Tonight my keystrokes are complimented by The Underground Garage on Sirius/XM. Specifically, the Handsome Dick Manitoba program.
I love this show.
Manitoba is a throwback to the days when you regarded that voice on the radio as a friend and someone who shared your enthusiasm for the music that came out of your speakers.
As Rush sang in The Spirit of Radio:
“Begin the day with a friendly voice
A companion unobtrusive
Plays that song that’s so elusive
And the magic music makes your morning mood.”
Today, much of what you hear on radio is prerecorded, or voicetracked. “That was (song, artist)…this is…here’s the weather.”
Handsome Dick Manitoba gets it. Talk to the listeners in a personal way so it’s a shared experience. Express opinions. Tell us what you love and don’t love…and not in a cliched rock radio way where every song, album and recent concert by (insert band name here) was amazing.
Don’t bullshit us. Be real.
In my teens, I remember listening to Q107 in Toronto when my fellow blogger Bob Segarini hit the airwaves as The Iceman. He was, and still is very cool. Bob wasn’t afraid to say negative things. He called Alan Parsons a “musical leech” because Parsons was mostly an engineer and producer who assembled various collections of musicians and singers but put the albums out as “The Alan Parsons Project.”
We can’t get Spotify or Pandora in Canada. Too many legal issues revolving around rights and fees. Even so, the idea of endless tunes playing without a real human to chat with us every ten minutes or so doesn’t appeal to me in the least.
I want my radio friend. That familiar voice that says you’re not alone on that late night drive home. Especially, to quote Rush again, here in “the far unlit unknown.”
I’ll close this with a video clip from another Johnny who wasn’t afraid to rock the boat. I love this scene.