I believe every job has its quirks; mine is no different. There are days when I walk away from the studio knowing that I did a good job and that I connected with our listeners. Then there are days when I leave the studio wondering what happened and always with a song stuck in my head; an occupational hazard.
A few years ago I was in an industry meeting in Chicago. The guest speaker was giving radio hosts a pep-talk because it can get a little draining sometimes. He said “Never bring your personal problems on the air; people don’t want to hear about your problems. They tune in to listen to the music to forget about their problems for a while. You are there to uplift your listeners not the other way around.”
I didn’t know how to take what he said; it was stern, but wise. You don’t want to put something “out there” that you can never take back; because it just may come back to bite you in the mic. That’s good advice.
I do like to feel a sense of kinship with our listeners. I want to know just by the sound of their voice who is calling. I want to know their names and ask about family members they have mentioned. Realistically, that’s not possible because a call has to last 30 seconds or fewer. That’s not a lot of time, so you have to make every second count. Listen attentively and then play the appropriate song just for that listener so it can touch his or her heart and let them know that they were heard. That’s music in the air.
FYI: the song that’s stuck in my head today on Music Monday: “Feel Good Music” by Da Chozen Brothaz.
I guess the title should read Monday’s Holiday Soundtrack; there is no more denying; the holidays are upon us. Like it or loath it; we might as well get ready. First up: music for Thanksgiving. You need something playing in the background to get past the awkward silence between bites and to distract someone from saying something stupid.
I learned the hard-way; it’s good to set up your music when you are in a good mood and before the rush of buying food, cooking, cleaning and all the other things that will dampen your desire to entertain.
Here are my suggestions for Thanksgiving; Friendsgiving; I ain’t giving a ***beep*** Holiday music. You can build a custom playlist using Amazon or any other music app or source. #not sponsored by Amazon or any other music app
“Little Birdie” by Vince Guaraldi (a bit of table trivia: Vince also sang the song)
This song is a great distraction; the children will recognize it from A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and the adults will remember it from their childhood. If all goes well it should spark the “do you remember” conversations.
This is a nice collection to have on hand. Les Paul Roque’s trio of CDs
I hope you’re inspired to at least think about your upcoming holiday soundtrack. Let me know your music choices.
Is there anything better than a nice soundtrack to get you through your day? I may possibly be biased, but I say no; I love being a radio host; playing music with just the right amount of banter (hopefully) is a dream.
Next Sunday we will have listener’s choice on Sunday Morning Rise. Mark Chambers, a listener in Florida was chosen; we spoke briefly on the phone to finalize plans Sunday when I was in the studio. I’m looking forward to his music selections.
What music would you select if you were given the opportunity to be a DJ for the day? I would love to know.
Let’s pick up where we left off last Music Monday.
I listened to John Coltrane’s “Dear Lord” trying to remember where I heard the song. My friend’s father asked me if I liked the song. That was the first time a song overwhelmed my emotions. I couldn’t explain what was going on with that particular song.
The pizzas arrived and I went back into teenage mode; still trying to understand why that song had such an immediate impact on me emotionally.
I talked to my mother about the song; she was not interested; she was not a fan of Jazz and didn’t play it in the house. I think the closest she came to Jazz was Johnny Mathis. I wanted my mom to feel the same way I did about the song; I wanted her to melt into the different levels as I did and more than anything; I wanted to share this Gospel Jazz experience with her.
Friday was allowance day! I already knew what I was gonna do with a portion of earnings. I went straight to the record shop; yes, we didn’t have the ability to go online to buy the music; we had to search for the music on foot. I was so excited to have the album in my hands. I couldn’t get home fast enough to play the song for my mother.
When I got home with my prized song possession my uncle was there; I told him to listen to what I bought. I began playing the song. I noticed the look on my uncle’s face he said “where did you get this?” Before I could answer; my mom came into the living room screaming “turn that off Wendy; I don’t want to hear another sound out of it or you tonight!” “Get that out of my house now!” I was trying to tell her that it was a Gospel Jazz song. She was not having it at all; she started walking towards me; my uncle stood in her path and I’m certain at the moment saved my little teenager life. I could not understand what was going on; I wanted my mom to feel the same as I did about the song. She felt something for sure, but it was not what I expected her to feel.
I went next door to my grandmother’s house. That’s where I typically went when I was in trouble and mom needed her space. I told my grandmother what happened and that it wasn’t a bad song, but mom went off the rails; I couldn’t understand. A few minutes later my uncle sat next to me on the sofa; he asked me if I was okay. “All I wanted to do was to listen to that song; I remember it, but for some reason; I don’t know.” My uncle looked at my grandmother she nodded and left the room; then he told me about that song.
More next time…
What songs do you remember playing at home that caused a stir in your house growing up? I would love to know.
When you think about the all the genres of music there are in the world; which would you pick as your personal favorite(s)?
My personal favorites are Gospel and Jazz. When the two are combined; I am in listener’s heaven. That is why I enjoy hosting Sunday Morning Rise radio program on WNUR; a radio station located on Northwestern University’s Evanston Campus. I love what I do because being a program host has its advantages.
Let’s go back to the first time I was introduced to Gospel Jazz it was through my friend’s father. Their house was the teen hangout; our parents knew that we were safe; so us being there was never an issue. The hosts were welcoming and for some reason enjoyed having a house full of teens. We’d gather in the dining room to play board games, card games, talk, and of course eat. My friend’s father was always in the living room listening to records and watching our every move. My friend’s mother was in the kitchen watching us from her angle. We were well-supervised.
It was common to have their father’s music selections playing in the background. One particular night he was playing a song by Billie Holiday; for some reason the song caught my attention. I went into the living room and asked about the song. He showed me the vinyl’s album cover; we talked about how she looked, but the thing that stood out (to me) was how she sounded. He listened to my interpretation of Billie’s song and said; “let me play something else for you; I think you can handle it.” I sat on the floor close to the speakers and watched as he carefully slipped the album out of the jacket and placed the album on the turn table and gently placed the needle onto the album.
The moment the song began to play the love was immediate. The song was familiar, but new to me at the same time. I closed my eyes and could see the music. I asked him what the name of the song was; he told me it was “Dear Lord” by John Coltrane and that it was a Gospel Jazz song. I was hooked and never looked back. I will share more of my young journey into Gospel Jazz next time.
If you want to hear “Dear Lord” by John Coltrane look it up on Google and let me know if you like the song.
Can you think of a moment in your life when you didn’t hear music playing the background
I can’t either; every joyful moment, every sad moment, and even during the bored teenage years music was playing. There were times it seems as if the singers were looking into my window, singing my feelings even when I wasn’t sure of what I was feeling at the time.
How many of you out there are willing to admit when your favorite song played you grabbed the nearest object that quickly became your microphone. You sang the song better than anyone in your imagination (being on key didn’t matter); it was about the feeling of freedom and being transported to a different place. Those of us who are of a certain age will know when we were younger; we had to use our imaginations while singing along. We didn’t have to use our imaginations if we were fortunate enough to catch our favorite singers on variety shows (back-in-the-day); and shows that kept our faith elevated like Jubilee Showcase (how old and I?) that’s not the topic. We are talking about the transformative power music can have on us. Do you remember when music videos started? We no longer had to use our imaginations. The music was right before our eyes.
According to my mother music is and has been in my life since conception; (I have always thought the last part was too much information). It came as no surprise to her when in my later years I became a radio DJ; she looked at me and said “you are your father’s daughter.” Meaning, I inherited my love of music from my father. I enjoy the process of programming; interacting with artists and listeners. Sharing new music on New Music Sunday, walking down memory lane with sweet soulful gospel music, and pulling out the best gospel jazz I can get my hands on. I still get the jitters the night before my program; I’m almost certain that I will continue to get excited before a program. I’m looking forward to sharing music with you on Music Monday. Every Monday I will share new music as well as lifelong favorites. My most recent program was dedicated to the music memory of Aretha Franklin. You can catch my radio show live Sundays at 6:00 am CST on WNUR www.wnur.org and rebroadcasts on Mixcloud https://www.mixcloud.com/wendy-leighton/