Every year around this time, I entreat you, the Scratchbomb reader, to consider donating some funds to WFMU, the Fun 91, the Freeform Station of the Nation. That time is upon us again.
WFMU does not get any money from the government (federal, state, local, what have you), nor does it get any money from corporations. It also refrains from constantly begging for money throughout the year a la PBS. WFMU has but one two-week pledge marathon that raises the bulk of their operating costs for the year. That is why it is crucial to add your support at this time.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but radio in the New York area is bad. Like, really bad. Atrocious, one might say. For a city that likes to think it’s the Center of Everything, particularly when it comes to the arts, New York’s radio stations are unlistenable, robotically programmed swill. WFMU is an island of goodness amid this raging sea of garbage.
Because they are not owned by some huge Conglomco, and because they are not beholden to any taskmasters governmental or corporate, WFMU gets to do whatever the hell it wants (within FCC confines, of course). I don’t love everything I’ve ever heard on WFMU, but I do love the fact that all of it is made by real humans who love music and radio, which definitively cannot be said for everything else on the airwaves.
I first started listening to WFMU well over a decade ago. A roommate turned me on to Terre T’s Cherry Blossom Clinic, which was exactly the kind of punk/garage/glam show I’d been searching for my entire life to that point. I made my first WFMU donation to her show when I was still powerfully, crushingly unemployed, because I believed in it that much, and if I couldn’t share what little money I had with something that made me that happy, well, what was the point of money anyway?
I still love Cherry Blossom Clinic and listen every Saturday I can; in my push to complete my novel over the last few months, I probably wrote 75 percent of it listening to Terre T. And so I feel somewhat indebted to WFMU for providing me with a soundtrack to my industry.
WFMU is also home to The Best Show, which is not only one of the funniest things humans have ever done, but which would be impossible on any other station. To do the kind of humor that Tom Scharpling does on that show–be it sparring with callers, chatting with guests, or performing comedy with Jon Wurster–requires large swaths of time that other spots on the dial would never allow in a million years. Even if you don’t listen to The Best Show, chances are you enjoy some form of comedy that has taken inspiration in some way from The Best Show. (SNL, for instance, counts many Friends Of Tom among its writers and performers; peep Bill Hader’s t-shirt in this video for visual evidence thereof.) That alone makes it, and WFMU, worthy of your attention.
I’ve volunteered for WFMU events for last few years and it is always a joyous experience. I am not blessed with a huge amount of free time, but I make time for WFMU, because being a tiny piece of what makes it happen is so rewarding. For instance, two years ago, I got witness this bit of amazingness–a Nerd-Off between John Hodgman and Patton Oswalt–live and in person.
My wife and I will be assisting in The Best Show’s first marathon program this evening. We will also be donating funds in addition to our time, and if you have any change to spare, I urge you to do the same. If you can part with 5 bucks, I assure you it is appreciated. I’ve manned the phones at the marathon and received pledges at that level, and I can promise you that every little bit helps.
However, if you care to listen during tonight’s show (which will feature special guests Ted Leo and Julie Klausner) and care to donate $75 or more, you are entitled to the Hammer of the Gods Best Show Demon Summoning Pack, which includes:
- A Best Show magazine with contributions from such luminaries as John Hodgman, David Rees, Robert Popper, Michael Kupperman, and more, plus an interview with Michael Nesmith and many other awesome tidbits and treats.
- A flexidisc with an exclusive song from Kurt Vile
- A CD of brand new comedy from Scharpling and Wurster.
- A free download of the audio from last year’s Radiovision Conference panel, featuring Tom, Marc Maron, and Ira Glass.
- A new Best Show sticker! A Vance the Puppet stressball! Some other stuff, I bet!
If all of that ain’t worth $75, I don’t know what is.
High rollers can donate more and get premiums from other DJs, which are always fantastic; the premium CDs from Terre T, Rex, and Evan “Funk” Davies always contain some amazing vinyl finds you simply can not get anywhere else. Think you can just get anything from anywhere in our digital age? You are completely wrong, and WFMU’s DJ premiums prove it every year.
I believe I’ve made made my case. This concludes my annual plea on behalf of WFMU, one of my favorite things in the world, until next week when I bug you again during Marathon Week Two.