Thursday, January 24, 2008


My low-key love affair with radio might have started when I was in high school, discovering the rich sonic depth of FM on our old Grundig, staying up nights listening to Jean Shepherd on WOR-AM, or checking out the local broadcasts in the small Southern towns we sped through on the way to our annual Florida vacations.

Years ago, when I was a college freshman, I took the training course at the University radio station. WPRB, based in Princeton, New Jersey, broadcast its programming over low-power AM to the dormitories, and over the FM airwaves to the surrounding parts of New Jersey. The listening area reached almost to New York City. The programming was mostly music-related, and eclectic to a degree only possible at a major university. No matter how arcane your musical taste, there was probably a show on WPRB that would accommodate you. Organ recitals? No prob. A capella singing groups? Sure. Frank Zappa? Cecil Taylor? Why not?

I never completed the training, alas - my attention began to be occupied by other foolishness, with the Tiger (the campus humor magazine) figuring large. I sat and watched as my friends went on to run late-night shows, running the board themselves and playing Quality Music (a bizarre mixture of rock and avant-garde jazz) in the wee hours...all in complete anonymity.  No radio for Elisson, except as a listener.

But now here it is some 36-37 years later, and radio rears its ugly head again.

Radio Sandy Springs is a local station that has both a low-power AM presence (1620 on the dial, with absolutely no hope of getting a signal more than half a mile from the transmitter) and an Internet footprint. Shows are streamed live as well as podcasted, which effectively removes the distance barrier and replaces it with a “sit your ass in front of the computer” barrier. Unless you download the shows you like and listen to them at your leisure, that is.

A couple of years ago, my Morning Minyan buddy Richard Smith asked me to appear on his weekly morning show, the Sandy Springs Health Hour, in the character of the infamous Dr. Israel Patel.  It was an excuse to natter on for an hour in my version of a comic East Indian accent, plugging nutty products like Dr. Patel’s Lingam Lotion and Dr. Patel’s Bullet Repellent (Not One Unsatisfied Customer!). This led to Richard asking me to fill in for him when he was away on vacation, a genuine Guest Hosting Gig.

The station owner evidently liked what he heard, because he has offered me a regular weekly slot. Beginning this weekend, you can catch me on Sundays between 4 and 5 p.m., Eastern time, at 1620 on your AM dial, or on the Internet at Plus, I’ll have a chance to lay waste to the station’s blog. Oh, boy!

I haven’t decided what to call the show yet. My previous Guest Shots consisted of a combination of storytelling (i.e., ripping crap out of my blog archives and/or reading my 100-word stories), discussing random medical horrors fresh from the Merck Manual, and just plain foolishness. But I can do anything I damn well please, short of dropping the F-Bomb and laying waste the Genteel Aural Neighborhood of which I will be a part. Perhaps I’ll share some Tender Colonoscopic Moments...or a few recipes...or tales of my demented childhood. Who knows what mood, what impulse will seize me?

In my best dreams, I become a beloved American raconteur, a monologuist somewhat in the mold of Spalding Gray, except without the “dead body found floating in the East River” part. Help me realize those dreams...and give me your suggestion for a show title in the comments!

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