In talking with some friends last evening, one mentioned that he had been listening to NPR earlier that day and it struck him how similar all the announcers/hosts/news readers all sounded. What he was expressing in so many words was the signature sound for that particular venue – smooth, articulate spokespeople whose professional training dictates that their on-air voices are interesting (hopefully), but not too expressive of emotion. Fairly measured, hit the center of the bell-shaped tonal curve. Got it. This is how all FM radio announcers sounded to me when I grew up in the era of static-filled AM radio blaring out those wild, independent rock & roll stations. Their domain was the AM band, classic music and such claimed the FM band.
So I found myself on another business trip to Vermont this week, driving along and twirling the (FM) radio dial to sample what the state had to offer (I can only do this when I’m alone as the spouse hates this as much as when I flip through TV channels). I came across a calm, FM/NPR type voice coming from one Burlington stations but the gentleman was speaking a rock & roll dialect. Intriguing. Not just that, in this era of gooey American Idol/Top Pop pabulum, the guy was broadcasting album cuts from Savoy Brown, Jeff Beck Group, and Quicksilver Messenger Service. Couldn’t remember the last time I heard some of those. Turns out I was listening to WZXP FM, a unique station even by crunchy Burlington standards. WZXP is the labor of love of Russ Kinsley, an aging hippy type, but with a (close-to) NPR voice. Album play is their passion. I don’t know if they’re making money these days, but I was glad to catch a sampling of their output. I applaud independent stations. Check these guys out at WZXP.