Sunday, April 27, 2008

Radio Radio

This past Thursday, I had lunch with my good friends Bill Levinson, his wife Bonnie and Denis McNamara at The Sitar, an Indian restaurant in Huntington. Until recently, Bill worked at Polygram/Universal combing through their huge vaults and releasing beautifully researched and lovingly annotated boxed sets by The Velvet Underground, James Brown, Rod Stewart, The Sir Douglas Quintet, Cream and Thin Lizzy. Furthermore, fabulous anthologies by JJ Cale, Marianne Faithfull, Elvis Costello, Van Morrison, New York Dolls, Nico, T. Rex and Bob Marley came out under his watchful ears, along with many more. All of the above artists feature in regular rotation here on North Fork Sound. Bill lives for music, and always did right by the artist, so it is sad to see him leave after 28 years there. NoFoSo wishes him all the best in his future endeavors and if they ever call him back to consult on an Eddie & The Hot Rods box set, he knows who he should call, ha!
Denis is well-known for steering WLIR through the 80's and making it such a popular station amongst listeners and musicians. It was probably the first 'alternative' radio station in the US with any kind of meaningful signal and when I worked for CBS in the UK, I used to mail singles by the bands I worked with to LIR, hoping that I'd see them reported as 'imports' in tip-sheets like Walrus. These days, Denis is consulting for
an amazing little company company called vTuner, based in Northport on Long Island. vTuner 'organizes' internet radio and tv content, and has developed a method whereby a 'chip' can be incorporated into a radio which can pick up thousands of (pre-chosen) internet stations, via wi-fi. After our lunch, Denis gave me one of these radios, the Noxon iRadio pictured above. After simply plugging it into a wall socket in my kitchen, I've been listening to Radio Caroline, the BBC's 6Music, Mojo Radio, Metro Radio (hi Helen!), Resonance FM, NYC Police Department's radio scanner, Roots Rock Reggae (out of Jamaica), WXPN, and a whole mess of stations from all over the world. You want local radio from Poland? You've got 78 stations to choose from! How about South Korea? 44!! You get all genres of music, and talk, from practically every country in the world. Hopefully, vTuner will sort out a deal soon with the Live365 network, allowing North Fork Sound to be heard without the need for a computer. Many major manufacturers - Bose, Nokia, Denon, Yamaha, Terratec, Philips, Pioneer, for instance - are already incorporating vTuner's technology into their products right now, so say hello to the past, present and future of radio.

Sinéad O'Connor, Einar Örn Benediktsson, Denis McNamara
Sugarcubes' after-party, NYC, 1988

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