As more music listeners turn to free Internet radio and blogs to discover new music, building an audience for a new terrestrial radio show is increasingly difficult. DJ Bobby Analog took on an even greater challenge this year when he launched his new show on KDHX by choosing to play only vinyl. Smokestack Lightening airs every Tuesday from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m.
We met at Analog's south city home on a warm Sunday afternoon to discuss the launch of his new radio show, stealing his first turntable and Japanese psychedelic rock.
Last Collector Standing: Having just debuted your new show Smokestack Lightning on KDHX three weeks ago, how does it feel to be starting a new radio show in 2011?
Bobby Analog: It's weird because I sent the demo in two years ago and kind of just wrote it off. They even told me in the beginning, you could be waiting as long as six months but you also could be waiting as long as three years. I figured in six to eight months I'd probably hear something. I didn't hear anything. All of the sudden [I] got an email out of the blue. I finally got a hold of the program director. It was bewildering.
Has independent radio found a sustainable niche to compete in the digital age?
I would hope so. [KDHX] really prides itself on trying to offer stuff that you can't get on the corporate radio stations. That's another sad thing because a lot of the radio stations that are out there are corporate owned, which also means the DJs don't get to pick their music. They're just a body to press a button. There is no personality to it. What's the point of being a DJ if you can't pick your music? What are the perks? You get a coupon to the Ground Round? Who gives a shit about that?
Do you play vinyl on the air?
Yeah. I just bring all my stuff. [KDHX] has a pretty impressive CD library. They've got a room full of records. I usually get there a half hour early and dig through what I am going to play and at least pick out the first couple of tracks.
Do you think your audience responds differently if you choose to play vinyl?
You can tell when somebody is playing a record. Usually there is going to be a pop or crack. I would assume that most people that are playing records are bringing stuff from their own collection; Stuff that they've held onto and felt the need to put it out there. I get a good feeling about it, as far as anybody else getting a good feeling about it... from what I can tell I don't think people really give a shit as long as you're playing good music.
How did you get your DJ name Bobby Analog?
I've always been a big fan of Hip Hop, especially Wu Tang. Rza had a side project [called] Bobby Digital. I was thinking my middle name is Robert. I usually go my Bob. Bobby Analog just sounded like a nice transition since I just use vinyl when I'm playing out.
Now that digital technology makes everything so instantaneous, why do you still have a respect for analog technology?
Ever since I was a kid I always had a certain fascination just watching [records] spin on the table. Then around sixteen or seventeen, I stole a turntable from my high school library and started collecting vinyl. I went uphill or downhill from there, however you want to think about it. [Laughs]
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