind of replaces what radio used to be. I just don’t hear that many things on the radio these days that I want to go out and buy, and I certainly don’t hear the kinds of things that people bring into record club,” Carlson says.

Since the club formed, it has collected over 300 tracks onto its compilations. Selections have included everything from the German industrial band Einstürzende Neubauten to 1950s rockabilly star Wanda Jackson, the Commodores, and Nancy Sinatra. (Members and guests can check a list on the club’s Web site to avoid repeating selections.)

One of the members, Derick Melander, a sculptor and webmaster at a computer hardware company, scans photos and illustrations and then uses Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator to design album covers for each compilation. Past covers have included images like photos of old soda bottles, porno shots from 1970s calendars, and even illustrations from restaurant place mats.

Members say the club has really expanded their musical tastes. “I’m amazed at how much fun this has become. I find myself getting exposed to so much music,” says Malloy. “Now I’ve heard that some friends in Texas and Iowa have started clubs like ours. It’s getting to be as big as Oprah’s book club.”