Being that 2008 marks WFMU's 50th anniversary, I posed a loaded question to listeners who receive Blast of Hot Air (BOHA), WFMU's monthly e-mail newsletter (subscribe here): how did you discover WFMU? Below, I'm sharing Listener Joe McGinty's story about discovering the station, and if you would like to chime in with a tale of your own, post it in the comments section, or drop me a line (lizb at wfmu dot org).
I've been listening to WFMU online since March 13, 2001. I know this because it was listener appreciation week on the Best Show and I found the archive. I was listening on dial-up and had to stop listening to get Tom's phone call. A week later I made my first pledge.
I knew about WFMU because of my brother Joe McGinty. He's been living in New York since the late 80's and working as a professional musician - both of his bands "Baby Steps" and "The Kustard Kings" have performed on WFMU and are included on two of the old premiums. He also is the mastermind behind the Loser's Lounge tributes (Irwin wrote the liner notes for one of the Loser's Lounge CDs). I live well outside the broadcasting area, down here in Southern New Jersey (outside Atlantic City), but I knew of WFMU because of Joe. Joe had at some point ordered a birthday gift for me from the old catalog of curiosities, and I started to get the catalogs on a regular basis. Eventually I started ordering stuff for myself. I really fell in love with WFMU without ever really hearing it.
Or did I? After listening online for a while I started to remember something. I went to college in Boston in the late 80's. Whenever I was driving up there, I would usually listen to cassettes, and whenever the tape was over, I would scan the dial just to check out what was on the radio. One time while suck in traffic on the parkway in the Oranges (there was always traffic there) I hit upon this great, strange radio station. I was never sure of the exact frequency, but it was somewhere in the low 90's. From that point forward I would always try to find that station when I was going to or coming home from college. I figured that must have been WFMU I was listening to.
I thought that was the end of the story until a year or two ago, when I was listening to Chris T. I think he was filling in for 7 Second Delay. He was taking calls and somebody called in from the road. They were on Highway 684 in New York listening to WXHD. I never really knew where the WXHD broadcast area was. However, when I drove to Boston I used to take 684 through to Connecticut, and there was a good station around there, too!
That was a strange enough coincidence, but sometime this year I was listening, possibly during the marathon, and I learned about WFMU's Class A Radio permit and that one used to be able to hear FMU in Pennsylvania. Now this may be stretching it a bit and here's where we may need to get some verification, but my family used to go skiing in the Pocono mountains in the 70's & 80's. We had a cabin in Analomik (Near Stroudsburg) pretty close to the New Jersey border off Interstate 80. I swear there was a New Jersey College station that played a lot of prog (my older brother loved prog rock), I was only 9 or 10 years old at the time. Could that have been 'FMU also? If it is possible, then I will proudly take a leap of faith and state that I have been an 'FMU listener for over 30 years!
So thanks for 30 years of possible enjoyment!
- Joe McGinty