Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Listening to the radio in the night

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radio-graphicI think I already mentioned how much I like radio.
Radio dramas (old and new, with a soft spot for the Thrilling Adventure Hour), music (and vintage wonders like the Buddies’ Lounge), and talk radio.

Now, something happened two nights back.
I was not feeling well (what with old age, the cold and the mileage thing), and so I stood up the whole night, and scanned the airwaves with my small, cheap multi-band radio receiver to try and get my mind off my aches.
My brother was up with me, and a little worried, but in the end we chanced upon a strange radio program from a very local station. Vinyl Dust it’s called and no, it’s not a fetish sort of thing – it’s an all-night talk and music show in which a guy that does not know how to properly pronounce English talks about vintage records, and plays old 45s.
The show focuses on covers and alternate versions of classic songs from the 60s, weird stuff produced for the European and Italian 45 and juke-box markets. Always quirky, often bad. And my oh my, was the show we caught focusing on bad.
It’s a little like the guy singled out the worst possible covers of great songs – and I mean, can you imagine someone doing a bad Burt Bacharach cover? Or a bad cover of House of the Rising Sun?
C’mon, those are such good songs nobody can get them wrong.
Or so we thought.
But the guy was able to find a scratched 45 of the worst Bacharach cover ever recorded, and he played it for us, and for anybody else lucky (?) enough to be up all night on a Saturday1. And then he played a ghastly cover of The House of the Rising Sun.
In French.

lolipop-station-20So bad was the program that it stirred long-dormant plans and instincts.
For five years running, between 2012 and 2016, my brother managed an online radio station – an Orientalist and a DJ, he played Japanese pop and rock music.
It was an appendix to his music management job.
Then the tax law changed in Italy and in Europe, and he was forced off the digital waves.
But he still has 2000 faithful fans, and after hearing that nigh-time DJ struggle with English titles and playing scratched records of ugly covers, he decided he would resurrect his old radio gig.
He spent the last two days looking for ways of sidestepping the new regulations without breaking the law.
And so we are proud to announce that Loli-Pop Station is about to sail again.
If you like unusual, quirky, seldom-heard Japanese music, watch this space.

But there’s more.
Because you see, I always hated the sound of my voice. Its something that happens to everybody, I am told, because we are used at hearing ourselves from inside our skulls, while our real voice sounds very different, and we only hear it on record.
So, I hate my voice, and this is what has so far stopped me from putting together a podcast.
Out of love for talk radio, you see, I would do it.
I even planed something in that sense, early this year, but then things took a bad turn. And I hate my voice.
But the other night, while I listened to that ghastly Bacharach cover, I told myself what the heck, I spent over ten years teaching and covering the lecture circuit – people paid to listen to me.
karavansara-pod-banner-2016So maybe my voice is not that bad – and anyway, the point is what you talk about, right?

So here I am – picking my brother’s brains and gearing up to start a podcast.
The Karavancast, if you will.

Now I only have to find a set of topics to cover, and try and see what comes out of it.
Yes, of course, I could talk about adventure, and history, and the pulps.
But how, and focusing on what?
Suggestions welcome, as usual.

Oh, and let’s hear a proper version of that Bacharach tune…


  1. and mind you, I’m not dissing the guy, because he shows a great passion and a solid competence on his chosen subject. But my goodness, that Bacharach cover! 
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Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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