Posts Tagged ‘Hudson Valley Rag Shop’

WVKR Celebrates Hudson Valley Rag Shop’s Silver Anniversary

Monday, April 20th, 2009

It has been 25 years since D.B. Brown has taken the airwaves here at WVKR. Since his show’s start, the folk and acoustic sounds of Hudson Valley Rag Shop (Tuesday evenings, 6-8pm) have steadily built a significant fanbase in the Hudson Valley and beyond.  While not operating the soundboard, D.B. spends his time in an acoustic group of his own – the Raymond Avenue Ramblers – and serving as Vassar College’s dedicated Dean of Students.  The entire WVKR staff would like to offer a warm congratulations to D.B., his cohosts past and present, and the loyal audience of Hudson Valley Rag Shop! Here is what D.B. has to say…

This year marks the 25th anniversary of your show on WVKR.  How has your show changed since its inception in 1984?


THE SHOW HAS PRETTY MUCH KEPT ITS FORMAT OVER THE YEARS…GOOD MUSIC INTERSPERSED WITH GOOFINESS.   WE DON’T TAKE OURSELVES TOO SERIOUSLY, BUT DO TAKE SERIOUSLY THE NEED TO PROVIDE SOME SPACE IN THE VKR SCHEDULE FOR FOLK/ACOUSTIC/BLUEGRASS/CELTIC/CAJUN/COUNTRY/COMEDY PROGRAMMING.   THE TIME SLOT HAS ALWAYS BEEN ON TUESDAYS, BUT THE LENGTH OF THE SHOW HAS VARIED BETWEEN 2 AND 3 HOURS, DEPENDING ON THE SCHEDULING NEEDS OF THE STATION AT THE TIME.  I’VE ALWAYS ENJOYED HAVING CO-HOSTS AND INTERNS, AND THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF RAY SCHWARZ, JAY BEAN, AND NOW FRANK CARBIN HAVE REALLY ADDED A LOT TO THE SHOW.  WE’VE HAD A NUMBER OF LIVE PERFORMANCES ON THE SHOW OVER THE YEARS (WALT MICHAELS, BAREBONES AND WILDFLOWERS, POWDER KEGS, BETTY AND THE BABY BOOMERS (AND OF COURSE, THE RAMBLERS), TO MENTION JUST A FEW, AND THOSE SHOWS WERE TERRIFIC.  WE’VE ALSO DONE LIVE INTERVIEWS WITH SHAWN COLVIN, LEON REDBONE (weird), EMO PHILLIPS (even weirder), MAURA O’CONNELL, TROUT FISHING IN AMERICA, ETC., AND THESE HAVE ALSO BEEN A LOT OF FUN.

WHILE WE’VE ALWAYS BEEN IDENTIFIED AS A “FOLK” SHOW, OUR ACOUSTIC FORMAT HAS ALLOWED US TO WANDER AROUND THE MUSICAL LANDSCAPE.  THESE DAYS WE PLAY LESS BLUEGRASS AND OLD TIMEY MUSIC THAN WE USED TO, BUT REQUESTS DURING ANY GIVEN SHOW CAN RICOCHET US OFF IN A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS (DIXIELAND, WESTERN SWING, MONTY PYTHON, BUDDY HOLLY, ETC. ETC……).

What is the biggest change in WVKR’s operations since you’ve become a DJ?

WHEN I FIRST STARTED DOING A RADIO SHOW IN CALIFORNIA, YOU NEEDED A LICENSE TO BE ON THE AIR…AND YOU ACTUALLY HAD TO PASS AN FCC TEST TO GET ONE!  DURING MY FIRST YEARS AT WVKR, THERE WAS A BULLETIN BOARD WITH EVERYONE’S LICENSES (BY THEN, YOU JUST HAD TO REGISTER WITH THE FCC TO GET A LICENSE!) AND I REMEMBER THAT EVEN BACK THEN MINE LOOKED LIKE AN ANTIQUE.

A LOT HAS CHANGED SINCE I STARTED HERE. THE STUDIO HAS BEEN MODERNIZED (SEVERAL TIMES), REORGANIZED (SEVERAL TIMES) AND SANITIZED (NOT SO MANY TIMES, THOUGH MY GUESS IS THAT WE ARE DUE).  A CHALLENGE WITH ANY COLLEGE STATION IS THE CONSTANT TURNOVER OF STAFF, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF A FEW DINOSAUR SHOWS LIKE THE RAG SHOP, AND VKR HAS BEEN LUCKY OVER THE YEARS TO HAVE SO MANY DEDICATED STUDENTS, BOTH ON AIR AND IN LEADERSHIP POSITIONS, THAT HAVE STEPPED UP TO KEEP THE THING AFLOAT.

PROBABLY THE BIGGEST CHANGE HAS BEEN THE ADDITION OF 24/7 INTERNET ACCESS TO OUR PROGRAMMING.  A CALL FROM FARTHER AWAY THAN NEWBURGH USED TO BE A HUGE DEAL (AND IN MANY WAYS, STILL IS!), BUT WE’VE HAD CALLS NOT ONLY FROM ALL OVER THE COUNTRY, BUT ALSO FROM IRELAND, FRANCE, JAPAN, NORWAY, ENGLAND AND SO ON.

How did you first become interested in folk music?

I STARTED PLAYING IN A JUG BAND WHILE IN COLLEGE AT POMONA IN THE 60’S, AND REALLY BECAME HOOKED BY THE ACOUSTIC MUSIC SCENE.  I LOVE PERFORMING AND CONNECTING WITH SMALL AUDIENCES, AND HAVE FOUND FOLK BANDS TO PLAY IN EVERYWHERE I’VE BEEN.  HERE AT VASSAR, WE STARTED A STUDENT/FACULTY BAND CALLET THE RAYMOND AVENUE RAMBLERS IN 1979, AND WE PLAYED UNTIL ABOUT 2000.  WE TOOK SOME TIME OFF, BUT HAVE STARTED THE BAND UP AGAIN THIS  YEAR AND ARE REALLY HAVING A GOOD TIME WITH IT.

When did you first become interested in radio? Have you ever hosted or co-hosted a show on another station?

I STARTED DOING A SHOW ON KSPC IN CLAREMONT, CALIFORNIA, WHILE IN COLLEGE.  WHEN YOU FIRST GET A SHOW (THIS IS TRUE HERE TOO!) YOU GET WHATEVER SLOT IS AVAILABLE, AND FOR MY FIRST YEAR I HAD THE 3 – 5 AM SLOT.  MOST OF MY LISTENERS WERE TRUCK DRIVERS ON THE INTERSTATE, AND THEY WOULD MAKE REQUESTS WHICH I HAD TO PLAY QUICKLY BEFORE THEY HAD DRIVEN OUT OF RANGE OF THE STATION.  I IMMEDIATELY LOVED DOING A SHOW AND WAS REALLY PLEASED TO BE ABLE TO SIGN ON HERE AT WVKR.

Among the many shows you’ve done, is there one that stands out in particular?

WE USED TO GET CALLS FROM A PARK RANGER WHO DIDN’T HAVE A PHONE UP AT HIS HUT (CABIN?  TOWER?).  HE’D MAKE HIS REQUESTS BEFORE LEAVING FOR WORK, AND THEN WOULD DRIVE UP THE MOUNTAIN AND LISTEN TO HIS REQUESTS ON HIS TRANSISTOR RADIO.  WE ALSO HAD A GUY WHO WAS A TOLL BOOTH OPERATOR ON THE THRUWAY…..WHEN HE WOULD CALL, YOU COULD HEAR THE HORNS TOOTING, CHANGE DROPPING INTO THE BINS, AND THE OCCASIONAL ANGRY SHOUT…”LOOK, I’M IN A HURRY, BUDDY, SO GET OFF THE PHONE.”

What do you like most about hosting a show on WVKR?

I LOVE THE MUSIC AND THE OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE A CHANGE OF PACE AT THE END OF THE DAY ON TUESDAYS.  MOST OF ALL, I ENJOY THE CHANCE TO WORK WITH THE OTHER GREAT PEOPLE AT THE STATION AND TO CONNECT WITH OUR TERRIFIC LISTENERS, SOME OF WHOM HAVE BEEN WITH US FOR MANY YEARS.

Finally, is there a message you would like to convey to your listeners?

MAINLY THIS….THANKS FOR BEING PART OF THE RAG SHOP OVER THE YEARS, WE DON’T MAKE THE SHOW…YOU DO.  WE’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO OUR 50th anniversary in 2034!