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Tuned In

Arts & Culture | December 6, 2009

This is the end. This is the last Observer of the semester and my last “Tuned In” column for a year. I’m sorry I won’t be there for you next semester when you are jonesing for the tunes. I’m sorry for not warning you that Saturdays at 5:35 p.m. is a terrible time to tune in. I’m sorry—if only I had more to give; if only there were room for not one but one million reviews in this column. Actually if the reviews were short enough, sharp enough, and in a small enough font maybe, just maybe, I could fit five reviews into this final column.

With the help of science, I have done just that. I have crammed five reviews into the space usually containing just one review. Amazing. I have randomly selected five shows and have listened to exactly ten minutes of each show. These reviews are optimized for maximum efficiency and accuracy. No fuzzy feelings, no ineffable characteristics, no hyperbole. These five reviews are the most data driven, cold, hard, and factual things you will ever read in your life, no matter how long you live, ever. This last column can serve as a guide of sorts to help you through the wild wilderness of the WMFO show schedule, while I am off enjoying danishes in Denmark.

Brown Perspective on Sports — Sunday 4-5 a.m.
Sure, it’s at 4:00-5:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings, but why wouldn’t you be listening? It’s a guy with a heavy Boston accent, talking about sports with some music mixed in. YES! This show is dedicated to informing the listener; the host helpfully spent five of my ten listening minutes listing the scores of all of each Saturday’s college football games. Now that is useful. The other three minutes consisted of an upbeat jock jam and an awesome public service announcement about joint pain.*
I give this show a: listen if you’re an insomniac sports fan without access to a computer.

Celtic Dawn/Between the Worlds—Monday 8-10 a.m.
Are you getting your weekly fill of haggis? If not, this show will certainly give you enough Scottish culture to make up for it. The show bills itself as “Best Contemporary + Traditional Celtic Music & Cutting Edge Earth Religions Radio,” and I would have to agree. I heard a lot of fiddling, some accented sea shanty singing, but sadly no bagpipe. What gives?*
I give this show a: don’t listen until they have 100% more bagpipes per show.

Freestyle Cyphers — Thursday 10-11 p.m.
WMFO bills itself as “freeform radio,” but how is freeform a person pressing play on their iPod that just so happens to be connected to a radio antenna? You know what is legitimately freeform? A DJ spinning the beats and rotating crews of MCs free styling live on the air. That is exactly what Freestyle Cyphers provides every single Thursday night. No Drake, no Diddy. There is nothing canned about this show; it’s as live as it gets. If I could type as fast as these guys can rap, I would give you some examples of the creative word play provided by these MCs, but rest assured they are spitting hot fire.*
I give this show a: if you don’t listen you are a fool. Legit.

The Ruminator — Tuesday 9-10 a.m.
Sorry, “The Ruminator.” I’m sure that you’re a great person, a great DJ and have a great show, but I just can’t endorse what you’re doing. During my ten minutes of listening you played a Frank Zappa song, and here’s the thing about Frank Zappa: his music is really unpleasant to listen to. I know that WMFO is a freeform radio station and there are no rules against playing Frank Zappa, but there probably should be.*
I give this show a: I’m sure it’s a great show but NO FRANK ZAPPA PLEASE.

Electric Bugalow DJ Z — Sunday 9-10 a.m.
Not every show has to reinvent the wheel, because hey, who wants to listen to a reinvented wheel on the radio? A good show on WMFO should play enjoyable music in a logical listening order. In my ten minutes of listening, I heard a little bit of Modest Mouse, Queen, and a lot of semi-awkward kind of mumbled talking about not knowing what to play and how the inputs were wrong. If the rest of their show is like that, I would probably sometimes listen and so should you, maybe.*
I give this show a: whole-hearted semi-ambivalent endorsement. O

If you are inspired to listen, WMFO can be heard over FM radio at 91.5. What’s that? Your iPod doesn’t have a radio? Neither does mine. Luckily WMFO is also streaming online at WMFO.org.