Sunsets and Shellfish

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(Pictured: sunset in the Virgin Islands.)

When I was writing about WIBS, the radio station in the U.S. Virgin Islands that changed its call letters to WGOD back in 1985, it slipped my mind that my old boss, Gene, was doing radio in the Islands back in the 80s. He e-mailed to say that he was a friend of the man who built WIBS, and that after the station was sold, he told the new owner that there was no way that the WGOD call letters would be approved. “I nearly dropped over when I heard he got them.”

Gene said the new owner asked him to train his sales people. (“He had no clue about radio, he owned a trucking company.”) But the owner needed some training himself. Gene says that for religious reasons, the guy didn’t want to advertise restaurants that sold shellfish. “I told him then, you might as well beg for money because this is one of the top vacation destinations with abundant seafood, many of which have shells. You’re eliminating more than half of your prospective advertisers.” Swiftly, the owner got over his Old Testament issue, and WGOD is still on the air today.

The original WIBS “had beautiful views from one of the highest peaks in the VI,” Gene says. “The station had a large free-standing tower and the studios were built under the legs. The tower eventually came down in one of the hurricanes.”

(When I was working for Gene in the early 90s, I wondered why he’d leave the Virgin Islands for Iowa. I remember him telling me that he missed the weather. In the Islands, he said, it was sunny and 82 every single day except for three days in August when there would be a hurricane. That wasn’t the only reason he came back to the continental U.S., but for an old radio guy, it’s a persuasive one.)

I took a hiatus from Twitter recently, although I’ve been back on it since the events in Kenosha, which is a couple of hours from where I live. I do hope to dial back my exposure again starting today, because it’s no better for me (and anybody) than it ever was. All that said, here’s some of the stuff I’ve read and tweeted about recently that’s worth your time.

—It’s been 50 years since the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, not the first one, but the one that has gone down most vividly in history—as a disastrous failure. This piece from The Guardian points out that its story is more nuanced than anyone remembers.

—In 2014, Will Sheff of the band Okkervil River wrote about a 1974 concert film starring Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, which he calls the best rock movie ever made. Whether it is or whether it isn’t, the story, which was published at Gawker, is epic and weird and brilliant. There’s a second part of it that’s missing from the Gawker archives, sadly, but Part 1 is flavorful enough.

—You should read whatever Rob Sheffield writes about the Beatles, so you may already have seen his Rolling Stone piece on the breakup 50 years later. If not, read it now.

—When Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion came out with “WAP,” conservatives got an entirely predictable case of the fantods, screeching about how it’s a new low, unheard of in the history of this godly republic. Which is complete nonsense, of course. There’s always been stuff like “WAP,” going back to the dawn of recorded music, as Dr. Kate Lister, historian of sexuality and excellent Tweeter, explains.

—Most of the music ever made, up through the 1950s, is on 78 RPM discs and has never been digitized. The Great 78 Project hopes to preserve that history.

—It’s widely known that American celebrities who would never do TV commercials in America frequently do them elsewhere, especially in the Far East. Which is how Miles Davis ended up shilling an obscure type of Japanese liquor.

Each of us who uses Twitter has to decide if being alerted to good stories like these is worth enduring the frothing rage and/or sphincter-clenching terror Twitter can cause. If by writing about these I have spared you from having to experience the rage and terror, I’m glad I took one for the team.

7 thoughts on “Sunsets and Shellfish

  1. T.

    Some time ago I read Parts 1 & 2 of the Dr. Hook article. A shame Part 2 is lost because, as I remember, everything gets ramped up and even more dramatic than Part 1. Some of the best Rock & Roll writing I ever read.

  2. mikehagerty

    About 15 years ago, I had a side gig as the block announcer for the Barrett-Jackson collector car auctions. In those days, it was a fairly simple commitment—four days in Scottsdale, two in Palm Beach each year (it’s now—or was before COVID—many more days and many more locations).

    Anyway, the two years I did Barrett-Jackson gave me my only taste of Florida—and the auction was the last weekend in March, so the weather was perfect. I thought it was fantastic, but the knowledge that every August and September, there’d be hurricanes and they may or may not take out my house would just drive me crazy.

    I know, I know—I’m from California. What about earthquakes? What about wildfires? Quakes aren’t an annual event to look at the calendar and dread. They happen. Wildfires are a bit more predictable, but there are plenty of places in California that, unless something goes dreadfully wrong (Santa Rosa three years ago), you’re not going to lose your house.

    But hurricanes—I’d move to Iowa, too.

    1. Yah Shure

      Before you move, Mike, book the next flight to Cedar Rapids. Their new tourism motto might as well be, “The Miami of the Corn Belt, minus the palm trees. And half of the other ones.”

      1. mikehagerty

        Yah Shure, I’m in California and plan to stay forever. Just saying I totally relate to the need to walk away from hurricanes.

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