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August 18, 2008

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Frank Mallone

I heard about WFMU from a friend in high school in 1972 or 1973. I was so smitten that I decided to go to Upsala and study Mass Communications based on the station. That was just one of the bad decisions I made as a teenager.

Jon H

My toilet got clogged and while plunging it, I found this site.

Chris Winget

I picked up a copy of LCD at Midnight Records (or was it Pyramid Records?) It must have been one of the first LCD's. I had never heard of FMU at that point but after that I was always searching for it as I drove in and out of range. When I moved to Williamsburg in the 80's I realized I deep in FMU territory.

gregg

It was a sunday afternoon 1972 i was surfing radio dial i went way left, i found something good i counted 37 songs in a row without a break or comm. wow this was freeform i was hooked. Gregg (s.i.n.y.)

Scott M.

My 4th grade teacher, Mr. Maloney, had a WFMU sticker on his door and played WFMU for musical chairs (1984). He said it was the best station in the world. If you're still listening, hi, Dennis!

S.B. Prime

WFMU came to me through the 365 Days Project, which for the 50th Anniversary I wish you guys would start back up again -- if I am not mistaken, the first MP3 that I ran into was "Understanding Marx" by Red Shadow. I bought the album a week or so later from CDBaby.com and ever since, I've been hooked.

365 Days at the start of the New Year? Please? Although I continue to read, that element of the blog might have been my favorite part. Bring it back!

jeff

sometime in the mid-80's, spending another lonely night w/ the radio. i'm positive pat duncan's program was my gateway show... thank god for that!

paul

i really don't remember how i discovered wfmu. i remeber Cosmic Cowboy and Greasy Kid Stuff were the first shows i listened to online when i still lived in CT, and TBSOWFMU and Advanced D&D and 7SD were what got me hooked when i moved to NJ in 2002.
i guess i just tuned in online from hearing about it in CMJ and Spin and various other sources that just cited it as the quintessential freeform station.

illlich

I discovered FMU in the early 90's via your mail order catalog, or perhaps via the other mailings you sent to the record company I used to work for (top airplay lists used to come every few months).

I rarely listen online anymore, but I do read the blog daily.

joisy mike

LONG Story:

1978 - 21 yrs old and starting to grow out of my obsession with prog-rock. I played drums (so to speak) in the 1978 Garfield Cadets drum corps, commuting 7 days a week from Long Island. Part of our repertory was some music by Don Ellis and Maynard Ferguson. To me that was some out-there stuff, but I liked it, I wanted to hear some more. SO, while living in Lindenhurst (ask Chris T.) and driving a service van, I started to listen to the "left side of the dial" My first station to love was WPKN, Bridgeport, CT. Brad Morrison turned me onto the Fall, Passions, Minutemen, etc, etc. After a while I also found WNYU, The New Afternoon show, and WFDU (John Monroe, Gary Williams, and *Neil Adams* (hah! ask Ken).

About 1980 or so, I moved to the north shore of Long Island, Sea Cliff. Borrowing a radio, I hit on a signal with a whole lot of skronk, ahh! that has got to be FDU!
Nope. WFMU. WTF? All my other stations were gone? WHY did I decide to move? But love soon set in.

1985 - Me and the wife decide to move to NJ: Not wanting to make any more radio mistakes, I played it safe and moved to Bloomfield, literally 1 1/2 miles from the studio. Bliss. At least on the radio. The neighborhood on the other hand left a lot to be desired. We decided to start to look for homes in Vernon, Sussex County. While looking at a tidy ranch on 1.5 acres I turned on the current owners stereo and what? I can get FMU!! Turns out the cable provider had an antenna in West Milford and caught a bare signal from the FMU transmitter in West Orange(?) Good enough, mono signal, still a signal is a signal.

After a few years I start to hear about Ken and his attempt to secure a xmitter to work the Hudson Valley, so before long I am back to listening to 'fmu on 90.1 in stereo! yesh!
I even had the privilege of getting the occasional phone call from Ken asking whether the Mount Hope xmitter was up. A sort of remote field engineer...

Our next move was not so good for reception - Nashville, TN, sigh... So when I am home and in the mood, the stream works like a champ. Now if only an XM or whatever uplink were available, I'd ditch the MP3 car player and go back to full time FMU!

BUT, not to worry. This gig in Nashville is, as I explain to the locals, temporary. I'm just visitin' until I can retire to the Hudson Valley and be rid of this plague of a place.

mike
nashville,tn

joisy mike

LONG Story:

1978 - 21 yrs old and starting to grow out of my obsession with prog-rock. I played drums (so to speak) in the 1978 Garfield Cadets drum corps, commuting 7 days a week from Long Island. Part of our repertory was some music by Don Ellis and Maynard Ferguson. To me that was some out-there stuff, but I liked it, I wanted to hear some more. SO, while living in Lindenhurst (ask Chris T.) and driving a service van, I started to listen to the "left side of the dial" My first station to love was WPKN, Bridgeport, CT. Brad Morrison turned me onto the Fall, Passions, Minutemen, etc, etc. After a while I also found WNYU, The New Afternoon show, and WFDU (John Monroe, Gary Williams, and *Neil Adams* (hah! ask Ken).

About 1980 or so, I moved to the north shore of Long Island, Sea Cliff. Borrowing a radio, I hit on a signal with a whole lot of skronk, ahh! that has got to be FDU!
Nope. WFMU. WTF? All my other stations were gone? WHY did I decide to move? But love soon set in.

1985 - Me and the wife decide to move to NJ: Not wanting to make any more radio mistakes, I played it safe and moved to Bloomfield, literally 1 1/2 miles from the studio. Bliss. At least on the radio. The neighborhood on the other hand left a lot to be desired. We decided to start to look for homes in Vernon, Sussex County. While looking at a tidy ranch on 1.5 acres I turned on the current owners stereo and what? I can get FMU!! Turns out the cable provider had an antenna in West Milford and caught a bare signal from the FMU transmitter in West Orange(?) Good enough, mono signal, still a signal is a signal.

After a few years I start to hear about Ken and his attempt to secure a xmitter to work the Hudson Valley, so before long I am back to listening to 'fmu on 90.1 in stereo! yesh!
I even had the privilege of getting the occasional phone call from Ken asking whether the Mount Hope xmitter was up. A sort of remote field engineer...

Our next move was not so good for reception - Nashville, TN, sigh... So when I am home and in the mood, the stream works like a champ. Now if only an XM or whatever uplink were available, I'd ditch the MP3 car player and go back to full time FMU!

BUT, not to worry. This gig in Nashville is, as I explain to the locals, temporary. I'm just visitin' until I can retire to the Hudson Valley and be rid of this plague of a place.

mike
nashville,tn

joisy mike

LONG Story:

1978 - 21 yrs old and starting to grow out of my obsession with prog-rock. I played drums (so to speak) in the 1978 Garfield Cadets drum corps, commuting 7 days a week from Long Island. Part of our repertory was some music by Don Ellis and Maynard Ferguson. To me that was some out-there stuff, but I liked it, I wanted to hear some more. SO, while living in Lindenhurst (ask Chris T.) and driving a service van, I started to listen to the "left side of the dial" My first station to love was WPKN, Bridgeport, CT. Brad Morrison turned me onto the Fall, Passions, Minutemen, etc, etc. After a while I also found WNYU, The New Afternoon show, and WFDU (John Monroe, Gary Williams, and *Neil Adams* (hah! ask Ken).

About 1980 or so, I moved to the north shore of Long Island, Sea Cliff. Borrowing a radio, I hit on a signal with a whole lot of skronk, ahh! that has got to be FDU!
Nope. WFMU. WTF? All my other stations were gone? WHY did I decide to move? But love soon set in.

1985 - Me and the wife decide to move to NJ: Not wanting to make any more radio mistakes, I played it safe and moved to Bloomfield, literally 1 1/2 miles from the studio. Bliss. At least on the radio. The neighborhood on the other hand left a lot to be desired. We decided to start to look for homes in Vernon, Sussex County. While looking at a tidy ranch on 1.5 acres I turned on the current owners stereo and what? I can get FMU!! Turns out the cable provider had an antenna in West Milford and caught a bare signal from the FMU transmitter in West Orange(?) Good enough, mono signal, still a signal is a signal.

After a few years I start to hear about Ken and his attempt to secure a xmitter to work the Hudson Valley, so before long I am back to listening to 'fmu on 90.1 in stereo! yesh!
I even had the privilege of getting the occasional phone call from Ken asking whether the Mount Hope xmitter was up. A sort of remote field engineer...

Our next move was not so good for reception - Nashville, TN, sigh... So when I am home and in the mood, the stream works like a champ. Now if only an XM or whatever uplink were available, I'd ditch the MP3 car player and go back to full time FMU!

BUT, not to worry. This gig in Nashville is, as I explain to the locals, temporary. I'm just visitin' until I can retire to the Hudson Valley and be rid of this plague of a place.

mike
nashville,tn

James

I missed that Blast of Hot Air, somehow. Anyway, my story isn't very exciting. When I was attending high school in the early 90's, The Jersey Journal newspaper ran a feature article on WFMU. The only thing I remember about the article now is that a DJ was quoted as saying they had a friend who worked for a classic rock station, who was bored to death with the tight playlists. Whatever else was in the article inspired me to check out WFMU for the first time. The first show I tuned into was Chris T.'s Aerial View, and for a few weeks it was the only show on the station I listened to - but I gradually started to check out other shows as well. (I also used to record Aerial View on cassette each week, but I have long since lost those tapes).

I very fondly remember both LCD and the Catalog of Curiosities, both of which I loved. (Though this blog is practically the electronic version of LCD).

Peek-A-Boo Revue

Discovered FMU via April Winchell. She turned me onto the site and have never looked back. Keep up the great work.

LnD

Few years ago, I googled Negativland and WFMU turned up on the search. Been hooked ever since.

fatty jubbo

1991- I had recently found the left of the dial through WSOU and I was was slowly discovering the other stations such as WRSU and WPRB as my tastes expanded. I only found WFMU when a friend's older sister and her boyfriend gave us a ride somewhere (to the Bridgewater Mall I think, HA!) and, if I remember right, the boyfriend made a pont of tuning into a particular station. I was instantly fascinated and interested by the two guys talking general bullshit (I forget what it was about, maybe it was about the 3 Stooges, I forget) in a way I had never heard before. WSOU had the Jersey douches that shouted, WRSU had the mumbly college guys...this was something totally different. I heard them say WFMU 91.1 and I made a mental note to find it on the dial when I got home.

I was still into punk, metal and hardcore...so WFMU's brand of strangeness took a while to sink in. But it was the TALK that eventually got me there. Something about the delivery of every DJ at the station...they knew what they were talking about, they were full of passion, they were funny and irreverent and they talked about obscure stuff I knew nothing about...but wanted to know! Eventually WFMU was a permanent fixture on the dial.

and then I moved away to college where left-of-the-dial radio stations run off of 90 watts and only have a throw of a couple miles. I realized how lucky I was growing up in central NJ with so many great radio stations and WFMU.

Joe

The year was 2000. As a freshman in high school with slowly blossoming musical tastes, my worldview was greatly expanded by my biology lab partner, a 6'2 acid freak semi-scenester, two years my senior. A complete mindfuck of a person, who one day between our discussions of drugs and who's band totally sucked, offhandedly remarked something along the lines of "K-rock sucks, I like that experimental station, 91.1". So I went home that night and flipped it on. After 10 minutes of clashing guitar and organ sounds with somebody yelling in german, I bid a hasty retreat and decided "No, this is not for me,".

Jump forward 6 years. After getting totally baked, my "homies" and I took a ride to the lookout at Eagle Rock Ridge, the Essex County 9/11 memorial, where you can see the whole of Manhattan, JC, Hoboken, and Newark. Flipping through the channels, I started hearing some sick raps. After 40 minutes of ridiculous hip-hop that I had never heard before, I was hooked. Who was this mystery man, Noah, and how could his beats be so dope?

Thanks to my current job, I now regularly listen to between 5-8 hours of WFMU, per day, in an attempt to expand my musical horizons. It is not dissimilar to trying to get a refreshing drink from a firehose.

Ray Zinnbrazen

First encounter... by accident.... 1979.... didn't know at the time it was WFMU but what other station played Roosevelt Sykes followed by the Residents? Pretty obvious it was them.

Three years later... 1982... a summer afternoon over at Grandma's house... I believe Irwin was DJing... on this particular day he was in the midst of an on-air obsession with Flipper's "Brainwash" which he played as every second or third record continuously over the course of his entire show.

Later that year my punk rock friends (of the time) and I discovered Pat Duncan and the rest is history.

yooo

Discovered 2002-2003. I don't remember how I found out about WFMU. Possibly by reference in a magazine/newspaper article but more likely through searching the internet for radio streams ( I live outside the WFMU broadcast range ) in a desperate attempt to find alternatives to commercial and NPR radio predictability and the taint of corporate money.

lipwak

I probably heard FMU once or twice back in the late 60s, early 70s. I lived in Westchester and reception with an inverted dipole antenna would have been very rare. I would often scan the dial though to see what was out there. It wasn't until the mid-80s when I was working in a warehouse in NJ, Bonded Storage in Ft Lee, that I was able to listen regularly. Reception in the various vaults were hampered by static but it came in in solidly and in stereo. I've been a regular listener ever since, though not much in recent years.

John McCabe

I was searching the internet for the Exxon Singers, WFMU delivered I've been a fan ever since. Soon after I found the post with Orson Wells doing his frozen peas spot. It’s been love ever since. Viva song poems!

lipwak

Correction: I think I first got into FMU heavily when working at A&R Recording in NYC as a tape librarian, 1982-84. One of the best things about that job was having the library pretty much to myself and being able to listen to the radio all day. Enjoying FMU was probably the main reason I became a librarian rather trying to pursue a recording engineer career. (I'd already had a few flirts with radio and they didn't work out.) The library was in the basement of 799 7th Ave (since torn down) but reception was pretty good. I could turn up the stereo whenever it was needed, either to relieve the stress which was often or just because the music/radio was that good. That was the start of my listening regularly.

Ex-FMU DJ Charley used to work there at that time too! He was known as Chauncy at the time. He worked in duplicating.

Alex

A friend of mine linked me to the 365 Days Project saying 2You have to hear this stuff!"

And hear it I did.
And now listening to my ipod on shuffle is an adventure every time.

Foreign Listener K

I was a dejected freeform refugee, and as the absolute last echoing trace of the original 102.3 WHFS signal disappeared (Janet on WRNR), a new beacon rose - Monica, Feb 12, 2000 530am MET. That's right, that is the file name of my first WFMU stream recording. Hippie whale music - sometimes, just sometimes, faith is rewarded.

Because just before discovering WFMU, I had thought the bastards had finally won - 2000 were dark days for Internet radio in general, and let's be honest, freeform has always led a precarious existence. But it was a WHFS forum that led to paradise - and yes, I have hundreds of gigabytes of saved archives, in multiple formats.

The first time WHFS went dark, in the early 1980s, a group of us held a wake. In 2000, it was just a matter of a few typed words to discover that freeform is global. The celestial jukebox is within our grasp.

Rick Ele

In 1993, as a new volunteer getting formally indoctrinated at KDVS in Davis, CA (original home of "our" (we still like to try 'n claim her as "ours") beloved Liz B!), I heard the welcoming committee say something like "We're the last freeform station west of the Mississippi," which was totally a lie, but it sounded believable enough in those pre-internet days when it was not so easy to do the research. The only station our host mentioned in her brief lesson about freeform radio was WFMU, which she called "the arbiter of the term 'freeform.'" I think this was the very first I'd heard of it.

I didn't think much about it again 'til I heard a couple fave DJs spin selections from the "Songs in the Key of Z" volumes. I sought those out in our library, and when I'd finally had a look at them for myself, I became more curious about this Irwin Chusid fellow. Besides the weekly Negativland broadcasts on KPFA from Berkeley (which were still going at the time), this was my first inkling that a non-commercial radio station could have enough heritage and legacy that it commanded extra-regional attention. Shortly after there was wfmu.org, I'd cruise here at least once or twice weekly, usually finding something new in the recent archives that would perplex as much as please.

Nowadays, certain programs at wfmu.org are the most highly recommended listening for our trainees; so that's about 100-150 Davis and Sacto youth annually that get directed to the portal. We remain our own benchmark for courage and variety in radio...and why not?...I mean, benchmarks should be realistically attainable, right? If they have enough courage to spare to dare themselves to keep reaching, we show where WFMU has set the bar....somewhere way, way up there.

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