Mix Tape Friday: Left of the Dial (Side A)
A Love Song for College Radio: 1980–81
I’ve waxed nostalgically a time or eleven about my college radio days. It was one of the best times of my life. It was all about being young with no responsibilities, discovering new bands, going to a music club nearly every night of the week, dancing the days away, spending my days at the station instead of in class. Many of the records from my time there — 1980–81 — are still among my favorites. I was there at a good time — post-punk and new wave ruled our airwaves. I wish I could put in writing how thrilling it was the first time I dropped the needle on The Pretenders' debut album, or Roxy Music's cover of "In the Midnight Hour" (still my favorite Bryan Ferry song), or the first Psychedelic Furs album (we gave away a hot-pink — a psychedelic — faux fur coat).
Yes, a Side B is coming next Friday. Covering the college radio years of 1984–88, it’s Tenacious S' contest-winning mix tape! And it’s a groovy one, kids. We’ll cover 1982–83 later this spring; some amazing songs came out during those two years.
My college radio station was Georgia State University’s WRAS — 88.5 on your FM dial. Album 88 has long been considered one of the top college stations in the country, and is the only college station broadcasting on 100,000 watts. (Somewhere I have a mix tape that starts with R.E.M.’s Mike Mills’ congratulating WRAS on getting those 100,000 watts.)
Sadly, I never had a shift, never got to play deejay. I spent 1980–81 as the station’s public relations/public affairs director, coordinating giveaways (which means I was on the guest list at the Agora Ballroom and 688 Club every night of the week) and PSAs. I desperately wanted a shift … but I talk way too fast for radio … and when I slow down to a normal speed … well, I sound rather drawly. I did get my FCC license, though.
Today I finally get to be a WRAS jock. The record is paused at the quarter turn, ready to spin. And so I present 44 songs about 88.5.
The Jam :: That’s Entertainment!
The Clash :: The Magnificent Seven
The Pretenders :: Tattooed Love Boys
Talking Heads :: Once in a Lifetime
Graham Parker :: Endless Night
English Beat :: Tears of a Clown
Mission of Burma :: Academy Fight Song
The B-52’s :: Quiche Lorraine
Roxy Music :: In the Midnight Hour
Blondie :: Rapture
XTC :: Generals and Majors
Buzzcocks :: Everybody’s Happy Nowadays
Peter Gabriel :: I Don’t Remember
R.E.M. :: Radio Free Europe (original Hibtone single)
Soft Boys :: Queen of Eyes
Siouxsie & The Banshees :: Spellbound
Gang of Four :: What We All Want
Devo :: Girl U Want
The Replacements :: More Cigarettes
Dead Kennedys :: Holiday in Cambodia
Spizzenergi :: Where’s Captain Kirk?
Swimming Pool Q’s :: Rat Bait
The Specials :: Rat Race
X :: Los Angeles
10,000 Maniacs :: Groove Dub
Altered Images :: I Could Be Happy
Squeeze :: Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)
Rockpile :: Teacher Teacher
The Police :: Spirits in the Material World
Joy Division :: Love Will Tear Us Apart
Patti Smith Group :: Dancing Barefoot
Psychedelic Furs :: Imitation of Christ
Pylon :: Crazy
Wreckless Eric :: Broken Doll
Split Enz :: One Step Ahead
The Stranglers :: Golden Brown
Suicide :: Johnny Dance
Oh-OK :: Whore Boy
Young Marble Giants :: Salad Days
Elvis Costello & The Attractions :: New Amsterdam
Bill Nelson :: Do You Dream in Colour
Method Actors :: Rang-A-Tang
The Basics :: Sexual Object
The Thrills:: Hey! (Not Another Face in the Crowd)
The Ramones:: Rock ‘n’ Roll High School
Who has time to right-click forty-four times? Grab the zip file instead. The zip file includes a bonus track: the most requested song from my WRAS days — “Sweet Transvestite.” Yeah, I know it came out in 1975 — but for some reason its popularity never waned with our listeners.
To keep today's tape at 44 for 88.5, I had to cut some great songs from my college radio era: Joe Jackson and The dB's ... Joan Armatrading's "Me Myself I" (the first free album I got at the station, with English Beat's I Just Can't Stop It!) ... Georgia's The Brains and The Producers ... maybe there's a part two that must be mixed.
Putting together this mix tape brought back some great concert memories: The B-52’s at the Agora Ballroom, Fred walking one of those invisible dog leashes during “Quiche Lorraine” … Talking Heads at Agora for their Remain in Light tour (and I could have partied with them until dawn, had I left my friends on the floor and gone to the VIP section as invited) … R.E.M. at 688, opening for Gang of Four … local bands like The Basics and Swimming Pool Q’s and The Method Actors. It was a fun time to be in Atlanta.
We had some great in-studio moments and interviews. My favorite? Split Enz performing in the studio. (Remember their groovy laser-etched vinyl for True Colors?) Is it worth bragging that The Moody Blues’ Justin Hayward held my hand the entire time he was in the studio promoting his solo album? Or is that as lame as my Eddie Money moment?
You know, it may be worth it to register for some classes and finally get that shift.
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