While at times we listen to WQED (or as they now like to call it, QED), which is the classical station, I find that despite my fondness for classical music, I cannot take a steady diet of classical radio. This is partly because classical stations tend to program a lot of old favorites, and partly because I can't quite take the overwhelming earnestness of most classical announcers, some of whom really seem to be afflicted with a need to get positively swoony about the value of classical music. I never again want to hear the Moonlight Sonata several times daily, nor to hear about wonderful adagios or how classical music helps grapes ripen in the vineyards. Besides, all my favorite shows seem to play at hours when I'm not really anxious to listen, like late at night and very early in the morning. But we do like quite a few things about WQED, in moderation.
I have concluded, and the rabbits have not been observed to disagree, that WYEP is the best all-day listening. It is true that I am not wild about all the music they play, and while I am glad they provide a forum for literature and various other spoken programs of a public service nature, I find these distracting (although I am sure the rabbits find these very educational). But WYEP plays a wide enough variety of music that I only find one or two music programs a week better to avoid. It is true that ever since the premiere of the Bob Dylan movie (which I saw and liked quite a bit), WYEP has gone a bit toward "nearly all Dylan nearly all the time." But I usually like Dylan, especially as sung by Joan Baez. And, in addition to playing a range of non-top-40 popular music (mostly recent), they sprinkle unexpected sorts of things throughout the week. This means that I might wake up to the sound of Pete Seeger singing "We Shall Overcome" (it happened to be over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, but it could just as easily have been some other weekend). This afternoon I was surprised to hear Luboš Malina performing Czech bluegrass (I was less surprised to hear Czech bluegrass on the radio when Druhá trava played the Johnstown festival back in September). And this evening, although I was aware that it was time for Thistle and Shamrock, I didn't really expect to hear both Martin Carthy and Pierre Bensusan in one evening.
Hearing Martin Carthy and Pierre Bensusan brought back fond memories. My friend Patty and I used to go hear Martin Carthy whenever he played in Santa Cruz, and we have his autograph to prove it, although I have lost the Platignum fountain pen he signed with. I only heard Pierre Bensusan live once, in Cotati. At the time he was exploring throwing some South American touches into French folk songs. It was exciting, but I never ran across a recording of anything he performed in that manner. He seemed to go a bit New-Age after that and I don't know what he does now.
It occurs to me, for that matter, that my original reason for attending a Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade dinner was that I wanted to hear Pete Seeger live. At later dinners I got to hear Odetta and (not so musically) Molly Ivins.
The Spotted Pair doesn't have any idea what a fine education they get on that radio, whether it's the Friday-night organ music on WQED or the bluegrass program that's on WYEP right now.