Mail Call

Our online readers respond to "Houston Radio Still Sucks" [Racket, by John Nova Lomax, May 10], about the state of old-fashioned radio in Houston.

I totally agree: I always said if I ever won the lottery (if I ever start playing the lottery), I would buy a radio station and give true music lovers what they want to hear. I only wish my stereo could pick up Austin's KLBJ (93.7). Sure, they may play mainstream artists, but the songs are "b-sides" or rarities. How often do you hear "Fools" by Van Halen? (That's off their 1980 release Women and Children First, for all of you who are looking on the back of your 1984 album.)

But I have discovered something of a savior here locally: 105.3 KTWL in The Woodlands. They're offering more of a variety. Yesterday, they went from "Devil Went Down to Georgia" (Charlie Daniels Band), to "Pretty Woman" (Van Halen), to "Steal my Sunshine" (Len), to "Runnin' Down a Dream" (Tom Petty). Hopefully, this is the start of something good in radio, because this town needs it bad.


lousy Houston radio

Comment by Jay
May 10, 2007

Cut some slack: Ya know, I gotta call bullshit on Sadof's KTRU bashing. It's a college radio station, dude. During the day it is staffed by college students. They are not professional DJs. They don't mumble to be cool; it's just that it can be kind of intimidating to be on the air. They're kids...cut 'em some slack.

The specialty shows that KTRU airs during the evenings are hosted by volunteer members of the community. Shows like Genetic Memory (experimental music), The Mutant Hardcore Flower Hour (punk in all its flavors), From the Depths (death and black metal), The Blues Show and The Sixties Show have been on the air for decades. If you want your radio shows to be informative, check these out.

Hey, nothing wrong with The Clash, Elvis Costello, The Jam, The Ramones, etc. I like 'em and, apparently, so does Madison Avenue. I hear their music all the time on television commercials. KTRU's mission statement is to play music that is not offered through more commercial channels. They succeed admirably, and Houston is very fortunate to have them.

And John, you don't need to convince us that commercial radio sucks. We know that. That's why we don't listen to it. It's Clear Channel you need to convince! Let's organize a protest outside of Clear Channel HQ!!

Comment by kurt brennan
May 10, 2007

John the killer: Houston commercial radio sucks; old guys complaining about community volunteer radio hosts not sounding like commercial announcers; yadda yadda yadda. This gets how many paragraphs, while Etta's not having music Sunday nights gets a mere mention? John, guess which one I wanted to hear more about. Ugh, you're killing me.

Comment by Ramon "Lp4" Medina
May 10, 2007

Sadof responds: I respect Kurt Brennan's comments and would like to elaborate a little. John and I talked for about an hour and a half for what would become this column, and, unfortunately, not everything I said ended up in his article.

I started out in college radio myself, and I agree with Brennan that there are some wonderful specialty shows on KTRU. I also recognize the mission statement of the station as Kurt mentions in his comment. The point I was making when I spoke with John was that there is a vast amount of great music that isn't being heard on radio, whether it's commercial or noncommercial. Commercial radio is so far off in one direction and KTRU so much further in the opposite direction that the space between is massive.

While I would NOT want to see the specialty shows in the evening go away, I see this as a huge opportunity for KTRU to reach a wider audience during the daytime while remaining true to their mission statement and maintaining their specialty shows at night. Artists such as The Pixies, Sonic Youth, Iggy Pop, The Replacements, The Flaming Lips, The Velvet Underground, The Clash and others could make up the core of the station while they continue to expose newer and lesser known artists. The familiarity of the core artists surrounding music by Arcade Fire, Bonnie Prince Billy, Ted Leo and Black Math Experiment would not only serve the existing audience but would also broaden the station's appeal without playing any songs that are readily heard elsewhere. I just think it would be great for a college station to show the commercial stations how it should be done. While it may seem like I'm bashing KTRU, I actually would like to help them become better at what they already do.

And I will cut the kids some slack. It's not that I expect them to sound like professional DJs, but it would be nice if they could write down what they're playing so they don't forget 30 minutes later when they're back-selling it.

Comment by David Sadof
May 19, 2007

In a Jam

Do your research: The "Nightfly" should have spent a bit more time checking out Dan Electro's Guitar Bar before writing an off-base review ["Smokin' the Blues," by Olivia Flores Alvarez, May 17]. If the writer had bothered to check a little closer, she would have observed that the "painted black" walls are actually covered with carpet for acoustical dampening. The large, framed photographs on the walls were taken by the owner, and no, Bob Dylan has never performed at Dan's.

If any research had been done, the writer might have discovered that singer Ardis Turner is also a drummer and real estate agent. As a veteran drummer, Ardis always interacts with the other musicians while he is singing to convey the desired tempo and dynamics. With luck and a good selection of players, serendipity rules, and you get a set with everyone in tune, tight and on the beat. Occasionally, train wrecks occur. This is the very essence of the blues jam. Put a bunch of musicians on stage, call out a song in a particular key and tempo, and see what happens.

The Thursday night blues jam has endured for more than 14 years at Dan's, as opposed to this short, superficial, drive-by visit by a clueless reviewer. An extremely diverse group of musicians shows up on Thursday nights to share in the celebration of a truly American art form that spans the overlapping genres of blues, R&B, soul and rockabilly. Occasionally, well-known stars like Billy Gibbons or Gregg Allman show up to jam because they know that Dan's is the real deal. The reviewer should have checked the sign-up sheet later in the evening, as more than 30 musicians were listed on the sheet by the end of the night. A more representative review by a true "Nightfly" would have been conducted between midnight and last call, not at the beginning of the warm-up set.

Bruce H. Ward
New Orleans, Louisiana


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